As a student, your main focus is on your studies and having fun. However, it is important that you have a clear picture of your finances as the mistakes you make in college will follow you throughout your life. There are a great many students who are graduating in the red and facing financial problems. You can stay out of debt if you plan and monitor your expenses.
Here are 5 proven ways to stay out of debt:
1.Look for options available to save money on your college fees:
It is important to consider all options that can lower our education costs and how much money you really need to borrow (student loan) because private college fees can add up quickly.
• You can apply for scholarships, grants, tuition discounts and work-study or opt for an in-state school. You can use a search engine like FinAid or Edvisors to see what is available.
• Ask for merit scholarship which requires only an essay.
• You can go to a Community or Commuter College and save money. By not staying in a dorm or apartment you can save more than $10,000 dollars a year. After getting your basic coursework locally you then transfer to a college of your choice. In this way not only do you save money by working and living at home but also cut your college bill by half.
• You can also apply for financial aid from the Federal Government. Financial aid formulas are complicated but you can send in your FAFSA form which is free and find out how much you can qualify for.
2. Maintain a budget- You should monitor and limit all monthly expenditure by creating a budget and sticking to it. It is not necessary to have the latest gadgets, computers, clothes and car to have a good time as these things can come after your first real job. By setting limits on your spending and sticking to them you will form good spending habits and start out on the path to shaping your financial future. You could also consider affordable college housing options to help you save.
3. Avoid Credit Debt- You do not need a credit card to make it through college. You can use a no-fee debit card which has fixed amounts on deposit for college expenses. But if you do opt for a credit card as you may think it is essential to establish a credit record then you should be living on a budget and the amount you have to pay on your credit card monthly should be taken from that budget. You have to set a limit on its use (only for emergencies) and should avoid credit card debt at all costs as they have a potential to wreak havoc in your life.
4. Working While in College- Working while studying will not only make it easier to manage your money but also help you gain work experience. You may also benefit from tuition assistance and employee benefits offered by your company. You can also take up an internship, a part-time job or a summer job. This will not only help you manage your finances better but the work experience can help you plan your transition from college to work.
5. Saving Money- It does not make sense to fall into debt to pay for your college education. You can save money by being smart with your food shopping, not overpaying for transport and taking advantage of students discounts. You can also save money by buying course books at discounted rates and ensure you pay your bills and the right taxes on time. By doing all this you can save for your tuition each semester or quarter. You should also have an emergency fund saved as well and should hold off on purchasing a home or condo but can have an affordable car if you want.
The above measures can help you save your financial future and you can enjoy a carefree college life without debt hanging over your head.