Starting college can be scary; it is a new world out there, with its own hurdles attached to the journey. One of the main concerns when considering higher education is the cost that is associated with it. Furthering your education is not going to be free; if you want to get through it without breaking the bank, consider the options:
1. Scholarships — There are school, state and federal scholarships that may be available to you, but they won’t come knocking on your door. If you want to find a scholarship, you will have to put in the work. Start early researching everything that is out there, gather information on anything that you can find. The key is applying for many different scholarships and grants. Check all of the options; scholarships are given away for pretty much everything, including sports, academics, and just for being a certain ethnicity.
2. Loans — Though scholarships and grants run rampant, they aren’t available to everyone. If you make too much money to qualify for a grant, if you don’t have the grades to qualify for that academic scholarship, you may need a second option. Grants and scholarships are highly regarded because it is essentially free money, it doesn’t have to be paid back; however, student loans do. Even so, student loans receive lower interest rates and they do not usually require payment until after you have graduated.
3. Jobs — Most of the time, even receiving a scholarship or grant is not going to cover all expenses. Student loans might do the trick, but you don’t want to come out of college with mounds of debt and no way to start paying it off. Having and maintaining a job during your college career is an important way to stay on top of bills, and make it easier to pay off loans. Often, there are job opportunities right on campus. If not, find something close that will help you to make ends meet. You do not want to worry about academics and finances.
4. Habits — Going to college without going for broke is completed by controlling your spending habits. If you have a job to help support yourself, don’t squander your earnings; use that time to save. You have to create a budget to help you through, eliminating everything that isn’t completely necessary. Having a roommate often helps take some of the financial weight off of you. If you can tolerate having someone else in your living space, it is nice to share the bills and have someone equally responsible around the house.
5. Books — Purchasing books is partially linked to spending habits, but is in a category of its own. Books will be needed for every class, every semester, every year. The costs will shock you if you are not prepared for it. When it is possible, stay away from new books; the price is not worth the material. Most times, you can find the used book or a rental book for half the price and the information is all the same. Go to the campus library and see if you can find the books there before making the purchase. Even the off-campus library might carry something that you need. If you end up needing to buy a copy, check online sites like Ebay and Amazon before buying from the college bookstore. You may sacrifice a small amount in wear and tear, but saving money will make up for it.
written by: Shawn Lattimore
Shawn Lattimore is some who has learned (the hard way) to effectively finance college and pay off your loans!