Money Saving Moves for College Families

As the summer season winds down, parents and students of all ages turn their attention toward back-to-school concerns.  From enrollment obligations to logistical challenges, accommodating education requires families to adjust, each fall.  College students, in particular, also face financial worries, as the cost of post-secondary education continues to rise.

University tuition is substantial, but when you add in living expenses on campus, the cost of books, and other requirements; annual college spending can quickly climb to staggering levels.  Scholarships, grants and loans serve vital roles bridging the affordability gap, but even with these resources available, out of pocket costs place an extraordinary burden on college families.

With so many school expenses adding to the standard cost of living, parents and students depend on various money-saving methods to make ends meet, while pursuing degrees and credentials.  Fortunately, frugal students have left a long legacy of cash-conscious routines you can use to save money on school expenses. When college spending looms, but you’re not sure where the money will come from; the following time-tested strategies can help control costs.

Roommates and Shared Expenses

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Whether or not you are a college student, living on your own is expensive.  Particularly with only one person contributing, expenses quickly drain available resources. Taking-on roommates is a go-to move for college students, keeping them close to campus, without each resident carrying the full cost of living.  Utility charges, rent payments, and even grocery bills are effectively spread across roommates, creating an affordable economy of scale.

Underclass men and women experience the same financial benefit from structured student housing, designed to furnish the greatest value for university students of limited means.  Dormitories house hundreds – even thousands of student residents on each campus, creating micro-communities that save students money.  Privacy is limited, but dorm mates share facilities and space to keep costs as low as possible.  Though some students utilize the alternative throughout their schooling, many upper class students ultimately seek off-campus housing – taking money-saving roommate lessons to apartments and flats near campus.

Student Access and Discounts

As a full-time college student, your tuition payments entitle you to use campus services and facilities.  To make the most of your student status, take advantage of resources funded by your enrollment fees. Gyms, media centers, and most importantly, food programs, give you access to school-sponsored discounts.  Using these facilities on campus saves the cost of maintaining private health club memberships, internet services and buying restaurant and carryout meals.  Your college ID may also yield savings off-campus, landing discounts on entertainment, retail purchases, and other goods and services.

Low-Budget Entertainment

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Once enrolled in a higher education program, your work is cut out for you.  But being a student doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy your college years. Low cost entertainment abounds on and near university campuses, furnishing various opportunities for students to blow-off steam, without deep pockets.

  • Community-sponsored events are a great source of college entertainment. Local concerts and other events typically offer free entry, and some allow patrons to bring their own food and beverages.  From fireworks displays to holiday parades, and everything in-between, community entertainment speaks to college students living on a budget.
  • Outdoor activities provide budget-friendly opportunities for college students to stay busy, without spending a lot of money. Parks, hiking trails and bike paths, to name a few, furnish healthful recreation opportunities
  • School spirit is on display at campus sporting events. Even if you are not an avid fan, rallying behind your school’s colors is a fun recreational outlet.
  • Affordable access to media helps keep students entertained, without draining financial resources. Video streaming and other sources of entertainment provide cost-effective leisure distractions, which can be shared among students, to further ease the cost of good times.

Barter/Trade Services

College campuses are like micro-communities, exhibiting many of the characteristics of small cities.  As a result, various skills are in-demand – you may be able to market your expertise for profit.   Are you good with computers?  Can you cut hair? Does academic tutoring come naturally to you?  If you answered yes to any of these questions, selling or trading these services might help you mitigate the high cost of university education.

Back to school concerns mount annually, as summer closes and young people gear-up for academics.  For college families, financing takes center stage, preparing students and parents for the extraordinary costs of higher education.  To keep your college budget intact, share the cost of living with other students, take advantage of affordable entertainment, and use your skills and talents to earn an income while attending university.

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Written by
Jeremy Kaplan

A 50-something year old lifestyle, career, and education blogger based in Atlanta, Georgia. Years of experience in the office setting working with others and still loving it year-after-year.

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