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20 Tips For College Survival

Updated on May 22, 2014

Surviving the College Experience

So you have made the decision to go back to college…Congratulations! But now here comes the fun part. You have to somehow make time for school, along with pay for it and still have time to feel like you have a life. For more and more non-traditional students such as myself, they will also have to find time to work, maybe even full-time and some have families to take care of as well. No easy task you think? You would be right, balancing all of this and being successful in school can be a daunting task, but I am here to tell you it is doable.

So where do you want to start? Might as well start at the beginning and find out how much money you have to spend and if there is a short fall, how you are going to make it. By using some critical thinking skills you should first jot down how much you will need for your college career. Make your list as realistic and informed as you can. If you smoke add it, if you go out once of week with friends and spend fifty dollars, write it down.

To go even further on this step, actually keep track of where your money is going for a month, all of it. Even the 2.50 for a mocha frap at McD’s, do not try to “cheat” you need to know fully where your money is actually going. The reality of it at the end of the month, might have you reconsidering some silly expenses that will add up quick.

After that is done, you will need to make a budget, once again a REALISTIC budget. How much will you need yearly/monthly? You need to add in all of your college cost such as tuition and books. After all money that is needed is wrote down, next you will need to find out how much is needed. This will help you to know how much in student loans to take out and if you need to get a job to cover all your expenses.

So with that figure in mind, how bad is it? Mine is about 20,000 a year in total and that is cutting out a lot of unnecessary bills. You need to trim the fat where you can, here are a few ideas:

Replace all your bulbs with the energy savers, replace old air conditioners/heaters.

Be mindful of how much water you use, a little conservation can go a long ways sometimes.

Cut your phone plan down, data entry, text, find a cheaper phone service.

Go to basic cable or get a digital conversion and get it for free.

Cut back on shopping sprees, if you don’t need it, don’t buy it.

Buy a mug and make your favorite coffee drinks at home. If you spent 3 dollars a day on a drink from a local coffee place that would add up to over a thousand dollars a year! Buying a blender and the ingredients, you could save lots just on your cup of coffee.

Cook! If you don’t know how, learn. The amount of money that could be saved by this tip alone is astronomical. Not only is it expensive, but void of many nutrients. There are many cookbooks for simple 15-30 minutes recipes.

And really, just changing a few things in your life can give you a lot less stress. If you can cut 3 dollars a day somewhere, there is a thousand in savings. A thousand in savings is a thousand less you have to work for or worry about trying to come up with. Even at ten dollars an hour, that is 100 more hours you can spend on class work or having fun with friends.

Now that you have trimmed some expenses, you have to decide how you are going to meet your financial needs. While some college students don’t have to worry about it, I doubt they will be online looking for money saving tips anyways. So for the rest of us, here are some ideas..

Federal Grants-Depending on your financial situation, there are plenty of federally funded grants that you can apply to. Most well known would be the pell grant. You can apply quick and easily on line at , beware this is not a dot com.

Subsidized and Unsubsidized Loans-When you get your results of your grant through fafsa, they will also tell you if you qualify for any and the amount. These are loans that do have to pay back, unlike a grant. However they can be used for living expenses and school expenses that the grant will not cover. You can also “max out” these loans for the amount you qualify for, but remember these monies do have to be paid back starting six months after you graduate.

Private Loans-There are several companies that will provide monies for schooling, however a lot of students will not qualify for these without a pretty good credit score. Another way for an even better rate, would be to see if you can find a co-signer. The better the credit score, the better the interest rate, and the cheaper the money in the end.

Scholarships-Although only 4 percent of annual college funds come from scholarships, why not try. Most are drawing or essay questions and they can be filled out with little effort. These are monies that do not have to be paid back and can usually be used for college/living expenses. I link that I have found helpful for cutting through the mess

Work Study- Many colleges and companies will hire students that would not otherwise qualify for jobs in their desired major. Most of these jobs will pay as much as most college jobs anyways and will be closer to school and can ultimately save you time and money just is in the transportation aspect.

Start Blooging or Hubbing- If you already find yourself writing in your spare time, why not make money through Google Ad Sense? Many website will set you up with accounts to start making money. Although this one will take some time and effort, over time you could profit from writing on an array of subjects that interest you.

Get a Job-For some this may be the only way. After doing your budget earlier, you should be able to figure out about as much as you need to make. A lot of jobs that are commission like waitressing, bartending, etc, I have found to have a better money making potential than minimum wage jobs. You are guaranteed minimum wage anyways, why not work less and make more. Try to keep it close to home or school, so transportation is not too expensive. The key will be to find one that will be flexible with your schedule and understand the importance of your education.

Continue to find money saving opportunities and spend the time you need on your studies. It is one of the most important decision you can make, to higher your education, so succeed. Soon you will have a career and a stable life, you just have to get through the next few years, you can do it!


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