5 Ways To Save Money At College

Photo by Steve Wisbauer, Brand X Pictures

Graduation means a lot of things for students getting ready for that proverbial long road ahead: no more studying, partying into the night, job hunting and, of course, those nasty little creditors nipping at your heels for that outstanding debt of yours! For those of you already shelling out some coin, sorry we didn’t post this article sooner. But for the students who have yet to graduate or enter college, the Kansas City Star recently published a list of ways to save some green and we at COED thought it would be wise to share it with you.

1) Know Your Loans

Sadly, getting a loan isn’t as easy as walking up to the nearest bank teller and banging your fist on the counter demanding money. Not living in a perfect world, we’re instead given four different types of loans to choose from: PLUS loans, subsidized loans, unsubsidized loans and private loans.

Complicated? Yes, if you don’t know what you’re doing, but the best loan to start out with is a subsidized Stafford federal loan due to them being ideally cheap and having a 3.4 percent interest rate. From there, max out an unsubsidized Stafford loan, and have your parents take out a PLUS loan, where they are the borrowers. The most expensive loan of these four is the private/alternative student loan; this loan should not be taken out before your parents have looked at a PLUS loan.

It also doesn’t hurt to hit up your college’s financial aid office to help alleviate the burden of your loans and debts. Work with them to see which financial aid packages are eligible based on your family’s standings in terms of income and other factors. In this event, it helps to come hobbling in on crutches and coughing into a soiled hankie for maximum pity, opening you up to the best packages. It’s a tad unscrupulous, but so are your creditors!

2) Prioritize Your Budget

The money you’ll be making after you graduate is never a sure thing, so unless you’re positive that fire hazard of a super computer you’ve been building in your dorm room is going to make you rich, your first paycheck will be modest at best. This means you better be mindful of what you spend to avoid being slammed with an outrageous debt after graduation.

First, it helps to know how much your major will cost when it comes to buying books, software and other materials. Using that as a frame of reference, sort out what you consider necessities and frivolous expenditure. Things like travel, housing and computer hardware are things to keep in mind during this process.

Photo by WNS

3) Get A Job

Many college students turn their noses up to the idea of getting a job during their time at college. It all boils down to the fear that a part-time gig flipping burgers at McDonald’s cuts into their study time, leading to poor grades and the impending eventuality that they’ll be wielding that spatula for quite some time. Remember: no one said you had to take a job off campus. There are plenty of jobs available on within the school with flexible hours – meaning that you’ll never have to worry about taking up that late-night shift at Starbucks when you know you really need to hit the books for that exam the next day. So you’re getting your hands on some cash and you have the time to study, not too shabby, friend!

4) Keep The Credit Slow

Uncle Ben once told his nephew Peter, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Your parents – not quoting this timeless adage verbatim – most likely said the same thing as they dangled that shiny new credit card in front of your face. But just because your parents aren’t around to monitor your spending doesn’t mean you can buy anything and everything in sight. To play it safe, opt for a student credit card with a parent co-signer or a secured credit card for even more added monitoring. With a secured credit card, you never have to worry about spending more than you need or overdraft charges since it pulls money from a cash deposit. This means the money your parents deposited is the money you get. No muss, no fuss!

5) Graduate On Time

When it comes to choosing a major, now’s not the time to be indecisive. Your inability to make up your mind means more time spent at college, racking up your overall debt to a point where it’ll take years to pay it all off. Don’t sit around idle during your first years at college, choose what you want to do in life carefully and early without second thoughts or regrets. The last thing you want to do is switch majors at the last minute and end up staying at college for another few years – you can just hear that ominous ring of the cash register right now. Take as many classes as you can to aggregate the needed credits within four years.

On that note, don’t extend your stay at college just so you can keep the party going. Believe me, as fun as those keg stands seem now, you’re going to want to kick yourself for staying on campus for eight years – not to mention you’ll forever be known as that creepy older guy hitting on the barely legal freshman girls.

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