Attending college is a significant milestone for many young people. It provides not only an education for a career, but an education in life. Most students are entering into this new chapter at 17 and 18 years old. They are teenagers transitioning into adulthood with many obstacles and challenges surrounding them. The dreaded “Freshman 15” is one such thing. The term refers to the 15 lbs. that most students gain during their first year from eating fast food and snacking late at night late while studying. An increase in alcohol consumption can contribute to the weight gain too. The cost of these new habits adds up along with textbooks, incidentals, and unexpected expenses. Here are some ways that students can stay financially afloat while going to college.
Get a Job
Although this sounds like a given, it’s not always easy to hold down a job when trying to maintain a certain grade point average and attending classes. However if you can maintain a part-time job that fits into your schedule, you can keep money in your pocket. Getting a campus job is a great way to save time, gas, and money. Statistics show that approximately 40% of undergrad students have part-time jobs and 50% of them are on-campus. By working in the university library, dining hall, or coffee house, a student can offset some of the many expenses they face. It also provides real-life skills such as time management and teamwork. The work experience and employer references will also be a great addition to your resume.
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Avoid Credit Card Offers
Credit card companies will flood your mailbox with offers for a new credit card. They know that college students love to spend money frivolously and frequently. You will receive offers to establish credit history since you don’t have any, to defer interest charges for the first year, or various free gifts for signing up. Avoid these offers if at all possible. Many of these credit card companies will grant you a card or line of credit whether you have income or not. A monthly minimum payment of $15 seems low until you cannot pay it. The next month the payment will include a past due fee along with another payment. For every credit card you obtain, an offer for another one will appear. Pay cash or use a debit card for purchases whenever you can. Your credit history status will dictate your ability to buy a home, a car, and obtain certain jobs.
Live at Home
Yes, living at home with your parents/guardians will help you stay financially afloat while going to college. When deciding where to attend college, consider the schools in your hometown. By residing at home, you can eliminate out-of-state fees, dormitory rates, grocery costs, and various other living expenses. If you are already living on campus or in an apartment, think about moving home for the upcoming semester(s). It will definitely be an adjustment to change your patterns, but the financial savings will be ten-fold. Place the money that you would pay in rent in an interest-earning savings account. Once you have established some steady income or graduated, then you can be better prepared for living on your own.
Apply for Grants and Scholarships
A typical student loan must be repaid with interest. Although you can defer the payments until after graduation, it still must be paid back. If you withdraw from school or do not enroll for a semester, the lender can require the repayment start after a determined period. Whether you used all of the allotted funds or not, all of it is expected back. Student loan payments do not go away. Defaulting on them will negatively impact your credit history. Because of this, many parents and students feel the need to begin repaying loans before graduation. This can put a strain on current expenses. Grants and scholarships do not require repayment. The award criteria are generally based on financial need, grade point averages, and special skills among other factors. There are many grants and scholarships available that people simply don’t know about. Conduct a little research and apply for the free money that is out there.