The Best Money Saving Tips for College Students
Whether it’s your first semester or your last semester, saving money while going to college could be the most important lesson to be learned. There are a lot of ways to keep cash in your wallet this semester. Read on to discover five strategies to save hundreds or even thousands of dollars on your college expenses.
5. Don’t buy brand new text books
It’s not a mistake to buy your books brand new, but there is a much more cost effective strategy you can use to save hundreds of dollars every semester.
Sites like Abebooks.com will give you 40% off the cost of college textbooks. Text books cost far more than what they will be worth to you. Half the time, your professors will only want you to read a small portion of the book anyway. Beat the system and call, email, or meet with your instructors about one month before classes begin. Ask them if it would be okay if you used a previous edition of the required textbook for their class. More often than not, there is absolutely no difference in the editions except for a couple of negligible sentences. If your instructor says it’s okay, ordering a second edition is easy to do online and the cost will be a tiny fraction of the most recent edition. A $160.00 book’s second edition may only cost $10.00.
4. File your FAFSA as early as possible
In the past, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid opened on January 1 each year. Recently, the FAFSA website is now allowing students to file on October 1 of the previous year. That means you could snatch up state grants three months earlier than in previous years. This is also important because many students don’t know about this change, and since you know now, you can get ahead of the game and rake in those grants for yourself.
3. Make sure you’re filing your FAFSA under the correct dependency status
What is your dependency status? If you don’t know for sure, let this article help you out. Your dependency status can only be one of two categories: dependent or independent. You are a dependent student if you are filing your FAFSA with your parent’s tax information. You are an independent student if you are only entering your tax information on your FAFSA. Independent students often receive more financial aid than dependent students since the parent’s income is being factored into the financial aid eligibility for the dependent student. If you are 24 years old or older, married, have a legal dependent, are an orphan or ward of the court, a veteran, a graduate or professional student, or if you have very unusual circumstances such as your parents are incarcerated, then you may qualify as an independent student. Make a visit to your financial aid office if you think you’re eligible.
2. Apply for scholarships
Your college will most likely have a website where you can find their scholarship application. These applications are often filled out months in advance of the academic year of their intended use, so if you’re a little late just go ahead and start getting ready for next year’s scholarship opportunities. Scholarships often involve essay writing, so if you are a strong writer you should give this a shot. Scholarships are not all based on writing skills, so browse through your college’s options and see if there’s an opportunity for you. You can save thousands of dollars with scholarships.
1. See if you are eligible for a tuition waiver
Waivers are money saving miracles, and they are plentiful. The most popular waiver is the GI Bill for veterans of the military. This waiver should provide assistance with tuition and housing among other benefits. Another popular waiver is for those who grew up in foster care. It’s often referred to as a Foster Care Waiver, but it may go by different titles depending on the college. Another useful waiver is for employees of colleges and universities. They can get free tuition on select college credits simply by being employed by the institution. This waiver is full of benefits because you can work full time and earn a degree along the way, even if you start out as a janitor or cook. This is not to be confused with work study, where a student is hired by the college under a student labor agreement. That is not a waiver, but it is also a great way to earn money while going to college. Talk to a financial aid counselor to learn more about waivers, and if you think you’re eligible you can contact the agency offering the tuition assistance to start the process. You can also talk to a student labor specialist to learn more about work study.
The cost of college in the United States can rival the price of a house or a new car, so it’s important to develop a strategy to avoid spending more than you have to. If you don’t feel confident completing the FAFSA by yourself, always feel free to stop by your financial aid office. They can walk you through the process and help you get the most grants. They may also advise you on how to apply for scholarships, waivers, and work study. Textbooks are often purchased with financial aid, but you can keep that grant money in your pocket by following these tips.