It’s not too early to start preparing yourself or your child for college! In this day and age, college is expensive due to rising costs of tuition, room & board, and even textbooks. As a result, students can struggle financially. According to a survey by Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, 36% of university students don’t have enough money for food. However, with proper management, this crisis is preventable.
One of the major college expenses are room fees. According to the survey listed above, 36% of university students and 46% of community college students reported that they struggle to pay their rent or utilities. To help, consider finding a roommate(s). Rent and utilities will be split evenly, saving you hundreds of dollars. If your university requires that you live on campus for the first year or two consider moving off campus as soon as it makes financial sense. More often than not, houses and apartments are available to rent with monthly payments lower than the university’s room charge.
Another major factor in college costs are textbook prices. Ask any current college student and they will tell you just how much textbooks are outrageously priced. In fact, the average college student spends over $1,200 yearly on books and materials. Luckily, there are some loopholes you can take to avoid spending this much. For example, don’t buy/rent your materials from your campus’s bookstore unless absolutely necessary. Professors provide the ISBN number for their textbooks, which can be used to find the textbooks elsewhere. Websites such as Amazon, Chegg and SlugBooks offer your textbooks to buy/rent for less money than the bookstore. Secondly, opt for renting your textbooks when possible. Unless the textbook is related to your field of study and you strongly believe to you will reuse it, renting is the cheaper alternative. If your textbooks are available to rent as e-texts, consider that option because it is often less expensive than renting a paperback.
A third piece of advice would be to leave your car at home, especially for your first year. Parking passes range anywhere between a few hundred dollars to even a thousand dollars at some universities. Gas can also be expensive and will cost you even more if you are giving rides to people (which you will likely do). Instead of bringing a car, check out other means of transportation. Most campuses offer shuttle services or discounts on public transportation. Bikes and Zipcars are also great alternatives.
In addition to the advice above, create a budget and stick with it. Keeping track of how much you spend on a weekly or monthly basis will help eliminate unnecessary expenses and help you distinguish between “wants” and “needs”. Do you really need that iced venti triple shot caramel macchiato every day or will a regular cup of coffee suffice? Apps such as Abukai or Wally Lite are free apps and great resources to use if you are struggling to keep track of your expenses.
Most importantly, have fun. College is one of the best times in your life and it should not be ruined by unnecessary stress on finances. If you still find yourself struggling after these tips, our counselors are available to give financial education and guidance. Don’t hesitate to reach out for help.