You did it! You’ve been accepted into college, and you have the cost of tuition and books covered. Then it dawns on you: you don’t have a clue how to pay for living expenses while you’re attending college. Calm down; there are plenty of options when it comes to paying for your college living expenses. With a little self-evaluation and a dose of imagination, you’ll learn the life skills of paying for your living expenses.
Estimate the monthly cost of living expenses so you know how much you need to make. Write a list of expenses, including room and board or rent, food, utilities if you rent an apartment, toiletries, school supplies, gas, parking costs and any other bills and expenses you pay. Total these costs to get the minimum you need each month.
Cut back on expenses where possible to lower the amount you are responsible for paying. Buy a bus pass instead of spending money on gas and parking to drive to campus each day. Decrease your meal plan through the college in favor or cheaper snacks and meals you can keep in your dorm. Cut back your cell phone package, or ditch the cable. Buy used textbooks instead of brand new books. Those little cuts add up over time to decrease the amount you have to come up with each month.
Fill out the FAFSA to determine your eligibility for federal grants that you don't have to repay. The college you attend will automatically consider you for the grants when you complete the FAFSA. Often there are government programs to help with your living expenses.
Consider a student loan to pay for living expenses. If you don't qualify for enough federal loans to cover the expenses, consider private student loans or loans that parents can take out to pay for a child's college. Review the specifics of the student loan to determine any restrictions on how the money is used. Only take out as much as you need in the form of student loans. It's tempting to take as much as you are offered, but all that money has to be paid back eventually.
Apply for part-time jobs on campus or near your apartment. Check the college bulletin boards for available jobs. Often employers will look for college students for part-time job openings and understand the stress of working around class schedules, so they will accommodate your work hours to your schooling.
Ask your college counselor to help you find a work-study program that will enable you to pay for your living expenses. Look for an option in your field of study to give yourself experience in the field before you graduate. A paid internship with a local business in your major is another way to fund your education while you get training.
Save any extra money you have at the end of each month instead of spending it. That surplus you have this month can help offset a deficit you have down the road.
Pick up odd jobs if you come up a little short some months. Ideas include tutoring, editing classmates' papers, working at special events, cleaning a sorority house, designing flyers for organizations or participating in paid research studies.