Getting a college degree will cost you thousands before all’s said and done. Like many students, you may have to borrow money to pay for your education. However, the sad reality is the amount you borrow will be significantly less than what you pay back due to the interest you’ll pay on your student loans. To avoid this eventuality, you need a plan to help you save money on your college costs. The following three ideas will help you do that.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

Most college students in the U.S. require financial aid to attend school. While there has been much debate about student loan debt, there isn’t always as much talk about student loan alternatives. Before they even enter college, would-be university students should be seeking out scholarships and grants to offset the costs of their education. They’ll find information about these resources in their guidance counselor’s office, in the library and on the web. If you have scouted around for scholarships and grants and still find that you have a shortfall, then it’s best to proceed with caution when it comes to taking out loans. First, if you’re like most students today, you’ll graduate with nearly $30,000 in student loan debt. That’s not the only challenge, though. There are factors that limit the amount of financial aid you receive, so it's important to be aware of that when applying. In total, undergraduates can borrow is $57,500. If you top that, you can’t borrow any more. It’s best to find money in other places.

Get a Part-Time Job

Part-time jobs put gas in your car and food in your fridge. They can also help you offset the cost of college. Some students get a job that they keep year-round. Others only work in the summers and winter holidays. Once you decide which work schedule will work best with your school itinerary, you’ll then want to find a job that fits your life. Fortunately, lots of jobs suitable for college students exist. College students can work as tutors, Uber drivers, and freelance writers to name a few. Finally, the more you work before and during college, the less you’ll have to borrow. Additionally, if you get an on-campus work-study job, you’ll earn money and very often learn skills that can help your career down the road.

Community College

Community colleges cost significantly less than universities do even when it’s the local university. The cost-per-credit for a community college may run around $130 whereas the cost for a single university credit for the same class can be $400 to $600 or more. In light of this cost difference, many students opt to attend community college for a couple of years before they transfer to a university. If you go this route, you could save a significant amount of money on your college education for the first two years of your college career.

Cutting college costs requires planning and discipline. However, the sacrifices you make to that end are worth it. By looking for ways to pay for school that don’t require you to borrow money, you’ll save thousands of dollars over the course of your college career.

If you need help getting ready for college, take advantage of our one-on-one coaching services!