How To Make It Through College Without Suffering a Financial Meltdown

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Unless you have extremely rich (and extremely generous) parents, it’s likely that your time as a student will also be a time spent being fairly poor. You won’t be alone by any means – the words “student” and “poor” pretty much go hand in hand. When rich parents don’t come into the equation, here’s our top ten tips to help you avoid a financial meltdown at college.

1. Make sure you benefit from all the financial support you are entitled too. It is possible to receive subsidized and unsubsidized loans from the U.S. Department of Education that will help cover the cost of a college education.

2. Don’t discount the possibility of additional scholarships and grants. More than 14 million students benefit from this kind of financial assistance each year. Stay fully informed about such issues to make sure you don’t miss out on your slice of the pie.

3. Create (and stick to) a sensible budget. Once in receipt of your financial aid, there’s always the temptation to blow the lot on a trendy new gadget or a series of extravagant nights out. Don’t do it! You’ll only end up eating cheap noodles for the best part of a year.

4. Master the art of couponing. While we’re not suggesting you go to the extremes of stockpiling 800 toilet rolls because it was “a good deal”, it makes sense to take advantage of savings when they are available. Every little helps, right?

5. Learn to cook! Unless you actually want to eat beans and soup for four years straight, we recommend Tim Ferriss’ latest book The 4-Hour Chef. It promises to teach readers how to be a world class chef in just four hours. That has to be worth a shot (although the idea of catching pigeons for dinner is likely to be a step too far for most).

6. Team up with a small group of fellow students to share costs. You could use group buying power to take advantage of generous bulk buying discounts (800 toilet rolls, anyone?) or (more realistically) each buy a recommended textbook instead of forking out for the lot yourself.

7. Get a job. Shock horror! Loads of students manage to hold down a job while at college. Why should you be any different? Make things work even more in your favour by nabbing a job in one of your favourite stores, That way, you’ll probably be able to enjoy a staff discount. As an added bonus, the experience will look great on your CV.

8. Take full advantage of student discounts by applying for an International Student Identity Card. It’s recognized in 124 countries so whether you want a great deal for your dollar or more savings for your sterling, you’re onto a winner. The card (which also doubles as a prepaid mastercard) costs $25, but use it wisely and you will save lots more than that.

9. Avoid extortionate printing costs at college by buying your own printer. They’re so ridiculously cheap these days that it makes sense to buy your own. There’s the added bonus that you won’t be stuck behind several hundred other students come dissertation time.

10. Join The Freecycle Network and try to get the things you need for free. Okay, this one might be a long shot and we doubt that there’s many top-of-the-range laptops to be had, but you never know until you check it out …..

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