How to find college essentials and still have money left over for tuition
Seeing your child off to college is one of your proudest moments as a parent. It is also one of the most expensive times. Along with the cost for tuition, you must usually pony up additional funds for textbooks, school supplies, a computer, furniture and other items that your child will need to live independently. However, with a little research and creativity, you can help pay for some of these extraneous expenses without having to deduct that amount from your contribution to your child’s tuition. Try some of these tips to help you save money at this special time in your child’s life.
Look at Online Ads
The worldwide web has provided some great benefits to consumers. One great benefit is the ability to find a variety of materials throughout the country at a cheaper price than you may be able to find them at a retail store in your local community. Look for online postings for deals for furniture, computers and other dorm essentials. If you can afford to purchase electronic items about seven months before the college semester starts, January is a good time to score on electronic items, like computers. Some online merchants offer used books at reduced prices that beat the prices at most universities’ textbook store.
Many items that college freshmen need don’t need to be in perfect condition. College students can survive with surprisingly little. You can often find many college essentials for a cheap price when you purchase items secondhand. Some websites offer unwanted items for cheap or free. You can also visit charitable organization stores that tend to have lower prices for items such as desks, computers, beds, decorative items and other pieces of furniture.
You may be able to convert an item that is used in your own house to something that your child can use in the college setting. For example, an old hutch can be used for storage in your child’s dorm or apartment. A futon can serve as a couch. A high table can be converted to a desk. A fresh coat of paint, sandpaper or stain can breathe new life into the furniture item so that it looks new.
Check the Financial Aid Rules
Depending on your child’s financial aid package, you may be able to use some of these funds for college essentials. For example, many loan programs and grants can be used for any items that are go toward the student’s cost of attendance. This might include items such as a computer, laptop, books and other school supplies. If paying for tuition out of pocket will be too much of a strain on your current budget, you might want to consider taking out a student loan for your child to help with the cost of college. However, weigh the consequences very seriously because college loans cannot usually be cancelled and even if you declare bankruptcy, you are still usually on the hook for student loans.
Explore Alternative Housing
If you are paying for your child’s housing costs, you may want to explore various options to determine what is the most affordable option. By decreasing your child’s housing costs, you may be able to come up with some extra funds to pay for other college necessities. For example, your child may be able to rent an apartment and pay less per month than he would be paying for a college dorm. This option may be even better if he can help decrease the amount of rent by having roommates. However, in addition to weighing the financial consequences, you may want to consider other factors, such as whether your child is mature enough to maintain his own property or if his living arrangements may adversely affect his grade point average. If his college is close by, you may also want to consider letting him stay in the family home for the first couple of years to help decrease board expenses.
College years help add a meaningful education and life experiences for your child. Although college comes with a hefty price tag, you can decrease the amount of expenses by exploring options to decrease your child’s living costs, hunting for deals and shopping online.
Becky Harris write for U-Pack moving containers that is part of ABF family. Keeping families organized during all their moves, big and small.