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5 of the Best Ways You Can Save Money in College

College is one of life’s most significant expenses. In fact, getting your degree can result in staggering debt that haunts for years, or in some cases, even decades into the future.

However, college doesn’t necessarily have to bankrupt you. College can and should be used as an investment in which you graduate with minimal debt, or at least an amount reasonably pegged to your expected earned income. To keep college affordable, consider these 5 tips for saving money while you’re in school:

Take out a FAFSA Loan

When you plan out how you will pay for college, you’re bound to consider various student loan options. Try to avoid private student loans at all costs, as these are the most notorious for high interest rates and for demanding large repayments shortly after graduation. Instead, consider taking out a FAFSA loan which is federally-funded and will charge you significantly less in interest. These loans are far easier to manage and are thus a fantastic way to reduce your overall college costs. Bear in mind that federally-funded loans are usually only approved for far lower amounts than what you can take out with a private loan company however, so if you’re looking to borrow a huge amount, you may have to set your sights elsewhere.

Utilize Your Benefits

Are you a veteran or a single mother returning to school to give your credentials and career a boost? Then you could easily qualify for government-funded benefits that will help you get through school for less. A variety of programs exist to financially assist single mothers pay for education-related costs, while veterans (plus active duty military personnel and their dependents) have access to a huge assortment of education benefits, like the Post 9/11 GI Bill, Yellow Ribbon Program, military scholarships and even reduced tuition rates. Explore your options carefully before you sign up for school so that you know exactly what you’re eligible for. Some schools will offer a far better value once you’ve factored in the variety of benefits on offer!

Attend a Tuition Guarantee Program

A major financial worry for college students is that their tuition rates will increase unexpectedly even while they’re in school, which could force them to take out further student loans and racking up far more debt than they’d initially bargained for. Fortunately, some colleges and universities across the country now offer tuition guarantee programs, which promise that the tuition rate you sign up for will be the one that you end up paying throughout the course of your entire educational career. Scared of being hit with tuition inflation? Protect yourself by attending a college that protects you with the guarantee. This is your only chance for determining a set budget for the total tuition costs, as it’s the only way to be certain that your tuition rates won’t rise each year that you re-enroll. With a tuition guarantee program, you will know exactly what you owe for tuition from day one, dramatically cutting the variability of your college-associated costs, reducing your anxiety and allowing you to do a better job of budgeting for your education expenses.

Get a Job

Many students choose not to work through college in order to focus on their studies and retain room for their social life activities, but getting a job in college can be very useful. Working your way through college may not sound like much fun, but it will help you decrease your student loan liabilities, and it can certainly provide for your everyday living expenses. What’s more, if you hold down a job related to your desired future career path, it will spice up your resume and help you land a better first position once you’ve graduated from school.

Be Frugal

While the majority of college students are indeed poor, the reality is that some of the poorest are poor for one very good reason – they aren’t careful enough with their money. Too many students treat their student loan money like pocket money, which results in graduating with an unnecessarily high amount of student loan debt. The easiest way to stay financially afloat while in college is to be as frugal as possible. Now, this doesn’t mean you have to survive solely on ramen noodles, but it does mean that you have to make some sacrifices. Be careful about where and how you shop, always buy generic brands and try to eat out as little as possible. When you do want to go out on the town, look for cheap night-out options – you’ll likely be amazed at how much you can save by taking on just a few frugal habits!

College doesn’t have to chain you down to years of paying off student loan debt. There are endless ways you can save a ton of money on college-associated costs, and those listed above are just the tip of the iceberg. Once you’ve committed to a more frugal lifestyle, you’re likely to begin noticing huge savings. Good luck!

Author’s Bio: Robert is a freelance writer and veteran who got his degree from a military friendly school. He enjoys helping others find out how to get the most bang for their buck in school, as well as spending his free time rock climbing, entertaining his girlfriend and travelling.

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Mike is the owner and main contributor for Mike enjoys learning about personal finances and works hard to help college students make and save money in college.

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