Planning on attending college? Getting a college degree is a great way to open up opportunities and make yourself more marketable to employers.
But college is expensive.
From tuition to housing to meal plans, the expenses add up quickly and it’s quite a hefty sum. College is an expensive investment, so you’re likely wondering how you can cut costs wherever you can.
Here are some money-saving college hacks to help you get your degree without amassing lots of debt.
Compare Textbook Prices
Textbooks are an expensive, but necessary part of college. However, you can likely find a cheaper copy than what your university book store has available. Compare the costs of textbooks to make sure you’re getting the best deal.
Additionally, your college or local libraries may already have an available copy of a book you need, so always check there first!
Consider Community College
Tuition for community college is significantly cheaper than state schools. When attending community college, you can still make the most of your time at college without having to pay for on-campus housing and meal plans.
You can get your general education courses out of the way before transferring to a state school, where you can finish your degree.
Apply for Scholarships
To lower the cost of your tuition, and in some cases have it completely paid for, apply for scholarships. Depending on your activities and grades in high school, you may be eligible for academic or sport-related scholarships. Research available scholarships and decide which ones could help you pay for college.
Cook for Yourself
If you can, forgo the meal plan or choose the cheapest option and cook for yourself. Not only will this allow you to shop around to find ingredients that will be cheaper than the expensive food on campus, but you’ll learn how to cook in the process.
This money-saving hack is also a healthy alternative to eating out regularly and can help fend off the freshman 15!
Skip the Expensive Drinks
You know the morning coffee run that sometimes makes you late for class? It’s not necessary and is often expensive.
Brew your own coffee in the morning with cheap beans and a reusable thermos to save yourself some cash in the long-run!
Find Off-Campus Housing
If the dorms on your college campus are full or more expensive than you can afford, you can likely find some affordable options off-campus.
Among the best ways to save money in college, look around for a cheap apartment within driving or walking distance from your college. You’ll likely be able to find something significantly cheaper than living in an apartment on campus and you won’t be forced into buying a meal plan.
The only drawback to this is you’ll likely have to invest in a parking permit or find a bus to take you to campus.
Use Public Transportation
Lots of universities offer cheap or free shuttles to transport you to and from campus. They require that you learn a bus route, but can save you gas money and other car expenses, while keeping you from getting a parking ticket. It also gives you the opportunity to get work done while you sit, waiting to reach your destination.
Attend Free Events
Sure, a night out with friends is fun, but it’s an expense you can leave out. Instead, try to find cheap things to do at home or attend free local and campus events.
Free college events are a great way to meet new people and hang out with your friends without breaking the bank. Just keep an eye out for flyers and social media posts advertising free events.
Cut Out Nonessentials
You may have to prioritize between what you need and what is a luxury. Though they’re fun, eating out, having date night, or going to the movies are all luxuries that you don’t need. The money could be better used for grocery shopping, school supplies, or toward your rent.
Get a Part-Time Job
If you have the time or can find an employer who’s willing to work around your busy college schedule, a part-time job can help ease expenses and even give you pocket change. As an added bonus, you may be able to get a discount wherever you decide to work.
A part-time job is also great for networking and finding references you can use when you apply for jobs after college!
Use Your College Library
This money-saving hack can help ease the cost of your textbooks and software expenses.
Not only can you borrow book at you university libraries, they also have an online database full of free tools you can use instead of paying for them elsewhere. From online articles to Microsoft Office suite, make use of your university library’s free tools!
Depending on your major, you can also likely find an on-campus lab that offers specialized programs such as Adobe software.
Make a Budget and Stick to It
Each month, figure out how much expendable income you’ll have and decide how to spend it. You can help figure this out with a free budgeting app that takes your wages, savings, and any allowance into account.
Making a monthly budget is also a good habit to get into because they’re useful for managing your money beyond college.
College Hacks to Save Money
Now that you know how to save money in college, you can rest a little easier knowing you won’t be accruing as much debt as you could be. Put a few of these college hacks to the test!
Be sure to check back regularly for more lifestyle advice!