Before the term begins (or right as the term begins), it is a great time to start mapping out ways to fund your education not only for this term, but for the full year.
As someone that has been paying out of pocket for their entire education while avoiding loans, I have a few suggestions that can help you financially.
Decide your major & meet with an academic advisor
When I first started college, I thought I would pursue a psychology major. I did little research on the major & didn’t know what career I could pursue with the degree. When I was ready to transfer to the university from the community college, I realized I needed to be absolutely certain this was the degree I wanted to pursue because once I left the community college, classes would be much more expensive.
I realized two years into my degree that I wanted to study business instead, so I changed my major to accounting. I had to study for one more year at the community college to meet the prerequisites. I wouldn’t have known that I needed to take extra classes unless I had met with an advisor. Not only that, if I had picked my major as soon as I started college, I could have saved a couple thousand dollars because I took classes that did not apply to my accounting degree.
Moral of the story, choose your major as soon as possible & meet with your advisor so you can make sure you are taking the right classes.
Apply for on campus student jobs for extra income
If you need extra money, on campus jobs are a great route! I started working on campus jobs my third year as a college student & have been working on campus since. My campus jobs work around my student schedule & pay me a fair wage that help fund my tuition. Start looking on your school student job database to find current listings & apply as soon as possible.
Calculate the cost of tuition per term
If you will be paying out of pocket, taking on loans etc. you need to know how much tuition will cost per term. Once you know how much it will cost, you can start planning accordingly for how to afford it.
For example, 12 credits (3 classes) at my public university for instate tuition with differential tuition (higher tuition for studying business), I pay about $3,300 each term. My school offers a payment plan where I can pay the tuition in three payments over the term. $3,300/3 = $1,100 per month. Back in the day when I didn’t have scholarships, I would put that $1,100 in my budget as an expense, but now my scholarships will cover this full amount so it is not something I have to worry about.
Apply for scholarships
I made the mistake of not applying for scholarships until I was a junior at my university. Fortunately, I graduated my community college debt free because the tuition was low & I budgeted for it, but once I got to the university, the tuition was much more expensive. I needed scholarships in order to continue my education.
After applying to OSAC, FAFSA, OSCPA, AICPA & other private scholarships, I received more than $20,000 in scholarships and grants combined. The rest of my junior year is completely paid for as a result. With that said, get familiar with when scholarships open up, and their submission deadlines. Scholarships are free money granted to you that you do not need to pay back unlike loans.
Are you still a freshman or a sophomore in college? If yes, consider taking your prerequisite classes at a community college
Did you know that the first two years of college are just prerequisite classes? You will take classes such as writing, math etc. and they cost nearly half as much that a four year university would charge. Then after two years, you can transfer to your four year university and have saved thousands of dollars.
Seriously. Each term at my community college for 3 classes cost $1,700. Then, the same amount of classes at my university cost $3,300. Big difference! Take this into consideration if the price of tuition is a concern for you.
Lastly, this is the single most important thing you can do as you go through college. I have my budget planner to thank for graduating community college debt free. It helps me keep track of my income, expenses & savings so I can feel confident with my finances.
Need a budget planner? Use the same one I have used since I was a freshman in college. Get your budget planner here.
- Decide your major & meet with an academic advisor
- Apply for on campus student jobs for extra income
- Calculate the cost of tuition per term
- Apply for scholarships
- Consider taking classes at a community college
- Start budgeting
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