It’s time to accept the fact that college is expensive. All of it. Tuition, room and board, meal plans, commuter costs, parking permits. I’ve never received a bill from my University and thought, “Wow, that’s pretty cheap!” But guess what I did? I got a degree without acquiring any debt. And before you assume that I’m 80 years old and college was cheap back in my day, I’m 21, and I graduated in 2015. So take my advice, seriously.
- Go to community college first. I know, I know. Community college isn’t cool. Everyone wants to move away and start school at a university. And you can do that, if you don’t mind going into some debt. But if you’re anything like me, you want to avoid debt at all costs. The average published yearly tuition (and fees) for a public two-year college is $3,347. The average cost for a public four-year university is three times that. Be smart. Do you need to take Comp I and Comp II at a university? Or can you take them at community college for a third of the cost?
Double check with your university to make sure your credits are transferable. I had no trouble transferring Tarrant County College credits to the University of North Texas, but it depends on your major.
- Finance it. Maybe you’re ready to start at a university. You’ve got a little money saved up and you took your basics already. How can you pay that $10,000+ tuition bill? Talk to someone in the registrar’s office. They don’t always advertise it, but a lot of college campuses offer payment plans for your tuition. Instead of making one payment of $10,000, make 10 payments of $1,000. It’s a little easier on your wallet.
- Work part-time. Be sure you’re capable first. Start your courses and decide if you can work while in school without it affecting your GPA. Some people can handle it, others can’t. You can always cut back on hours if it’s becoming too much. It also helps to work for an employer who understands that school comes first.
- Do the math. When I was in college, I commuted about 45 minutes to and from school, two or three times a week. If you do the math, that’s about 4.5 hours per week in commuting. UNT is roughly 25 miles from my home and I get 25 mpg. So each drive cost me whatever the price of gas was that month. Let’s say gas was $3/gallon. That means I’m spending about $72 a month driving to and from school. Guess how much a one bedroom apartment cost in Denton? A lot more than $72. While moving away from home might seem ideal, sometimes it’s better to stay put while you can.
- Apply for FAFSA and Scholarships! I wasn’t a mathematician, nor was I an outstanding athlete. I didn’t expect to win anything, but I applied for a few scholarships anyway. I actually won a handful of them. I also knew that I wouldn’t qualify for much financial aid, but I applied anyway. and I did receive one small government grant that probably took care of a few textbooks. It never hurts to try.
These are just a few tips I have for paying a college tuition. Feel free to comment some of your advice, I’d love to share!
This blog was written by FTWCCU Marketing/Digital Commerce Assistant, Sammie Arriola.