With student loan debt currently at an all-time high of $1.59 trillion, it’s no surprise that parents and students are searching for ways to reduce costs. But unfortunately, not many know where to look for resources or how to cut costs. Instead, they get stuck in the never-ending cycle of accepting student loans and going into debt.
So, we’ve put together a list of resources to help students cut college costs and reduce the amount of debt they take on.
Start at community college
Community college allows students to take all pre-requisite classes at a fraction of the cost of university, which greatly reduces overall tuition costs. Starting out at community college also has the added benefit of smaller class sizes, making the transition from high school to college easier.
Starting at a community college also gives students the option to continue living at home, which is a HUGE cost saving.
Consider dual enrollment
When I was in high school, I attended “zero-hour,” which meant I started class an hour before school officially started. This gave me the ability to take courses at my local community college in the afternoon.
When I graduated from high school, I was technically considered a sophomore in college. Because I was a high school student, I received an additional discount on my college courses which helped cut tuition costs and saved me a bunch of money.
How to save money while in college
Cutting college costs isn’t all about tuition or where you attend school, but more so about how wisely you spend your money while you’re there.
Compare housing options
Living on campus feels like a right of passage. Many students want to live on-campus. However, if you’re trying to cut costs, choose your dormitory wisely. For example, when I was in college, I lived in the cheapest/oldest dorm. Yes, the rooms were older, we had community restrooms down the hall, and no, I didn’t have as many amenities as some of my peers.
But, I didn’t feel like I was missing out on anything. I still met some amazing friends and was able to fully immerse myself in the college experience.
Choose the right meal plan
To be honest, campus dining isn’t great (at least in my experience). When I was in college, my parents got me a top-of-the-line meal plan to ensure I never went hungry. However, after making friends and familiarizing myself with the campus, I found myself eating less and less in the dining halls.
I took advantage of the community kitchen in my dorm and cooked meals with friends. And while I don’t recommend this last part, I also became a big fan of microwave meals like Lean Cuisine.
Don’t buy new textbooks
On average, students who purchase new textbooks spend $1,240-$1,440 per school year. Students who buy used textbooks or electronic textbooks can save 50%-75%!
If you’re taking classes with friends, you can cut costs even more by splitting the required textbooks’ cost and sharing.
Generally, your school library will have copies of all required reading materials and textbooks, the only caveat being that these books can’t be checked out. So, you can even study in the library and use the materials without having to spend a dime!
Consider becoming a Resident Assistant (RA)
Being an RA will give you the ability to live on campus FOR FREE! Keep in mind that you’ll have responsibilities, so be sure to do your research before applying for and accepting this position.
Exhaust all financial aid options!
I know, I know… you’ve probably been told to fill out your FAFSA® and apply for scholarships a hundred times. But, you’re being told that for a reason. By applying for financial aid, you’re opening the door to gift aid, which is financial aid that doesn’t need to be repaid.
If you have questions about cutting college costs or need helping applying for aid, we’re here for you! You can email the Frank team at firstname.lastname@example.org or text us at (347) 690-7886.