Beyond the Tuition Bill: How to Save on College Expenses

David Sung | June 22, 2012

Covering the basic costs of college is manageable with scholarships, student loans and financial aid. However, college comes with a myriad of expenses not included in your tuition bill: lab fees, school supplies, books, extracurricular activities just to name a few. For the working college student, these expenses are near impossible to front without a cosigner or a nice graduation gift. So for college bound young adults, we present four inside tips to reducing the costs of college. 

Rent Don’t Buy

The latest must read book on vampires, wizards or zombies may cost you $30-$40 at your local bookstore, but the price of textbooks will take your breath away. Textbooks range from $300-$400 and that’s just for one semester! Taking your class schedule to your campus bookstore may be one of the biggest financial mistakes you can make. Instead, check out programs like Chegg, a text book rental service. With rental services you don’t have to worry about a new version lowering the sellback value of your book. Rentals often only cost a fraction of the price of purchasing the book.

Department Specific Scholarships

Textbooks aren’t the only items that come with a hefty price tag – the college “experience” can be expensive as well. Organization dues and conference fees are the extras that many college students can’t afford. But before you decide not to participate, ask around for department and organization specific scholarships. In some situations, alumni and departments will provide funding or scholar development grants that are specifically for these costs. You will be surprised how many hidden opportunities are available to offset these expenses.

Golden Parachute

Even with all the great ways there are to save money as a college student, sometimes your paycheck or refund check just doesn’t meet the bills. In cases like this, you may need to get a loan. However, be careful when selecting these loans. Schedule a meeting with a parent and financial advisor to discuss your school loan options. We recommend installment loans, which allow you to make smaller regular payments spread out over the course of a payback period. They can be up to $3,000 in some states and are easy to obtain.

Student-Related Discounts

You are a college student and there are plenty of companies willing to cater to your needs. While getting a student discount at your local restaurant is helpful, programs like the Apple Store for Education can help you buy a new Mac with a manageable price. Taking a test prep course? Some companies offer income-related waivers for students. It’s always a good habit to ask if there are student discounts for large purchases. College is tough already. Using these tips and budgeting will help to alleviate financial stress. Be frugal and seek the help when you need it.

"Cash Store and Cottonwood Financial Administrative Services LLC are only affiliated with the sites mentioned in the blog post that link directly to the Cash Store blog."

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