If you want to save money as a student, maximizing your financial aid options and splitting rent costs are just a couple of ways to start.
But depending on the area in which you live and your university’s resources, how much money you can save with each of these strategies varies. Here is our list of 10 money-saving tips for college students to boost their overall savings.
10 tips to save money as a student
1. Attend a junior or community college
2. Fill out the FAFSA each year
3. Take advantage of student discounts
4. Don’t pay retail price for textbooks
5. Use the campus health center
6. Join a carpool
7. Commit to a major sooner rather than later
8. Work at an on-campus cafe
9. Put unused financial aid in a high-yield savings fund
10. Find a reliable roommate
Students who want to earn a bachelor’s degree from a four-year institution can slash undergraduate tuition costs by attending a junior or community college.
Community colleges are typically a fraction of the price of four-year institutions, said Yeprem Davoodian, department of communication studies chair at Los Angeles Pierce College, a two-year school. For example, average tuition and fees at public two-year colleges for Vermont residents in 2019-20 is $8,210, compared with $17,470 for in-state students at public four-year universities, according to College Board.
Course credits from community colleges can often be transferred to four-year universities, depending on certain factors. And offerings such as California’s Promise Program can provide free tuition to eligible applicants.
Savings impact: Very high
An effective way to save money as a student is submitting a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) every year. Through the FAFSA, you may be eligible for grants and scholarships that you can use toward the cost of your education. For example, federal Pell Grants will provide a maximum award of $6,345 in 2020-21 to eligible students. The best thing about these kinds of student aid is that they typically don’t need to be repaid.
You can fill out the FAFSA online or use a paper form and submit it by the June 30 deadline. In addition to federal grants and scholarships, Davoodian suggested reaching out to faculty and staff to learn about other scholarships and opportunities to help keep college costs low.
Savings impact: Very high
Aside from being a required identification for campus-related services and events, your official student ID card can help you save money as a student off campus. Different businesses — from auto insurance and electronics to movie theaters — offer savings to students who show proof of college enrollment through a student ID.
At checkout, simply ask whether the business offers a student discount for a reduced rate or a percentage off of your purchase.
Savings impact: Variable
The average cost of books and supplies for 2019-20 students attending public four-year schools is $1,240, according to College Board. To avoid this expense, students can get creative in how they obtain the textbook for classes.
“Students can ask instructors if it’s possible for them to place the textbook in the library reserve,” said Jocelyn Gomez, a graduate student who instructs for the department of communication and journalism at the University of New Mexico. “That way, the book is available for all students. “[Students] can scan or make copies of the relevant chapters and not have to buy another textbook [they] won’t use in the future.”
Gomez suggested taking advantage of Google Opinion Rewards, a Google app that lets you earn Google Play credits by taking digital surveys. Those credits can be redeemed for electronic textbooks to help with saving money in college.
Savings impact: Moderate
The average health care premium for single coverage in 2019 was $7,188, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation report. Fortunately for enrolled students, the cost of health care services can be reduced through on-campus health centers.
Students at most colleges and universities pay a health fee, Davoodian said. “This entitles them to all services performed by the college’s health center at zero or next-to-zero cost,” he said.
Larger universities and colleges may offer dental, acupuncture, gynecological and mental health services, for example, in addition to primary care visits.
Savings impact: Very high
An easily overlooked college expense is transportation. Addressing this cost may be your best way to budget money in college, especially for students who live off campus. 2019-20 College Board data suggests that transportation costs an average of $1,230 for in-state students enrolled at public four-year schools.
“That is when it’s beneficial to build community with other students,” Gomez said. “Students can create a carpool system that works for everyone and eases the burden of gas prices and parking costs.”
Savings impact: Moderate
Although exploring different college courses is a helpful way to discover which future career path may interest you, it can be a costly experience. The more classes you take that are outside of your major’s requirements, the more money you spend on classes that aren’t credited toward your degree.
With the average cost per credit at a four-year public university at $325, students on a budget may feel the blow. It may be challenging to be decisive about which major you pursue, but focusing on the required courses toward your degree can help you save significant cash.
Savings impact: High
A part-time job on campus is helpful for students looking for ways to save money in college. Not only does the income bridge gaps if federal financial aid isn’t enough to cover the cost, but working at school is practical in other ways.
For example, on-campus jobs can be more willing to work with your class schedule, ensuring you don’t have to make the hard financial choice of choosing work over your education. Another perk is that if you work at on-campus eateries, you may receive meal vouchers and tips that help lower your food costs.
Savings impact: Moderate
Having a dedicated bank account to save money as a student allows you to separate your daily spending budget from your emergency fund or savings for next year. If you have an excess in financial aid, your school will give you those funds directly after all your tuition, outstanding balances, and room and board fees have been paid.
Instead of spending that money, deposit it into a high-yield savings account. Safeguarding those funds to be used toward the following year’s education costs can be another great way to budget money in college.
Savings impact: Variable
The cost of housing while in college is considerable. If you’re living off campus, the cost of rent, utilities and other housing-related expenses can be heavy without the help of a roommate. Having a roommate distributes the financial burden by creating a shared opportunity to split the rent, household bills and common room supplies, such as groceries.
Savings impact: Very high
Tracking how much money you have to start with and where your money goes, based on necessities and discretionary spending, can help you stay within budget.
Carrie Smith contributed to this report.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|1.89% – 6.66%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.89% – 5.90%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.25% – 6.09%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 5.34%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.97% – 8.54%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.39% – 6.01%||Undergrad |
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews! |
1 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. If approved, your actual rate will be within a range of rates and will depend on a variety of factors, including term of loan, a responsible financial history, income and other factors. Refinancing or consolidating private and federal student loans may not be the right decision for everyone. Federal loans carry special benefits not available for loans made through Splash Financial, for example, public service loan forgiveness and economic hardship programs, fee waivers and rebates on the principal, which may not be accessible to you after you refinance. The rates displayed may include a 0.25% autopay discount.
The information you provide to us is an inquiry to determine whether we or our lenders can make a loan offer that meets your needs. If we or any of our lending partners has an available loan offer for you, you will be invited to submit a loan application to the lender for its review. We do not guarantee that you will receive any loan offers or that your loan application will be approved. Offers are subject to credit approval and are available only to U.S. citizens or permanent residents who meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rates, which are available to the most qualified borrowers. Participating lenders, rates and terms are subject to change at any time without notice.
To check the rates and terms you qualify for, Splash Financial conducts a soft credit pull that will not affect your credit score. However, if you choose a product and continue your application, the lender will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit pull and may affect your credit.
Splash Financial and our lending partners reserve the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen and meet our lending partner’s underwriting requirements. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers. This information is current as of October 1, 2020.
2 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
As used throughout these Terms & Conditions, the term “Lender” refers to KeyBank National Association and its affiliates, agents, guaranty insurers, investors, assigns, and successors in interest.
Assumptions: Repayment examples above assume a loan amount of $10,000 with repayment beginning immediately following disbursement. Repayment examples do not include the 0.25% AutoPay Discount.
Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): This term represents the actual cost of financing to the borrower over the life of the loan expressed as a yearly rate.
Interest Rate: A simple annual rate that is applied to an unpaid balance.
Variable Rates: The current index for variable rate loans is derived from the one-month London Interbank Offered Rate (“LIBOR”) and changes in the LIBOR index may cause your monthly payment to increase. Borrowers who take out a term of 5, 7, or 10 years will have a maximum interest rate of 9%, those who take out a 15 or 20-year variable loan will have a maximum interest rate of 10%.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of December 1, 2020. Information and rates are subject to change without notice.
3 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
4 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 2.98% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.49% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 5.34% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of October 26, 2020, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 10/26/2020. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at [email protected], or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2020 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
5 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 11/13/2020 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.97% to 8.54% Variable APR with AutoPay and 2.95% to 8.77% Fixed APR with AutoPay.