January begins a new calendar year. For postsecondary students, it often marks the beginning of a new academic term. So its a great time to make New Year’s resolutions that’ll help make your education more affordable.
- I’ll finish my degree as quickly as possible! College can be the best years of your life. But it’s also among the most expensive years of your life. So whenever possible, register for a full course load, don’t drop classes, take transferable summer courses at your local community college, and do whatever you can to speed your time-to-degree. This’ll help you spend less, borrow less, and get into the workplace faster!
- I’ll make a spending plan for my money each academic term! Add up the money you’ll have after paying for tuition and required fees (including room and board if living on-campus). Then divide the term into weeks. For each week, project what you’ll need for crucial necessities such as, if you live off-campus, groceries, rent, transportation to and from campus, and utilities. What remains is what you’ll have for personal spending — clothes, eating out, toiletries, etc. Need more? Seek a part-time job or expand, within limits, your hours in your current part-time job.
- I’ll control my unnecessary spending! There’s an old saying, “Borrow to live like a professional when you’re a student and you’ll end up living like a student when you’re a professional!” But there’s much you can do to cut expenses. These include cutting back on daily snacks, leaving your car at home, skipping or downsizing spring break trips, even using tried and true ways to downsize textbook costs, etc.
- I won’t borrow more than I need, no matter how much my school offers me in federal student loans! Your financial aid office may offer the maximum amount for which you’re eligible from the Federal Direct Student Loan Program (FDLP), not just what you need. But the more you borrow the more interest you’ll be charged. At current interest rates, every $100 you borrow will cost as much as $44 in extra interest over the life of your loan. So contact your aid office about declining or downsizing any FDLP loans (unsubsidized loans first) you don’t need.
- I’ll prepay my federal student loans whenever I can afford it! If you couldn’t downsize your FDLP loans, or if you have money left when end of the term’s coming, contact your aid office for help in making a “prepayment” on your FDLP loans (again, unsubsidized loans first) within 120 days of their disbursement date. Any amount you prepay this way will have it’s loan fees and interest cancelled.
- I’ll keep trying for scholarships until I graduate! Plenty of students pursue scholarships before college, but far fewer do so once enrolled. Big mistake! Many scholarships are targeted at students already attending postsecondary schools. They may be offered by on-campus departments, off-campus organizations, and even providers in your hometown. So keep looking for them!
College costs can eat up considerable amounts of your lifetime earnings and take as long as 30 years to pay. So keep New Year’s resolutions such as these now for a better life later!
College Affordability Solutions can help you find ways to cut your college costs. For a free consultation, contact us at (512) 366-5354 or firstname.lastname@example.org.