The costs of attending school have gone up faster than Americans’ incomes. The interest rates on student loans are higher than most other types of long-term credit. In this economic climate, it only makes sense to try and limit your outlays as much as you can.
College can be expensive, but it’s possible to both save on costs and make your money go farther once you’re enrolled. U.S. News offers the following ways that you can cut some of your college costs.
Going to an in-state college can amount to huge savings. The average tuition and fees for in-state students tallied $7,635 in 2011-2012, compared to $17,785 for out-of-state students, according to U.S. News data. If you don’t plan to stay in state, consider regional tuition breaks, which can cut costs, too.
When money is tight but college is a priority, a community college might be a good option. If you plan to attend a four-year university, consider taking community college courses during high school or the summer before college to start accruing credits early.
Scholarships are a great way for all kinds of students to get money for college, and local funding opportunities tend to be less competitive. Don’t overlook small scholarships in your hometown. Odds are, you’ll have a better chance of securing one, and every little bit helps.
Nothing can cause your college costs to overrun like having to stay in school an extra semester, an extra year, or more. Take full class loads, keep up with your graduation requirements, and focus on earning good grades in every course.
You may figure that your family won’t qualify for need-based aid, but apply anyway by filling out the FAFSA. Certain things like having more than one child in college at the same time may swing the numbers in your family’s favor.
Avoid stocking up on everything you think you’ll need at college before you leave. Bring only the necessities and, during your first few weeks, make a list of other items you really need. What seems important before you leave may not get put to use—and might not even fit in your dorm room.
If you’re paying for room and board, your meal plan is essentially a prepaid swipe card. Don’t end the semester with extra meals or points—that’s like giving money away! If you’re finding it hard to stop by the dining hall for every meal, see if your school offers takeout lunches that you can pick up on the go.
Many college town businesses, such as local shops and restaurants, will offer savings if you show your student ID. Before you get that college sweatshirt or foot your brunch bill, see if your student status qualifies you for any money off.
School supplies can add up. Instead of springing for designer notebooks and sets of 24 highlighters, opt for basic styles that could save you half the cost. Getting involved in college is important—but buying every t-shirt, sweatshirt, and baseball hat your organization offers is not. Purchase only what you need to show your allegiance, which will cut down on laundry and help keep your dorm room clutter free, too.