This is the first instalment of our Money Monday series which offers tips on financial management, planning and wealth creation. It is your best spot for guidance on how to live your best life on a budget.
Many college students have recognised the need to pay tuition themselves as their parents or guardians are not able to give them the needed support. With the rise in economic challenges, this initiative has become very important. Whether you are just starting college or already in the middle of college, you should create a budget that would make it easy for you to fund your studies. Here are some tips.
Choose a college with lower tuition rates
If you are just starting school, then choosing an affordable institution should be your first priority. Factors like the location and whether the school is public or private should not be overlooked. Public schools are generally cheaper than private schools. Ignore the claim by many that public schools do not offer quality education; they are equally good like the private schools.
Scholarships and grants
These come in varieties and they are the best way to pay for college. Some scholarships are awarded based on merit, that is, on academic or artistic achievement. Others are based on your financial situation, your location or the school that you are attending. Scholarships and grants are often awarded by the government, schools, religious organisations, individual donors and nonprofit organisations. If you are already in school, you could talk to your professor or anyone who could give you more information about scholarships and grants. The good news about grants and scholarships is that, unlike loans, they do not need to be repaid.
Be careful with how much you borrow as you will have to pay it back. Find out the major types of student loans available, how they differ, and which kind best fits your financial situation. You should also budget how much you would need per semester and borrow only that amount of money. In some jurisdictions, it is advisable to limit the amount you borrow in private student loans because the interest rates are higher than the government ones.
Work while you attend college
Part-time jobs and work-study programmes (offered by some colleges) will enable you to raise money for your tuition and other expenses in school. Apart from giving you the skills and network you will need, these jobs can help you avoid taking student loans which can be a source of a burden later. You could otherwise work full time and attend college part-time. Everything depends on you.
Living on a tight budget is one of the easiest ways to avoid further debt as you attend college. Apart from working to lower your expenses, you can also save money by getting a roommate instead of living alone in a hostel. Alternatively, you could live at home with family to avoid fees associated with living on campus. Opt for used textbooks as well instead of buying new ones which are mostly expensive. You could rent a book from a friend or a relative or try the eBook option. There are so many textbooks which are now published in digital formats. They even cost less. Go for such books and save money. Use public transportation as well when you need to move to and from school, as it is less expensive. In many colleges, there are campus buses or shuttle system which is free or less costly. Otherwise, to save more money on transportation, you could go in for online degree programs which would not require you to leave home.