Many people assume they will attend college as a rite of passage until they start adding everything up. This is an exciting time in a person's life where they can live on their own and explore the realm of adulthood.
With proper planning, anyone can go to school. Of course, living away from home can be expensive but it is often worth the freedom of independence and not having your family look over your shoulder.
Thankfully, with some budgeting and prioritizing, it is possible to cover your housing and grocery costs, transportation, and entertainment. It is even possible to accomplish these necessities without breaking the bank. Here are some savvy ideas to help you enjoy your college life and prevent you from going broke.
Public Transportation & Carpooling
Are you planning on living off-campus and driving every day? Commuting to school can cost a lot. Besides fuel, there are often parking passes that need to be purchased. Consider carpooling with friends and splitting the costs of parking and gas with 3 or 4 other people. This will drastically reduce how much you pay.
Public transportation is another option to consider. You may live in an area where you can utilize public transportation. Whichever route you take, add up the cost of what you will be paying over 4 years to get an accurate amount.
Once you have a Student I.D. Card, you will be able to enjoy a variety of student discounts on everything from clothing, movies, groceries and more. Schools may offer a coupon book that has local discounts all over town ranging from five to fifteen percent off food, car washes, haircuts, laundromat services, oil changes and more.
Others may have apps for your smartphone that you can download to take advantage of certain student discounts at different local businesses. Using these discounts whenever possible will add up to lots of savings.
Taking Advantage of College Services & Activities
Tons of campus activities are hosted each month and many include food. These events can help you save on your grocery bills and let you meet new people and enjoy some refreshments. You will find interesting clubs and things to do while meeting new faces.
These activities can even help you cut corners on your entertainment budget. And you will be developing potentially life-long friendships along the way.
Free or Discounted Career Counseling & Healthcare
Many schools offer great sporting facilities, fitness activities, career advice and healthcare options for students either free or steeply discounted. There will likely be gyms or tracks you have access to, maybe a swimming pool or dental clinic on campus to check out.
Buying mandatory textbooks can be an expensive part of college life. Even if you decide to purchase used textbooks and sell them back to the bookstore after, you will still be spending tons of cash. Look into renting your textbooks instead.
This is a great option and more environmentally friendly if there are eBook rentals available. This enables you to skip the heavy, hardcopy version and go online. Ask your professor ahead of time to make sure that renting an eBook will be allowed. Some teachers are not crazy about this option and prefer a more old-school approach.
Speak with second-year students to see if they have any used copies for sale as long as you require the same version. Some groups will set up textbook swaps. Here multiple students share a textbook, typically between two to three people. This will only work if you have a homework schedule and workable study prearranged to ensure everyone can use it when they need it.
Working On-Campus Jobs Adds Up
A great way to earn some extra money when you are attending college is to find a job on-campus. If you can afford 15 to 25 hours a week to balance school, life and work, there are many different options to pick from.
Just think of all the additional money will save commuting and on gas if you can walk to work. You might luck out and earn a free meal when your shift is over. Alternatively, you might score some internship hours if you are working in an academic program.
College doesn't have to be crazy expensive if you get creative, work with others and stick to a budget.