Education expenses mount financial challenges for students and parents, especially those enrolled in post-secondary programs, where college tuition and other university costs quickly add-up to substantial sums. Of course, college credentials lead to higher earning power, so you’ll theoretically recover your investment through lifetime earnings. Still, the extraordinary spending required to get you through school may call for creative financing and cost-cutting measures.
As you move through higher education, you are not alone – countless others face the same financial pressures associated with earning degrees. Fortunately, college students have devised money-saving measures to carry them through the paces, and when help is needed, loans are available to cover college costs.
Create an Economy of Scale – You don’t need to be an economics major to understand economy of scale. In essence, the principle points up benefits of operating at a certain size or scale. In college, it can be applied for savings, as you work with other students to increase your buying power. Housing, for example, is drastically cheaper when rent is spread across multiple occupants. In practice, this plays out in several ways on campus. Large dormitories and homes converted to student housing are among the most affordable residential options, because they cater directly to college students, with basic, functional living spaces. Smaller units, each housing two or three students, may cost a bit more, but yield higher levels of privacy and fewer distractions for committed students.
When the cost of housing is divided among roommates, the benefit extends beyond rent payments. Utility expenses, for instance, are also spread across multiple payers, creating economical rates for heat, water and electricity payments.
Use Loans to Cover Costs – Financial aid is widely used to cover college costs. Government programs typically offer the best rates for students. In the U.S., students apply for funding using the standardized Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Because they offer the best interest rates and payback terms, Federal Student Loans furnish go-to resources for countless students – but these types of loans are not your only option. If you have a job, for instance, loans like these could be used to supplement traditional student financing. Private organizations also extend financing for college students, including civic groups, ethnic organizations, and other benefactors committed to elevating needy applicants into the ranks of higher education. Of course it is essential to remember loans are not free money. Balances ultimately come due, so you’ll eventually repay borrowed funds – with interest attached. Used with discretion, however, loans furnish cash flow when it’s needed most, enabling strapped students to complete degree programs.
Share Transportation Costs – Depending upon where you matriculate, transportation costs may add significant sums to your overall college tab. As a result, many students leave their car behind when attending school, preferring to sidestep the expense. If you commute to campus, save money by sharing rides with others heading in the same direction – or utilize park and ride facilities to save money on gas. If you’ve enrolled far from your primary residence, arrange ride-sharing for trips home during breaks. And when you elect to live without a car on campus, save money by using available transit. Campuses cater to students, so shuttles and busses may be available to ease transportation expenses.
Take Advantage of Adult Learning – College isn’t reserved for enrollees of a particular age. On the contrary, many municipalities and campuses extend special adult education programs, adding diversity to the student body. These courses are offered free, or at drastically reduced rates, to entice adult learners to the classroom.
Learn to Cook – Tuition is a big expense, but it isn’t the only overhead inflating college budgets. In addition to paying for housing and transportation, you’ll need to eat while attending school. Campus meal programs furnish significant value, extending plans of various sorts for student residents. You may ultimately choose off-campus housing, however, making cafeterias and facilities on university grounds inconvenient. Lest you fall into an endless cycle of buying expensive carry-out and restaurant meals, it pays to learn basic cooking skills, to feed yourself on a tight budget.
Take a Full Course Load – Most college tuition schedules are tiered, charging certain rates, based on the number of credits enrolled. A full schedule, for instance, may be attained by taking 12 credits. However, you may be permitted to add-on up to 18 or 19 credits, without increasing your overall tuition bill. Without carrying more courses than you can reasonable manage, strive to fill-out your class schedule near the upper limits of what’s allowed. Not only will you graduate sooner, but you’ll save thousands on tuition payments, over the course of your education.
For most students, college presents an unusual financial quandary. At the same time you commit to high tuition payments and other costs of campus living, your academic schedule interferes with your ability to earn money on the job. The college cash flow shortfall is typically temporary, giving students time to complete degree programs and start gainful employment. In the meantime, cost-cutting measures and frugal spending help university students navigate lean times, until college credentials kick-in with the earning-power needed to catch up with education expenses.