Going to college is a heavy financial strain on any student, but it’s often the parents who bear the brunt of the weight of that burden. Under the caring wing of their parents, school children rarely have to worry about the value of money, but once they’re let out into the world on their own, everything changes and all of a sudden they have to fend for themselves.
With this freedom comes responsibility and it usually takes a little while for students to learn how to take care of their money. A lot of students end up in debt while at university and calls home for money can be frequent occurrences. Right off the bat there are a few ways that college undergrads can watch after their money and let parents sleep easy.
Don’t miss class
Tuition fees are expensive and are usually paid in advance. Being at college isn’t like being at school. Most children wouldn’t dream of missing a class in school, but at college, nobody is going to write a letter home and say that Johnny has been skipping lectures. At this stage in a student’s life, if education isn’t being taken seriously then that’s the student’s choice. Lecturers will carry on teaching those students who do care and the ones who don’t will pay for it in the long run. The temptation to sleep in is always there, often fuelled by a hangover, but as soon as a student starts skipping classes, he is throwing money away.
Don’t fail class
In a similar vein to not showing up, failing is just as bad, if not worse. Some students let their college years drift away by failing and retaking classes, sometimes graduating several years after their original classmates. It costs money to retake modules and courses and it costs money to spend more time at college than you’re supposed to. Students can’t rely on retaking exams to pass their courses because they’ll end up severely out of pocket in the long run.
Make the most of the perks
A large chunk of the tuition fees paid to colleges and universities goes towards other resources that students often fail to take advantage of. These include everything from healthcare to assembly fees. If the service is there, use it. If you get sick, go and visit the university health service and make the most of your money. You’re paying for it either way.
Take everything you can get
A lot of students go through their college years unaware of the large number of scholarships and grants available to them. No matter what year of study a student is in, there is usually money out there earmarked for them; it’s just a matter of applying for that money. Colleges, universities and other organizations have schemes in place aimed squarely at financially assisting students during their study. To not take advantage of these resource or, worse, to not even be aware that they exist is wasting a great opportunity. It’s crazy to think that most students just don’t bother to cash in on all the free money that’s out there.
Don’t make a meal of your money
Many colleges and universities have some kind of meal plan on offer to students. Students living in halls on campus might have all their meals provided, while others may have to choose meal plans. Some students end up wasting money on uneaten meals. If a meal is provided and paid for, it makes sense to eat it. Especially in halls of residence, many students end up taking their meals off campus and dining out regularly, despite having meals provided for them. If a student is going to dine out, then it would make more sense not to spend money on any kind of meal plan.
Buy the right books
It’s impossible to shy away from the financial burden of having to buy course books, but students often end up frittering away their cash on text books. It’s not unheard of to shop around for books. Buying books online is a great way to save money, as is checking faculty notice boards to hunt out older students selling off books they’re done with. There’s also no reason why every text book that a student uses can’t be sold on to new students, thus saving a pile of cash at the end of each semester.
Don’t be a dropout
For some students, the newfound freedom that goes with attending college can go to their heads. They party too much, study too little, miss too many classes and wake up on time too few mornings. It’s a surefire way to waste money and to end up on the chopping block after every semester. Sure, going to college is a lot of fun, but there is still work to be done and if a student isn’t up to par when it comes to exam time, they may face the choice of retaking classes or else dropping out altogether. Then there are those students who haven’t really thought through what they are doing at university. Picking a course on a whim or just applying for subjects friends have applied for is another recipe for dropping out.
Keep the grades up
Students often forget that many loans and scholarships are awarded on the basis of certain grades and credits being met. If a student’s grades slip too far, it may be that that student will have to pay back his or her loan sooner, which can be an enormous financial worry. Likewise if a student’s GPA drops below a certain level, scholarships may be withdrawn.
With student loans comes temptation. As a student, it’s easy to feel rich at the beginning of each college year and this can lead to some erratic spending, from new videogame consoles to wild nights out. If student loans were to cover shopping sprees then classes would be held in malls. It can be a hard lesson to learn for many, but the financial blunders students make today will often make them cringe with embarrassment in the future.
By MC for Education Living