Don’t we all want to save money in college? College is such an exciting, but also very expensive time in your life. The average student loan debt is $32,731! Most in-state students can expect to spend approximately $25,610 per year on college expenses, and students attending out of state schools can expect to spend $27,437 on tuition alone. That is a crazy amount of money! I am all about saving money, and want to share some ways you can save money in college. Here are my best tips on how to save money in college.
How to Save Money in College
1. Take More Credits
A lot of schools charge the same price for tuition whether you take 12 credits or 18 credits! If your school does this, take advantage of it! I am not telling you to take 18 credits every semester, but if you are serious about saving money, consider taking a few 18 credit semesters. This way you may be able to graduate early, avoid taking summer classes, or you can even have a super easy final few semesters when your work is getting hard.
2. Graduate a Semester Early
Graduating a semester early is sure to save you THOUSANDS of dollars. You will have one less semester of tuition and living costs to pay, and you will be able to get into the workforce and get a proper job! You can graduate early a number of ways, such as taking AP credits in high school, taking extra credits each semester and/or taking summer classes.
I am graduating a semester early myself, and I did it by taking winter classes at community college & taking extra credits a few semesters. The total cost for the 3 winter classes I took was $1500, and the extra credits didn’t cost me anything as they were included in my tuition. Taking another semester would have cost me around $9000 in tuition plus living expenses. By graduating a semester early I am easily saving over $10,000! Graduating a semester early is one of the biggest ways I have chosen to save money in college.
3. Start College at Community College
This is the other big way I chose to save money in college. While I completely understand community college may not be for everyone, it worked well for me, and allowed me to save a lot of money on school. If your school is going to be online next semester, maybe consider doing your first semester at community college to save some money!
4. Save Money on Textbooks
There are so many ways you can save money on textbooks! I never buy a textbook until the first day of class, because sometimes you honestly do not need them. If you’re buying textbooks check on Amazon, see if there are free PDFs online, or consider just borrowing it from the library if they have it. Your school bookstore is likely to have the book at a much higher price then other retailers.
5. Take Summer Classes at Community College
If you have to take summer classes, consider taking them at community college. Community college is much more affordable than 4 year schools, and a lot of the general education credits transfer very seamlessly. Not only is it guaranteed to save money in college costs, you can also save money in living costs by being home all summer!
6. Apply for Scholarships
This may seem obvious, but apply for scholarships! You should regularly look for scholarship opportunities each year of school, as there may be new scholarships you become eligible for based on your grades or activities you’re involved in. Scholarships have helped me to save money in college
7. Get a Part-Time Job
So this won’t actually save you money in college, but it will give you more money! Consider saving the money from your job to put towards next semesters tuition or save it to pay off your loans.
8. Ditch the Meal Plan
Meal plans are great freshmen year when you’re living on campus, but you really don’t need them beyond that. Meal plans can be expensive, and if you’re not on campus you may not even use it all. An easy way to save money in college is to cook your meals at home, and eat out less frequently.
9. Live Off Campus After Freshmen Year
It is almost always cheaper to live off campus, and you probably will want to after freshmen year anyway! Do your research, and remember that you do not have to have the nicest apartment or house in college!
10. Minimize Your Student Loans
If you can minimize the amount of money you take out on student loans in any way, do it! The less money you have in loans the better. Also try to pay your loans off as quickly as you possibly can, so that you don’t spend extra money on interest!
11. Budget & Track Your Spending
Budgeting your money is so important! Know where your money is going, and see places that you can cut costs. By budgeting you can set aside money to pay off your loans, or pay next semester’s tuition.
12. Sell Old Clothes & Don’t Buy Expensive Clothes
Repeat after me: I do NOT need expensive clothes in college. Don’t get me wrong, I love clothes and love to spoil myself every now and again, and that’s totally okay! But you do not need to be spend a ton of money on clothes top look cute! Look at cheaper clothing brands, buy clothes from thrift stores, or borrow clothes from friends to save money on clothing. Also sell your old clothes, Plato’s Closet and Uptown Cheapskate are two of the places I often sell clothes at! I then use the money from my old clothes to buy new ones.
13. Take Advantage of Student Discounts
Did you know that there is student discounts for just about everything? You can easily save money in college by using student discounts. Always search for student discounts or use coupons to save you money! Honey is a great app/plugin for finding coupons, and Unidays has great student discounts.
14. Take Advantage of Free Stuff
Colleges always have on campus events, and often times events will have food or drinks! Find out when there are events on campus and make sure you go to them. I recently went to an on campus blood drive & scored myself a Starbucks gift card just for giving blood.
15. Take AP Classes in High School
If you can take AP classes in high school, do it, it is sure to save you money in college. AP classes are significantly less expensive then college classes, and will give you credits for college if you achieve a certain grade.
16. Apply To In State & Cheap Out of State Schools
If you are really wanting to save money in college, make sure to apply to some in state schools, as well as out of state schools within your price range. Am I saying you shouldn’t apply for your dream schools? Absolutely not! But if you don’t receive the aid or scholarships you were anticipating, having affordable backup options is always good.
17. Don’t Buy a Parking Pass
This is a really easy way to save money in college. Parking passes on campus can be SUPER expensive and sometimes it is difficult to find parking spots on campus. Lots of colleges have free buses that students can use & you should definitely utilize them! Not only will you save money on the parking pass, you will save some money on gas as well.
18. Don’t Take Your Credit Card to the Bar
This one is pretty obvious! Credit card + drinking = Spending wayyyy too much money!! Take cash to the bar so you know exactly how much money you have to spend. Once its gone, you’re done for the night!
There are my 18 tips to save money in college! As always, thanks for reading!