And, if you go to college for something like medicine or law, you can end up paying hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years that you’re in school.
As you can see, college can be very expensive.
However, I want you to know that you can learn how to save money in college so you can earn a valuable college degree on a realistic budget.
Many students take out student loans to pay for college, and it can be easy to borrow more than you need. While student loans help you pay for college, having those loans on your head can set your finances back for years and even decades.
And if you’re a parent trying to help your child, I’ve heard too many stories of parents going to great lengths to pay for school. Some take out second mortgages, and personal loans, or borrow from retirement to send their children to college. The problem with this is that these parents make it even more difficult to retire at the intended age. Remember, you can’t borrow for retirement!
College is very expensive, but for many students, it’s an important part of how they work toward a job or career they’ve always wanted. But I want you to know that you can learn to save money in college.
By lowering college costs, you can reduce your student loan debt, or you can help parents reduce the amount they are borrowing or withdrawing from savings to pay for their children’s education.
Or, with these tips on how to save money for college, you can attend college without racking up any student loan debt. Remember, that is also possible!
Here’s how to save money on college.
1. Think about the value each college will offer you.
I know a lot of students who think about which college their friends are going to or which one is ranked higher. But, you should think about which university is best for you and your specific major.
Sometimes the highest-rated or most expensive college may not be the best for your current major, which can hurt you in the long run and is not how to save money on college.
When thinking about whether or not a college is right for you, here are a few things to consider:
- Accreditation – This is especially important if you want an advanced degree, such as medicine or law, because accreditation can determine whether or not you can go on to the next level of schooling.
- Degrees- What is offered by the university?
- Cost – This includes the cost of tuition or the program you are entering, as well as whether scholarships or financial aid are available.
- Location: If it’s close to home, can you save my life at home? But if you’re away, you’ll need to think about dorm fees and the total cost of living.
- Student-Faculty Ratio: If you need more one-on-one help with your studies, this can be an important number to know.
- The experience of teachers. Me, I always liked having professors with practical knowledge in the fields they taught.
- Networking Opportunities – A lot of life is about networking, and this is a must for some professions.
There is a myth that expensive universities are always better than cheaper ones. As if higher college costs mean you’ll automatically get a great job, an extremely high salary, and more.
One way to learn how to save money for college is to simply stop believing that myth!
In fact, according to an article in The Wall Street Journal :
From scholars (who have studied whether or not students at elite institutions outperform their peers) we know that, in terms of future earnings, 1) their choice of field is more important than their choice of university, 2) after controlling for ability, earnings differences of graduates from elite and non-elite institutions are small at best, and 3) any earnings advantage that may arise in the long run is difficult to link concretely to the effects of student choice. University.
2. You need to think about the total cost of college.
The total cost of college means a lot, not just the initial cost of tuition.
The most expensive school may give you more scholarships than a less expensive school. That means the most expensive school may be the cheapest in the end, which is why you need to think about the total cost.
And, there are still plenty of great universities that don’t come with high tuition.
Many factors determine the actual costs of college, and because of this, you’ll want to think about things like:
- College Tuition – This will probably be the biggest expense you pay.
- Room and board: will you live on campus or not?
- Fees – which may include lab fees, parking fees, etc.
- Textbooks – Textbooks can easily cost a few hundred dollars each semester.
- Financial aid: will you receive any?
- Scholarships: Will you apply for any?
Doing those last two things is one of the best ways to save for college, so apply for scholarships and financial aid!
Taking all of the factors I’ve just listed into account can help you learn how to save money on college, and when you put them all together, it can change your mind about which college offers the best value.
3. Remember that college is not the only important thing.
As you think about how to save money for college, you should also remember that college isn’t the only important thing. Yes, you want to take it seriously and learn as much as possible, but other factors are extremely important.
These other factors can play an even bigger role in helping you get the job you want.
Some of the other points you’ll want to keep in mind include:
- Extracurricular activities such as college clubs.
- Part-time and full-time jobs
- leadership opportunities
With those things on your resume, you can put yourself ahead of other people applying for the same position. These things are important no matter where you went to college.
Remember, companies want to see that you can apply what you learn and that you have experience.
4. Taking community college classes is one of the best ways to save money on college.
When you graduate with a four-year degree, the name of the school on your diploma will be the name of the university you graduated from. He’s not going to say, he graduated from here, but he took some classes at the community college. This is because your community college credits transfer (if you follow the correct steps as outlined by your school).
If you’re wondering how to save money on college, this is a great way to cut college costs.
If you’re already in college or haven’t started yet, taking classes at a community college can be a great way to save money.
Community colleges provide tremendous value. However, many think they are too good to save money by taking classes at a community college.
Earning credits at a community college typically costs only a fraction of what it would at a 4-year college, so you may be able to save thousands of dollars each semester.
You can only spend $5,000 a year at a community college (probably even less), which is a huge difference from the costs mentioned at the beginning of this article.
There is also a myth that your degree is worth less if you attend a community college. I mean, it’s not true at all. When you finally get your 4-year degree, your degree will only say where you graduated from and won’t even mention community college credits. Your degree will look the same as everyone else who attended your college, whether you took any community college classes or not. You could also save money!
I only took community college classes for a summer semester where I earned 12 credits, and I’m sorry I didn’t take more. I probably could have saved about $20,000 by taking more classes at my local community college.
Plus, community colleges are great for general credit, so you won’t miss out on the interesting, in-depth classes that give your 4-year college a well-known reputation.
If you decide to go to a community college first, always make sure the 4-year college you plan to attend transfers all of your credits later. It’s an easy step to take, so don’t forget about it! You must do this before you enroll in and pay for any community college classes.
5. Take advantage of high school classes that earn you college credit.
One way to save money for college starts while you’re in high school. See, many high schools offer dual credit classes that allow you to earn both college and high school credit at the same time. Most of the time, these are taken right at your high school, so you don’t have to go out of your way to take them!
If you’re still in high school, it’s something I highly recommend you consider as it saves time and might even be the best way to save for college.
When I was a senior in high school, almost all of my classes were dual enrollment courses where I earned college and high school credit at the same time. I took AP classes and classes that earned me direct college credit from nearby private colleges.
Because of this, I dropped out of high school with around 14-18 credit hours (I don’t remember the exact amount). He had knocked out an entire semester of college before he even started. I could have taken more, but I decided to take the early leave of high school and also worked 30-40 hours a week.
6. Take all the credits that your registration allows.
At community colleges, you typically pay per credit hour.
However, at many colleges, you pay a flat rate for your college tuition. So whether you take 12 credit hours or 18 credit hours, you may be paying about the same price.
That’s why I recommend that students who pay a flat fee take as many classes as they can. Now, you may want to make sure your classes are balanced because 18 credit hours of demanding courses can take a toll on you. But, this will allow you to take full advantage of the high costs of college.
If you think you can still get good grades and do anything else on the side, definitely make the most of the college tuition you’re already paying!
7. Apply for aid and scholarships to lower your college costs.
If you want to learn how to save money in college, applying for financial aid and scholarships is one of the most important things.
But, according to a study by NerdWallet, for the 2018-2019 school year, students left $2.6 billion of free college money on the table. That was the Pell Grant money that students qualify for by completing the FAFSA, which is easy to complete and necessary for any financial aid or scholarships.
So before you start your semester, you should always research scholarships and grants, and complete your FAFSA Paperwork for the following semester is usually due around spring, so I recommend doing it as soon as possible. soon as possible if you plan to attend college in the fall.
Unfortunately, many people believe that scholarships are impossible to obtain. That’s just another myth, and it’s probably why students lost so much money last year.
I received around several thousand dollars a year in scholarships to the private university I attended. That helped pay for most of my college tuition. Scholarships came easy for me because I got good grades in high school and did well in exams. I also received scholarships to all the other colleges I applied to, just for good grades, so I know you can find scholarships if you do well in school!
And, there are still other ways to find scholarships. You can receive scholarships from private organizations, businesses in your city, and more. Do a simple Google search and I’m sure you’ll find plenty of free websites listing potential scholarships.
Tip: Many forget that sometimes you have to submit a separate financial aid form directly to your college in addition to the FAFSA form. Contact your college’s financial aid office and see if you also need to complete a separate financial aid form. Don’t forget to do this before the deadline each year!
8. Only take out what you need in student loans.
Many students take out the full amount of student loans they are approved for, even if they only need half that amount.
This is a big mistake. If you want to learn how to save money in college by reducing your student loan debt, start by only taking out what you need. You’ll have to pay off your student loans one day, and I know plenty of people who regret taking out more than they need.
I know someone who would take out the maximum amount each semester and buy timeshares, go on expensive vacations, and more. It was a huge waste of money and I’m still not sure why they thought it was a good idea.
Just think about it. If you take out an extra $2,000 per semester, that means you’ll probably take out almost $20,000 during the time you’re in college.
Do you want to owe a LOT more on student loans?
9. Look for cheaper textbooks to lower the cost of college.
There are many college costs, and buying textbooks is one of them.
Students typically spend between $300 and $1,000 on textbooks each semester, depending on the number of classes they take and their major. Just one textbook can cost as much as $400!
When I was in college, many of my classes required more than one book and each book usually cost around $200. This meant that if I had to buy all my college textbooks brand new, I probably would have had to spend well over $1,000. each semester.
I learned to save money in college by renting my textbooks or buying them used. The rent was good because I only paid a fee and never had to worry about what to do with the textbook after class was over since I just had to return it. I didn’t have to worry about a new edition and the book is worthless. Buying used textbooks was good because sometimes I could resell them and get my money back.
10. Don’t bring a car to college.
If you don’t need to travel off campus for work, you may want to consider whether you can get rid of your car. Not everyone in college will need a car with them, and this can be an easy way to save money in college.
By not bringing a car, you may be able to eliminate your monthly loan payment, a campus parking permit, fuel, maintenance costs, and more.
11. Wear your student ID.
Your student ID is good in many places beyond your college campus. Before you buy anything, I recommend seeing if a company offers a student discount.
Your student ID can be used to save money at restaurants, clothing stores, electronics (like a new laptop), the movies, public transportation, and more. You can receive a discount, free items, and more, all by showing your student ID.
After all, you’re paying to go to college, and you’re paying a lot. You could also reap all the benefits of paying those high college costs.
12. Learn how to properly use a credit card or not have one at all.
Lots of college students get into credit card debt, but I don’t want you to be one of them.
Credit cards may seem like a good option when you’re living on a shoestring college budget, but it can lead to thousands of dollars in credit card debt. That eventually seems impossible to get out of because of the significant interest that keeps piling up.
To never get into this situation, you should avoid credit cards at all costs if you think you won’t use them well.
You should think hard about whether you should have one or not. Just because other students have a credit card doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing! However, if you think you’ll be good at using them, then there are plenty of advantages to doing so.
13. Get a free checking account.
If you’re paying into a checking or savings account, you need to think again.
Opening a high-yield savings account is one of the best ways to save money for college because you’re building your savings. But, most people have their money in accounts with low rates. Unfortunately, that means a lot of you are missing out on easy money!
With Betterment every day, you can start earning 2.39% with a balance as low as $0.01.
How does that compare to the national average savings rate? While it’s higher than the ones I mentioned above, it’s still a very sad 0.09%. That’s a HUGE difference from what Betterment every day offers. If you only get 0.09%, you are losing easy, passive money.
Savings accounts at traditional banks are known for having low-interest rates. This is because they have a much higher overhead to pay for the building, pay the tellers, etc. Betterment every day is an online option, which means they have lower costs and then pass the savings on to you.
Over 10 years, that same savings balance with a 2.39% balance would earn you an additional $2,390, while a savings account with an interest rate of just 0.09% would earn you just $90.
Your money is as safe in a Betterment Everyday account as it is in a brick-and-mortar bank. It’s just earning more interest, which is something everyone who wants to learn how to be rich can take advantage of.
To get started and open a Betterment Everyday account, you:
- Signing up is very easy. Just click here and sign up.
- If you join the waiting list for Betterment Everyday Checking, they will increase your Betterment Everyday Savings Account rate to 2.39%.
Look, super easy!
14. Find ways to earn extra money.
While I wasn’t smart enough to graduate from college debt-free, I do know a lot of amazing people who were able to pay for their college tuition on their own while in school. They learned how to save money in college with the tips above, but they also found ways to earn money that allowed them to pay their full tuition bill each month.
I worked full-time throughout college. That helped me pay my bills, take out only what I needed in student loans, and get by without any credit card debt.
Whether you only have one free hour a day or you’re willing to work 40-50 hours a week on top of being in school full time, there are plenty of options when it comes to earning extra money.
Here are some things you can do to pay for high college costs:
- Find a part-time or full-time job.
- Find a paid internship.
- Earn money online by creating a blog, becoming a virtual assistant, etc.
- Become an Uber or Lyft driver Spending your free time driving others can be a great money maker. Read more about this in my How to Become an Uber or Lyft Driver post.
- Conduct online surveys. This is something I did when I was 20 years old. Survey companies I recommend include American Consumer Opinion, Survey Junkie, Swagbucks, Pineapple Research, Opinion Post, and Harris Survey Online. They are free to join and free to use! You get paid to answer surveys and test products. It’s best to sign up for as many as possible, that way you can receive the most surveys and earn the most money.
- Maintain and cleaned patios. You can earn money by mowing lawns, killing/removing weeds, cleaning gutters, raking leaves, etc.
- Move furniture and find work on Craigslist. Moving companies can earn a wide range when it comes to hourly pay, but it’s typically around $50 an hour if you run your own business.
- If you love animals, then you can consider how to earn extra money walking dogs or taking care of pets. With this side hustle, you can go to your customers’ houses to check in several times a day, you can stay at your house, or the animals can stay with you. Rover is a great company that you can sign up with to become a dog walker and pet sitter. Find out more about this at Rover is a great way to earn money and play with animals.
- Nannies and/or nannies.
- Sell your stuff.
Related tip on paying off student loans: I highly recommend Credible for Student Loan Refinancing. You can significantly lower the interest rate on your student loans, which can help you save thousands of dollars on your student loan bill over time.
15. Sign up for birthday gifts.
Everyone has a birthday, and you can get a ton of free birthday stuff just by showing your date of birth on your driver’s license or signing up for a company’s email club to receive a coupon for your birthday.
This is a really fun way to learn how to save money for college and it’s easy and free for everyone!
16. Switch to a cheaper cell phone plan.
Most people overpay for their cell phone plan; they can easily cost more than $100 per month.
I know that once you find a provider you like, it can be difficult to change. But, once you know how much you can save with another company while still having great service, it’s a no-brainer.
If you’re looking for a more affordable cell phone plan, check out Republic Wireless. They have monthly cell phone plans for as little as $15 per month.
I have several family members who now use Republic Wireless and love it!
Please read Saving Over $2,000 a Year with Republic Wireless Review for more information.
17. Make a budget.
Budgets help people better manage their money. It’s that easy.
Budgets are great and one of the best ways to learn how to save money for college because having a budget will keep you on top of your spending and how much money you have in the bank. With a budget, you’ll know exactly how much you can spend on a category each month, how much you have to work on, which spending areas need to be evaluated, and more.
Budgets have helped people reach their goals, pay off debt, earn more money, retire early, and more. This is one of the college savings tips that will completely shape and change your financial life for the better.
18. Visit the library.
When you’re in college, the library can often feel like your second home (and not always in a good way). But did you know that your university or local library can also be a great way to have fun without spending any money?
You can check out the latest bestseller, a classic you’ve been meaning to read or borrow movies, music, and more. There are now many libraries that allow you to lend things like cameras, GoPros, even telescopes, and more.
This is one of the best ways to save money on college since all you need is a library card.
19. Find a roommate.
If you decide to live off campus, finding a roommate will be one of the best ways to save money in college.
My husband and I have had roommates in the past. While that’s not possible now that we split our time living on a sailboat and an RV, I still recommend that anyone with an extra room in their house think about giving it a try.
If you find a roommate while you’re in college, you can save a good amount of money on housing costs. And, depending on your situation, you might even be able to earn a little extra income.
If you’re interested in renting a spare room on a short-term basis (such as on vacation), I highly recommend checking out Airbnb. I know people who make thousands of dollars a month renting rooms on this website.
20. Read personal finance books.
This is something you can and should start doing at any age because reading personal finance books can help you in so many ways. Since many schools don’t delve into personal finance matters, books are a great way to improve your financial knowledge.
21. Other ways you can help your child finish college.
If you’re a parent reading this, then you may be wondering how you can help your child through college but not break the bank.
If you can’t afford your child’s college costs, or if you decide you just don’t want to, there are plenty of other things you can do to help. You should also read this You don’t have to go broke for your children’s education.
I believe that parents should only fund their child’s college education if the parent is on track to retire.
This is because there are many ways to pay for college (paying for it with cash, student loans, grants, scholarships, etc.), but there is only one way to finance your retirement.
Remember, you can’t borrow for your retirement!
This means you don’t have to ruin your retirement plans to help put your kids through college. You should first take a look at your financial situation and where you are on your path to retirement to see if you can help your children through college. If it’s not possible, be realistic with yourself and your child.
There are many ways to help your children with the costs of college that don’t involve paying their college tuition.
- Help your child understand personal finances. Helping your child create a budget, use credit cards wisely, and understand college costs will go a long way in life. I recommend reading How to Create a Budget.
- Support them and help them make a plan. Even if you’re not offering financial support for college, you can always help your kids in other ways. This doesn’t mean you have to agree with what they do, but help them by giving them advice and putting together a solid financial and college plan.
- Help your child find ways to earn money. There are many ways to make extra money, and helping your kids find ways to do so can help pay for college and living expenses.
- Let your kids know about affordable college alternatives. For example, your child may only think that she should go to an expensive private college, but it’s important to educate her on how to save money on college with more affordable alternatives, like going to a community college or state university.
- Help your child apply for scholarships. There are numerous scholarships for which your child may qualify. Some may require them to write essays, while others are based on high school grades. Most take very little effort and are given away by the university, making applying for them a no-brainer!
- Help your child in other ways. For some reason, there’s a myth that helping your child go to college means he has to pay for everything. Instead of paying for tuition, textbooks, food, room, car, and everything else, he sets limits on the college costs he’ll pay. You can help by providing emotional support, allowing them to stay at home while they’re in college, helping them find ways to save money for college, helping them lower their college expenses, and more.
What other ways are there to learn how to save money for college? How much student loan debt do you have?