Soaring college costs are enough to make any parent sweat, but there are savvy ways to cut costs. Here are three suggestions that will allow your child to save some serious money:
Apply For The Absolute Best Job On Campus
One of the most overlooked jobs on campus is also the most lucrative. Resident Advisor positions are golden tickets. Although I missed the RA bandwagon as an undergraduate, as a graduate student serving as a resident advisor saved me over $55,000.
As an RA, students receive a free room in exchange for their services. It’s usually a coveted single unit without the inconveniences of a roommate, and at a large number of universities RAs are also provided with free meal plans.
This is a big deal when you consider that many colleges charge more for room and board than they do for tuition. Additional perks such as book allowances, small stipends, and first crack at registering for courses often sweeten the pot. Additionally, colleges often fill other positions like summer resident advisors, special program coordinators, and tutors with students from their corp of resident advisors.
But the financial benefits are only the start. Dormitories at many universities are frequently arranged in college house systems or theme based living units, each headed by a university professor who lives in residence. As a result, RAs are provided the rare opportunity to work closely with some of the most influential professors and instructors on campus.
Usually, RA positions are unavailable for freshmen, but if your child is a sophomore, junior, or senior encourage them to apply for this financially beneficial position.
Apply For Scholarships As A Freshman Or Sophomore
While high school seniors scramble to complete scholarship applications, few college freshmen are doing the same, despite the fact that a large number of scholarships are open to college freshman and sophomores.
The chances of winning major scholarship money can actually increase after starting college. A student with a solid academic track record during her freshman year of college is a one that a scholarship committee is more likely to bet on, compared to a high school student who may or may not pan out.
In addition, college students can take advantage of university resources to improve their chances of landing serious scholarship cash. The university writing center, for instance, can help with scholarship essay advice while the college financial aid office is a great resource for identifying new scholarship opportunities.
To see how more effectively students can be applying for scholarships while in college, take a look at this post over at GetRichSlowly.com by Alison, an undergraduate who had little luck applying for scholarships before college, but used certain strategies while in college to hit the scholarship jackpot.
Get Smart About Textbooks
With many textbooks running $150 or more a piece, the cost of books can put a serious crimp into any budget. But this is where it pays to play smart. Students should obtain the class syllabus and book list early. Communication with professors before class starts is absolutely essential.
It pays to ask the professor if it’s okay to use an older version of the main classroom text. The tenth edition of a text, for example, might cost $120 while the ninth edition might be found on line for as little as $40, and the eighth edition could be priced as low as $10.
Savvy students should also ask which books on the syllabus will be used most frequently. A group of two or three students can pool their resources by purchasing and sharing less frequently used course books. Remember, many professors put books on reserve in the library where they can often be checked out for a few hours at time.
Finally it pays big to be the early worm.
If students must purchase the latest of edition of a text, the internet is the best place to turn where used copies can be purchased from third party sellers at a significant discount on Amazon.com and Half.com. The key to remember is that these websites are dynamic marketplaces where the law of supply and demand reigns supreme. When demand is higher so are the prices. By purchasing books two to three weeks before classes start, smart students can often score a 20% to 30% discount compared to those who wait.
When it comes to paying for college, it pays to think outside the box.
BMWK, what are some of your suggestions to help parents and students slash college costs?