Woman's Review Guide to Paying for College
According to statistics from the US Department of Education, fifty-six percent of college students who are currently enrolled in higher learning institutions are female. This rising trend has been going on since the 1980s and the percentage is expected to hike up to fifty-seven percent by 2020.
It is safe to say that more women are seeing the value of earning a college degree. But as more women decide to pursue degrees, the accessibility of an American college education seems to be getting less attainable thanks to the rising cost of tuition fees. Fortunately, there are many ways to get around this problem. Financial aid, earnings, and savings are some of them.
Costs to Consider
The most obvious hurdle women may have in getting into college is the expense of tuition. However, it is actually just a small portion of the total expenses that students need to consider when saving up or budgeting for college.
If you are planning to attend an out-of-state school or will be living on or near campus, you will also need to think about and allot money for room and board. This includes your future living expenses such as food, gas, laundry, and even an insurance plan. If you are going to a school near your home and plan to stay with your parents while studying, the you will still have to account for your daily commuting expenses.
Of course, there is also the issue of purchasing books for classes. Students majoring in specific subjects might also need to account for other academic expenses. For example, art majors will need to buy supplies on a regular basis.
Check out the calculator linked below to help estimate how much money you will need to attend college.
- College Board: Quick guide: College costs
- Minnesota State Colleges and Universities: Calculate costs to pay for college
People often get grants and scholarships mixed up. While both are helpful in financing your way through school, it is important to know the difference between the two when applying for them.
Scholarships are generally given out by private entities including corporations, nonprofits, and even generous individuals. The great thing about scholarships is that there are an abundance of them you can apply for. Some are even looking for students who fit given criteria that you may fit right into based on your gender, race, religion, academic achievements, affiliations, or interests.
Meanwhile, a grant is a type of financial aid that is usually given by the government. There are many types of grants you can apply to, including ones dedicated to low-income students. To see if you are eligible for government grants, you will need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
While grants and scholarships are essentially free money for your education, loans are debts that you take out to pay for tuition or other college expenses. If you do need them, do not be afraid to apply. Loan originators are not allowed to discriminate against applicants based on gender.
Loans come with various interest rates and payment plans and are available both privately and through government-guaranteed loan programs.
Earning Money While in College
To limit the amount of debt you will need to take on or to make your grant money last longer, it is a great idea to have a job even while you are still working on your degree.
Depending on your schedule and skill set, you can either look for on campus or off campus jobs that pay relatively well. Some of the most common jobs college students can take, regardless of gender, are tutoring, temping at an office, or working as a student assistant.
The student financial aid office at your university may be able to advise you on how to get work on campus.
Check out the links below for more ideas on how to find work as well as how to manage studying and employment.
Saving Money While in College
If you are already earning an income, it is a wise idea to start saving as early as you can. People often underestimate the amount of time they have to wait before getting their first job offer after graduating. It is a good idea to have a safety net to fall back on.
One easy way to save money is to opt out of on-campus student housing if it turns out to be more expensive than living in an apartment in your area. Consider living with roommates and find a cheaper rental near your campus. Another money-saving move is to limit the times you eat out or order delivery. Cooking your own meals at home is much cheaper in the long run.
Since textbooks can be fairly expensive, try getting a list of all the books you will need ahead of the start of classes. You can then scour online college boards, Amazon, Craigslist, and other sites to look for discounted second-hand ones which you can then resell to others the following semester.
- Centris Federal Credit Union: Six creative ways to save money as a college student
- Education Quest Foundation: How to save money in college
Budgeting Tips for College Students
Most college students enter adulthood without learning about keeping their finances in check. Thus, they tend to learn things the hard way as their money problems pile up. Here are some simple tips you can use for getting your spending in line:
- Know how much you make exactly and do not spend above it.
- Write down all your monthly expenses. Eliminate the non-necessities.
- Track and monitor your spending with a journal or a phone app.
- Make sure to put aside money for savings and emergencies each month.
- Make a budget and stick to it.
- Look for ways to save money and incorporate them into your life.