ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

How To Afford College: The Young Married Couple

Updated on February 28, 2012

Because money doesn't grow on trees.

As a young married student myself, I know that between everything you have going, paying for college can be tough. It isn't the same as for single students, or students whose parents pay for them. You get to do a lot of this on your own. Every penny counts, and that's why in my guide I not include the basics of paying for college, but also for paying for day-to-day living. I also hope this will help you start saving for later purchases as well: my husband and I are currently saving for a car, and following these exact principles has really helped!

Here is my general guide for affording college as a married student:

  1. Decide to.
    This is the first step in a lot of things. If you don't decide to follow the other steps of this process, it will not happen. Willpower isn't always a fun thing to utilize, but you will much happier in the long run if you do.
  2. FAFSA is your friend.
    My husband and I both received Pell grants for this upcoming semester worth $5,500. That's a combined $11,000! Do NOT pass that up. Once it pays for your tuition, textbooks, and other needed materials, put the rest into savings so you have a fallback (because, yes, the rest of that money goes to you). FAFSA is also easier than ever now: as soon as you get your Federal tax return, the information from the IRS can be uploaded straight to your online application, cutting the time it takes to apply to only a few minutes. Apply as early as possible for the bigger grants; after that, you may get Stafford loans, but I recommend staying out of debt as much as possible.
    (And here's the link to the FAFSA website: have no excuse not to now!)
  3. Look into what resources your school has available.
    This includes a many different things.
    The first is residency at public colleges. I went to an out-of-state college, and it was pretty expensive. Taking the necessary steps towards residency saved me about $6,000 per semester...a huge help!
    Secondly, many schools offer need-based scholarships and grants. Take advantage of them! Why ask twice about free money?
    Third, look into married housing. At my college, married housing is $535 for a one bedroom, one bath apartment right on campus, including utilities besides internet. Compared to some prices I've seen (that don't even include utilities!) it's really not too bad.
  4. Work if you're able to.
    I am coming up on my last semester, but it will be a 21-24 credit-hour semester, so I'm quitting my retail salesperson job to focus on school full-time, just to get it done. It happens. I know it. But if you can, and most of us can manage to somehow, then work. Even minimum wage will help. There are often student job available on campus which allow for flexible hours (a MUST for most of us) and decent pay.
    Also, pick up odd jobs on the side: babysitting, tutoring, mowing lawns. The hours are as flexible as you need, and we could all use the extra cash. I am getting involved in a student research project at my school that I can do between classes; it pays me $10 an hour. Not kidding you! There's also plasma donations, which often pay about $50 a visit, and you can do it twice a week. Not everyone is comfortable with that (including my husband) but if you are, and you could use the extra income, why not? There are a lot of good ways to pick up extra cash when you need it. Besides, sometimes opportunity only comes knocking when you invite it over.
  5. Avoid extra costs.
    This means car payments, clothes and toys you don't need, gym memberships, fast food, anything superfluous and not truly necessary. I could probably write an entire article entirely on this, but I'll try to stick to some of the basics here:
    Cars: There are these great things attached to the bottom half of you called legs. These are amazing tools! They can do all sorts of thing, including, but not limited to, walking you to the bus station or pedaling a bicycle. Obviously, if you live far away from campus, you may actually need a car. And sure, taking the bus or riding a bike takes longer than just driving places. But the savings are worth it. Not only are car payments an unneeded stress on an already tight budget, but with gas prices and parking costs, it becomes an even greater stress! Bus passes are often provided at a discounted rate for students, and biked can be found on Craigslist or local thrift stores.
    Gym memberships: Remember that bike we were just talking about? Yeah. Gym memberships cost money you just don't have, and you can seriously work out anywhere. Unless you're on a sports team (in which case, I think you have free access) you simply don't need it. Go for a run outside, ride a bike, take the dog for a walk (although, I recommend against pets as a poor married college student...again, lack of funds), anything! If you must have one, check with your school's gym to see if their rates are better. For example, I go Tuesdays and Thursdays to my college's swimming pool, which is free to the public between certain hours.
    Fast food: This is something that my husband and I are horrible at. We LOVE fast food. We are lazy, and making our own food (especially after a long day of work and school) is just tedious, so we like to eat out. But it costs a ton! We've taken a few measures to help us with our problem...obviously, the first step we took was to decide to find a cheaper way to eat (and not be so lazy). Coupons are a pretty good, though time consuming, way to pay for groceries. I'm not an amazing coupon clipper, but my sisters-in-law are, and you would be amazed at how little they fact, the other day one of them had to add things to her cart because the store wouldn't hand her the cash they owed her from all the coupons she used! I'm honestly a bigger fan of crockpots, which allow me to dump everything into a pot, run out the door and do whatever I need to that day, and come back to a ready meal. Well, as long as I remembered to turn on the crockpot.
    There are obviously many other extra costs, but these are some of the ones that weigh most heavily on my mind. The other is "don't have a baby"...but that's basically another article in and of itself.
  6. Speaking of all those extra costs: Make a budget and stick to it.
    Making a budget is easy. Watch your spending for a month or two, then sit down with your spouse and write out where every penny should be going. Things may not be exact, but it should be a good outline.
    Sticking to it is the hardest part. For me and my husband, it was easier to say: "Pay the utilities, pay the rent, then stick all but $100 into savings". We live far below our means (which is pretty far down there anyway) but we certainly don't overspend when all that's in our account is $100. But do what works best for you.
  7. Small things count.
    Some random advice in no particular order: Take shorter showers: it saves you on water and heating costs. Use the internet at your school if possible, and avoid paying high cable bills at home. Recycle your soda cans. Pick up pennies in the street. Every bit will help.

So this is a general outline of how to do it. Some of it requires more effort than other parts, and you will definitely be tired by the time you finish up with that degree, but you will certainly be glad you did it the smart way.

I also should add that this does NOT mean to work work work and never play. Play is an important part of life, especially within a marriage. Remember to budget for date nights, or find free events to attend together. Strengthen your marriage through teamwork and unified goals, don't tear it apart by focusing too much on the money and who's not doing what. My husband and I could both definitely use the money from working on weekends, but we've decided that it's worth losing that bit of money to have our time together: we sleep in, go to church, go on walks, get the chores done, and sometimes we just watch movies all day long. But we get that time together, two days a week.

Please feel free to comment and let me know of things I may have forgotten, what parts you don't agree with, and helpful hints you may have for all us married students trying to make it by.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image


      4 years ago

      I'm 20 and my husband is 21. He's in the military so neither of us have gone to college yet. We, however, will be getting out of the military here soon and will be (hesitantly) living with my father to save money on rent and utilities. This, of course, will help tremendously with school. He'll be attending on his GI bill but I am more hesitant. But with him attending school on his GI, we'll be receiving monthly compensation in the form of a basic housing allowance. On top of us both working, I'll be able to pay for college fairly easily, especially with the added benefits of being married. This article is very helpful with FAFSA info and basic savings so thank you for posting it :)

    • Ardie profile image


      6 years ago from Neverland

      Hailey, this is a fantastic Hub that will help so many young people who are working their way through college. I hope many others see this and take your advice to heart. Welcome to Hub Pages. Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or if I can help or support you in any way.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)