The cost of college is rising faster than ever before. According to the College Board, the cost of attending an in-state public university increased by 6% for the 2016-17 school year. That means a single year’s tuition will now cost an average student $5,700. At the same time, financial aid is becoming more and more limited. Therefore it’s no surprise that securing financial assistance has become even more important for families with children headed off to college. Luckily, there are many ways that every cent of your savings can go towards funding your college education instead of paying for it. Here are some Money-Saving Tips to make sure you don’t run out of cash before you finish school.

Make the most of your money.

College is a time to learn, explore, and form new relationships. Having fun is an important part of college life, but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your financial well-being. Make sure to take full advantage of financial aid programs that help you cover the cost of college. Many schools offer need-based scholarships and grants that can give you money off your tuition. For example, a lot of community colleges offer financial aid for out-of-state students, so you could qualify for a reduced tuition rate even if you’re not from the state in which the university is located.

Be smart with your student loans.

One of the most important things you can do to make the most of your money is to be smart with your student loans. If you have federal loans, be sure to keep them current. If you don’t pay them back within the required time, you will be charged extra interest and your payments could end up costing you much more than if you had just paid them upfront.

Don’t live in luxury.

It might feel like the whole world is about to end if you have to go to school without a job, but you don’t have to live in abject poverty to go to school. You don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on every meal and beg your parents to buy your textbooks. It’s important to remember that while higher education is an important investment, it’s not a requirement for making a living. If you can make it through school without going into massive debt, it will be worth it in the end.

Eat breakfast.

Consuming a nutritious meal before you start studying will improve your concentration and help you focus on the task at hand. Plus, a nutritious breakfast will keep you awake longer so you won’t be nodding off in the middle of a lecture. It’s also a great way to economize your food budget as you’ll be saving money on lunch and snacks that aren’t as nutritious.

Stop buying stuff you don’t need.

Buying books, uniforms, supplies, and other non-essential items has a huge impact on your financial aid. Every year, schools make a list of things that they think students may need, but most of the time that list is way off. Therefore, it’s a good idea to leave some room in your budget for those items that may end up being inaccurate. If you’re really struggling with your budget, try selling things on eBay or Craigslist to help alleviate the strain.

Stay connected to your school.

If you can, attend College Events and conferences that are offered by your school. This will help you meet new people, form connections with professors, and stay connected to your school. It’s also a great way to make connections with alumni who could help you get a job after you graduate.

Wrapping up

These tips may feel like it’s a race against the clock, but don’t let those feelings stop you. It’s important to remember that the more prepared you are, the better off you will be. The good news is that you don’t need to do it all alone. There are many sites and apps out there that can help you stay on track with your finances and make sure you don’t miss out on any financial aid. The sooner you start, the sooner you will be able to finish school debt-free.

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