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Good “Cents” Tips for Going to College

piggy bankGoing to college may prove very expensive even with the assistance of financial aid and scholarships. Whether you are going to community college, a state school, or are heading off to a private college, allU.S. Credit Union can assist you in making excellent decisions about financing your education. The bottom line is, you want to graduate without a mountain of debt and start your career off right. The best way to do that is to manage your college expenses wisely.

Scholarships can help. Don’t think you have to be a straight A student to be eligible for a scholarship. There are scholarships available that consider many accomplishments. Talk to your high school counselor, research online and contact community groups for possible financial aid. You’ll be amazed at what type of financial help is available if you’re willing to put in a little effort. Here is a great resource to help you calculate the cost of college:

Student loans are also available that can be used to help pay for the cost of college. These loans have simple terms and easy payment plans. Don’t take out any more in loans than you need.

Acquiring new textbooks can be a major cost, some running into the range of hundreds of dollars. There are ways, however, of cutting this cost significantly. The wisest way of dealing with this obstacle is by shopping for your textbooks at used bookstores. There are usually several that may be found on or around a college campus. The discounts on these books are normally very large and the books tend to be in fairly good condition. You also have the option of buying from an online store. The prices on these books are generally much lower as well and you will find that you are able to save quite a bit even after you have paid the fees for shipping and handling. Who knows, you may just be fortunate to have a friend that may have taken the course before you and are willing to give you the book at no cost.

Limit credit card debt. Learning to manage credit is important, and it helps establish a credit record that young adults need after they graduate.

Manage your meals. Meal plans vary, but for some programs, it’s possible to spend it all before the semester ends. Maybe stock up on cereal and milk to save money.

Living off campus can be a major factor in the financial load that you will have to bear. A good option for you would be to take the bus or subway instead of driving. This will eliminate the cost of gas. You can also car pool to school. That too will be a much more cost effective option for you.

Think about a part-time job for supplemental income. One of the most practical options is for students to obtain on-campus positions. If you are considering an off-campus job, be sure your employer is aware of your class schedule. This extra cash will help with what you spend each on extras – going out with friends, gas, school supplies, etc.

Wait a minute to make a purchase. If it takes you five minutes to analyze the menu at your favorite fast food restaurant, shouldn’t it take you a period of time to make major decisions on big purchase? Resist the urge to buy on impulse, and if you need to, enlist the help of family or friends to rein you in.

It’s important to set goals or have a financial plan. College is a time to begin to learn who you are, and what you want to be doing with your life. While you may not have everything figured out, it helps to have goals in place to lead you in the right direction. Just like with your plan to launch your career, it is important that you set financial goals that complement your career plans, both in and out of school.

If you are a college student don’t join a bank just because it offers a Frisbee, free dinners or something else to entice you. A credit union like allU.S. will be your best bet.

Entering college is the perfect time to begin managing your finances. Properly maintaining your money will secure your financial future and lay the groundwork for handling it in the real world. These tips are not everything college students can do to reduce their financial burden. They are only a starting point.

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