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The first day of college is something that most people look forward to, especially teens graduating from high school. After all, you will make meaningful friendships, have new experiences, and be constantly exposed to new environments.

However, your education dream can quickly turn into a nightmare if you don’t plan for it thoroughly. College education is costly and it is getting more expensive every year.

The average cost of college is over $20,000 per year for public schools and close to $47,000 for private schools. Add in graduate education and you can easily have over $100,000 in students loans.

Don’t worry, it’s not too complicated to avoid these college financial issues and we’ll help you learn how to save money for college. If you want to start paying off your student loans early, here are multiple effective ways to do so.

Does College Make Sense Financially?

College can be astronomically expensive and the cost will keep growing over time. Due to this, some people think that going to college is not a good idea financially.

In some situations, this can be true. Getting a degree that you don’t use can be be viewed as a waste of time and money. You time may have been better spent working a job and getting practical experience.

That said, I strongly believe that education is important for increasing your ability to earn more money. It can open up better job opportunities, as many high-paying companies are looking for well-trained people who have degrees.

In addition to earning formal credentials, school helps to teach you how to solve problems, think critically, and ask questions. Those skills can be affect your earning potential and your ability to be a successful entrepreneur.

If you want to become a successful professional, one of the best ways to do so is by attending college. Obtain a degree in a particular career that you not only enjoy, but also has the potential to pay well.

Get a Part Time Job

Although it can be hard to find a good-paying job as a teen, it’s not impossible. While you are in high school and college, look for a job that you can do after school and in your free time.

The goal here is to simply build up as much savings as you can. Even on minimum wage, you could earn an extra $100 per week that can help to pay off your student loans.

If this is the first time you’re applying for a job, you can start by looking for jobs in supermarkets or retail stores. Other jobs that may help you save money for college include babysitting, tutoring, and even dog-walking.

You can also offer local services like chores or yard work to your neighbors and relatives. Try to think of the best ways your skills could be useful to someone else, and then look to monetize them.

If you don’t want to start your own side hustle, you could look for short-term jobs during the summer. Since you’re not aiming to be in that job for the long-term, it is the best option for someone who’s about to go to college.

Options for short-term summer jobs include lifeguarding, being a park attendant, or camp counselor.

Working part-time while in school is never easy to juggle your time. The benefit is that it can make a huge difference in earning extra money that can be put towards your student loans. Not only will you be able to save money for college, but you also will learn valuable lessons about responsibility, saving, and paying down debt.

Start Saving as Soon as Possible

Going into college, it is often unclear how much money you will need for the next 2 to 6 years. Tuition rates can change, plus there are extra costs for housing, food, and entertainment.

To set yourself up as best as you can, start saving money early and whenever you get the chance. As you earn money through your job and side hustle, put money into a high-yield savings account. This will help to earn a little bit of interest while keeping your money accessible.

When you are in high school, start by putting a few dollars every pay check into a savings account dedicated to college. It is ok to spend money occasionally to have fun, but make a goal to save as much as you can.

As you get into college, try to increase your rate of savings as much as possible. You may find that your expenses are relatively fixed with consistent housing and food costs. Take advantage of activities on campus to cut down on your entertainment budget and save instead.

Sell Things You Don’t Need Anymore

To make some extra cash for college, start by cleaning your room. You’ll likely find some items you don’t need or haven’t used in a long time. You can sell this stuff and save money to help pay down your student loans.

For instance, you can sell your old clothes such as t-shirts, sweaters, pants, shoes, or handbags on eBay and Amazon. Craigslist and Facebook tag sale sites are other good alternatives to sell your stuff locally to avoid shipping.

If selling stuff online isn’t an option for you or doesn’t look appealing, try running a garage sale. For higher-value items, you can auction them off to the highest bidder. Try working with other neighbors to create a larger tag sale that generates more interest and more sales.

Earn Credits While You Are Still in High School

One way to save money in college is to avoid having to pay as much in the first place. To do this, you can earn credits and reduce your tuition in multiple ways.

For instance, one of the most popular ways of earning credits is while you are still in high school. You can take advanced placement, or AP, courses that will give you credit towards college. Another option is to attend a community college’s introductory courses.

This will not only prepare you for what is waiting for you in the future but also reduce the tuition you’ll need to pay later. At almost $600 per college credit on average, you could save several thousand dollars by getting ahead with your credits.

Another alternative is to attend a community college for a couple of years after you have graduated from high school. This will allow you to earn extra credits at a lower cost while preparing for a four-year university.

Be Careful with Your Expenses

College education is one of the most significant times of your life and it can have an impact on your future finances. Therefore, it is a good idea to start looking at your spending habits early to set you up better later on.

Start by evaluating your expenses to find out what money are you wasting without realizing it. For instance, if you like to eat out at a restaurant and go to there frequently, you can try to cook it yourself at home.

If you tend to go shopping or the mall with your friends, try to find other things to do with them that are free. Getting outside, having a barbeque, or starting a book club can be cheaper alternatives to help save money.

As part of this, you should track your expenses to better understand where your money is going. Even if you don’t have a formal budget, be aware of if you tend to spend money frivolously.

Apply for a Scholarship

One way to help reduce your college costs is to apply for a scholarship. Although many scholarships won’t cover all your expenses, they can help you a bit while you’re there.

Full-ride scholarships are usually tough to get if you are not at the top of your class. The good news is that there are many other smaller scholarships available that are easier to win. Even a small $500 or $1,000 scholarship can be a big help in paying off your books and tuition.

Opportunities for scholarships can be found online through directories or through local sources. Local churches, schools, and companies may all offer scholarships to students. Usually, you can apply for them by writing an essay and following their application criteria.

Look for More Affordable Colleges

Attending a prestigious university can have its benefits by helping to land a higher-paid job when you graduate. Big names like Harvard, Yale, Cornell, and MIT are known for opening doors for graduates but they are also very expensive. Harvard can cost over $72,000 per year in tuition and fees.

Even if you are able to be accepted to top universities, it may make better financial sense to go to a more affordable school. For the average student, going to a state school or community college can provide the same benefits as a more expensive school.

For example, going to a private school could cost you $40,000 per year, or $160,000 for 4 years. Instead, you could go to a well-known state school for $20,000 per year and still graduate with the same degree. In many cases, you can still get the same job out of school earning the same pay, but save $80,000 in your student loans.

It is Possible to Save Money on College

While college is definitely a large investment, there are ways to make it more affordable. Start planning for college early by getting a job and saving money while in high school. Asking for cash gifts for your birthday and then saving that money can help to boost your ability to pay off your student loans.

As you’re working to pay off your student loans, take steps to improve your income and decrease your expenses. You will find that college can be some of the best years of your life and can be valuable in forming the basis for your future.

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