College is as much a life experience as it is an education. It’s often the first opportunity to experiment with some independence. However, that independence comes with a price as spending and saving turns into a serious priority.
With your freedom come financial choices. Do you still need a checking account for college? How will you pay for tuition, books and room and board? Some people opt for student loans while others may receive assistance from family.
Either way, college can hone your budget balancing abilities if you first understand what’s really needed to fund your higher education. To help you assess the true costs of attending college, we’ve outlined a few things to think about.
Education may be fundamental, but it’s not cheap. According to the Institute of Education Sciences, annual prices for undergraduate tuition and room and board were recently estimated to be $12,804 at public institutions and $32,184 at private institutions. Between the 1999 and 2009 school years, general prices (adjusted) at public institutions rose 37 percent. Prices at private institutions rose 25 percent. To help offset the cost, remember to apply for scholarships where you can.
College textbooks may wind up costing a student hundreds, if not upwards of $1,000, per school year. To save, buy used books when you can from other students or online. Reselling back to the school bookstore after a semester may seem like a good idea initially, but it’s the best way to recoup the cost you paid.
Many colleges offer a prepaid meal plan that can range from a monthly allowance to unlimited food. However, in many cases, you pay for the convenience. Institutions that offer such plans can charge whatever amount deemed appropriate for store goods, which leaves the student with limited wiggle room. Savings can be found if part of your grocery bill is supported by smart shopping at a local grocery store. Additionally, grab coupons and cut away at your expenses.
What college student doesn’t want to enjoy their newfound freedom? For many, a limited budget means the first thing to go is entertainment. Remember there are other options for free fun. Many colleges have sporting events that allow students free admission. Enjoy a run around campus and burn off the freshman 15. If you’re lucky, your college will offer a discount theater featuring recent movies at a reduced price.
These tips can help you slice some of the financial stress off your college experience. A little advance planning can go a long way.