Stop Draining Your Bank Account for College

January 18, 2012

MSN Money recently did a report on ways to cut college costs. This is important for students who have living expenses, high tuition, books, and other costs. If you are choosing to pay for college yourself with financial aid or if you work full time, there are ways to cut down on the cost and end the drain on your bank account. MSN Money has some recommendations for you to lessen the stress on your finances because of college.

Get Some Financial Aid

You may think that you do not qualify for any financial aid but you won't know for sure unless you apply. You can complete the application quickly online at FAFSA.gov. You can also look for scholarships or apply for loans. Federal work-study programs also help provide jobs for students. Some colleges will also allow you to negotiate your aid package. You can also find repayment plans through AmeriCorps, Volunteer in Service to America and Peace Corps for certain loans.

Pick Up Credits Where You Can

The more credits you can bring with you to college, the more you will cut down on the cost. This is especially true for seniors in high school who qualify for dual enrollment and AP credits. These courses will dramatically change how many credit hours you have to pay at regular college prices. In most cases, you can take these courses for free through your high school. You can take the first two years at a community college if you want to avoid costs and have already graduated high school. Community colleges offer credits for a lower cost that are also easy-to-transfer. Most community colleges partner with a larger university to make sure that transfers to a four-year university. You can also take classes at a community college while attending a four-year school.

Paying Living Expenses

The cheapest room would be living with mom and dad, but if you want some independence, you can always live on campus in a dorm for cheaper rent or look for a roommate. Commuting from home can also save you thousands a year. However, if you do go away to school, there are some other ways to pay for the basics.

  1. Some colleges require that you live on campus for the first year, but you don't have to automatically accept the three meal a day food plan if you're not going to use it. Consider a once a day or twice a day plan.
  2. Furnish a dorm room by visiting an American thrift shop or by looking online for second hand furniture.
  3. Work as a resident assistant. Typically this position is open to undergraduate after the first year, but this job does involve some work and a commitment to be on campus. However, you don't have to pay for room and board.
  4. Talk about options for buying a condo or a house with your parents. This isn't such a crazy idea as you can turn a profit. You can rent the rooms out to roommates and live comfortably while others pay the rent and you only have to chip in for utilities.

College students can spend up to 1,000 a year on textbooks or more. There are a growing number of cheaper options. You can find out what books you need earlier by talking to your professors and looking online for used books. There are also ways to rent textbooks now online. You can also look at places like Craigslist.org or Half.com for textbooks.

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