9 Tips to Save Money in College

We all know college kids are poor. We are poorer than dirt. We eat ramen, ramen, and more ramen. If you’re lucky, then this post doesn’t apply to you.. However, if you are looking at the costs of schools (including Muskingum’s whooping approximately $23,000-$33,000, depending on whether or not you live on campus) and are about to pass out because of how expensive it is, then this post is for you. Below I have some simple tips to help YOU get out of college with a little less debt.

1. Scholarships, scholarships, scholarships — and the FAFSA! I didn’t look my first year of college because my education was paid for completely. I REALLY regretted that fact when I was told that would no longer happen five days before I was supposed to return for my second semester. Applying for the FAFSA, no matter what your income, is essential. It is not a horribly difficult process, but if you ever do have questions, talk to a) your high school advisors, or b)a financial aid associate at one of your potential colleges. FAFSA will help a bit, but it likely won’t be enough to finance your complete education. At the end of this post, I will put a few links to local scholarship pages and more that you can check out.

2. Get a job on campus. For instance, I get paid one hour’s wage for each post I put on here. I now will also be working for the Black & Magenta, the university’s newspaper, which is $15 dollars per story. Sounds pretty small, but it adds up. There are other jobs on campus, too – you can work for CNS (they’re the computer people), the chemistry department, there’s a “costume shop” for plays, secretarial-type positions in various departments. And of course there are jobs OUTSIDE of campus, too. I work 20 hours a week at the Kmart in Cambridge – not my ideal job, but it pays. However, don’t work more than you have to – make absolutely sure you have time for studying and whatever else you’d like to be able to take part in on campus.

3. Keep track of your finances. Mint.com is a wonderful site that I have used before – it’s handy for tracking spending habits and planning for “big things” – i.e., a video game, concert tickets, a car (which I STILL do not have), or maybe an apartment in the future. Also, big tip – don’t go to the little grocery store in New Concord HUNGRY! You will buy way more than you need, and your money will go *poof*.

4. Try to use cash – you’ll be less likely to want to impulse buy when you actually SEE your money leaving your hand.

5. Get a student bank account that can actually accrue interest, and in the case you ever make an oopsie and overdraw your account, punishes you LESS.

6. Check out ALL of your options for books. If at all possible, avoid buying a brand new textbook. Some good sites include amazon and Chegg. Search around. I usually have several tabs opened at once as I compare prices. Other options include getting the book out of the university’s library for a couple hours at a time, or photocopying the pages. It takes a little more time, but then you can avoid the fee altogether.

7. Take advantage of what Muskingum (or other colleges) offers you. For instance, a girl in my sorority won a free TV from Centerboard here on campus. Instead of buying a gym membership, take advantage of the gym here and the exercise classes (Zumba and more!) Take advantage of the entertainment options, too. For instance, plays. This Friday after I’m done at work I plan on going to the biannual drag show Equality Alliance puts on, too.

8. Look at community college for your first two years before transferring to your dream school. It’s a lot cheaper – my semester at a community college was paid for completely by the pell grant — including books. If you are still a junior in high school, look at post-secondary options.

9. Maximize your summers. Get a job, an internship, volunteer, something. Do a semester a community college then, even. You’ll save money and get out of college faster. Plus, it looks nice on a resume – it shows you’re willing to work hard.

Remember: a little bit goes a long way!

Resources
Local scholarships/FAFSA guide -http://www.mccf.org/scholarship_central/students/pay_for_college.html
State and national scholarships -http://www.fastweb.com/
Muskingum’s financial aid- http://www.muskingum.edu/financialaid/commitment.html
Student Employment – http://www.muskingum.edu/home/financialaid/employment.html

-Devin

P.S.
Next week I’ll be posting an interview with one of my professors from the biology department to give everyone a little more insight on the major and its related opportunities. 🙂

My favorite nerdy coffee mug that I bought because I saved specifically to get it!

My favorite nerdy Lord of the Rings coffee mug that I saved specifically to get!

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