It’s an unfortunate truth that obtaining that coveted college degree will cost you a lot of money. According to statistics from EducationData.Org, college tuitions in countries like the United States, Australia, Canada, and most European countries can cost thousands of dollars. You might pay anything upwards of $20,000 to attend colleges in Canada and Australia, and $17,000 or higher in the United Kingdom. That’s ignoring living costs, which, for most countries, costs almost as much as tuition.
However, obtaining a college degree also opens more doors for students, allowing them to network with like-minded individuals, build skills in their course of choice, and impress future employers. If you want the benefits of getting a degree, but find it difficult to manage the costs, here are a few ways you can cut down college expenses.
1. Get a part time job
Although it’s probably best to start saving up as early as you can, it’s also possible to add to your savings fund while you’re in college. Tutoring is one way you can earn extra money on the side. After you’ve aced a class, you also have the necessary knowledge and skills to pass it along. As a bonus, you get to help out a struggling student or two and make new friends. If you have the time, working remotely part-time can give you some extra experience and skills while generating income at the same time. If you’re too tired to leave campus, another option is to get a work-study job like assisting in the library or the sports complex. The good thing about this job is that they’re willing to work around your academic schedule so you don’t miss any exams.
2. Apply for financial aid
If financial aid is available in your country, it’s a good idea to apply. According to a report published by CNBC, more than 8 out of 10 families in the United States make use of scholarships and grants that don’t need to be repaid. However, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form (FAFSA) is the key prerequisite to attain any form of federal financial aid. Something to remember is that it’s always a good idea to fill in your FAFSA as soon as possible to maximize the amount of funding available for you. Even if you don’t think your personal circumstances qualify you for aid, a spokeswoman for an education lender states that “Nearly every student is eligible for some form of financial assistance, whether it be grants, work-study funds, federal student loans, or a combination. In fact, there’s more to determining a student’s aid than income and savings, such as the school’s cost of attendance or the number of college-age siblings.”
3. Consider online options
Online learning tools like Google Classroom have made it easier for institutions to deliver high-quality education online. And as the pandemic pushes the education sector toward digital solutions, getting a college degree online has become more widely accepted.
If studying on the campus of your dream school is out of your budget, consider taking online degrees. Online universities offer flexible start dates and completely remote coursework on top of financial aid options, so if you want to work while attending university, it’s completely feasible. Plus, you get to save money on additional housing and transport if you’re willing to work from home. All you need is a desktop computer or laptop with an internet connection and you’re all set to attend class.
4. Cut costs in other areas
If you feel like juggling too many things during your college experience will lead to undue stress, perhaps it’s a good idea to try and save money in other areas of your life. Consider making a budget. According to AskMoney’s guide to budgeting, balancing a budget can help keep your spending in check. To make a budget, estimate how much you earn within a given timeframe. Then, list down your expenses. If you discover that some unnecessary expenses are eating away at your available money, consider cutting down. If you reduce spending on small but unnecessary luxuries, such as café bought coffee, eating out, or the latest non-essential gadget, you might be able to free up a little bit of money.
5. Graduate on time
In an article by The Hechinger Report, researchers found that even though the majority of students expect to earn degrees in four years, fewer than half actually do. Some reasons behind this delay include switching majors, having to retake courses, and failing to keep your credit load organized per semester. To help you graduate on time, they highly recommend doing enough research to find out if your potential degree is 1) something you want to do, and 2) financially feasible in the long run. Taking the initiative to seek help when you need it can help you with time management or with classes you’re experiencing difficulties in. In the long run, this helps you graduate within your initial time period and will save you tuition money for the future.
While it may be a difficult and time-consuming process to fill out confusing forms, apply for jobs, and research other options while dealing with academic pressure at the same time, just keep in mind that getting certified in your chosen field will open the doors to incredibly amazing job opportunities in the very near future.