College Expenses: Best Ways to Cover Those Everyday Expenses
College is expensive. It's no secret that for many of us, college debt will be the single largest repayment plan we face, next to a mortgage (if we ever have one). But tuition and housing expenses aren't the only thing you have to worry about while pursuing higher education. Those costs are important, sure, but just as important is finding a way to pay your way through your day to day life - from eating to bus fare, new towels to cleaning supplies. Here are a few ideas that you can use to help cover everyday expenses while in school.
Financial Aid Options for Students: Explore Your Options
If for any reason you have not submitted the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) yet, please stop reading this and do it right now. It’s the only way you’ll be eligible to receive federal financial aid, so don’t miss out! And not only that, some states and schools will use it to award state and institutional aid. For those of you that have, let's move on to the next step. After applying for federal aid, the first thing you'll be told to do is to look into your school's individual financial aid options to see if there are any other applications you need to complete. These can usually be found on your school's main website, and portals are often located on your personal account's homepage. Take some time to explore this information carefully, and if you're unsure of anything reach out to an advisor or your school's financial aid office for assistance.
While you're at it, do a little searching outside of your college/university. Are you in any way considered a minority? You're probably eligible for financial aid that specifically supports your demographic. Does your state offer a financial aid program of its own? If you don't know the answer to that question, you should go find out ASAP.
In addition, if you know your major, look into major-specific scholarships/grants/loans, etc. There are so many options out there and one way to find scholarships, use a free scholarship matching tool like Edvisors’ StudentScholarshipSearch.com. Another option, ScholarshipPoints(SM) which is a sweepstakes based scholarship opportunity, and a bit unique.
Look into Work-Study Programs or On-Campus Jobs
Working on campus has some great perks. Not only can your pay go toward both your tuition and your wallet, but often - depending on your major - your work hours can translate into credit hours, filling in general-education gaps that we're all very familiar with. While these jobs aren't generally very high-paying, they offer enough income to support basic daily needs, and a few wants in between.
We all know that one of the biggest pitfalls of taking an internship is that often times they are unpaid. It doesn't have to be this way. Finding a paid internship in your field (or near to it) is a great way to get some real-world experience while earning a small living and maybe getting a few credit hours to match.
If you have any sort of marketable skill, chances are pretty high that someone will be willing to pay you something for it. Whether that's writing online articles (hi there!), building websites, analyzing someone's social media feed, photography, or even less education/career specific skills like being an excellent dog walker, get yourself a free website and print a few business cards, then try your hand at making a few spare dollars. There are even apps that will help you connect with who may need help with some tasks around the house. Not only does doing so boost your LinkedIn profile like crazy, but it makes your coffee habit a little less of a hole in your wallet.
This one is a bit of a given. We all know that working makes you money, but I'm throwing it in here for a very specific reason. If you are a college student reading this and you don't already have a part-time job, chances are high that you don't need one to make it through school. I may be losing you here, but hang tight.
If you don't have to do something, but it is simply something you choose to do, it suddenly becomes much more fun. Take myself for example: I have to work a full-time job. However, I choose to work outside of that. The income is unnecessary, but infinitely helpful, and the joy in doing that work brings an amazing sense of confidence and independence into my life. So, if you have the time, and would like a little extra money every couple weeks, consider working part-time at your local coffee shop or retail store. It may not be easy work, but it can really change your perspective on life and yourself.
Regardless of how you pay your way through college, every effort you make gets you closer to being a graduate. If you find yourself in need of a few more pennies to pay your way through life between exams make your way through this list, and maybe you’ll find something you hadn’t tried before.