5 Easy Ways to Lower the Cost of Living Costs for College

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When you are estimating the cost of school for the year, you may use the estimated costs by your college. Depending on where you attend school and the way you choose to spend your money, you may be in a position where you can save a lot of money on how much you spend on school. This can help reduce your student loans, and the amount you have to work while in college. It is important to consider all of the options carefully.

Ditch Your Dorm

Unless you are living in a huge city, you will likely be able to find an apartment that will cost less than the dorms. Your parents may want you to live in the dorms your freshman, year, and there are some advantages of living in the dorms the first year. It can make making friends, and transitioning to independence much easier. However, after the first year find an apartment with roommates and find some place that is more affordable. Many complexes cater to students, and you will find the rent much more affordable.

It is important to take the time to hunt for a good apartment. You will want one that offers things like free parking and that is on a bus line and relatively close to a grocery store. This will make it easier for you to save money because you can get to where you need to go rather easily and complete your grocery shopping without too many complications. Be sure to way your options when you decide to live off campus.

Watch Out for Your Meal Plan

Another expensive aspect of attending college is the meal plan. The meal plan can make life easier, but you can save money by considering other options. While in college I opted to only have two meals provided by my meal plan each day, which reduced the monthly cost by close to $200.00.

I did not skip breakfast, but bought cereal and milk and kept it in my dorm room. The savings really added up over the year that I lived in the dorms. Make sure you are exploring all of your options before you sign up for the default meal plan.

Form a Meal Group

Once you are living off campus, you can really begin to save money on your grocery costs. This may be the area where you can save the most when compared to the costs estimated by your college. Be sure that you plan a weekly menu and that you take the time to pack your lunch instead of purchasing it on campus. You may want to consider starting a nightly dinner group with friends or roommates. If you cook one large meal and feed four people with it, it often costs less than cooking four smaller meals. If you each cook one night a week, you can save on groceries over the course of the month. These cost savings tips can really help you cut back on the amount you spend for college.

Leave Your Car at Home

You can save a lot of money by choosing to live without a car. The basic savings in parking and gas are obvious, but you can also save on monthly insurance costs, maintenance, and registration. If your parents are helping you out and covering insurance for you, then you may be okay.

Otherwise, you really can save a lot. Many campuses are designed so that you can survive without a car, especially if you are living on campus. If you are living off campus just be sure you are near a bus line. A bus pass is a lot cheaper than a car.

Look for Better Deals on Books

Depending on your major, your books may cost more than a few month's rent. Although the bookstore may be convenient, you may be able to save money by shopping around online and looking for used texts from other sources. A few minutes of browsing online can make a huge difference in the amount you pay. 

Don’t Forget to Protect Yourself

When living off campus, it is important to protect yourself. Some college apartment complexes will charge you the utilities as part of the rent. This is an advantage because you do not have to worry if your roommate doesn’t pay their share of the utilities.

Try to avoid putting everything in only your name. Divide the utility bills up among the roommates so no one person is in charge of collecting all of the money or covering it if someone is short. When you sign up for a lease, see if it can be in your individual names. Some college apartment complexes offer this, which means you will not be kicked out if your roommate stops paying rent. Make sure you lock up personal items like your social security card and credit card information so that you can protect yourself from identity theft.