Getting through college takes a tremendous amount of focus and discipline. From attending classes and completing projects to staying up all night for study sessions, you often become an expert at managing your free time, class schedule and college workload.
One item that’s sometimes overlooked by college students, however, is getting a handle on finances. Yet, while you may have a limited budget to work with, there are quite a few ways to rein in your expenses, organize your finances and build an easy-to-follow roadmap for your financial future.
As part of our ongoing series on borrower budgeting, our experts have come up with a few tips on how you can save money during school and still enjoy the college experience. By following these tips, you may even find a few extra bucks each month to pay down your student loans while you’re still in school, and feel better prepared for life after college.
As student loan specialists, our job is to make your student loans as affordable as possible. So, if you’re stuck with a 10-year repayment plan, it might be best to look at other repayment options that can save you money after college. Or at the very least, make your monthly payments far less challenging.
These options include:
While you may not be ready to change loans right now, it’s a great time to begin looking at alternatives that can extend your repayment period, lower your interest rates or reduce your student loan payments. Then, once you near graduation and you’re getting ready to start repaying your loans, you’ll know which plans are best suited for your financial situation.
College tuition is already a considerable expense, but when you factor in the costs of textbooks, your finances may take a serious hit each semester when you’re purchasing new materials. Instead of buying new textbooks for your college classes, be sure to exhaust all your resources for used textbooks first.
You might be surprised at the number of local retailers, online stores and libraries that have the same textbooks you’ll be using in your classes at much lower prices than you’ll find in your college bookstore. Or in some cases, you may run across price matching guarantees and payment plans that make textbooks more affordable. Plus, there are often tons of campus community groups available in your area that offer textbook swapping and borrowing as another alternative, so it’s definitely worth looking into.
Credit card companies sometimes capitalize on the budget constraints of college students by sending out pre-approved applications for lines of credit. For the average college student, however, this can lead to financial disaster.
Fortunately, the U.S. government saw this worrying trend well in advance, which led to the passing of the Credit CARD Act of 2009. Signed into law by former President Barack Obama, the legislation aimed to “…establish fair and transparent practices relating to the extension of credit under an open-end consumer credit plan, and for other purposes.”
Since then, credit card use among college students has dropped significantly, according to studies from several reputable student advocacy groups. But the fact still remains: with introductory interest rates on credit cards being considerably higher, and the limited budgets of college students, it’s better just to avoid using them altogether except for absolutely necessary expenses.
Your student ID is much more useful than you might think, as it may be your ticket to incredible discounts at stores, restaurants, movie theaters, museums, sports arenas and other fun venues in your area.
What’s more, your student ID can also help you take advantage of discounts at a variety of big-name online retailers. This includes such popular websites as Amazon, which offers a free six-month subscription to Amazon Prime, among other cool benefits.
Another great way to save money while you’re in college is by taking up residence in your school’s dorm rooms. While it may be a bit “close quarters” for some students, you’ll be surrounded with people who have the same goals and aspirations as you, and it will often take far less time to get to your classes than if you lived off campus.
If you’re not completely sold on the dorm life, you might also consider getting a roommate to help split the cost of an off-campus apartment while you’re attending school. Better yet, if your roommate shares your major and is in the same year of college, you could be setting yourself up with a study buddy while you’re saving big bucks on living expenses.
This same rule applies when it comes to transportation, except an added bonus is that most schools will include campus and public transportation in the costs for tuition and fees. This means you could be enjoying a worry-free and cost-free commute to your classes or anywhere in the area where these transportation benefits are available. And they will usually get you anywhere you want to go locally.
If you’re ready to learn more about the money you can save with other repayment plans, or you’d like to learn more about student loan forgiveness programs, contact our experts at (800) 670-4196 or fill out our online form. We can help you decide which programs will benefit you the most, or if you qualify for a big reduction in the size of your student loans.