The time you spend in college is sure to be educational, fun, and sometimes stressful. One of the biggest stressors facing college students is money. If you are getting ready to enroll in college and have yet to form a budget, you need to get on the ball. Remember, even though you are attending college to learn and have fun you are not going to be able to do so for free.
First things first, you need to get a good feel for how much college really costs. If you have never taken the time to write out all your expenses you may have a false sense of what you are going to spend during your college years. Here are several expenses that you must absolutely budget for. Remember, these expenses will vary based on the college you are attending:
2. Room and board
3. Miscellaneous expenses
4. Books and other coursework material
Now do you see why college can be so expensive? While tuition and room and board are sure to cost a lot, other expenses can add up as well. This is why you need to have a complete budget that shows not only your expenses, but also your income.
When starting a budget, ask yourself the following three questions:
Where are you going to get the money to pay the above expenses?
This may be the most important question to answer. For some, scholarships, aid and grants are available to lower the cost of tuition, room, and board. Be sure to apply for as much “free money” as possible. Any money you receive from the school or a federal program is money you don’t have to pay out of your own pocket.
Of course, more and more students are finding that taking out loans is the best option. While you should consider other options first, this is a good way to get the money you need for tuition.
Will your parents be able to help? Some students have parents who will not only pay some of their tuition, but will also offer spending money on a regular basis as well. Have you asked your parents to help you with the cost of college?
Finally, don’t forget that you can get a job to offset some of your expenses. Believe it or not, this is the best way to pay for your college experience. You may not earn enough to pay for every last dollar, but a job is a good start.
How can I cut back my expenses?
Instead of trying to find more money why not consider how you can cut back the expense column of your budget? You may be able to do this by purchasing used books, opting for a less expensive meal plan, or doing away with partying five nights per week. If you closely study your budget you should find a few ways to save.
Do I have enough time to work more hours but still maintain a social life while getting good grades?
Unfortunately, many college students spread themselves so thin that their job begins to affect other areas of their life. Remember, you are going to college to receive a degree above all else. Although having fun is important, you want to make sure that your grades come first. Making money to pay your expenses is a big deal, but you don’t want to compromise your grades along the way. If you do, you will find yourself in debt but also in jeopardy of not graduating. That doesn’t sound like fun, does it?
By asking yourself the above questions, while also having an idea of the expenses you will incur, you should be able to implement a solid budget before leaving for college.