Good news, this article provides 8 great ways to SAVE MONEY before college! Read on for more information and helpful tips. Are you still in high school or have you recently graduated but haven't yet started your college adventure? Or, are you currently enrolled in higher education? Do you want to save money even before you step foot on campus? Let's face it, higher education can be expensive. That said, there are MANY ways that you can save money now. Keep reading for more details.
1. Take PSEO Courses
Post Secondary Education Opportunities (PSEO) is a great way to take college-level courses for FREE while still in high school. As long as you pass the course, you get college credit for it so you won't have to PAY MONEY to take that course later on during college. It is most common for high school students to take PSEO courses for courses that are entry level courses in college, typically for a liberal arts degree. Examples include English, Language, Math, Biology, Art History, and more. This link provides information for Minnesota PSEO options as an example.
2. Get a Job Now
Pretty obvious but still worth mentioning that you should get a job now and put some of your earnings into savings for use during college. Books, meals, and other costs could be covered by these funds. And don't limit yourself to only looking at traditional job options.
Consider service-based jobs that can be more ad hoc and flexible with schedules. Examples include mowing lawns or landscaping, snow removal, walking dogs, babysitting, tutoring other students, etc. Even working 10hrs per week could provide almost $900 over 12 weeks if you're getting paid the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. While that $900 isn't $9 million dollars, it's still more than zero and so you should keep in mind that it still can help you pay for some upcoming college costs! And when you're ready to start applying for jobs, make sure to sign up as a site Member (it's FREE) to access templates to get you started with job resumes, interview practice and more!
3. Look at Local Scholarship Options
Talk to people in your community about scholarship options. Many times, there are local groups and organizations that offer college scholarships but those options may not be well-advertised. Even $100 or $500 from these types of scholarships would be something to help you on your educational endeavors! Here are just some examples of organizations you should research for local scholarship options:
* Your employer
* Your school
* Your place of worship
* Your city
* Your county
* Your state
* Local School Clubs - Future Farmers of America (FFA), DECA, Business Professionals of America (BPA), VICA (also known as SkillsUSA), etc.
* American Legion
* Community Ambassador Programs
* Community Service Clubs - Kiwanis, Lions, Rotary, Elks, Masonic Lodge, etc.
4. Consider a Gap Year
Consider taking a year off, or at least one semester, after high school. You could use that extra time to work more and save money or take courses at different school to save money and transfer the credits later. You could even use it to volunteer and travel to gain more experience! There are many great organizations and programs that offer short-term projects or employment. Two such programs are through Americorps - Americorps*NCCC and Americorps Vista. Both programs are run through the US Government and are considered service positions. Participants receive free room and board during their term of service as well as a small stipend. At the end of the service term, participants receive an educational award around $6,000, depending on the number of hours completed during the program.
5. Complete the FAFSA
Make sure to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)! Do not forget this very important step! This form is used by the US government to create a financial aid package offer for you and Colleges use this form as well to determine their own aid package for you. Following the submission of the FAFSA, you will receive a Student Aid Report. The types of aid available include grants, scholarships, work study, loans, aid for military families, and aid for international study. If you don't fill out this form, you are literally losing your chance to access THOUSANDS of dollars in assistance for your college education!
6. Choose Your College Wisely - Consider the Costs
Consider your overall financial costs when choosing a college. Is it really the college of your dreams if you will end up $200,000 in debt after four years? Take the time to get all the financial information for multiple colleges AND COMPARE them to see which would provide you with a better OVERALL financial package. While one school may offer you more in financial aid, if the tuition costs are higher than other schools then your overall costs may still be higher than other school options. Choosing which school to attend includes many factors and the financial costs should be at the top of your comparison list. Beyond liking a school's campus, sports program, or the specific degree program options, make sure the financial obligations for attending a school works for your specific needs.
Consider starting your higher education at a Community College, where the cost will be much lower for your entry level courses than if you took those same classes at a public or private 4year college or university. After filling out your FAFSA and receiving the Student Aid Report, you should have a better idea whether you'll need additional aid or loans for specific schools based on their tuition and other costs. The sooner you work through this process, the better!
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7. Find out Whether you Need to Take the SAT or ACT or Both
Across the US, not all colleges require the same pre-entry exams such as the SAT and ACT. Some colleges or post-secondary education institutions may not require scores from those test at all! It important to understand which, if either, of these exams you need to take. If you need to take one or both, then you can research prep options as well as how much it will cost to take the exam(s). If you don't need to take one or both of the exams, that could save you some money right now!
8. Create a Budget!
While this tip may not save you money right this second, it WILL help you moving forward. Creating a budget can actually be simple. Start by making two lists - "Income" and "Expenses".
For Expenses, identify what your bills will be when you're in school. Try to determine how much each bill will be per month. If some expenses (such as tuition) are sent to you annually or twice per year, estimate the monthly amount needed and list that. Make sure you include all major expenses such as Housing, Food, Transportation, Communication (cell phone & internet service). Make sure to also include the amount of spending money you'd like to have!
For Income, identify how you're covering those tuition and other costs. Did you already take out any loans? How much money each money do you plan to make from a job? If so, how much did you take out and do you have to make any payments while you're in school? Did you receive scholarships and grants? If so, great! List all of the income options you have and try to break it down by month for each item.
Once you have both lists, add up the totals for each. From there, identify whether you have any gaps in covering your tuition and other primary school costs. ...Do you have higher Expenses than Income or is your income higher than expenses? You should aim to have more income leftover each month. After you have ALL of your expenses and income (including other tuition assistance) recorded, it will be easier for you to identify what else you need. The sooner you create your budget, the sooner you can start making a plan for how you're going to support yourself...without going into more debt if possible!
In summary, there are many ways that you can save money NOW before you head off to college. Some of these tips are easy decisions while others will take more thought and planning. Consider each one and whether it makes sense for you and your situation. Get started today! You can always make revisions to your plans moving forward but if you never start, you'll likely miss out on money savvy opportunities.
* Research and fill out the FAFSA to understand what type of support you can receive for your higher education.
* Research what PSEO options are available in your community.
* Use AT LEAST 1 of these tips to save or make money NOW!
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Connect with me at Sarah@ThatPurpleBook.com with questions.