If they haven’t already, college-age kids are probably bombarding their parents with requests for all the dingles, dangles and doodads that seem to go along with heading off to school. But there are plenty of ways to cut costs and winnow out unnecessary add-ons because let’s face it, you’re just going to end up sending extra “grocery” (read: beer) money later anyway. Snip expenses while you can or it’ll be a long four years.*
Kiplinger has the rundown on a whole slew of ways to tighten up that college budget, whether you’re a parent helping out or a fresh-faced student juggling the books on your own, or a combination thereof. Even if a student is already moved in, there’s still time to take a step back and help your wallet.
Brand-new shiny textbooks aren’t necessary: Instead of shelling out cash for a new textbook or to own one, there are plenty of universities that offer rental programs so students can avoid big upfront costs. Inquire at your school to see if there’s such a thing, or comparison shop online for new and used textbooks.
Private loans: Have you heard of the rising student debt problem in this country? It’s a thing, a very big thing. So before you or your kid sign on for private student loans, consider the high price tag: They usually come saddled with higher variable rates, unlike the fixed rates attached to federal loans, and often limit repayment options. Avoid these if you can — there’s still time to apply for federal loans.
No ride necessary: Having a car on campus might sound like a great idea for that late-night fast food run, but the expenses add up. There’s gas, parking permits, maintenance and insurance to pay for, which can run around $3,500 for the average sedan.
High bank fees: Instead of keeping your child on an account linked to a local branch, consider opening an account to a bank close to or on campus, one that has nationwide coverage so you can access it if you need to as well. Otherwise your student could be looking at hundreds a year in extra ATM and other fees. It’s also worth researching whether the bank will levy fees for transferring funds online between accounts.
Ginormously large meal plans: Maybe a thrice-daily pile of chicken fingers and mountainous scoops of frozen yogurt aren’t really necessary, huh? Check out the meal plans available before you simply sign up for the largest one, as many don’ roll over from term to term. Odds are he’s just going to end up gorging on Easy Mac at all hours of the day, anyway.
Cable TV: First of all, students living in campus housing will likely already have this cost included in the fees charged for dorms or other housing, if cable is available at all. If not, encourage your Internet-savvy youngster to cut the cord instead of footing the bill for the entire house. Streaming TV is a magical thing, and can be accessed through set-top boxes, game consoles and other Web-enabled devices. You or your student might already have one of those.
For more tip on cutting expenses, check Kiplinger’s full list in the source link.
*Or five years, or six. Not gonna judge.
12 Things College Students Don’t Need [Kiplinger]