Everyone is broke in college at some point. Whether you have to support yourself fully or your parents are helping out, it can be tight. In the two years that I have been in college I have found a few ways to make the overall cost of higher education lower for myself as well as my family. Taking extra classes over summers, living at home and budgeting for everything are three ways I’ve kept the cost of my college education to a minimum.
Firstly, the university or college that you choose to go to can greatly increase or decrease the price. I went the route of diving straight into a four year university, and bypassing taking my prerequisite classes at a community college for two years. However, my summers have been spent taking at least six hours of classes at my local community college in order to save money. Seriously, paying $250 for a psychology class that you care nothing about is a lot easier to stomach than a $2,500 class with 500 people in it.
In addition to taking some classes at a community college, where you live during your time at school actually costs more in many cases. Recently I had to make the hard decision to transfer from Texas Tech to The University of Texas at Arlington in order to cut back on living costs associated with campus living and being away from home. The tuition bill that I received for this coming semester was a quarter of what I had been paying previously, solely because I no longer had to pay a room and board fee to the university. As hard as this decision was to make, I’m glad I made it because I am now well on my way to graduating completely debt free from college!
My final tip on having a low overall cost during college is to watch your spending, and to budget. To keep it easy on my parents, I kept my spending to an absolute minimum and (for the most part) only bought things that were necessary, like shampoo, laundry detergent, and school related items. All other expenditures for fun things like road trips, going out, concerts, and spring break were all on my dime and I would plan – way in advance – how much I would be spending. I budgeted the small amount of money that I had left over from my summer job and made it work with what I wanted. I had to learn to say no if I could not afford something, and I learned a lot on what was important to me. I made sure that whatever I ended up spending for fun money, I still had a little leftover in case I needed to make a grocery run or needed something outside of the realm of school.
Whatever your financial situation, whether it be living paycheck to paycheck while putting yourself through, or having everything covered by your parents, these are great ways to help keep college costs as low as you can. While living at home, taking classes at a community college and simply not splurging all of your money on ridiculous and unnecessary things are sacrifices to make, it is so worth it in the end when you’re paying a fraction of the cost for higher education. Paying less now will be so beneficial later in life when you don’t have to worry about paying loans, so you can worry about more important things.
This essay was submitted by Hana Bickley for FTWCCU’s Cash for Class contest. Hana is a Finance major at the University of Texas in Arlington.
*Post has been lightly edited for grammar, spelling, and punctuation.