Textbooks: As all students and former students know, this is one of the hugest expenses of attending college. Do not wait until the last minute, when you will have no choice but to purchase all of your books new from the school bookstore. Consider these possibilities:
1. Use the Internet. There are many websites dedicated to book sales, and some that sell textbooks only. You can often find books for more than half off of the cover price, even when you consider shipping prices.
2. Network with other students, especially those in your major. You might be able to buy or borrow their used books, in print or electronic form.
3. Ask your college bookstore about used books and rentals. Buying the books used (if they are available) will save you a good percentage of the bookstore's price for new ones. Renting will be even cheaper, and let's be realistic; most people do not use their textbooks after they have finished a class.
Living arrangements: Housing is another huge cost for many students. You do not want to find yourself in the midst of finals, suddenly wondering how you are going to cover your rent for the month because it is beyond your means. Here are some ways you can save on housing:
1. Live on campus. This can prove to be the most inexpensive option, especially if you are not paying your own college costs. Parents are often more likely to pay for your housing if it is lumped in with your tuition, the way it is with dorm living. Even if you are financing your own costs, your financial aid may help to cover on-campus living.
2. Live with other people. Having roommates, especially ones who are strangers, can be aggravating. However, it may be worth the aggravation if it will cut your living expenses down to a half or a third of what they would be otherwise. Perhaps you can even find friends to live with.
3. Live at home. If you are going to school in your hometown, continuing to live with your parents might turn out to be the wisest choice. It might seem like a horrible thing now, but if it will help you to save money and get on your feet more quickly, it is worth considering.
Beginning a college degree presents the student with many decisions all at once. This can be overhwhelming, but planning in advance can help. Shelling out the cash for those campus activity fees and illustrated anatomy textbooks will hurt much less if you have a budget and a plan in mind.