Even if you are able to land some great scholarships, there is a good chance that you will not get all of your educational expenses covered. You can further relieve your financial burden by taking every possible step to reduce your college costs. If you, like many, are stressing over how you will pay for your degree, try these steps to cutting expenses:
- Set an educational budget. Before shopping for a college, take the time to sit down and decide what you can actually afford. Yes, you may have dreams of attending Harvard. Unfortunately, that is not a financial possibility for everyone. Decide how much you can comfortably afford and shop for schools with tuition rates within your budget.
- Ask for life experience credit. Many schools will offer credits for certain life experiences. For example, if you learned a foreign language in a foreign country, you may be able to get language course credits. Talk to your school counselor about opportunities available to you to help reduce your course load and costs.
- Test out. Many colleges will allow you the opportunity to test out of classes, further reducing the number of required credits. Speak with your school representatives about policies and guidelines.
- Max out. Most colleges and universities have a set tuition rate for full time, usually for 12 credit hours and up. If you are attending full-time, try to take the maximum number of courses to finish your degree sooner and to save on tuition.
- Look into accelerated programs – By finding programs that will allow you to complete a four-year degree in only three years, you can save an entire year’s worth of educational costs.
- Shop for discounts. Many schools offer discounts for a variety of services, talents, and affiliations. Check your schools’ complete list to see if you are eligible for any discounts.
- Save on housing. If possible, consider living at home, sharing an off-campus house with several housemates, or serving as a resident advisor.
- Do sweat the small stuff. When cutting college costs, no savings are too small to overlook. Buy used textbooks, carpool, use student discounts for food and entertainment, and live as cheaply as possible. Even if you are only saving a few dollars at a time, the savings will really add up by the time you graduate.
Being a college student can sometimes feel like being a hamster in a wheel. You need the education to make money, but you need money to get the education. By playing it smart, you can cut your expenses to a level that will be affordable for you. After all, your education will serve you throughout life, so living cheaply for a few years is a sacrifice that is more than worth making.