7 Ways to Cut the Cost of College ...

The cost of college can be a concern irrespective of how the economy is performing. The costs quickly rack up – tuition fees, accommodation, books, food, entertainment and day to day living expenses all have to be paid for. Not everyone has parents who have been able to put money aside to help with the cost of college but there are ways you can cut down some of these costs so that you or your children don’t have a huge debt at the end of your course. Here are 7 Ways to Cut the Cost of College.

1. Apply for a Scholarship

If you have good grades, apply for a scholarship at the college. A scholarship is essentially free money which the college gives you to support you in your time there. This will cut out costs of your course. Check out MeritAid.com where you will find the type of scholarships colleges have to offer.

2. Consider Reach Colleges

Although they sound attractive Reach colleges give little or no help to students who only just achieve the minimum grades. They save all their grants for students with outstanding grades so if you’re planning ahead and looking to cut the cost of college by attending a Reach school you need to ensure you reach a high grade average.

3. Apply for Need- Based Aid Whatever Your Family’s Income

A great way to cut costs of college is to apply for need-based aid. Need-based college aid is worked out from your family’s income and sometimes consists of grants which don’t need paying back. However some loans have to be paid with interest. There are various schemes available; most Federal aid goes to students whose family’s have an annual household income of under $50,000 but some private colleges use $180,000 as the upper bench mark. You can find out if you potentially qualify by checking out online calculators such as Finaid and College Board.

4. Look out for Bargains at Garage Sales

If you’re moving away from home, setting up your college pad is going to be a considerable expense. Write a list of all the basics you need, including the things your parents are letting you take from your room. Go to lots of garage and yard sales to find some great bargains. Remember necessity is the name of the game not style or look - you’re looking for bargain prices. Plus, don’t forget, retro and shabby chic can be easily achieved on a shoestring budget so second-hand and thrift shop bargains aren’t so bad.

5. Save Money on Food

The costs of college will be significantly more if you live away from home. You can cut costs of food if you take a packed lunch and avoid the temptations of the vending machine and canteen. Plan your meals in advance and see what you can make out of your leftovers. If you are living with other people you can cut costs by shopping together and sharing things like milk, butter and cheese. Work out the best day to go to the supermarket for mark downs. Invest in one really good cookbook that concentrates on easy cheap recipes. Try The Starving Student’s Cookbook or check out studentrecipes.com

6. Car Pool, Walk and Cycle

If you have to travel to college, look at alternate ways to get there rather than a bus or train. Look out for car pools, they may be advertised on your college notice board. If it’s not too far, you could walk or if you have a bike you could cycle and cut out travel cost of college. If you do have to get the train or a bus ask, to see if you can get student discount on your journey.

7. Search for Cheap Text Books

Text books are a cost which you can’t avoid however, there are ways to make savings. Have a look online for E-books which may be free. Keep your eyes open at used book shops and the college book store as it’s likely that the local charity shops in your college town will stock text books as previous students may have donated them. You could even sell old textbooks online to pay for your new ones. bookbyte.com sells textbooks cheaply and you can return them once finished with. Don’t forget to look for coupons for sites that sell books too.

There are many ways to cut the cost of college. Whether moving away from home, you just have to think of budgeting and be smart with the money you have. It’s important to leave college with as little debt as possible. That way, when you get your first job, it’s not so disheartening having to pay huge amounts back to clear your college overdraft/loan or debt. I hope these 7 Ways to Cut the Cost of College make the idea of getting a degree more achievable. Has anyone got any money saving college ideas?

Top Photo Credit: Contra Costa Times