So you got into college-that’s great, congratulations! But once the initial excitement wears off you may be left wondering how you’re going to be able to financially survive such an expensive experience. Even if your parents are funding your education, money is still going to be a concern. College is worth the heavy price tag, but it is important that you manage your costs.
If you haven’t yet decided where you are going to school, costs should factor into your decision. It is tempting to choose your dream school even if it comes at a higher price, but if you have received acceptance from an equally prestigious and less expensive school it may be worth considering changing your plans. If you are getting an equal education, it truly is worth avoiding massive student loans. If you didn’t get into your favorite schools, you should perhaps consider community college instead of settling. Community college is an excellent deal and your diploma will ultimately be from the four-year university you later attend. Regardless, you should apply to as many scholarship as humanly possible, free money is always worth the time. But what steps can you take once you’ve chosen a school?
College is a time where you can learn some very important life lessons, one of which is how to live on a budget. It is important that you give yourself a pretty specific budget in college. Take account of the amount of income you’ll have coming in from your parents, job, loans, and scholarships. Next allocate the funds as needed. Set a certain amount of money aside for food and general expenses each week and put the rest in savings towards books and tuition. It is important that you stick to this budget as best as you possibly can. One blogger for the Wall Street Journal suggests students avoid using credit and debit cards and instead use cash in order to avoid spending over their allotted amount.
However, if you know yourself to be a fiscally responsible individual who keeps track of their expenses, using a credit card and immediately paying it off can be another reasonable option which will help you build good credit. It really depends on how much self-discipline you have. It is important that you are honest with yourself. In order to avoid some serious debt, I would recommend you ask for the opinion of a family member or friend to help you decide if you can handle the temptation of a credit card. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the art of spending money, but when you’re on a tight budget it is a quality you need to recognize in yourself and manage accordingly.
Now, more than ever, students are having to become more and more creative in the ways they earn money. One creative avenue which appeals to many students is to volunteer with AmeriCorps before, during, or after college. Americorps pays students a relatively low salary to help build houses, teach inner-city students and provide aide. Such experiences are obviously very rewarding and can help students earn scholarship money. Students must also be willing to consider options they may not have in years past. You may never have thought you would be telemarketing your way through school, but such jobs will teach you valuable lessons, and at the very least help you to avoid debt. Lastly, if you are particularly crafty individual you may consider starting your own business. This does not have to be a big undertaking, but many students have achieved success and valuable experience by establishing late night delivery services, tutoring organizations, food co-operatives and other creative endeavors. There are most certainly ways to make money while in college, you may just have to work hard to find them.