If you cut your education expenses, you reduce the chances of graduating with huge education debt – which is the last thing you want. If you take the following steps, you’ll have more money to pay off your existing debt and you’ll accumulate a lot less debt going forward.
Here are three powerful ways to do just that:
Textbooks are ridiculously expensive. According to the Student Public Interest Research Groups (SPIRG), the cost has skyrocketed four times faster than inflation since 1994. Most students spend at least $900 on books every year.
How do you combat this attack on your money?
Buybacks, rentals, used and e-books are four great tactics. You get the most bang for your buck by buying used and then selling the book back. But this is also the most risky alternative. The store won’t buy the book unless the professors commit to using the book next semester. You can sometimes get a buy-back guarantee before you buy, but if you don’t, consider a rental or e-book.
According to SPRIG, rentals cost about almost 60% less than buying new, but I think this might be short-sighted. With rentals, you can’t mark up the book or draw funny pictures of the professor when she isn’t looking. What a drag.
E-books are a bit more expensive than rentals, but you can do anything you want on the pages you print out. Besides sharing the cartoons you draw, you’ll get a lot more out of the class if you’re able to take notes on what you read. If you’re paying an arm and a leg for tuition, you might as well learn as much as possible.
Your student (why do they call my kid a student…she’s my kid, for crying out loud!) has a variety of options here. And you have to consider issues beyond cost. You want the safest environment possible that allows your child to excel in school and have a great college experience at the same time. Believe it or not, these two are not mutually exclusive. You have to weigh all these considerations plus cost before making a decision.
Having said that, dorms are the most expensive route possible. Schools are raising room and board fees because they have less money coming from other sources. On the other hand, real estate prices have dropped. Rental property owners want good tenants, and if you can convince a landlord that your child is responsible, the owner will work with you on price. One word of caution is that many colleges offer on-campus apartment housing. This is cheaper than the dorms, but you’ll get far better deals by going a few blocks off campus. You can easily save 40% or more on housing by buying your kid a bicycle and telling Junior to commute with it. A little exercise and a little savings. Me likey.
By far, the best way to get a fantastic education at a fraction of the cost is to go to a lower-cost school and get your kid to involve herself in honors groups and clubs. My daughter discovered this idea and it has worked out beautifully. She proved that you can get an expensive college education at a huge discount. She got into some pretty snooty schools on the other side of the country. While I was extremely proud of her of course, I developed a stutter just thinking about the tuition, room and board and travel expenses.
We discussed this issue as a family and came to a decision that she’d go to a school that was closer to home. The tuition was 1/3 of the snotty schools and the travel expenses disappeared as she’s only a few hours’ drive from us. We weren’t worried about the level of education – it is a top-notch school. But we were concerned about the quality of students she’d be with. She nipped that problem in the bud by getting super involved with student government and honors business groups. Now she works with other students who are serious, responsible, educated and smart. Problem solved…and money saved. Booya!
Sometimes it makes sense to spend some extra money on tuition. This can be the case with private career colleges, but even then you have to carefully consider the benefits and drawbacks.
Of course, students always have the option of getting a job they work on weekends. That would certainly be a great way to reduce college debt.
What fugal living ideas do you have for students?