Paying for college is hard, which is why most students have to rely on student loans to cover their costs. But the more you save on the cost of college in the first place, the less you have to borrow. In light of that, here are four hidden ways to save on the cost of college.
- Capitalize on cheaper college credits. If your school charges a flat-rate fee per semester and you’ve got the ambition, take an extra class each semester and graduate early. Or take your general requirements at a cheaper community college or an online university—just make sure the credits will transfer before you enroll.
- Claim any tax credits available for tuition costs. Tuition and college expenses may be tax deductible, and you or your parents might qualify for other tax credits, including the American Opportunity Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
- Understand your expenses and their alternatives. Do the research. Are you required to live on campus? Are you required to have a meal plan? Is an apartment nearby cheaper? Do you really need a car? Knowing these answers can save you bundles.
- Switch from credit to debit. Both cards are convenient, but with debit you don’t risk spending more than you have or missing payments, which could hurt your credit score. Also, you won’t have to worry about paying interest, which is just wasted money.
Tuition, fees, room and board, and books are not the only college costs that can empty your bank account. If you’re a new student, or are moving off-campus, there’s an often neglected cost that can sneak up on you: furniture, appliances, and, yes, even decorations.
Whether it’s a coffee table, a blender, or a microwave, there’s things you need to live, on-campus and off. Here’s how to save on them:
- Check with family and friends. People usually have used stuff tucked in their garage or basement that never gets used anyway. Each used chair, or table, or mattress, or poster saves you money.
- Find free stuff. Many local newspapers have “to give away” sections in the classifieds, and often contain used household items. They may not be in prime condition, but if they work, so what? Also check out Craigslist and the Freecycle Network—both are great places to find great stuff for free, or very, very cheap.
- Bargain hunt. You probably won’t be able to find everything you need for free. But when you do have to buckle down and spend some money, do so resourcefully. Don’t just go to the store and buy the first thing. Comparison shop. Go online. Use eBay, Amazon, Overstock, and other bargain sites to save big.
- Get creative. Who says you need to buy a picture to hang on that empty wall? Why not paint the wall yourself? Or put a whiteboard there and do daily doodles? It’s more fun and cheaper.
- Go multipurpose. Why get a couch and a bed if you can have a futon that is, in essence, both? Think about all the corners you can cut, then cut them.
Brought to you by: OnlineColleges.net
The processs of deciding where to go to college is like an international flight: it’s long and it makes your back hurt. That said, you should at least consider visiting your top schools in order to get a feel for the overall vibe of the place. Here’s a few tips to help you make the most of it:
1. Explore. Spend time roaming college campuses in order to get a sense of their sizes and landscapes. For example, colleges in the city look much different than suburban ones, which tend to be greener. You should also pay attention to the overall architecture. Do you want a campus with a classic look or a modern one? It’s up to you, so take a good look around.
2. Take a class. If you have an idea of what you might like to study then drop in on a class so that you can get a sense of the classroom and learning environment. Professors usually don’t mind, and the academic aesthetic of different colleges are pretty distinct, so why not?
3. Talk. Most colleges are rife with students who are playing Frisbee on the lawn, sunbathing, or heading to class, so don’t be shy in striking up a conversation or two. Ask students what they like about their their classes, as well their campus life. Ask them what they don’t like. Ask yourself: are these students you could get along with?
4. Try the food. Since you’re moving out of the house, you have to fend for yourself when it comes to food, meaning you’ll be taking advantage of your college’s cafeteria. Therefore, while you’re on campus, stop in for a bite. If you can stomach the menu then that’s a good sign.
5. Visit again. To make sure a college is a perfect fit, visit more than once. Can you see yourself living there all year? Do you like it just as much on rainy days as you do when it’s sunny? If the answer is yes, then consider your college visit a success.