Note: This is the last in a series on saving for your kid’s college education.
My husband and I were very fortunate to graduate from college without taking out student loans. We had the generous support of many family members and a few other miscellaneous things to lower our expenses:
- I took a class in high school that earned 3 credit hours that transfered to my university.
- I earned some English and Spanish credits simply by testing out of lower-level classes. Free college credits!
- I applied for a dozen or so scholarships, and wish I went at it full-force. I only applied for scholarships the summer before my freshman year (I think?) and I should have sought and applied for more each year. I did win a few thousand worth, yay!
- My job as a cashier in a drug store during my senior year of high school paid for lots of my start-up expenses…a computer, school supplies, books.
- I held a part-time job every semester of my schooling, except for the first. I worked each summer as well. Sometimes, I worked two jobs.
- I ran for office in my on-campus apartment building and was the Vice President of something or other (is it bad that I cannot remember what in the world it was?). But I got $100/month off my rent…making it $275/month. That detail, I do remember!
- After that, I had a part-time job at the housing office that gave me $200 off my monthly rent (yowza!) AND I earned slightly more than minimum wage in an hourly position there.
- I earned a $1,000 grant, paid straight to the bursar’s office, doing a public relations internship. The gig also earned me 3 credit hours in a class I never had to actually take.
- I was a “note-taker” for a student with a disability, so simply by making copies of my own detailed notes, I earned something like $75/semester. It was an extra incentive to just plain take good notes!
- I volunteered for a few research studies since I had free time and I wanted the extra cash/free food.
- I took a lot of summer school. Misc. fees were slightly lower during the summer term I think. Can’t remember how much. Plus, taking 2-3 classes at a time was a lot easier than taking 4-5!
- I held a few positions at my beloved student newspaper, and though I didn’t earn much there, the management positions paid a portion of my tuition which was incredibly helpful!
- Shane and I found a bunch of discarded textbooks during book buy-back. The bookstores told students that the books were worthless to them, so the kids threw the books in the trash can outside of the book buy-back location. We decided they were free for the taking (right? They were in the trash, after all!) so we took all of them and kept going back for more. We sold them on Amazon and made more than $1,000.
- When I had to buy my own textbooks, for some classes I bought a previous edition (as in, perhaps 1 year old instead of brand-new). Sometimes that meant I paid $8 for a book instead of $80. This only works for certain types of books in certain types of classes.
- Shane and I were volunteer ushers at the auditorium and for a little bit of really easy work, we could get into some really great shows for free.
There’s so much I didn’t know about budgeting when I was a college student. If I only knew what I know now, I probably could have graduated without credit card debt. Live n’ learn.
With college tuition increasing the way it is, it looks like we’ll need to start saving for our children’s college educations now, and even then they still might need to borrow money if costs keep on going up faster than inflation (which, come on. There has to be a breaking point, otherwise lenders will stop issuing loans that no one can ever hope to repay, and students and parents will say ENOUGH).
Shane and I think we should help our kids pay for school as much as we are able, but we also expect them to carry some of the weight.
- We will encourage them to take Advanced Placement classes to try and test out of as many college credits as possible before even setting foot on campus.
- They need to save a portion of their part-time/summer job earnings while teenagers specifically for college.
- They should consider taking some classes at a community college, either in the summers or before transferring to a four-year program to save money.
- They should apply for many scholarships!
- They should consider being a Resident Assistant or living in a dorm co-op to lower living expenses.
- They should strive to live like a broke college student and actually live on a budget.
- We will talk about college and our expectations and financial contributions well in advance of college applications, so little Johnny and Vivienne will know what’s up.
I just think that a student who has to pay for some of their own expenses will truly value their education more than if it was a total handout from their parents. I remember a classmate talking about needing to buy books. I told him to buy them on Amazon instead of at the bookstore since that’s cheaper and you know what the goober said?
“I don’t care, my parents are paying for it anyway.”
If his mama only knew.
How did you cut your college costs?