There are few things more discouraging than having your heart set on college only to discover you cannot afford to go. Sadly, millions of people find themselves in this very situation each year but as you are about to find, there are ways to attend college simply by knowing how and where to save. College in general is expensive but remember that you have viable options that would allow you to earn the degree of choice and without being in debt for many years to come and lower the cost of a college education.
For starters, while you may be interested in going to a four-year university, we strongly recommend you get all your prerequisites such as English, Math, Science, and so on out of the way by attending a junior or community college. As you can imagine, the cost of tuition and books between a two-year college and four-year university is staggering. Once you finish those mandated classes and have earned your Associate’s Degree, you would then have the opportunity to transfer your credits to a university of your choosing.
We also suggest that you carefully look at the costs associated with living on and off campus. Typically, it is more expensive to live off campus but for some universities, you may find sharing an apartment or house with trusted friends a huge cost savings. Keep in mind that many colleges and universities offer discounted room and board or even free room and board by maintaining a high GPA so it would certainly be to your advantage to learn if this is a possibility for the school where you want to go.
Another savings that comes from good planning has to do with transportation. Yes, it would be nice to take your personal vehicle to campus each day but parking can be extremely high. For example, some of the top ranked universities in the United States charge upwards of $200 per semester for a parking pass. Instead, you should consider using the public transportation system if living off campus. That way, you could keep your car parked where you live but benefit from the low cost of taking a bus to make classes.
Good planning also involves finding bargains on textbooks. If you are determined to buy new books, then you want to make sure you get to the campus bookstore early or all books will be gone. However, by finding out which classes would use the prior year’s books, you could find used textbooks online, use them from friends, or even check message boards at the college or university. In addition, some books can be checked out at the campus library or even downloaded from a number of online resources.
Although it is important to have a social life as a part of the college journey, this is where you really need to plan carefully. You want to create a plan that allows you to go out with friends and enjoy the overall educational experience but you will also need to be disciplined. With a prepared budget, stick to it even if you have friends trying to sway you to going out to dinner when you know the money is not there. As an option, you could have people pitch in to buy groceries and actually make a nice dinner that ultimately would cost much less than buying dinner out.
As you can see, there are many ways you can plan to attend college while living on a budget. The number one goal is to go to a great school where you can earn the degree you want. However, you also need to be realistic that while at school you need a life. It all comes down to researching various savings options and thinking outside the box. With a little flexibility and creativity, there is no reason you cannot have an amazing educational experience but without spending a fortune.