How to Keep Your Finances on the Right Track in College

A close up shot of a female college student saving finances by purchasing college textbooks at a discount.

College can be one of the most exciting and unforgettable times in a person's life thanks to the newfound freedom. But managing finances without the help or supervision of a parent can be a challenge.

The pressure to do things perfectly, discover new passions, and make new friends can be overwhelming. It's not uncommon to see students make mistakes that send their financial lives into a downward spiral.

We don't want you or a loved one to make the same mistakes. So, we're offering five tips to save money and keep your finances on track in college.

Never Ignore Scholarship Opportunities When Concerned About Finances

For decades, college costs have increased and incomes have failed to keep up. Today, many American families can't afford college.

According to a 2020 study, more than 55% of college students admit they cannot afford their tuition fees. Many said they desperately need new ways to pay for college.

Scholarships are one of the best ways to reduce college costs. And since you're not supposed to pay back, you're getting free money. But many students miss out on this financial opportunity by not searching extensively for scholarships.

So, apply for as many scholarships as possible. If you don't know where to find them:

  • Ask for scholarships at your school, college, or university.
  • Search locally for scholarships offered in your state, city, and town.
  • Research professional organizations.
  • Look at membership organizations like Girl Scouts.
  • Ask your friends and family.

Watch Where You Buy College Textbooks

As a new student in college, you may think buying books from a college bookstore means you're cutting a great deal. However, many students advise taking time before buying textbooks.

It may be wise to check with your tutors to be certain whether every book listed is mandatory. And if they are, find ways to get them cheaply.

You could for instance borrow from someone else and scan on your computer. You can also borrow some of these books from the library to save finances. And if you must buy them, please search for them in used bookstores and sites like Amazon and Half. This way you will save hundreds of dollars.

Use Your Free or Discounted Student Services Optimally

Students enjoy a lot of free services, great deals, and discounts. With a student ID, you can easily score discounts when shopping, buying tickets, in restaurants, on public transportations, sporting events, movies, and membership organizations.

Many colleges also offer free fitness classes and centers to students. So also carry your student ID. And before paying for anything, ask if you qualify for discounts.

Choose Where to Live Wisely

The cost of living varies from place to place, and college is no exception. Students living at an urban college for instance pay more than those living in a rural setting.

So if there is a college close to home, and your parents allow you to live with them, it can be a great money-saver. Although it may not be your ideal situation, it can save you lots of money and ensure you don't get into debt after college.

Keep an Eye on Future Finances

It's OK to have fun in college. But don't forget that it is also an ideal time to network. Don't lose sight of your future by staying focused on building your career.

It pays to network widely with teachers, peers, and other professionals while in college. Growing your network base increases your chances of landing on an internship, first-job, freelance work, and getting great recommendations.

It feels good to be independent in college. It's a great time to learn and make mistakes. But you need to be organized and responsible with your finances. We hope these tips help you build a solid foundation for a great financial life. Good luck!

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