Whether you are a future undergraduate, current undergraduate, or an individual curious about ways to save for college, then you are in the right place. As a recent college graduate I learned many valuable lessons during my journey. The main one I am going to discuss today is about reducing the cost of college as much as possible because the college experience is a fantastic way to expand your horizons in many facets; social circles, personal academic interests, independence, and learning new skills. However, these wonderful opportunities come with a cost that targets both your bank account and personal discipline. WAIT! COME BACK! You were about to walk away before I told you valuable information to make your life easier. You seem like an individual that values their time, so I’ll get right to the point. Follow these financial tips whether you are planning for college, trying to make your life more comfortable in the long run, or looking for ways to get extra cash.
What is FASFA?
FASFA, Free Application for Federal Student, is a great way to receive government aid in the form of grants, work study, or other types of aid. The key to this application is to start as early as possible. The earlier you submit the application the better. This application is based primarily on your current financial status. The financial aid award is calculated from the need based opportunity from the provider(s) income to the household in addition to your own. Thus, you must have a general, if not exact, idea as to how much you made the annual period.
When to apply?
This depends on the point of the year in which you will be attending your first semester. The FASFA website will have a lot of information ready for you to research. The main goal is to have the opening date written down in your phone, calendar, refrigerator, steering wheel…you get my meaning. This will ensure that you submit it early and on time. However, you will have to juggle this submission date along with other applications you are submitting, for example, scholarships. Therefore, you will need to start planning out the important dates to keep in mind.
Scholarships are an excellent way to gather substantial, if not all, the capital required to pursue college. There are many outlets to find scholarship opportunities. For example, many of the very schools you are applying to offer some form of scholarships. Research every aspect of the college’s scholarship page and read every requirement for the awards. Alternatively, you can visit various websites that offer scholarships to which you can apply. Make a list of every scholarship that applies to you, then start constructing the required material. This will strengthen your chances that you are awarded a scholarship, particularly in the high frequency in which you apply.
However, quantity can thwart your desired intentions to present yourself as someone that deserves the scholarship. You want to satisfy all the requirements, be it, essay, demonstration of leadership, or merely references, just to name a few. There are various forms in which a scholarship can be evaluated. Therefore, be your best self when drafting the scholarship requirements. The main goal is to lessen, as much as possible, the financial burden that is placed on you. Therefore, you will want to make every scholarship count. Write the best essays, provide the best references that will say great things about you, and demonstrate why you deserve the scholarship. Just because you presented your best self does not mean people are willing to give you large sums of money. “Logan, why did you tell me to be my best and now say I might not get scholarships?!”. “Well dear reader, the point of scholarship hunting is to hone the skills that you’ve learned and apply them as best a manner as possible to represent yourself as a well-educated and ambitious individual that is deserving of a large sum of money” (Yeah, yeah. Fourth wall break I know). I will leave a list of various websites that offer scholarships that might be of interest to you down at the bottom. Scholarships are the best way to knock down the financial monster before it gets out of hand. Let me know down in the comments if I should write a blog outlining how to make a proper scholarship application!
3. Save, Save, Save
No matter if you are a senior in high school, a parent, or currently in college, you must save your money so that you can put money towards the cost of tuition. There is a massive student debt crisis happening right now that many individuals are working tirelessly to fix. However, this does not prevent you from saving money in the process. The student debt crisis will not be fixed overnight. It took many years for student debt to explode to the enormity that it is today. It will take many years, if not more, to fix this issue. Therefore, in the meantime, you must save your money in any way you can. This means missing a day to go out to eat with your friends. Missing a dinner or two a week can give you more in your pocket that you can use for college. College is no joke when it comes to large impending sums of money that needs to be repaid at the end of the period. Don’t underestimate the need to save your money for college.
4. Get a Job
This one is self-explanatory, but it is not without its great utility when strapped for extra cash. The job that you possess either during college or on break; winter, summer, or spring, is essential so that you can keep a flow of money coming into your bank. Having a job in college is not something that you need to work 40 hours a week, although if you can more power to you because you want to get ahead of those student loans as much as you can. The college that you are attending will have work-study positions and other part-time jobs that will generate spending money. The purpose of these small jobs is to create a consistent income that you can use throughout college. An alternative to working during semester periods is to work during breaks. Working during various breaks is a great way to earn cash. For example, during winter break for two years, I worked at Sears, before it went bankrupt, to make extra money. This gave me enough cash for the next semester when I worked at a work-study position. The goal is to use the small but useful extra cash to buy what you need, not what you want. The money is to buy groceries, toiletries, and other basic human needs. Look at your college’s job posting page and see what they have to offer in regards to work-study positions or something similar.
5. Go Cheap
Going cheap on everything from food to what you wash your hair with will significantly reduce the additional costs you accrue as you pursue a degree. There are many affordable options to satisfy your needs to get passed the semester. The main thing is to be observant of what you are buying under the amount of money you have in the bank. For instance, instead of buying your favorite shampoo, try the off-brand stuff that is a couple dollars cheaper. Saving a few bucks on shampoo doesn’t sound like its worth it but add that to an entire list of other things you are shopping, and it will add up. Look for the cheapest item for the particular item you need and see if it will perform the task at hand. Every once in a while you can splurge and buy yourself a favorite item, just so that you don’t go insane. This way, you can still enjoy the things you like while at the same time save the hard earned money you’ve sacrificed to get.
The point of this article is to give you points to think about as you progress to or through college. The over-arching goal is to make your life better in the future rather than overburdened. These tips are small and to the point. Do not underestimate the power of simple codes to live by when you are given independence. This new ability can be somewhat malevolent as it first appears. But with stable guidance through others and your own self discipline, you can earn the money you need while still have fun. The number one thing you must do is to start EARLY! Good Luck!