Everyone knows that college costs can get expensive. Not everyone knows is that there are plenty of ways to reduce this frightening cost. Here are five ways to help you save money before and during your college years.
1. Find free money
Free money? Seriously. There’s a lot of free money out there if you’re really looking. There are all sorts of scholarships available, and not just for super athletes or academic standouts. There are hundreds of essay contests and other competitions that can amount to significant sums for college-bound students. Google and Coca-Cola are just two examples of major corporations with robust scholarship programs.
Different scholarships are available to students at every stage, so make sure to keep your eyes open and apply for aid every year. As financial circumstances change for you and your family, eligibility for financial aid changes, too. Be sure to apply for a Pell Grant every semester.
If you are a student that is drawn towards a specific career path, seek out companies and organizations in that field and ask if they offer any assistance. For example, the TEACH grant is brilliant for students who know they want to become teachers.
2. Qualify for in-state status
The difference between in-state and out-of-state tuition can be tens of thousands of dollars. There is a lot of red tape in establishing yourself as a state resident, but if you’re sincere about your intention to live there, it is absolutely possible.
Professional assistance exists that will more than pay for itself while immensely reducing the stress and hassle involved in the process. The enormous amount of money you can save is certainly worth a bit of time and research.
In-State Angels is an organization dedicated to helping sincere applicants to safely navigate the treacherous bureaucracy as fast and effortlessly as possible.
Call in all your favors and leverage the power of the internet to boost your college savings! Make a compelling case, and paying for college could be easier than you ever dreamed. There are programs like GradSave and GiveCollege geared towards parents who open a 529 college savings plan early on.
General crowdfunding sites like GoFundMe can be used for any purpose, however, you’d better come up with a pretty powerful pitch for this tactic to be successful. Your best bet is to appeal for funding for a specific project, such as a study-abroad mission, to show that you are not just some lazy kid hoping someone else will pay their way.
4. Community service
Programs like the PeaceCorps and Teach for America will not only match certain grants, but offer debt deferment and forgiveness after graduation. These are intense endeavors not meant for the meek, but if the spirit compels you, these are powerful initiatives certainly worthy of your best efforts.
This world is desperate for enthusiastic young people to serve their communities, and there are plenty of incentives to do so. The Corporation for National and Community Service is a valuable collection of these opportunities.
Again, there are different options for specific fields. The National Health Service Corps, for example, offers loan and scholarship assistance for students pursuing careers in primary care and public health.
5. Anticipate and minimize indirect costs
This is good advice for life in general. The first step is proper planning. College costs extend beyond tuition, housing, books and food. You’re going to have a social life, you’re going to want to go home (or away) on spring break. That’s the way it should be, but it needs to be part of the budget from the beginning.
Having established an overall plan, there are a plenty of ways to mitigate extraneous costs. Buy used textbooks or just rent them with services like ValoreBooks. Learn how to cook meals for yourself – it will save you thousands of dollars over time, and is a fundamental life skill too many students don’t learn until they’re no longer students. Save money on gas by riding your bike, taking the bus, or walking when given the chance. Not only will this help you save some extra bucks, but it’s a great way to get some exercise!
About the Author: Jake Wells founded In-State Angels in 2009 after graduating from the University of Colorado-Boulder with more debt than seemed reasonable. He’s on a mission to prevent others from suffering a similar fate, and now advises students on how to get in-state tuition in the fastest way legally possible.