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With rising tuition costs, and high living expenses, thinking about paying for college, and spending while you’re enrolled in a higher education institution, can quickly add stress to a time in your life that’s supposed to invoke excitement. To help, Greater Niagara FCU put together this list to help college students—at any stage in their education—build better budget management. 

Put a Reliable Degree Payment Plan in Place

One way to get ahead of your money management in college is to have a solid plan in place when paying for your classes and your degree program. If you have a job or a steady source of income, think about how much money you earn monthly and make sure to budget accordingly.

Apply for Financial Aid & Scholarships

Whether it’s before starting your degree, or right in the middle of your semester, there is no wrong time to apply for financial aid, including academic scholarships. Check out different reputable scholarship sites, explore your school’s own financial assistance programs, and search for scholarships you may be eligible for to see what’s offered. Many programs will even cover your food costs, books, and/or housing. 

If you find yourself ineligible for scholarships, Greater Niagara FCU Members can always apply for student loans!

Limit Textbooks Costs

With so many different ways now to get used and rented textbooks it’s become pretty unnecessary to buy new textbooks at full price. Simply rent the textbook you need per semester and send it back when you’re done. Sites like Amazon offer textbooks rentals, and your college bookstore most likely has a rental program of its own. There are also plenty of sites online to find the textbooks you need at a used price. If you decide to buy used, you can even turn around and sell that same book once you’re finished with it.

Attend Free Events on Campus

Just because you’re being mindful of your funds doesn’t mean you have to miss out on the fun! You might have to look a little harder, but chances are you’re not taking full advantage of all the exciting and free events your campus has to offer. Most campuses will offer live music events, free to student sports games and, even guest lectures anyone is welcome to attend. With a variety ranging from movie nights to fitness classes, one of the best parts about attending college is there’s always something to do, especially when you’re on a budget!

Save on Housing

Before deciding where you want to live while in college, make sure you carefully weigh all your options. 

  • Are you close enough to campus to live at home? 
  • Did you compare the cost of living on vs. off campus? 

When looking at the most affordable options for you, it’s important to consider other aspects such as utility costs if you decide to rent, or transportation costs if you decide to live off campus. 

Living with another roommate, or two or three, can also greatly cut down on costs as housing costs are divided multiple ways. Another option to consider is to live in your college’s dorms, become an RA, and in exchange for monitoring student activity and performing administrative duties, your school may cover your housing costs.

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

When you’re out, especially if it’s around your college town, make sure to bring your student ID with you and ask about student discounts at restaurants and businesses. Discounts are typically offered on anything from clothing, to school supplies, and technology. Many student discounts aren’t just limited to your particular school either, businesses will often offer them for any college student in general.

With a little creativity, and smart budgeting in place you’ll find yourself saving money nearly everywhere you go whether you’re on or off campus.