One of the most financially difficult moments in your life is the start and cost of college. Between tuition, books, and fees, it’s easy to wonder how you’re ever going to afford the costs of attending school.
We have compiled a very realistic budget for college students with practical money-saving advice on everything from student loans to budgets, all while providing real numbers on how certain choices or decisions may affect your bottom line.
This is based on the average cost of attending a state university or community college plus room and board. We will be using this as a guideline since our goal is not to provide cheapskates with strategies on living on less.
This sample budget below should consider both your room and board expenses and other living expenses such as food, books, gas, and entertainment.
College Students Monthly expenses
Tuition – $3000.00 (including room and board)
Room & Board – $7000.00
Cost of books – $1000.00
Work-study wages @$8 per hour – $160.00
Total monthly expenses: $15,960/year
There is a lot of to think about when you’re starting college. The most important is your budget. How can you ensure that you have enough money to cover all your expenses? Here are some tips:
School Email/ID Number For Discount
To sign up for discounts and promotions from your school bookstore. You can save thousands every year on textbooks, especially if you rent them.
Create a budget spreadsheet
This is the best way to track your spending and make sure you have enough money for all of your expenses.
Get a job. If you can find a job that pays enough to cover some of your expenses, it will help lighten the load on your budget. Work on campus if you can, or work off-campus to save money for rent, food, and books.
Look for a position that provides you with the most financial benefit (like waitressing at a restaurant) rather than just whatever stays open the longest.
Set aside money for rent
It’s essential to budget for the necessities of living on campus, like rent, food, and utilities. Many students do not know where to start when budgeting for these expenses.
Start slow with a bookkeeping class. Take a look at the possible savings if you start an accounting program. The cost of a credit card bookkeeping class can be less than paying bills by the time it is over.
Keep track of your spending. With a personal accounting program, you can track how much money is coming in and going out. This way, you’ll know where all your money is going, and it will be easier to budget for the future.
Apply for scholarships
Make sure you are awarded as much financial aid as you can by doing the proper research when applying for financial aid programs. Look into financial assistance. Getting grants and loans is very difficult, so don’t wait until you apply for it. Start early and keep your name in the running until you receive those funds.
Apply for every scholarship for which you qualify. Even if you don’t think you will win, it doesn’t cost anything to apply, and it is worth the application fee to see if you qualify. Also, be sure to contact community foundations in your area; they often give out small scholarships that are easier to win than more significant scholarships.
Find out about student loan programs
Student loan programs can help those who have no way of financing their education. When applying for these loans, be sure that you can pay the money back. Many students drop out of college because they cannot keep up with their loan payments.
Use your computer instead of a checkbook. Paying bills online is the best way to keep track of your spending, and it can save you money on check-cashing fees as well.
Borrow from other students. It’s easier than buying new textbooks, and it saves a lot of money in the long run.
Set a budget. Your budget should be based on your college expense. Look at the cost of college and determine how much you are willing to spend. Budget for all your classes, meals, transportation, and basic living expenses wherever possible.
Use a coupon book
Find out which stores give the most coupons and then go to the store regularly. Use your coupons, and you can save a lot of money on purchases.
Get yourself organized. One way to keep track of your money is by getting yourself organized in a financial management program like Quicken. It will help you categorize all your information for quick access and make life much easier for both you and your parents and your professors.
Ask your parents for college help
It is important to know that your parents may help if you need it. They might have some cash on hand, or they could give a loan until the next payday, which will keep them from feeling too guilty about not lending money sooner! You can also ask for advice by talking with them in person, so don’t hesitate – go ahead and make contact now before things get worse.
Reduce unnecessary spending. Look for areas where you can cut back. Do you go out to eat a lot? Can you cook your meals instead? Is there anything you can do to get by with fewer expenses? Maybe if you can find ways to lower some of your costs, you won’t need as much money this semester.
Reduce your loan balance. Ask your loan provider if they can lower the amount of money you owe them. If you still have a large debt burden when you graduate, it is going to be very difficult to get by on your income.
Consolidation is something to consider. Consolidating your debts is a great method to reduce your interest rate. If you have ample loans, it might be helpful to get one loan with a better rate.
Find the best deal on loans. If you can reduce the number of interest rates you will pay, consolidate your loans and reduce them to save money for you in the long run. If you are struggling to find a job after graduation, this will also help you pay off your debt faster instead of having it sit there doing nothing for years and years.
There are numerous ways to save money while in college and many strategies to keep your expenses low. The most important component in determining how much money you need is to know what your costs will be and ensure that you can pay it with the amount you can make after college.
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