If you are a high school student who plans on going to college, it may be wise to begin thinking and planning on how you will fund your college education—the earlier the better. More often than ever before, students are stepping into the college life with little or no financial support from their parents. Is it possible to pay your way through college without going into debt? Can this be done without scholarships and/or grants? Take heart. With some careful planning and follow-through you can get yourself through college on your own dime without selling your soul to a bank loan officer. Consider the following possibilities:
- Tuition Payment Plans: If you are able to work your way through college but do not have all of your tuition money up front, Tuition Payment Plans are a reasonable way to avoid student loans. These are usually short term 12 month loans, but check with your institution of choice for specific details. Be sure to ask about fees or interest charges which are usually very low.
- Work Part Time While in High School: If you are a high school student with a part time job, you have a golden opportunity to save money. Assuming you have no rent or bills to pay, you are in a great position to set yourself up for a good starting college fund. Make a plan to save a specific portion of your paycheck. A high school student who works 25 hours a week at minimum wage for 4 years will earn $37,700.
- Take advantage of In-State Tuition: You will save a significant amount of money by choosing an in-state college. Though figures vary, it’s a pretty safe estimate to add $10,000 to out of state tuition.
- Avoid the Greek Life: Think twice about joining a fraternity or sorority, as most college students do not realize the cost associated with a Greek organization. There are usually bid acceptance fees which vary but are around $100. Membership will have many additional costs associated such as membership dues, housing costs, social events, parties, clothing and meal plans.
- Students who opt to do their own grocery shopping can save a significant amount of money. Meal plans can be expensive and shopping wisely at a grocery outlet instead can save hundreds of dollars. Clipping coupons and cooking in bulk can also be great money saving strategies. Use your own recyclable shopping bags as most stores now charge a fee for supplying your grocery store bags.
- Look for alternatives for purchasing your college textbooks. Buying them new from the college or university bookstore will probably be the most expensive option, and there are usually second hand bookstores in the college community. Websites that rent college textbooks are also on the rise and offer much cheaper alternatives. Look for sellers that have a buy back offer so that you can get some of your money back once you have finished the course.
With a little research and careful planning, paying your own way through college is indeed doable. You’ll avoid long term debt and student loan payments in the future. You will be glad you did!
Dave Landry Jr. is a personal finance consultant and finance blogger. He has worked with several students over the years to ensure that they are practicing proper frugal methods. Dave also frequently contributes the DepositAccounts blog, providing helpful money saving tips.
Dave, on behalf the international Student Caring community, we thank you for this article: “6 Ways to Save Money as an Independent College Student”.
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