College

Students, Here’s How To Avoid Being Gobbled Up By Debt

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College is expensive. Really expensive. And what’s worse, the debt can stay with you forever once you leave. When it comes to college debt, not even bankruptcy can eliminate it. Students are being destroyed by a combination of high tuition fees and poor job prospects after their courses finish. It’s a perfect economic storm that is making college debt into the biggest issue on the student agenda.

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So the question is, what can be done about it? Here, we’re going to investigate all of the ways students can save money while they’re at college. Our aim is to make sure that you emerge from your university experience intact both financially and emotionally. Let’s take a look at some of the things that you can do to start saving money today.

Opt Out Of Unnecessary University Services

Right now many students pay for health and dental insurance through their university. But students can opt out of their plans, often saving over $200. If your parents have coverage for health and dental insurance, you can get cover through their policy.

Beware of other unnecessary services on campus that charge lots of money. Take printing and copying, for instance. Often these services cost more on campus than they do off-campus. If you want to save money, don’t go to a print shop just because it is convenient. Go because it has the lowest price.

Get A Job On Campus

On-campus jobs are a great way to cover your week to week expenses. Typically, they pay more than the minimum wage because of the nature of the work. Many on-campus jobs involve doing research, working as an assistant to a librarian, or monitoring exams. The great thing about many campus jobs is that they are specifically designed to fit your busy schedule. The biggest opportunities to earn money often arrive in the long summer months. You’ll also have plenty of work to do at the weekend and in the evenings. Other jobs outside of campus might not be as flexible to your student timetable.

Work As A Tutor

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Right now, opportunities abound for degree-level tutors. You can become a tutor and teach kids in school your specialist subject. Tuition is flexible, can be done online, and tends to pay exceptionally well. If you get good at tutoring, you can earn up to $70 an hour. Most entry level tutors enter the market at $30 an hour, which is still markedly better than most campus jobs. Love you subject? Love teaching one-to-one? Then tutoring might be the choice for you.

Look For One-Off Opportunities To Earn Cash

Universities are a hotbed of research and development. But to conduct their research, often they need the help of students. The good news is that researchers often get money to pay students to carry out their work. Students can participate in experiments and research projects and get paid $10 to $30 for their cooperation.

The work usually involves doing things like filling out questionnaires or following simple instructions. What’s more, it’s easy money. Most experiments involve really simple tasks. It’s certainly a much easier way to make money than working in the campus shop.

Always Apply For Scholarships

Many students don’t bother applying for scholarships because they don’t think that they have a shot of getting one. Scholarships, they tell themselves, are only for the academically gifted. But here’s the thing: many financial assistance packages aren’t academically related. Instead, they’re paid out based on financial need. What’s more, these packages are very often undersubscribed.

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Credit: Flickr

When applying for packages, often called bursaries, put your business cap on. Treat it as a business objective to help make college a better investment. Try to avoid negative self-talk about how you don’t deserve it or how you’re not smart enough.

Also, make sure you cast your net far and wide. Look for scholarship opportunities on sites like Fastweb. Also, investigate local charitable organizations. Often these have links with colleges and are willing to stump up money.

Investigate Debt Solutions

It’s almost inevitable that you will leave college with a mountain of debt. That’s why putting in place a debt management plan as early as possible is essential. DebtSolutionsReviewed advises students not to pay anybody to assist them with restructuring the debt. They suggest putting in place a plan that will help you to manage your debt better. Remember, your repayment plan can be changed at any time. Often, you can reduce the amount you pay each month simply by contacting the lender.

Attend All Free Food Events

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The great thing about college campuses is that there’s almost always something going on. What’s more, many of these events offer free food as an incentive for attendance. Free food is a great way to start cutting back on your shopping bill. Look on campus calendars and flyers to see where free food events are taking place.

Often restaurants themselves will come to campus and offer free food as part of their marketing strategy. Kebab shops and pizza restaurants often like to get involved.

Look Out For Cheap College Events

The great thing about colleges is that they often have excellent entertainment facilities. What’s more, these facilities tend to be a lot cheaper to use that the commercial equivalent. Take the campus cinema, for instance. Prices here tend to be a lot lower for students than at the cinema in the middle of town.

College events are a great way to get hold of free entertainment services on campus. There are all sorts of events that you could attend. Many colleges host comedy nights, local music bands and cultural events. These are an excellent way to have a great night out without spending a fortune. Also, be sure you check your student theater schedule. Here, you’ll find cheap/free live events that would cost a fortune if you went to see them off-campus.

Become An Entrepreneur In The Post-Exam Period

Believe it or not, the end of year period is one of the best times to make money and get over debt. When students finish for the summer, they have to move out. And when they move out, they often throw away stuff that they only needed while they were on campus. Often this stuff is in good working order so it would be a shame for it to go to waste.

Entrepreneurial students are now using the end of year clean out to their advantage. They’re rescuing things like mini-fridges from the bins and then selling them to next year’s students. They’re also collecting up unwanted furniture and selling it through ads in local magazines or on social media.

If you’re just moving into a new student digs, ask the university if they’ve warehoused any items left behind by students from the year before. Often you’ll find that they have stuff like toasters and small appliances that are just sitting around. If you ask nicely, usually they let you re-use these appliances, saving yourself a bit of money in the process.

Stick To A Prepaid Card

Sticking to a budget while you’re at college can sometimes be difficult. When you’ve got a massive student loan and a big overdraft, overspending is a constant worry.

Here’s an idea: do yourself a favor and get a prepaid card. Limit yourself to a given spend every week and stick to it.

Always Be On The Lookout For Coupons And Student Discounts

Coupons can be a hassle. But for students looking to save every penny, they can be a lifesaver. You can get coupons for almost all of your groceries. Make sure you check out coupon websites. These sites collect up all the available coupons online and hold them on a single site. You can then pick and choose which ones you need as part of your weekly groceries budget. Often students can save 10% or more on their groceries shopping, simply by using coupons effectively.

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As you know already, never use branded products. Always use products that are generic. They’re often of a very similar product. And over the course of a year, each $2 saving can add up to a big sum of money.

Watch Out For Bulk Buying Opportunities

Bulk buying is expensive up front, but it can yield dividends in the future. Things like pasta sauce and toothpaste are often on sale, so long as you buy in bulk. Look out for these opportunities at the end of supermarket aisles. You’ll run out of this stuff eventually and only end up having to pay the full price anyway.

Cook Meals With Friends

Each person cooking for themselves can be time-consuming and difficult to manage in small kitchens. What’s more, everybody going out to the college cafeteria can end up costing a load of money.

There is a solution, though. Each person takes it in turns to cook a meal on weeknights. This means that your housemates can look forward to getting a warm meal when they get home. And it means you don’t end up spending cafeteria prices just for the sake of an evening meal.

If you can incorporate some of these money-making practices into your life as a student, then you’ll help alleviate your future debt!

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