College Education Concerns in the 21st Century
(c) M. Ryder
Many students are ratcheting their budgets downward because of reduced incomes and financial aid. Nevertheless, college aid officers still see plenty of students appealing for aid for what the colleges call "lifestyle" expenses.
Alexander and other financial aid officers say that by making a few sacrifices now, students can cut their college expenses and potentially eliminate tens of thousands of dollars of debt payments.
Sell the car: "That new car with a
Forgo the suite: "I'm constantly amazed at the number of students who are struggling financially, yet choose to live in the most expensive rooms on campus,"
Drop the chalupa: Students can save hundreds of dollars--and quite a few pounds--by being realistic and disciplined about their meals, financial aid officers say. Students who return home each weekend can, for example, buy plans that offer only 10 or 15 meals a week instead of the standard 20, usually saving a couple of hundred dollars each semester. Students who like to snack can cut budgets and inches by eating at regularly scheduled cafeteria meals instead. At the very least, snackers can buy cheap, healthful food at grocery stores instead of ordering in pizza or raiding expensive vending machines.
Find cheaper credits: "Community colleges have become a great place for students to earn general educational requirements," says
Go on a technology diet: Although many students feel a laptop is a necessity, most colleges provide free access to computers. And because most offer free Wi-Fi, students typically don't need to pay for wireless data plans. Cellphone calls and text messages can also add up, so it pays to shop for a good plan.
Don't pay retail: Textbook, furnishing, clothing, and entertainment expenses can be slashed if students scour Internet sites like Freecyle, as well as thrift stores and libraries. Not only will public and college libraries lend free books and movies, but many also lend framed artwork for dorm rooms, and tools. Many Goodwill and other thrift stores sell brand-new and gently used clothes and furnishings at discounts of 80 to 90 percent off retail.
Pay bills on time and in full: Students often don't realize how expensive it is to be sloppy or lazy with bills. Bouncing checks typically costs at least
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(c) 2009 U.S. News & World Report