College expenses seem to be increasing from year to year and it looks as if there isn’t any end in sight. This applies not just to college tuition fees, but also to all other expenses associated with obtaining a college education. Think housing costs, meals, allowances, and student projects, among many others. If you aren’t prepared, your college living expenses can skyrocket, making it hard for you to pay off student loan debts, or even make it from one semester to the next.
This is precisely why your time in college can often be deemed also as your first taste of adulthood. Apart from passing your classes, you have to be wise with your expenses. It’s the perfect training for the real world as budgeting and being financially savvy is a very important trait to have. If you’re smart about your finances, you can minimize your college living expenses without necessarily sacrificing your quality of life and education while at the university.
You can successfully aim to have as little debt as possible after completing your college degree by successfully cutting down on some expenses. These cost-cutting measures include:
Compare Housing Options
One of the biggest expenses you’ll come across in college, aside from the tuition fee, is your housing or accommodation expenses. If you take the time to go through each of your options carefully and make more practical decisions, you can come across housing options that are actually cheaper.
For instance, if you have other friends from high school who are going to the same college as you are, or if you don’t mind sharing a room with a fellow student you just met, staying in a shared accommodation can be a better option. Not only do you have someone to share the expenses with, but you also have someone else to share the burden of chores, cooking, and even school concerns.
There are many housing options you can choose from, and there’s certainly one for every budget. You don’t immediately have to feel compelled to go to the very first choice you’ll come across if you know paying for it is impossible in your current financial situation. To start your search for possible options, these are some of the most common housing choices available for college students:
- In-House Living Through Single-Occupancy Or Shared-Room Dormitories: There are many pros and cons to living in a dormitory. But when it comes to reducing living expenses, the advantages may be far greater than the disadvantages. First off, you live on campus, so you can walk to and from your accommodation and back to your classrooms. This reduces any fuel and transportation expense you may have otherwise had to pay for if you live far from the university. You can also have more control over your food budget when you pay for fixed food expenses. This means that for a fixed amount per month, you already have set meals prepared at the cafeteria for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This can prevent you from overspending on food, especially if you don’t know how to cook or if you’re not allowed to cook meals in the dormitory.
- Living With Family: This applies to those of you who may have relatives in the same location as your university who are willing to take you in, even for just a semester or two. This kind of arrangement can also help you adjust better, especially if it’s still your first time away from home. And it allows you to save quite a bit on accommodation, even if it’s only going to be for a few months.
- Rent A Room: There are also some arrangements where you can opt to rent a home. Some families who need extra help with paying for their mortgage may accept bed spacers or room renters. When you rent a room, you’re only going to pay for the room itself and a share of the water bill and utilities. You may be able to save more, than if you were to rent an apartment.
Northpointrexburg.com, among many other sites, is a good place to start your search for possible housing options you can browse through for college.
Don’t Buy New Textbooks
Depending on your major, some books can be very expensive, especially when you’re getting brand new copies. But if you don’t need to write in your books or there aren’t any personal activities to be answered in the book, you may want to skip them. All the more is true if the books from last year are still the same for your batch this year, as the school hasn’t yet changed editions. As an alternative, you can just photocopy some of the book’s important portions so you can still have a reference about the topic. You may also opt to borrow a friend’s copy and just jot down the most important points on your notes.
If you really need to buy books, you can opt for used books instead. There might be higher-level students who are also looking for means to earn extra cash and are putting their books up for sale. Ask around for those, as you can get gently used books for a fraction of the price. If you’re the type who prefers e-books, they may also be cheaper than physically printed copies. That’s another good option.
Earn While In School
Students today, like yourself, enjoy the advantage of having technology on the side. You have a lot more resources now than other students in the past had, so it’s up to you to make the most out of those opportunities. One of these is through earning while you’re still in school. You can earn a nice allowance by working part-time or online jobs. By doing so, you can reduce the burden of your parents’ expenses as well.
There are so many jobs you can choose from, and you only have to select one according to your preferences and available schedule. If you’re keen on looking for job opportunities, these are some of the jobs most college students are doing, which you can try too:
- Tutor other students
- Work in a café or restaurant
- Become a personal shopper or deliver goods for a fee
- Start a blog or a YouTube channel
- Be a freelance writer or editor
- Offer babysitting, pet sitting, or dog walking services
- Do yard work for neighbors
- Work as a call center representative or as a virtual assistant
Apply For A Scholarship Or Financial Aid
Depending on the school you’re going to and your high school grades and other personal circumstances, you may be a good candidate for scholarships or financial aids. While some scholarships may not necessarily cover the full amount of tuition fees, any aid is still better than none at all. That’s more than enough to take a huge chunk off your college expenses, so you don’t have to be burdened by heavy payments, even long after you’ve graduated from college.
The key to getting the best financial aid is to start applying for possible scholarships when you’re nearing your high school graduation. Especially if you have good grades to show, you may be granted full scholarships, some covering even the accommodation expenses until you graduate from college.
With that said, there are many things you can do to increase your chances of getting qualified for a scholarship. Some of these include:
- Increase your GPA while you’re still in high school, so make it a point to be diligent with your studies.
- Participate in community activities, as these can make your resume and scholarship applications more attractive.
- Collect letters of recommendation from your teachers, class advisers, or any professional member of society or individual whose life you’ve touched or made an impact on. This helps beef up your scholarship application.
- Apply for as many scholarships as you can, both big and small.
- Hone your interview skills, so you can be a good and eloquent speaker.
Graduate On Time
Graduating on time may seem like a very obvious thing to do, but in between all the fun you may be having in college and testing out majors that may not be a right fit for you, it’s not at all impossible to go beyond the set four or five years in college. Some may stay in college for even longer than that.
The danger with this, however, is that overstaying may not necessarily be doing you any good. Financially, it’s a lot of waste. You could’ve been spending those extra years in college already earning and working and have a good head start in your professional life.
Depending on the industry you’re trying to penetrate, there could also be some companies that don’t find those extra years in college attractive. You may find it difficult to apply for jobs when your grades aren’t good enough for employers who could be more stringent about the application and screening process.
Most importantly, spending more time in college means more expenses. Once you begin your first day of college, make it a point to balance studying, work (if any), and your social life. You can still graduate on time while having the time of your life, but this has a lot to do with good time management skills. So, if you want to achieve that, you can start by practicing the following:
- Prepare A Term Calendar: This should include your major exams, scheduled quizzes, assignments, and projects with their respective due dates. You can also include major school activities and extra-curricular activities. Knowing which days need more academic attention and which days are safe to “chill out” will help you live a more balanced life in college.
- Prepare A Weekly Schedule: Plotting a weekly schedule will give you an idea of how and where you can insert some time for studying. If you’re working, make sure to plot that into your schedule as well.
- Prioritize Your Assignments: Assignments, projects, and course work can get overwhelming. To avoid missing deadlines, prioritize your assignments based on deadline or difficulty. You may opt to start with the easier ones, then work on the most difficult assignments last.
If you’re going through days when you’re finding it hard to handle all your academic projects, visit this website to have a guide on how you can manage that dilemma.
Make Your Own Meals
Cooking your own food is one of the best ways to save on living expenses in college. If you have a small kitchen in your student apartment, you can always learn how to cook, one dish at a time. If your dorm or apartment has no stoves or cooking equipment, investing in a crockpot, air fryer, microwave, or even a small electric grill is a good idea.
Spending your allowance to buy ingredients and shop at cheap supermarkets or even the weekend market can be cheaper than eating at restaurants, fast food shops, or cafes all the time. More so, getting used to learning how to cook while in college is also your perfect training ground for adult life.
To start with, here are some basic tips that can help you:
- Learn how to whip up fresh salads, as they’re not only healthy but are quite cheap as well.
- Go meatless, at least once or twice a week, so you can cut a huge chunk off your budget since meat is usually more expensive than fresh produce.
- Buy easy-to-cook items such as eggs and noodles.
- Cook in bulk, especially on the weekends when you may have more time, so you can have enough meals for the whole week without necessarily worrying about cooking from scratch all the time.
With the tips above, you can certainly reduce your college expenses in many ways. The truth is, it’s not always how much money you have that matters. A lot of it also has to do with how you spend your money, or what you do with what you have. As you apply the tips above, you may eventually find many more ways to save and cut back on certain expenses while at school.