1. There Is Nothing Wrong With State Schools
If you have a scholarship, by all means pursue that private school. If not, there is nothing wrong with a state school. If you are taking out loans, there is no reason to get into debt with a private school. You will receive just as good of an education staying in your state and you might have an easier time getting a job in the future. If you plan to come back home to live, chances are that there will be a larger number of alumni near you.
Think beyond just the tuition cost as well. If you go to a state school, you may be able to live at home. That will save you a fortune in rent, utilities and meals. In addition, it will be far cheaper to travel home for the holidays and you might be able to stay in closer contact with your family. It is much easier, for example, to come home on a random weekend if the drive is 2 hours versus 10.
2. You Can Go To A Big School Later
Let’s take the tuition saving strategy a bit further than just going to state school. You can save even more by simply going to a community college for the first few years. There are may reasons to go this route.
For starters, you will save thousands of dollars every year. It might not sound like a big deal now, but when you are 25 and working on paying down your student loans, you will appreciate the time you spent at community.
Another reason to consider going the community route is that for the first two years, all of the classes will be the same. You do not get into your major until your Junior and Senior year and the basic classes at state college will be the same ones offered at community college. They might even be easier and still give you the same credit.
Finally, when you do eventually make the transition to a big school, nobody will need to know that you ever did the community thing. Your bachelors degree will only have the name of the big school on it.
3. Take A Budgeting Class
Chances are good that you have no idea how to budget. You have spent all of your life up to this point living at home and having somebody else take care of you. Now, you are being asked to manage your own finances. It can be a tough transition, you are about to have a lot of bills. You might have rent, utilities, tuition, food and even phone bills to pay.
See if your college of choice offers a budgeting course for new students. If not, seek one out locally. Learning to budget is easy, but it might not come naturally to you.
4. Rent Your Textbooks
You might think that getting used books from the campus bookstore is the best idea but it is probably not. If you go this route, you are in for a little surprise.
When you buy used books, you probably have the idea that you will be able to get a lot of this money back at the end of the semester. You bought a used book after all and the school will buy them back from you and just sell them to another kid.
Nope, this is not guaranteed. Schools are constantly changing the book that they use and they might not even buy your book back at all. If they do decide to buy back a book, they will only buy a limited number of them and they may not give you much in return.
If your book is available for rent, this is the way to go. You will save.
5. Get A Part Time Job
Your classes will probably limit your free time but you should be able to find a few hours here or there to get a few hours of work in. Put the money towards entertainment or limit the amount of money that you need to borrow to get through school.
With your odd class schedule, you will be a bit limited in the jobs that you can do. The obvious choices will be food service and grocery or department stores. Stores like Target or Walmart will be your best choice. They have shifts at all hours and are in desperate need of employees. Both companies just recently upped their minimum wages. In addition, you won’t be dependent on tips and you won’t come home stinking of food.
6. Take Advantage of Your Campus
Spend as much of your time as you can on campus, soaking up the experience and saving money. Most schools will have plenty of free entertainment that you can take advantage of. Free shows, movie nights and other social events. They will let you save your money for other things and stay dialed in to your school.
In addition, get a meal plan and take full advantage of it. Fast food can add up in a hurry and contributes to the weight gain that so many college Freshman experience.
7. Watch Out For Credit
As a new adult, you will now be fair game for the credit card and short term loan companies. You will start receiving offers almost immediately.
Be careful, it is far too easy to get in over your head and wind up with bad credit. Don’t think that you can afford a card just because it is offered to you. Credit card companies want you to get into trouble. They don’t make money off the people who pay off their statement every month. They make their money from the ones who carry a balance and pay the minimum.