Your college budget planning doesn’t end with tuition, room and board, and books. This is why it’s important to outline all of your expenses when budget planning. Begin by talking to your family and your university’s Financial Aid department and determine which of your expenses are already covered by things such as financial aid, grants, and scholarships. You probably know by now how you intend to finance the rest, be it with student loans, college savings, a stipend, or a part-time job – but how far will that money actually go? Use these helpful student budget planning worksheets to determine what you’ll spend and what you can save.
Make the most of what you already have
If you have a full campus meal plan, maximize it. Dining out will always seem more appealing than heading down to the cafeteria, but doing so several times a week can add up fast. If you have a student card loaded with a certain amount of money that you can spend in the campus bookstore, eateries, grocery, or at select local businesses, don’t let that prepaid discretionary income go to waste!
Consider a work-study program
Work-study programs are administered through your college or university, and they provide flexible, part-time employment opportunities on campus or within the community. Your earnings can either be applied towards tuition and other college expenses, or (in many cases, but not all) placed directly in your pocket.
Buy your textbooks secondhand
While it may be convenient to purchase shiny new textbooks from the campus bookstore, you could easily end up paying several hundred dollars for a single semester's worth of required texts. Instead, buy your books from a trusted secondhand textbook retailer. Don’t let those books sit around collecting dust after the semester's over, either - resell them!
Take advantage of freebies
University life is filled with FREE entertainment opportunities for students: movies, concerts on campus, clubs, sports, and other extracurricular activities. If you tie up your time with on-campus activities that you enjoy, you’ll have less time to fritter your money away elsewhere. When you do venture off campus, be aware that the majority of local businesses are actively courting the campus population, so don’t be afraid to ask if there’s a student discount when you visit retailers, restaurants, coffeehouses, or movie theaters. Public transportation services may also be FREE or deeply discounted for local students with a valid ID card.
Need more advice about student finances? You can find more information about how to pay for college without loans, deferring your student loans, and more in the Protective Learning Center.