You’ve finally found enough money to pay for college, but what about your daily living expenses?
According to one researcher, these costs, not tuition fees, have been found to be the major obstacles to obtaining a college degree. 2021 Survey By Urban Future Center. Some students end up dropping out, while others turn to credit cards, thinking they will earn enough to pay off their debts after college. One study found that the average amount a student borrowed on a credit card was $1,309. 2021 Sally May Report.
However, these actions are only a last resort. A better approach, experts say, is to set a budget before students set foot on campus and try to stick to it.
“Most people are already tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt,” said Bruce McCrary, spokesman for the National Credit Counseling Foundation, a nonprofit that helps people regain control of their finances. To tell. “On top of that, adding high-interest credit card debt is the last thing you want.”
How do you budget?
First, consider all expenses. This includes everything from books, housing, cell phones, food, transportation, and even clothes for dancing, job fairs, and going to the gym.
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Once you’ve decided what you need to pay for, you can start assigning amounts to each item and look for ways to stretch your money in each category. Start with essentials like books, computers, housing, food, and transportation.
For books, computers, and cell phones, save money by searching for student discounts and consider buying second-hand or refurbished.
Depending on where you live and what you want to do, you may need to do further research on housing, food, and transportation.
These are some of the costs that we will help resolve below.
On campus or off campus?
Prices are traditionally cheaper off campus, but that may have changed with rising rents. US general asking rent hit $2,048 per month in May, up about 27% from $1,607 in March 2020. According to ZIllow. Prices vary by city, but “you may need a lot of roommates right now,” McCrary said.
When comparing, don’t forget to include your off-campus living costs, such as utilities and transportation, which are covered by your on-campus housing.
There are also some social benefits to consider when making decisions.
“I think you should try to live in a dorm for the first year, even if it’s not mandatory,” says JB Beckett, founder of financial services and management firm Beckett Financial Group. “If you can afford it, it’s important to have college experience. It’s about making connections and networking so that you can get a degree, build relationships, and eventually find a good job. Let.”
Meal plan or no meal plan?
The average monthly cost of a campus meal plan is $563, according to education data researcher Education Data Initiative, with three meals a day all-you-can-eat plans economical if you attend every time. Probably not, because you have to get up in time for breakfast, be on campus every weekend, and go to the cafeteria.
Plus, meal plans are “more boring,” says Thomas Salvino, chief executive of wealth management group Performance Wealth. “You always go to the same place.”
You might be able to save money by cooking all your meals yourself, but that’s difficult.
“We experimented with saving alternatives to meal plans,” McCrary said, recalling his college days. “I planned my meals, cooked them as much as possible, and froze my meals because it saves me money…”
But he said he fell off the wagon, drawn to the weekend breakfast buffet in the cafeteria, where students can make omelets and waffles. “I only signed up for the weekend meal plan, but I was away from home sometimes, so I wasn’t able to get the most out of the plan. It was break even at best. It would have worked fine.”
If your school offers a more flexible plan, go for it.
“Take two meals a day for the first year and think about what you’re going to eat,” says Barrett. Even better, if you can pay for a certain number of meals, snacks, and drinks with your punch card whenever you want, you have more flexibility.
Car or no car?
If you don’t have a car, you can probably survive by walking, biking, or using public transportation. If you plan to use public transport, be sure to budget.
“For a full-time student[in New York City]a Metrocard typically costs more than $1,000 per grade,” says Kathy Magis, director of access to higher education at Urban Assembly, a nonprofit that helps public schools. says Mr. “I can think of the countless students who dropped out of college because they couldn’t afford the monthly Metrocard fees.”
If you need or want a car, there are costs. You have to pay for gas and electricity charging, maintenance, parking and insurance.
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“If you don’t mind having a car, do it,” says Beckett.
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- Working can potentially earn you extra cash. “Stop by the Career Development Center,” says Salvino. “Every school has an internship, and many are remote.” You can also try to build a better relationship with “Every class needs a TA,” he said.
- Courtney Alleb, consumer finance advocate at Credit Karma, said paying off your credit card in full and on time every month can help you build a solid credit history that will help you after college. Credit cards also offer protection against fraud and purchases that debit cards and cash do not.
- If you’re still in high school, you might be able to take enough certification classes to skip a year or two of college, Beckett says. “That way you can save a lot of money and spend that time getting a master’s degree,” he says.
- Your own bank account and online budgeting tools such as mint It helps you keep track of your budget and money coming in and going out.
- If you fall off the wagon and get stuck in a hole, get help right away to protect your credit history. “Financial hangovers don’t go away easily after a few Tylenols, they just linger,” McCrary says. Free credit counseling is available to nonprofits to help you budget and pay off debt. National Credit Counseling Foundation again American Consumer Credit Counseling.
Medora Lee is USA TODAY’s Money, Markets and Personal Finance Correspondent. Please contact email@example.com. Subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday-Friday morning.