How to keep college cheap

By Kelsie Travers

Paying for college does not come easily to most – whether it be as a student or a parent. However, there are many ways to keep college cheap. Below are some helpful hints and guidelines to minimize your (and your parents’) spending.

Research before renting or buying books

Apart from basic living needs and tuition, textbooks are a huge cost to factor into the college experience. Although they may seem extremely important, everyone has had that class that never touches a 200 dollar textbook. So before running to the bookstore with a long list of overpriced books, find out more about the classes first.

Ask other students who have taken the class or even the professor if the books truly are necessary, and how much they will be used. If the response is anywhere close to “hardly ever”, then consider using the library’s copy of the book for those rare study days. If you do need the book frequently for class, look online or consider renting because often there are much cheaper options. Finding lower-priced textbooks can be a huge money saver.

Don’t overload your courses

This may seem strange, but taking a realistic course load can really lessen the price of college. Overloading can lead to failing, which can then lead to having to retake a course. For the fall semester of 2015, tuition for 12 or more credit hours runs from $6,018 for an Illinois resident and $14,013 for an international student. It may seem worthwhile to cram the maximum amount of hours into one semester’s worth of tuition, but you might just be setting yourself back. Failing a class, or multiple classes, can mean paying for an extra semester or spending a couple thousand more on a summer school course.

Use public transportation

Having a car at school might seem like a great way to get around, but it’s costly. A typical parking permit for the school year can be anywhere from $300 to $600. And on top of that, you have to pay for gas and any necessary repairs made to your vehicle as a result of damage suffered while parked on campus.

The bus system on campus is great, and can take you just about anywhere. It runs late, it’s reliable, and it’s efficient. And the best part about the bus system – it’s free for students! So don’t hesitate to learn the bus schedule on campus, because it’s a much cheaper alternative to maintaining your own vehicle throughout the school year.

Be smart when furnishing your apartment or dorm

It’s typical to walk into Target when your student is about to head off to college