Although getting more education usually increases your earning potential, you are often under financial strain while in school. After living as an established adult for several years, it may come as a bit of a shock to go back into poor college student mode. These tricks can help you manage your budget and save money in several key areas.
1. Get financial aid: As you’re figuring out how to save money as a college student, start with saving money on tuition. Grants and scholarships you receive for your education directly reduce the amount of your tuition bills. Use scholarship search engines to find scholarships for which you may be eligible. Plus, fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal and state grants.
2. Transfer prior credits: There’s no sense in paying for credits if you have already earned some that could apply to your program. Previous coursework at an accredited college or university may be eligible for transfer, provided it moves you toward completion of your degree program. You also may be able to earn credits through the College-Level Examination Program (CLEP) or the Prior Learning Assessment program for life or work experience.
3. Take online courses: Commuting to and from campus requires both time and money, and as an adult college student, these are likely both stretched thin. Consider enrolling in online courses that you can complete from home or anywhere else, and spend your extra time either working to earn money or just getting some quality time with your family.
4. Get cheap textbooks: While you can’t control what textbooks a professor assigns, you can control where you get them. Look into checking out books from the campus or public library for free. Other options include buying used textbooks online and even renting textbooks for just a semester.
5. Prepare meals in bulk: You don’t have to feed your family Ramen noodles like you may have done for yourself when you were in college when you were young. Instead, set aside a few hours each week to put together most of your family’s meals for the week. Cook with low-cost ingredients like brown rice, lentils, dry beans, whole chickens, and fresh or frozen vegetables. You can prepare many dinner components ahead of time, and meals like casseroles and soups freeze very well.
Remember that the Bible talks a lot about being a good steward of your resources, and this doesn’t change when you’re in school. By combining these strategies, you can save thousands of dollars each year, which can help you maintain a balanced household budget. This provides freedom and flexibility to take the right job when you’re done with school, without worrying about excessive debt.