A college student studying

Saving Money On College

College is expensive and getting more so every year. Students are quickly learning that they will be in quite a bit of debt when they graduate college. And debt, is never a good thing. There are thankfully, some things that you can do to minimize this debt. Check out these tips that can shave thousands of dollars off of your loan debt.

1. Take Less Classes In College

An easy way to save money in college is by minimizing the courses that you take in college. This might sound strange but there are several ways that you can do this.

First, take as many classes as you can in high school that will earn college credit. Advanced placement classes can eventually save thousands. You would save on the cost of the class, the cost of the books and because you may be able to graduate early, living expenses.

Another way to take less classes in school is to decide on your major as soon as possible. Doing so would allow you to streamline your degree plan so that you are not taking any unnecessary classes. An indecisive student can end up with several classes that do not count towards their degree plan. This is wasted money, possibly thousands of dollars at a major university.

2. Take Advantage Of Community College

Community college has come a long way and it is no longer looked down on. You can cut your educational costs by as much as two thirds in your first two years of school by attending community college. Your local community college may even have a partnership with larger schools, streamlining the transfer process. Once you make the transfer, your undergrad degree will be from the major university and nobody even needs to know that you went to community.

If you still want to start at a state or private school, there are still some ways that you can take advantage of community college. Go to summer school at community. During the summer before you start at the major school and between your Freshman and Sophomore years, take a few of your core classes locally. You will save money and shorten your overall school time.

3. Apply For Every Scholarship & Grant You Can

When you apply for financial aid, you will have to complete a FAFSA. This checks your eligibility for federal aid and grants. There may be more out there though.

Ask your school for a complete list of scholarships and grants that you can apply for. Complete applications for every one that you might qualify for, no matter how small. Even a little 200 dollar grant is worth pursuing if it saves you from a 200 dollar loan. Do your research an you might be surprised at just how much money there is out there. For example, here are some scholarships and grants you may have missed.

Also, have your parents check their work. Many employers such as Coca Cola have scholarship programs available.

4. Go To A State School

States schools can be as much as a third of the cost of a private school. Unless you are getting a full ride to that private school, it might be a better idea to stay in your state.

The allure of that private school may be strong but consider your future. Do you want to be crippled in debt or do you want a manageable student loan payment? Overwhelming student loan debt in the future can stop you from getting credit and achieving the American Dream of home ownership.

In addition, if you plan to live and work in the state you grew up in, there may be a bigger alumni base from the state school. This could make it easier for you to get a job in the near future.

5. Use Federal Loans Over Private

If you need to take out loans to pay for your education, choose your federal loan options first. Stafford loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. The type that you qualify for will depend on your need.

If you qualify for a subsidized loan, the government will pay your interest while you are in school. They will also pay the interest during your grace period and any deferments.

With an unsubsidized loan, you are responsible for paying the interest on the loan.

In general, federal student loans will be cheaper than a private loan. In addition, after college, they will offer many more flexible repayment plans. This includes many income based plans.

6. Work

These days it is easier than ever to work your way through school. You might not earn enough to completely pay for your education but every dollar you earn is one that you do not have to borrow.

The trick to working in college is to find a job that is flexible. Here are some that you might consider.

Walmart: This major retailer just raised their starting wage dramatically in order to compete with other stores for employees. Couple this with the fact that they are open 24 hours and you get a well paying job that can be fit into anyones schedule.

Uber: If you have a reliable car, this might be a good option as well. Uber reports that drivers can expect to make around $25 an hour. It is also an extremely flexible job since you can work when you want and for as long as you want.

Sell Plasma: You can make up to 400 dollars a month selling your plasma. That is like a 400 dollar loan that you do not have to take, each month.  In addition, donation times are fairly flexible and you can study while you donate.

Dog Walking: As a college student, you probably have some down time during the day in between classes. Use that time to make money by walking dogs. Use a service like “Rover” to get the work. They take a cut off of every job but it is way easier than finding jobs by yourself.

Food Service: Food service can be a great way to make extra money but be careful with waiting tables. It can be a lot of work for little money. Check out neighborhood cafes and bakeries. They are often much more casual and fun and pay an hourly wage you can depend on. In addition, many of them throw the leftovers away every night so you might be able to take a bag of food home every day.

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James Car is a finance, loan and budget expert based in the United States. After attending Brookhaven college, he went on to become a successful entrepreneur. He now enjoys writing articles that help people save and make the most of their money.