If you’ve taken a look at the Financial Aid Offer from your college of choice, you may have been surprised by the cost of room and board for one year of school. Your ‘room and board’ estimate covers two necessities that can’t be overlooked—a roof over your head and the food you’ll need to keep you going. Consider these tips to keep room and board costs low.
Where to live
- Have you considered how much money you could save by living at home for another year or two? Nearby community colleges usually charge lower tuition, and they offer the same general education courses required at four-year universities. Add in your savings on room and board, and you’ve got a significantly lower total cost of attendance.
- Living on campus? Consider this: a roommate can reduce the cost of room and board quite a bit.
- Living off campus? As a general rule, you’ll find that apartments and houses located close to the campus will charge higher rent than those located farther away. Consider having two or three roommates if you have the space.
Where to eat
- Colleges and universities offer various meal plans to their students, and meal plans are often required for those who live on campus. Consider trying one of the less expensive plans (less meals every week) and plan to prepare more meals in your dorm room, apartment, or off-campus rental. Maybe your roommate would agree to split the cost of non-perishable bulk foods that you both use frequently. Clip coupons for even more savings.
- Limit eating out. Consider asking friends over for a potluck or ask them to bring sharable snacks.
Other ways to manage college expenses
- Check out all available options for financial aid. Apply for scholarships every semester, not just your freshman year. New options are added each year and qualifications change. Don’t miss out on free money that you may be qualified to receive.
- Is it absolutely necessary for you to have a car on campus? Consider riding your bike and using public transportation. Larger schools often have free or low-cost transit systems.
- Graduate on time to reduce the total cost of completing your program.
- Earn some money. Check on work-study jobs or find a part-time job in town.
- Limit use of credit cards to true emergencies. You’ll likely spend less if you use cash, and you won’t risk paying interest on your purchases.
For more ideas on cutting the costs of college, be sure to read OKMM’s money management article, Getting Through College on Less.