When a student starts thinking about college, most do not think about their expenses of making it through. Getting in was the easy part. The classes, while difficult, are easy when compared to the biggest reason people do not finish their degrees or even make it to the first day of classes: they cannot afford it.
When compared to their parents, students today have the obstacle of increased tuition rates. Moreover, unlike the past, students with part-time jobs—some even working full-time—are unable to cover school costs. So what is a student to do? Is the dream of putting yourself through college even possible anymore? The answer is yes, but it comes with a caveat. The caveat being that while possible it involves hard work.
Apply for Financial Aid, Grants, and Scholarships
The most obvious way to put yourself through school is to apply for financial aid, grants and scholarships. There is a multitude of scholarships and grants available to students across the nation. Grants and scholarships are great because you do not have to pay them back. The key is to find them and apply for them early. Do not wait until the summer before classes start, for that is too late.
Financial aid will help you pay some of your tuition and other bills, but do not forget that you will need to pay them back at some point so do not just depend on financial aid. Yes, you need to focus on your studies, but you also need to ensure you do not saddle yourself with a huge debt the moment you leave college. If anything, you need to try to build your credit (Adam from ModestMoney.com discusses how in this article) while in school.
Find Yourself a Job
Concentrating on your studies is difficult enough, and having to juggle that with a part-time job is only more so. Your grade might suffer some because your focus is not always on your coursework; however, at the end of the day, companies do not pay attention to what your first-year psychology grades were.
To be sure, work is not always easy to find; looking for work can sometimes feel like a full-time job, but every little bit helps.
Yes, college is about independence as much as it is about working towards your degree. If possible, students should live at home as long as possible. Of course, if you have are going to an out of town college that might not be feasible. In that case, you should be looking at off-campus housing.
Off-campus housing is substantially cheaper than staying in a dorm. Furthermore, while meal plans are convenient, you should consider buying and cooking your meals.
Be Smart with your Money
Just because you have money in the bank does not mean you can just spend it willfully. This is particularly true when you receive a lump sum from financial aid or grants. You need to budget your money and allocate it properly, so your money lasts until the end of the term.
Smartphones and the internet are awash in financial apps that will help you do just that. At the very least you should use spreadsheet software to list your income and your potential expenses so you can plan properly.
Clear the Clutter
As time goes by, you will accumulate things like textbooks, equipment, and other supplies, many of which you may never use again. Declutter yourself by selling the items you will not be using again. If you are unsure how to proceed, you should look online and check out websites like Valorebooks.com that offer guides on how to sell textbooks.
If you want to have any hope of putting yourself through college, you need to have one thing about all else: discipline. With a willingness to follow through on your plans and the discipline to do so, you will succeed. Not only will you end up with a degree and a chance to find your dream job, you will have learned how to live your life with financial responsibility.