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10 College Budget Tips: Life on a Shoestring

College tuition is a huge expense. So how are you supposed to get through the next four years with little to no money coming in? Obviously, you need to draw up a college  budget and stick to it. But stretching those dollars only goes so far. Here are some ways for you to live on a sensible college budget while you’re in school:

10 College Budget Tips: Life on a Shoestring

College on a shoestring budget

Discouraged about planning a college budget and sticking to it? Don’t be! This is just the first of many challenges that you will have while working towards your major. With the right attitude, you can have it all- a great college education…and a LIFE.

Ten helpful tips for acing college without going broke!

1) Walk or bike to campus as much as you can.

(It’ll help budget workout expenses!) When a car is absolutely necessary, drive slowly and keep the air conditioning off. Try to use public transportation as well. You can also get a college student discount on bus passes.

2) Buy in bulk.

Load up on food staples like pasta, rice, tuna, cereals, frozen vegetables, and paper supply items. Buying in bulk saves time and is good for your budget during the college years.This can save you lots of money. The extra time you’ve saved can be put to productive use on school textbooks!

3) Always eat at dorm.

Eating out is a luxury you can’t afford; at least, not until you graduate college with honors. If you do decide to splurge on restaurant food, you can still eat without killing your budget; find a buffet which offers a dirt-cheap menu or one that offers early bird specials.

4) Stay away from campus vending machines!

They are notoriously overpriced and take advantage of impulse-buying psychology. Always keep crackers or a healthy energy bar handy in your school bag in case you get the munchies in class or while studying at the college library.

5) Avoid movie theaters.

Movies and theater popcorn will kill your college budget. Instead, borrow movies from your college library, or stream online. You can pop cheap microwave popcorn for a fun night in with friends.

College can be an amazing time, with experiences that you can look back on later in life, smile and say “I did it once; I can do it again!”

6) Use coupons and promo codes.

Lots of online merchants offer promo codes to save money on shipping. Use a price comparison site like Book Bargain before purchasing college textbooks or other college materials online. And don’t forget the old standby, the Sunday newspaper, which is also loaded with money-saving coupons.

7) Buy used books and everything else second-hand.

Every college town has a Salvation Army or Goodwill that’s FULL of great stuff like washed clothing, books, DVDs, bikes, and furniture for your dorm. Many items are barely used or still have the tags on them. Also, check Craig’s list or your classifieds for items. Shopping on a college budget can be loads of fun!

8) Look for free entertainment.

Between studying and college exams, check out your city’s paper or website. Most municipalities offer free concerts or free entrances to various attractions. Student discounts are also available for these events.

9) Share with your dorm mate or frat buddy.

Split the cost of living with your dorm room mate, fraternity brother, or sorority sister. Save on expenses like food, movie rentals, workout equipment…even cool clothing! (Assuming your dorm mate or sorority sis wears the same size and has the same taste in fashion.)

10) Check your campus bulletin boards.  

Be on the lookout for college student discounts and deals. As a student, it’s understood that you’re always strapped for cash. Most local businesses offer special discounts and deals on movies, books, and other goodies. Always check for a student discount before purchasing anything.

Your turn!

Will you use any of these college budget tips? Do you have any questions or suggestions to add?Please leave your comments below!

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2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

The Department of Education just released a list of the most expensive colleges from 2011-2012. While you may not think it’s fair to compare the sticker price for the University of Pittsburgh with the tuition for a private 4-year university such as Harvard, it helps to put things into perspective, especially if you’re part of the middle class struggle for a decent, affordable college education.

2012 Colleges that were Ridiculously Expensive

Which colleges are the most expensive, and which provide a more economical tuition scale? Like Einstein said, it’s all about relativity. Things to consider in choosing a college include highest tuition, overall highest cost per year, and financial aid opportunities.

Are you really dead-set on the college of your dreams, but your professors want you to spend thousands of dollars on college textbooks? You don’t have to shop around. Go to a used textbook search engine, like the one at Book Bargain, and find the best price for your college course materials instantly. Search by USBN number, title, author, or subject.

List of most expensive colleges from 2011-2012

Public colleges with highest tuition

1. University of Pittsburgh- $16,132

2. Pennsylvania State University- $15,984

3. University of New Hampshire- $15,250

4. University of Vermont- $14,784

5. Colorado School of Mines- $14,453

Private colleges with highest tuition

1. Columbia University, New York- $45,290

2. Sarah Lawrence College, New York- $45,212

3. Vassar College, New York- $44,705

4. George Washington University, District of Columbia- $44,148

5. Trinity College, Connecticut- $44,070

Public colleges with highest net price

1. Miami University-Oxford, Ohio- $22,210

2. Pennsylvania State University- $21,342

3. University of Guam- $21,296

4. St. Mary’s College of Maryland- $20,521

5. Pennsylvania State University, Altoona- $20,457

Private colleges with highest net price

1. School of the Art Institute of Chicago- $42,882

2. Ringling College of Art and Design, Florida- $40,222

3. The Boston Conservatory- $39,602

4. Berklee College of Music, Massachusetts- $38,814

5. California Institute of the Arts- $38,802

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