- Resident assistant - I held study breaks and let students into their rooms when they got locked out. In exchange the college gave me a room in the dorms for free.
- Full tuition scholarship - Mine was merit based. Don't underestimate the power of top-notch SAT and GPA stats. Others may be need-based.
- Comparison shopped for textbooks and sold them afterwards - I think during my four years of college I might have bought a new textbook twice since they were brand new editions. I used a textbook price aggregator like bigwords.com to shop around both when buying my textbooks and in selling them when I was done. Amazon's fulfilled by Amazon program made selling a pile of textbooks easy.
- Technical major - In my unscientific survey, engineering, computer science, and hard science majors tend to get more scholarship money. There are tons of merit and need-based scholarships out there that target "STEM" (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) majors.
- Landed an additional scholarship - Even after tuition is covered you still have room, board, books, and other living expenses to cover. My additional scholarship allowed me to keep any leftover money as taxable income. This allowed me to graduate with a nest egg that was a little bigger. A big plus compared to graduating with student loans.
- National Merit - Just take the PSAT and score high and you might qualify to become a National Merit Scholar. Many schools automatically give these kids scholarships. Mine didn't but I received offers from other schools of anything from $1,000 per year to full cost of attendance just for scoring well on a test.
- Worked summers - I got a job in my field every summer during college and worked full-time for every week of the summer break except maybe two. I earned more than enough money to cover my expenses for the summer and saved the rest. More importantly, I gained valuable experience in my field and had a much more dense resume than many of my peers when I graduated.
- Worked during school - By working part time in my field during school, I gained more experience, covered all incidentals and textbooks, plus saved some.
- Kept expenses low - As always, I didn't spend extravagantly while in college. I either had a tight budget or was paying for expenses out of pocket so partying, eating out, and bars were limited.
Wednesday, July 27, 2011
How I cut the cost of college
The cost of college is becoming exorbitant and its growth has outpaced inflation significantly for the last several years. I graduated from college without any student loans, helped largely in part by my parents' prudent savings. However, I also helped defray costs significantly. Here are nine ways I cut expenses and boosted income while in college to make it more affordable: