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 includes the cost of living in your choice of housing and the cost of food during that year.
Check out these tips to cutting costs on room and board.
- Consider 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 total cost of attendance that looks a lot more manageable.
- Living on campus? Living with a roommate can reduce the cost of room and board significantly. Pay close attention to deadlines for submitting your housing application each year, and then turn it in ASAP—before the deadline. It’s not unusual for lower-priced housing to get snatched up more quickly.
- Living off campus? As a general rule, 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 types of meal plans to their students and are often required for those who live on campus. Consider trying one of the less expensive plans (fewer meals every week) and try 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 inviting friends over for a potluck or ask them to bring sharable snacks.
Other ways to manage college expenses
- Submit a FAFSA each year to see how much financial aid you may receive.
- Don’t miss out on free money. There are scholarships available every semester, so don’t forget to search for them in the fall and in the spring. UCanGo2.org and OKcollegestart.org are two great places to start your scholarship search.
- Consider riding your bike and using public transportation. Larger schools often have their own low-cost transit systems. Many college students leave their cars at home.
- 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.
- Stay away from credit cards. The interest is high, and they make it much too easy to overspend.