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Money Saving Tips for College Students

The average tuition for undergrads attending four-year public universities jumped 10.5 percent last year, according to "Trends in College Pricing 2004." This doesn’t include dorm costs, food, clothing, and other expenses. However, there are ways to save money while attending college.

Some tips from "101 Ways to Save.Com," "," and "National Association of College Stores".

When Shopping

  • Buy used textbooks when available.
  • Sell your textbooks back if the store has a "buyback" program.
  • Buy soft drinks by the case at the local grocery store and store them in your dorm room instead of spending more at the vending machines.
  • Buy clothing at second-hand stores or consignment shops. You can find name-brand clothes at a fraction of the cost.
  • Make and bring your own lunch instead of buying lunch.
  • Eat a decent breakfast to start your day to minimize snacking.
  • Pay for your transaction with cash or debit cards, whenever possible, to avoid the hefty interest charges that you incur if you carry a balance on your credit cards.

Other Ways to Cut Costs

  • Live at home. It may not be as exciting as living in the dorm, but it will be much less expensive.
  • Leave the car at home. If you are living on campus, most things will be accessible by walking, riding a bicycle, or taking a bus. You save money on parking, gas, and insurance.
  • Test out of classes when you can. Many colleges allow students to take exams that demonstrate knowledge in a particular subject. If you pass the exam, you get credit for the class without having to take it. You may pay a small fee to take the exam, but you will save on tuition and textbooks.
  • Become a Resident Assistant (RA) – This option may be available to undergraduates after their freshman year and comes with a break on room and board. It usually involves some work and a commitment to be on call at certain hours and days of the week.

Besides these money-saving tips, there are other ways to save on tuition if you are not able to work or obtain assistance through scholarships.

  • Take classes at a local community college for the first year or two and then transfer to a 4-year college. Average tuition and fees at community colleges are around $2,000 a year, compared with more than double that for in-state students at public four-year colleges.
  • Take advantage of employee discounts. If your parents work at a local college, check for tuition discounts. The Ohio State University offers "Dependent Tuition Assistance" after 3 years of employment at OSU and pays half of undergraduate instructional and general fees.
  • Take advantage of prepayment discount plans. Some colleges offer discounts for early payment of tuition. Some offer advance payment bonuses if you pay early. According to the FAA First Federal Credit Union, your tuition is placed into an account before tuition is due and the college adds a "cash bonus each month to be credited to the balance."