Pinching Pennies? 7 Tips for Cutting College Costs

529 College Savings Plan

Is your child getting ready to fly the nest and soar into the next phase of life in college? If so, it’s probably time to get down to the nitty-gritty and make sure that their next adventure won’t break your bank. 

It’s no secret that college is expensive. However, it’s also a hugely important step for many individuals that sets them up for a better future. Of course, you always want the best for your baby, so read on to check out frugal tips, from buying used textbooks to exploring scholarship options that will shield your wallet when paying for your child’s college. 

Explore scholarship options 

Scholarships are an incredible way to chip away at college costs. There are countless opportunities for your child to apply for grants. Whether through their university or an external organization, it is always worthwhile to check out every option available.

Once the student settles in, they can also check out grant options that are more specific to their major, which opens up a whole new world of cash, just waiting for them to grab it. An excellent resource for your student’s scholarship search is the Scholarship Finder from CollegeData. With resources like these at your student’s disposal, they can streamline their scholarship hunt and maximize the time spent minimizing student debt. 

Start at a community college 

When prepping for a student’s general education requirements, it can be a lifesaver to utilize the affordable education provided by local community colleges. If the cost of a four-year university seems daunting, pad the first two years with attendance at a community college, which is likely to have the cheapest general education out there.

Afterward, your child can transfer to a four-year college to pursue their specific degree interests. Just be sure to guarantee that your student’s dream university accepts the credits they earn from a community college. 

Use college expenses to reduce taxes 

“Tax break” is music to the ears of any parent about to drop a significant chunk of change on their child’s education. Depending on income, parents of college students may use federal loans and other college expenses to decrease their federal income taxes. Or you can save on your state taxes in many cases by using a 529 College Savings Plan.

Avoid new textbooks 

If college tuition wasn’t expensive enough, the cost of books could tip the scale into the red for many families. However, buying used textbooks or checking out options for textbook rentals will offer your child the same education at a significantly lower cost.

If neither option is available, branch outside of the campus bookstore and check out online retailers to see if you can purchase an ebook version of the textbook at a lower price. 

Compare housing options 

The least expensive option will always be to keep your chick tucked under your wing and have your student live at home during college. At-home living is a fantastic option if your student lives close enough to their university to commute.

However, if that is not the case, many different housing options are available to students, including on-campus dorms or off-campus student housing. From school fees to external bills off-campus, there are many factors to consider. 

Pick the right meal plan 

Most meal plans on college campuses are “use it or lose it.” Therefore, any funds that your student doesn’t use during their semester are forfeited to the school, which means that the best meal plan is used wholly and frequently. 

Start paying off student loans ASAP 

One of the biggest killers of college costs is interest on student loans. Private and unsubsidized loans can start accruing interest the day that you are issued the funds.

If your student has cash left over after they cover their school-related costs, consider giving that money back to the lender to knock out a chunk of the loan while you can. The less money you receive, the less you have to repay, which makes interest on the loan far less scary. 

Conclusion 

Starting college is an exciting time for everyone involved. If you are excited to send your kid to class but aren’t entirely sure how your bank account will react to the shock, consider comparing student housing options, and exploring scholarship options will help cut costs where they matter most. 

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