The bad news is that the price will continue to rise. The good news is that if you start saving early, you can afford college without going into too much debt. Keep reading for 8 saving for college tips that will get you started on the right foot.
Saving for College Tips: Start Early
The early you start saving, the better off you will be. If your parents started a college savings account for you when you were young, you’re off to a good start.
However, not everyone has one of these accounts. If you’re starting a little later and are funding the college account on your own, it’s not too late.
1. Get a Job
If you’re in high school, it’s time to get a job and start saving your own money. You can’t depend on your parents or other family members to save for you. A part-time job working at a supermarket, gas station, or retail store isn’t going to bring in the big bucks, but it will help you start socking away some cash for college.
You can work during the summers and breaks to save money for the next semester. 14 is usually the youngest age you can have a job and there will be limits on how many hours per day and week you can work, but you can start earning some money 4 years before you’re off to college.
2. Start Earning Credits in High School
High schools are offering dual enrollment programs with many community colleges or 4-year universities. These programs allow you to take a few college classes as a junior or senior in high school. You get high school credit for them and you also earn college credit that you can transfer to whichever school you end up attending if it’s different.
Many of these programs offer the courses to students for free or at a lower cost. You can also take these classes during the daytime, as schools will allow you to leave to take a class, which allows you to work after school and in the evenings.
3. Take AP Courses
Taking advanced placement (AP) courses in high school could get you some college credits. If you take an AP class in high school and do well on the test (usually you must earn a score of 3 or above to get credit), you can get credit for certain college classes.
AP courses are a great way to get some of your general education electives out of the way, like math, literature and writing, and some history courses. You might be able to start your freshman year of college with enough credits to make you a sophomore, saving you the cost of an entire year of college!
Taking the AP class at your high school is free, of course. The only cost to you is typically the exam, which is around $100, much less than a college course!
4. Apply for Scholarships and Grants
There are thousands of different scholarships out there. Both through your university and other organizations. If you do your research and take the time to apply for scholarships for which you qualify, you might find that you get a lot of assistance to help pay for college.
Grants are another way to fund your college tuition. These are often given to students with financial need and do not need to be repaid. Learn more about what’s out there and do your due diligence to get as much free money for college as you can!
5. Open a Savings Account
Open a savings account for the money you are earning from your job and for any other money you get, such as gifts. Many banks and credit unions offer free savings and checking accounts to students, so this won’t cost you anything.
There are different savings account options, so check out what your bank or credit union offers.
6. Save Money Instead of Spending It
If you can’t save your entire paycheck, do your best to save as much as possible. You should also put all of your other money in your savings account. If you get money for Christmas, birthdays, or graduation, put that in your savings account and watch your money grow.
7. Set Up An Automatic Deposit
The easiest way to save your money is to set up an automatic deposit when you get your paycheck. The vast majority of employers use direct deposit now. You can set up an automatic transfer with your bank so every time you get paid, a certain amount of money that you set is transferred to your savings account.
You don’t have to do anything and the bank will automatically transfer the money. You never even see that money in your checking account, making it much easier to save regularly!
8. Work on Campus
Once you graduate and make it to college, consider getting a job on campus. There are hundreds of different campus jobs. You can work in the cafeteria, the rec center, in an office, or even giving tours of the campus. Work study jobs are often available as well, and these jobs will help pay for your tuition.
On-campus jobs are great because they will work with your class schedule and if you live on campus, you don’t have to worry about having a car to get to work.
If you find that you haven’t been able to save enough for college, student loans are an option. Even if you don’t have great credit (or don’t have any credit at all), there are options for student loans for bad credit.
There are even options for your parents to take out loans on your behalf to help fund your education.
The Bottom Line
College is expensive and the cost is only going to increase. With a little planning and some discipline, you can save money to help pay for your tuition, books, and room and board.
These saving for college tips are a great way to get yourself started. If you want to continue your savings in college and beyond, check out some of our other personal finance blog posts. We’ve got you covered in your 20s, 30s, 40s, and beyond!