During undergrad, I’ve made a few financial mistakes as I was the first one in my family to go to college. Since I didn’t have anyone to ask for advice I turned to the internet and learn from my own experiences. However, I was lucky enough to be able to graduate from undergrad with a Bachelors in Biology FREE of debt. I followed the tips below and my parents also helped me pay for the rest of it when I transferred from a community college to a university.
So here are my 5 tips on how to go to college for cheap or even free.
- Scholarships and Grant
- This was one of the mistakes I made throughout the application process. I wanted to apply for scholarships but hesitated due to my grades and writing skills. I recommend to apply to as many scholarships because you might never know until you try. Also, many schools have writing center that helps improve your writing skills. Also make sure to reapply the following year for scholarships that renew annually.
- Fill out the FAFSA every year for eligibility of grants or other scholarships. Even if you think you might not be just apply anyways because it doesn’t take long to complete.
- Rent or buy used textbooks
- I bought all my books from the bookstore in my first semester. My total was $500 and I promised myself to never do it again. From then on I rent my books on Chegg.com or buy them used from eBay.com or half.com. Many of my classmates bought the international version and said that the information was the same except for the difference in pages while the price was almost half of the regular book.
- Also, many colleges library or study center will have the books you need for your classes. They usually lend it out for an hour or more. So if you rather get your homework done at school then this is also a good option to save money on books and also avoid cluttering your space.
- Pay attention to bulletin boards as someone might be selling a book or item you need for a certain class.
- We all have heard of the freshman 15, but not only are you gaining weight but losing a lot of money by eating out. Make and bring your lunch will save you a lot of money and a few pounds.
- I went to a community college and then transfer to a 4-year university but I never stayed on campus so I don’t have experiences with meal plans. But nonetheless don’t make eating out a habit during your time in school.
- Stay focus because retaking a class means you have to pay again. If you need help there is always tutoring centers or contact your professors for a meeting. They are always willing to help.
- I never really took advantage of this and now that I think about it I should have. Colleges have many resources such as the writing center (as mentioned above) and many others as well. They might have it on their website or ask other students. Remember you are paying for the tuition and those resources and amenities are included so why not take advantage of it.
In addition to all the things above, I also started couponing during my second year in undergrad because I wanted to save even more money since I was not working. However, I followed these steps throughout college and to some extent graduate school.