5 More Tips for Stretching Your College Dollars

In my last post I gave you five great tips for stretching your college dollars. Here’s 5 more where that came from:

  1. Transfer from a cheaper college to the institution of your choice. I know you will lose credibility if the medical degree hanging on your wall comes from Ethyl’s Backyard University, but it can be a very economical strategy to earn your general education credits someplace inexpensive while you apply for scholarships (or earn money) to attend your dream school. Consider staying close to home so you will qualify for lower tuition at a state-run school, or re-locating to an area with a lower cost of living and more affordable education options. Just check ahead of time to make sure your credits can be transferred to the prestigious school where you’ll be earning your bachelor’s degree.
  2. Buy used textbooks, and then sell them. You will not even believe how much a college thinks is an appropriate amount to charge for a stupid BOOK! To make things worse, class instructors will often expect you to purchase two or more different books just to earn three measly college credits! Once you receive your list of textbook requirements for the term, begin searching for cheaper copies from online sellers, or use one of the many “exchange” services like student2student.com. When you finish a course, unless you loved the subject so much that you want to keep your $130 book to read again later, go back online to sell or exchange your textbooks. As a last resort, your college bookstore probably sells overpriced used books and will also buy them back for around 25 percent of what you originally paid.
  3. Get a roommate…or three. Living at home with Mom and Dad is usually your least expensive option, but if you’re tired of hearing, “Are you really going out dressed like that?” and “Get your filthy feet off the couch, young man,” then you might want to find your own place. If your college scholarships don’t cover dorm fees, find a few (reliable) friends to share rent and expenses like cable and Internet service. The more people you can pack into one apartment, the less each of you will have to cough up each month. Granted, your roommates will come with their own little annoying habits, but I can almost guarantee that you’ll never hear, “Who left this light on?” followed ten minutes later by, “Turn on a light if you’re going to read that book in here. Do you want to ruin your eyes?”
  4. Use public transportation. There’s only one thing more expensive than maintaining a vehicle, and that’s maintaining a child. The one advantage to money-sucking kids is that they are virtually free to obtain (unless you count the cost of the alcohol that caused you to lose your senses in the first place). You will have to buy your car, and possibly continue to make payments on it for many years to come. Oh, another good thing about kids is that one of yours could grow up to be a professional athlete or famous rock star and make you instantly rich. Your car won’t ever give you any of your money back, unless you use it to deliver pizzas. Walk to classes, ride a bike, or take the bus, if you want to see extra funds in your bank account. You say you can’t sacrifice the freedom to drive to the beach on weekends? Okay, make friends with someone who owns and maintains a car.
  5. Enroll in college-sponsored healthcare plan. If you are no longer covered under your parents’ health insurance, check to see if your school offers an opportunity for medical coverage before investing in an expensive individual plan. There may be restrictions about which doctors you can see, but for basic medical needs, your premiums will be lower on your college’s group plan.

FINAL BONUS TIP: The most important thing to remember is never give up on college because of money (or a 4.0 GPA). Sure you might have to work hard for scholarships, sure you might have to scrimp and save whenever you can, but always remember: where there’s a will, there’s a way.

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

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