Saturday, August 4, 2007

How to Save Money In College

I applied for over 55 scholarships my senior year in high school - and ended up heading off to college without shelling out any money (my own or my parents).

Once I arrived on-campus, I diligently pursued ways to save and earn money - and my dedication paid off. I graduated two years later with no debt. That's a semi-extraordinary feat in today's world wherein "the average graduate owes $19,000" and many graduates have debt "exceeding $40,000" (Source: 2006 USA Today article).

My motto was (and still is) to avoid loans at (almost) all costs.

Here are a few fantastic ways to get through college debt-free:
  1. Keep applying for scholarships. Just because you've set foot onto the college campus of your dreams doesn't mean you should give up on the scholarship quest. In fact, don't simply think of the "now." Think about how to get scholarships and grants for next year, the year after, and beyond.
  2. Take more credit hours. Many universities charge you the same amount of money if you take 15 credit hours or if you take 25 credit hours. And students are notorious for not taking advantage of this.
  3. Graduate in three years. Yes, it is possible. Most bachelors degree programs require about 120 credit hours. So, if you take 18 credit hours for six semester and 6 credits for two summers, you'll graduate in three years. And save yourself an entire year of college costs!
  4. Apply to niche programs. Investigate your options - the Honors Program, the Pre-Med Club, the Education House, etc. Many academic clubs and programs offer scholarships.
  5. Utilize the university library. Why pay hundreds of dollars for textbooks when you can just check them out at the university library? Really!
  6. Work on-campus. Apply for FAFSA. If you qualify, take advantage of a work-study program on-campus. If possible, look for a job in your major or department so that you can establish connections in your field.
  7. Don't take out loans. Loan companies will call you because they think you are vulnerable and naive. Other people in your life may encourage you to take out a loan. My advice: pursue ALL other avenues. Debt is dangerous and often it is the easy way out of working hard...
(Photo by: entropia)

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Excellent advice!! I hope my HS senior will do as well!

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