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Money Saving Tips for College Students

money saving tips for college students

Procrastination reigns on college campuses, but don’t put off thinking about saving money until you graduate and begin your career. The cost of books, tuition and housing are on the rise. Your future after college will be brighter if you wisely budget your expenses and limit your debt while you’re still in school.

It may seem impossible to juggle classes, a social life, and perhaps also a job, on top of paying for college. Don’t stress. Research shows that college students are becoming savvier shoppers, and consequently spending less on their course materials.

Take a look at these money saving tips for college students to see what you need to do to reduce your college expenses.

Free or Low-Cost Housing

College has never been more expensive than it is now, meaning it’s as important as ever to look at money saving tips for college students. From 1988 to 2018 the price of college tuition increased 213% at public universities.

While students can’t haggle with the campus cashier’s office for a bargain on tuition, they can opt for cheaper housing options. The average price of on-campus room and board for a public four-year college is $101,510, according to the College Board. How can you get a bargain on your housing situation? Explore your options and be honest about what you can afford. Your financial aid office can assist you in creating a student budget to see how much aid you need. The bad news is that colleges sometimes don’t give out enough financial aid to pay for room and board, so you must find cheaper options.

Dorm life is a seminal college experience, but you don’t need a private bathroom and room to have that same experience. Instead pick a shared dorm to save cash. When you’re a junior or senior, consider becoming a resident adviser for free room and board. There’s also the option to being a live-in nanny throughout the school year or during the summer months. Your last and probably cheapest option: live with relatives. College is a time to celebrate freedom from your parents for the first time, but having financial freedom when you graduate is even more important.

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Smarter Book Deals

More students are making smart money choices when it comes to buying their course materials. Students spent $579 on average for course materials during the 2016-17 school year, according to the National Association of College Stores. That’s a $23 drop from the 2015-16 academic year.

How can you save on your course materials? Don’t buy new books unless that’s your only choice. Going to the campus bookstore for your used textbooks is convenient, but remember to do price comparisons with books sold online. Does your campus have a textbook rental program? If not, check rental prices on websites like BookRenter.com. Or see if you can borrow materials from other students, purchase digital versions or check out materials from the library.

More Money Saving Tips for College Students

Getting a good grade in chemistry class takes studying, math skills, experimentation and a bit of hard work. The same goes for taking advantage of money saving tips for college students. Of course, the main problem is college students don’t typically have an income, so they rely on their parents and loans. Paying for college is expensive, but that doesn’t mean that you need to spend excessively or incur more debt than necessary.

Don’t be shy about always asking for student discounts. People understand that college students are on a tight budget. You’ll be surprised to get student discounts for everything from computers, phone service, car insurance, gym membership, museums, clothing and more! Never be afraid to ask for a discount or request work study options in exchange for freebies like yoga or Pilates classes.

money saving tips for college students
College students need every penny.

College Loans for Students

Resist the urge to borrow more money than you need for your housing, tuition and fees, books and food. Before you take out another loan, try for scholarships. You may be surprised to know that some scholarships don’t have GPA or essay requirements. It’s free to apply for scholarships, so you have nothing to lose. And it’s never too early to apply. You can start winning scholarship money while you’re still in high school, which will be applied toward your college. To find all the scholarships you’re eligible for, schedule an appointment with your financial aid adviser. Also do online research to find a local grant agency and search the U.S. Department of Labor’s website.

If you do take out college loans for students, borrow only what you need. Make sure you understand the interest rates on the loan. Try to pay off the interest on need-based loans while you’re school. Even if you pay $20 a month that will help reduce the loan amount you eventually owe. That will give you a headstart when you graduate and join the workforce.

Saving money during college can be tough, but it is doable. Are you a student or former student who has developed the skills of budgeting? Share your money saving tips for college students in the comments. 

For help paying for college, visit AAA.com/StudentLoans.


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