Learning and Loans: 5 Ways to Stay on Top of Your Finances in College

by Mike on May 30, 2014

Learning and Loans

Attending college opens several doors and prepares you for a lucrative career; however, many potential students postpone this opportunity because of the cost. The average college student graduates with $29,400 in debt that takes years to pay off. There are ways for students to save money and graduate with a significantly lower debt amount – or none at all.

Follow these five tips to stay out of the red.

Think Scholarship, Not Loans

While loans need to be paid off, scholarships are gifts. They also range in diversity and requirements. There are scholarships for minorities, for students entering a specific field, for students with good grades, and for clubs and athletics. Not only does the money help you stay out of debt, it also keeps you motivated. Most academic and athletic scholarships require students to have a certain GPA, and maintaining it will help you land a job when you graduate.

Limit Your Expenses

Dorms, meal plans, and books all add significant costs to your college experience. Living on campus could leave you hundreds of dollars in debt or stuck in student loan hell. Instead, continue to live at home for a few years while you commute to a nearby university, or attend an online school of business instead of traveling to the brick-and-mortar one. The degree and quality of education are the same, but the price tag is drastically lower.

Learn How to Budget

College is one of the first times that students are in control of their own finances. For the first time, they have to limit their spending and choose what they buy wisely. Unfortunately, many students choose beer over food and are broke by the end of the month. Good habits when you’re young lead to a long and healthy life, and college is the perfect time to learn how to budget yourself. Pay attention in your Intro to Finance or Accounting 101 class; you’re about to learn something that’ll help you in the real world.

Don’t Quit Your Fast Food Job Just Yet

You might think that just because you’re out of high school, you can quit your first job and never look back. Not so fast. Keeping your job through college – whether you transfer to a franchise in your area or come back to work on holidays and weekends — will increase your spending money. The job isn’t glamorous, but it’ll help you pay for books, a meal plan, or even course credits. Paying off little expenses early adds up, and it’ll be worth not having them as part of your debt when you graduate.

Don’t Take Summer Off

If you’re paying a one-year lease near campus, you don’t want to waste three months of rent by taking summer vacation. Try to enroll in a few classes during the summer, whether they’re online or on campus. Studying through the summer could even lead to you graduating early, which could save you almost a year’s worth of rent.

College tuition and expenses won’t decrease anytime soon, so why put it off? Attend today, but attend with smart finances.


Know someone about to start college who could use our ideas? Been through college yourself and think we missed something? Leave us a comment and dont forget to share!


***Photos thanks to Shutterstock.***


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