College comes at a cost and for those on tight budgets and/or who come from low-income families, trying to afford the various expenses can be stressful. But with the right planning, it is possible to cut corners in certain areas when it comes to college related costs. Even if you only end up saving a dollar or two, every penny counts and does add up over time.
Find Specials & Deals Whenever Possible
Sure, this seems like common knowledge but trying to find specials and discounted prices shouldn’t just be limited to eating out at restaurants or trying to find cheap textbooks. When shopping for school supplies, instead of sticking to the school bookstore, why not search for a dollar store or something similar in your area? You can find notebook paper, pens, pencils, erasers, binders, rulers and other commonly used knickknacks for a dollar or $0.99 each. Not only is this a great way to save money, you’ll get way more items for your hard earned dollars compared to regular stores.
Instead of spending money on a fast food’s Dollar Menu, save your funds and learn how to cook meals for yourself. Fast food expenses add up but if you buy groceries at least once or twice a month and create a special meal plan, you’ll be able to maintain a healthy eating regimen while saving money at the same time.
Don’t Delay Graduation
As long as you’re enrolled in school, tuition and fees will need to be paid. To avoid shelling out even more money, create a plan of action to ensure that you graduate on time. Know what core classes you’ll need to count towards your major and knock out all of your 101 courses as soon as possible. While it may cost extra, see if you can sign up for summer or winter courses to bring your graduation date closer.
Opt for Public Transportation
Having a vehicle is definitely handy and ideal for getting you wherever you want, whenever you want. However, a vehicle also comes with additional costs: monthly payment, maintenance, gas, insurance, parking fees, etc. If you don’t absolutely need a vehicle and don’t live too far from campus, consider cutting your costs and learning how to take the train, bus or ride your bicycle to your classes.
Stay on Top of Your Financial Aid
Students relying on financial aid will want to make sure they know how much money they’re receiving and when. Being on top of this information will come in handy when planning a budget for the semester/quarter. Additionally, it’s important to keep in touch with the financial aid office on campus in the event that your family’s income changes/decreases. In some cases, additional aid could be awarded.
Limit Out of Town Travel
Going home for the holidays or during short breaks may seem nice but plane tickets and road trips aren’t cheap. Pick and choose your travel dates wisely. Students on shoestring budgets can help themselves in the long run by spending their breaks and vacations earning money at a part-time or full-time job.