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Saving on College

Last post Tue, Jan 24 2012 12:04 PM by bwallace. 18 replies.
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  • Wed, Aug 10 2011 10:11 AM

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Saving on College

    College can be an expensive life and work experience to get. What are your best tips for surviving this time financially?

     

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



    Filed under: ,
  • Wed, Aug 10 2011 5:47 PM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    Forgive me for being wordy here...I was in college for 13 years (4 degrees) and taught college for 15 years.  (Those timespans overlap).  I have quite a bit to say on this topic after that much experience. 

     

    Learn to live Low on the Hog!

    Know your budget and live within it.  This habit will serve you well all your life.

    If you can avoid loans, do so.

    Live as simply and cheaply as possible.  There's only so much  you can do about the tuition and fees, but you can almost always find a cheaper living situation. 

    Cook rather than order in pizza everynight.  A pizza every week or 2 ok...but not every night.

    Get a job...or two. 

    Walk, ride a bike, take the bus.  Cars cost gas, insurance, maintenance in addition to purchase cost and god help you if you get a car loan and pay interest.  Then there are parking fees, parking tickets and much much more.

    Use cash not credit.  Cash never incurs interest charges.

    Pass your classes the first time!  (I used to teach and couldn't believe how many students spent an extra year in college due to retaking failed courses...cheaper to put out the effort, even get a tutor, the first time around.)

    Take a full load of courses rather than the minimum to get your loans.  Where I went for my bachelors, we paid the same tuition for 12 credits or more.  One semester I took 24 credits, most semesters I took 18.  If part-time is cheaper or works better, that can be a money saver too.

    Test out of any courses you can.  You get the credits for the cost of the test, often minimal sometimes free.

    If your high school offers a program to take college courses while the school district pays...do it!

    Think long and hard before going to a "for profit" institution.  

    Try to find friends who are also living Low-on-the-Hog so you don't feel pressured into expensive recreation or poor financial/educational choices. 

    Don't get a dog!  (I did in grad school and it was a money sink...fewer rentals to choose from, boarding costs when out of town or paying to have the dog flown cargo, vet bills...but I still loved that dog!)  If you really want to be around dogs, the local humane society will usually be thrilled to have a volunteer dog walker.  Or offer your services as a dog sitter.  A friend of mine pays a college student to come walk her dogs every day and she lets the student use her wifi and washing machine.

     Skip the spring break trip to Cancun or where ever one goes now.  It's expensive and you can end up with compromising photos on the internet that hurt job chances later.

    Take care of your health.  Even with access to student health services, getting sick is expensive.  Eat something other than the peanuts they hand you with your beer and go to the counseling service if you are getting depressed.

     Talk to your professors.  They will write you letters of recommendation later, but only if they know who you are.

    Be a psych experiment subject...back in my day, we got 5 to 20$ per session and the sessions were all benign.  They asked questions or measured our response times.

    Pay tuition and rent first, when you get your scholarships or loan payouts.  I often paid 6 months of rent at a time and used that to negotiate money off the monthly rent.  Landlords like having all the rent upfront rather than having to process it each month.  I also  rented exclusively from folks who owned only 1 or a few rentals, not giant corporations.  By knowing my landlord personally I could also negotiate doing my own painting and maintenance for money off the rent.  I still use these rental techniques.

    If you pay for laundry, hang up your clothes.  Dryers are expensive to use at the laundromat and wear  your clothes out.

    I saved a bundle by living off campus but I was in a smaller town, not NYC...always check the rates.  If your college requires you to live on campus and you believe you'd be better off living off campus, you can try getting a note from a doctor or counselor stating reasons why it is better for you to live off campus. 

    Take advantage of free entertainment.

    Check into the recreation center rental programs before purchasing recreation equipment like tents, canoes, sleeping bags, etc.

    Work hard on the SAT and ACT!  Doing well on those gets you scholarships and can get you in the honors program at college.  Honors program students often get preference when registering for classes or have access to the best professors.

    Apply for every scholarship you are eligible for.  I once got 500$ from my home town...only 3 other people even knew about the scholarship and applied so we all got some money. 

    Figure out a 4 year course plan your first semester.  Your advisor is there to help you do this.  If you have a plan, know which courses to take, and what your areas of flexibility are (electives, minors, etc), you can almost always finish in 4 years rather than 5.

    Know the job market before you apply and use that knowledge.  If you want to work in a particular industry, see where most of the people in it graduated.  If they all went to MIT, then go to MIT.  If they went to Texas State U, then go to Texas State U.

    Keep an eye on the job market while you are in college.  Your advisors will do their best,  but you are the one who needs the job when you get out.

    Learn to write a complete sentence.  I now have a job where I need to hire people.  I can be very flexible about what they majored in, but if they can't write a coherent report, properly spelled and punctuated, and grammatically correct, then I do not hire them.  Your boss is not your proofreader. 

    Start your resume when you start college and keep it updated.  It's hard to reconstruct your work and activities for 4 or 5 years of college when you are graduating and desperate for a job.  Keep track of clubs, activities, honors, scholarships, awards, majors, minors, jobs, skills, etc.

    If you want to go overseas, this might be the time.  Many colleges and universities offer exchange programs where you pay the tuition and room/board fee at your home institution, and live and take classes overseas.  This is great for expensive locations like Tokyo, London, Paris.  A few countries may have cheaper rates than you're paying here and you might be able to negotiate the cost if that is the case.

     

    Finally, remember that you get out of it what you put into it.  If you put in minimal effort, you get minimal education.  If you put out lots of effort, you get a good education.

  • Mon, Aug 22 2011 8:49 AM In reply to

    • Brandy
    • Top 10 Contributor
    • Joined on Wed, Mar 28 2007
    • Saving in South Mississippi
    • Posts 25,145

    Re: Saving on College

    I am bumping this discussion up.

    The Dollar Stretcher Community Manager



  • Thu, Oct 6 2011 5:20 PM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    She pretty much said it! I came from a foreign country and studied here in the US. I had minimal resources. So, I got scholarships, worked part time on campus, saved for tuition, worked full time summers on campus, went to the dollar theatre for fun, hardly ever ate out, shopped second hand stores, and lived in low cost apartments. I rode a bike or walked. I graduated and owed 1,000 on a church loan. Sometimes, back then, I wished I had more resources to enjoy a little more or not have to work all the time. But, my family didn't have resources so I had to do it.
  • Tue, Oct 11 2011 10:29 AM In reply to

    • MamaJ
    • Top 100 Contributor
    • Joined on Thu, Nov 5 2009
    • Posts 963

    Re: Saving on College

    Don't forget the community colleges! Our local community college offers "2+2" and even "3+1" options in conjunction with many of our state's universities. You still get the degree from the state university, but half or three-quarters of the classes are done at the community college, at the community college's lower tuition rates. Community college can also be a great tool if the student isn't sure yet what to major in. Take the general courses, start to find out what's interesting...

  • Thu, Oct 13 2011 12:04 AM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    These are all great solutions and we have used them to get three of us through college. The last two are graduating in May, so we are almost there.

    Also, we have noted that the second person in college gets a whole lot more in financial aid. So, if a parent is thinking about going back for a few classes or a different career, it is a good time to do it if you can swing it.

    Textbooks are ridiculously expensive. Once we have been in a program, we have gotten to know people ahead of us and behind us, or just ones that may have taken different classes. If you can swap a text from one finished class for a text from another class, there is a win/win. Neither of you have to pay a hundred bucks or so for a marked up used copy.

    Also, get to know your professors. There is no readily observable student microwave at our University, but one of my professors told me that I could come down to the science students' area and use theirs. It made me happy cuz now I can pack a "hot" lunch this winter. I was pretty well stuck with either cold food or the expensive cafeteria before that. Our University carries coupon books for services around town and also a list of merchants that offer discounts to the students from the college. You can shave a few dollars that way, too.

  • Thu, Oct 13 2011 12:16 AM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    Maggie Trudeau:

    Forgive me for being wordy here...I was in college for 13 years (4 degrees) and taught college for 15 years.  (Those timespans overlap).  I have quite a bit to say on this topic after that much experience. 

     

    Learn to live Low on the Hog!

    Know your budget and live within it.  This habit will serve you well all your life.

    If you can avoid loans, do so.

    Live as simply and cheaply as possible.  There's only so much  you can do about the tuition and fees, but you can almost always find a cheaper living situation. 

    Cook rather than order in pizza everynight.  A pizza every week or 2 ok...but not every night.

    Get a job...or two. 

    Walk, ride a bike, take the bus.  Cars cost gas, insurance, maintenance in addition to purchase cost and god help you if you get a car loan and pay interest.  Then there are parking fees, parking tickets and much much more.

    Use cash not credit.  Cash never incurs interest charges.

    Pass your classes the first time!  (I used to teach and couldn't believe how many students spent an extra year in college due to retaking failed courses...cheaper to put out the effort, even get a tutor, the first time around.)

    Take a full load of courses rather than the minimum to get your loans.  Where I went for my bachelors, we paid the same tuition for 12 credits or more.  One semester I took 24 credits, most semesters I took 18.  If part-time is cheaper or works better, that can be a money saver too.

    Test out of any courses you can.  You get the credits for the cost of the test, often minimal sometimes free.

    If your high school offers a program to take college courses while the school district pays...do it!

    Think long and hard before going to a "for profit" institution.  

    Try to find friends who are also living Low-on-the-Hog so you don't feel pressured into expensive recreation or poor financial/educational choices. 

    Don't get a dog!  (I did in grad school and it was a money sink...fewer rentals to choose from, boarding costs when out of town or paying to have the dog flown cargo, vet bills...but I still loved that dog!)  If you really want to be around dogs, the local humane society will usually be thrilled to have a volunteer dog walker.  Or offer your services as a dog sitter.  A friend of mine pays a college student to come walk her dogs every day and she lets the student use her wifi and washing machine.

     Skip the spring break trip to Cancun or where ever one goes now.  It's expensive and you can end up with compromising photos on the internet that hurt job chances later.

    Take care of your health.  Even with access to student health services, getting sick is expensive.  Eat something other than the peanuts they hand you with your beer and go to the counseling service if you are getting depressed.

     Talk to your professors.  They will write you letters of recommendation later, but only if they know who you are.

    Be a psych experiment subject...back in my day, we got 5 to 20$ per session and the sessions were all benign.  They asked questions or measured our response times.

    Pay tuition and rent first, when you get your scholarships or loan payouts.  I often paid 6 months of rent at a time and used that to negotiate money off the monthly rent.  Landlords like having all the rent upfront rather than having to process it each month.  I also  rented exclusively from folks who owned only 1 or a few rentals, not giant corporations.  By knowing my landlord personally I could also negotiate doing my own painting and maintenance for money off the rent.  I still use these rental techniques.

    If you pay for laundry, hang up your clothes.  Dryers are expensive to use at the laundromat and wear  your clothes out.

    I saved a bundle by living off campus but I was in a smaller town, not NYC...always check the rates.  If your college requires you to live on campus and you believe you'd be better off living off campus, you can try getting a note from a doctor or counselor stating reasons why it is better for you to live off campus. 

    Take advantage of free entertainment.

    Check into the recreation center rental programs before purchasing recreation equipment like tents, canoes, sleeping bags, etc.

    Work hard on the SAT and ACT!  Doing well on those gets you scholarships and can get you in the honors program at college.  Honors program students often get preference when registering for classes or have access to the best professors.

    Apply for every scholarship you are eligible for.  I once got 500$ from my home town...only 3 other people even knew about the scholarship and applied so we all got some money. 

    Figure out a 4 year course plan your first semester.  Your advisor is there to help you do this.  If you have a plan, know which courses to take, and what your areas of flexibility are (electives, minors, etc), you can almost always finish in 4 years rather than 5.

    Know the job market before you apply and use that knowledge.  If you want to work in a particular industry, see where most of the people in it graduated.  If they all went to MIT, then go to MIT.  If they went to Texas State U, then go to Texas State U.

    Keep an eye on the job market while you are in college.  Your advisors will do their best,  but you are the one who needs the job when you get out.

    Learn to write a complete sentence.  I now have a job where I need to hire people.  I can be very flexible about what they majored in, but if they can't write a coherent report, properly spelled and punctuated, and grammatically correct, then I do not hire them.  Your boss is not your proofreader. 

    Start your resume when you start college and keep it updated.  It's hard to reconstruct your work and activities for 4 or 5 years of college when you are graduating and desperate for a job.  Keep track of clubs, activities, honors, scholarships, awards, majors, minors, jobs, skills, etc.

    If you want to go overseas, this might be the time.  Many colleges and universities offer exchange programs where you pay the tuition and room/board fee at your home institution, and live and take classes overseas.  This is great for expensive locations like Tokyo, London, Paris.  A few countries may have cheaper rates than you're paying here and you might be able to negotiate the cost if that is the case.

     

    Finally, remember that you get out of it what you put into it.  If you put in minimal effort, you get minimal education.  If you put out lots of effort, you get a good education.

    show off  I have one degree only from sales and bus. adminastration thats one took me couple months to pay it off but I didn't want to work as a dryclean silk press wool press curtain pleater and pressing dum formal wear for 20 years so I did that..

    !. live way below your means and start stacking a dollar everyday in a massion jar just mar for college only

    2. cut expenses even more radially

    3. don't forget to stack away for retirement if you don't then you be totally be sorry (I know this one to well my x blew the retirement and the rest of it had to finish paying his stupid debts I paid mine off after ten years on a few hundred dollars a month I did it)

    4 do the can do it petering out is no excepton if the dollar is for a soda put in the jar instead

    5. or put it toward a 529 plan its meant for kids college most people don't know it should help the child threw school and its threw the bank and tax write off

    6. build up emergancy money for your self you guys need to be selfish for this if hubby breaks an arm ok take to gemeral clinic is open so go in there cheaper then er. they want cash in some places in others they take insurance but if you need to copay oooopppppppppsss no cash its there copayed money paid then if you need aprecription well ok money there if no insurance and if you copay on meds too then you have it don't scarafice health then follow other advice too.

  • Thu, Oct 13 2011 12:15 PM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    I found this on Facebook:

    I thought it was relevant to the discussion, and it brings a different perspective than what most people think of - especially those not on this board.

  • Sat, Oct 15 2011 12:13 PM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    Maggie Trudeau offered excellent advice (it's good advice for adults too!).  I followed a lot of that same advice and came out of college with very little debt.  I'm not sure how things will be for my own kid years from now, but I've committed to socking away some money every month.  I'd rather give up some things (bigger house, extra bathroom, new things, etc.) and put the money aside.  I just don't want her to start her adult life in debt. 

  • Sun, Oct 16 2011 8:28 AM In reply to

    Re: Saving on College

    Another really good tip is to look for FREE while you are on campus. Over the years, I have gotten free toothpaste, razor blades, pencils, pens, permanent markers, folders, spiral notebooks, binders, flash drives, highlighters, sticky notes, coffee and donuts, juice, book bags, and even a few free lunches. Some clubs host free movie nights (popcorn and soda included) and interesting guest speakers come for free. Also, some colleges are quite generous on printing costs on their free computer labs. My first college allowed $25 worth of printing. At ten cents a page, that was 250 copies that I did not have to pay for supplies on my printer at home. At the beginning of the semester, they hand out free t-shirts-totally free, no credit card app required. At scholarship fairs and welcome back days, they have free sandwich buffetts, cookies, and fruit. The local newspaper stocks newstands around campus with free daily newspapers. This is a great way to get a free paper to check the grocery ads on Wednesdays. And it should go without saying to take a refillable water bottle to fill from the drinking fountains and if you need a morning cup of coffee, make it yourself at home and tote a refillable container for that - although when I was at the community college, they had free coffee, tea, and cocoa in the student center.

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