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Top 7 Tips to Save on College

It’s not news that college will be one of the biggest investments in your life. According to the College Board, last year’s average cost of tuition and fees was $30,094 at private colleges, $8,893 for state residents at public colleges and $22,203 for out-of-state residents attending public colleges.

Whether you’re paying for everything on your own or mom and dad are footing the bill, you’ll want to cut down your college expenses wherever you can. Here are a few ways to save:

  1. Think Local.  As you can see from the statistics above, it’s cheaper to go to college in the state you live in. If you live near your school of choice, but not in the same state, don’t despair. Some schools offer regional discounts to help reduce your tuition costs.
     
  2. Go Community.  Community colleges used to have a bad rep – but not anymore. Most community colleges are just as good as the bigger state schools, and they’re much more affordable. Even if you only go for a year or two and then transfer to a bigger college, you’ll still be saving in the long run.
     
  3. Look Everywhere.  Your credit union or other local organizations offer small scholarships to help defray costs. If you’re thinking of applying for larger scholarships, never assume that you won’t qualify. Apply anyway. You never know, you end up with a sizeable scholarship waiting for you.
     
  4. Start Small.  When buying the supplies you need for school and dorm life, start out with the basics. You can always get the other things later on if you really need them. And when you do make purchases, save money and go for the cheaper pens, notebooks, etc. Every penny matters!
     
  5. Do Discounts.  Most college towns are full of stores and restaurants that offer student discounts. Check your school’s website or student union for a list of local places that will give you a discount just for showing your ID.
     
  6. Eat Cheap. If you’re paying your school for room and board, your meal plan is like gold. Dorm food is usually cheaper than going to a restaurant and is definitely offers more nutritional options. And be sure to use up the allotted amount each semester and adjust your plan if necessary, or you’ll be throwing money away.
     
  7. Plan Ahead.  If you have to get a student loan, make sure you get all the information before you sign. Know your interest rate and what your monthly payment will be so you can plan your future budget accordingly.