My college days are long behind me, however, with a teenager at home, college expenses are not far from my mind.
When I attended college I already had my daughter and I was considered a “non-traditional” student and took classes online and on the weekends and evenings. I didn’t have to worry about the normal college stuff because I already had my own house and was married.
Although, whether you are going off to college or are getting to send your kids off to college, it is important to think about the potential major expenses they will incur.
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I have invited guest contributor Dorothy Gracious here today to share her insights on how to prepare and manage major college expenses the right way.
Will I be able to manage everything?
You can’t help wondering this as the time has finally come where you are required to start your college journey.
Every minute, you are attacked with the fear of getting out of the comfort zone, meeting new people, making new friends, undertaking new courses and experiencing new events.
And while you successfully console yourself to deal with the anxiety of change, another apprehension hits your mind like a thunderbolt, “How will I manage my expenses?”…
You might be responding with a resounding “YES”.
Well, managing costs have always been a major concern for students planning to attend college or are already enrolled. With the pressure of submitting assignments within the deadlines, completing internships, being an active sports participant, and spending late nights with friends, managing finances seems to be a catch-22 for the majority of students.
The good news is with a proper assessment of expenses and forming a budget, any student can lay a strong foundation for money management and ensure a smooth transition to the new phase of academic life. Below, we have highlighted some of the significant expenses that occur in college along with the savvy tips to manage them.
No other decision has the potential to affect the costs as much as the choice of the college. More often students choose to attend the college on the basis of reputation and not affordability. As a result, they struggle to pay the tuition costs and end up regretting their decision for the years to come.
Pro Tip–While accreditation plays an important role in choosing the right college, considering all the alternatives thoroughly can save yourself from committing a decade of debt. Never get lured with the prettiest campus or the popularity of the college, instead look for the options that offer the best value for money.
There are many renowned public universities that provide the best education at the least cost, however, if you have the scholarships or grants to back up for the cost of a private college, you can definitely opt for it.
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Every year, a large number of freshman choose to live in dorm rooms as it provides access to controlled living costs and dining centers. Besides, you don’t have to worry about rushing to campus or fighting for parking spots. However, dorms take a huge percentage of the monthly expenses and as a result, many find themselves with no option of savings.
Pro Tip–To save money on accommodation and to avoid a mountain of student loan debt, you need to take decisions wisely. Go for the dorm rooms in an older building rather than the newer buildings and find yourself a roommate to mitigate the dorm costs.
Spending on Textbooks
The average cost of books for college students ranges from $300 to $1000, which is equal to a few months’ rent. And in many cases, those untouched, spotless books always seems appealing to students to buy. But resist! Buying new textbooks will negatively affect your entire month’s budget.
Pro Tip-Even though the bookstore seems to be a convenient option, there are plenty of alternatives available that can make a huge difference in the amount you pay. Spend a few minutes browsing online looking for Kindle or iPad or books online. Even with shipping costs, the costs will turn out to be cheaper.
It is an inevitable expense in a student’s life. Whether you commute to campus or plan an occasional trip home, you’ll have transportation costs. On average, a student spends $1760 per year on transportation, which is nearly half of the average tuition fees.
Pro Tip–Transportation costs vary depending on the location where you stay and the mode of transportation you are taking. Living on campus save you from such costs but when it comes to off-campus, paddling a bicycle or using public transport always proved to be the best ways to cut down costs. As the costs of operating a car like fuel, maintenance and parking sometimes exceed the overall budget.
Yes, it’s not just the college fees or transportation, you also need to figure out how to feed yourself! You can take the bus instead of a cab, buy used textbooks rather than the new ones, but when it comes to food it becomes impossible to make cutbacks. And of course, starving yourself is not a healthy option. So, what is the pro tip to follow here? Read on to know…
Pro Tip– One of the most effective ways to save money on food is to make a meal plan. This will help to avoid last-minute orders, keep a tab on the spending and make the most of leftovers. Apart from that, never visit a grocery store without a shopping list. This is because it helps to avoid impulse purchases and wastage of money.
Being a student, it is natural to end up procrastinating and planning for leisure activities. This includes meals out, concerts, movies, sporting events. All these activities have a serious impact on discretionary cash.
Pro Tip–Why underestimate the fun of staying in for the night and inviting friends or roommates for a game of chess, classic board games or video games. Even a cup of coffee or tea provides you as much fun and an opportunity to create and cherish memories.
College can be expensive and sticking to an annual budget can be a painstaking process. However, getting acquainted with the basics to manage finances means you don’t have to be a victim of massive debt. Smart budgeting and spending wisely always help you achieve your academic goals without any hassle.
Dorothy Gracious is a professional blogger whose passion lies in delivering valuable content to her readers. She explores topics mainly related to finance that includes the stock market, money saving tips, and much more.
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