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-By Erik Sargent

As more and more people stress the importance of attending college after graduating high school, potential and current students across the country have seen a constant increase in the expenses related toward earning a college degree.

From the spikes in tuition to textbooks, on-campus or off-campus housing, food, travel, and other living expenses – the price can seem daunting, and sometimes unmanageable. According to a study done by The College Board last year, the average total cost per year for a full-time undergraduate student at a four-year public, in-state school was $24,610.

For students choosing to take the route of a private, four-year school while living on campus, the cost was more than doubled, averaging $49,320.

“Hopefully it doesn’t continue to rise, but people should plan like it’s going to,” said Kathryn Randolph, the contributing editor for financial aid for the company Fastweb. “People should start saving for college as soon as possible, even if you’re currently a senior in high school. The more you save, the less you end up having to borrow.”

Companies like Fastweb use expert teams of researchers to find potential scholarship matches for future and current college students, aiming to take some of the stress out of searching for scholarship money and financial aid by organizing information for people who sign up on their website.

According to Randolph, Fastweb is just one of many tools that help students find resources to pay their way through school, but there are also many other valuable resources available to students if they look in the right places.

“Another place to look for scholarships is through your high school, and the best resource for students in high school is their guidance counselor,” Randolph said. “They will have a listing of scholarship opportunities that are local. Another thing students should do is fill out the FAFSA, which helps them qualify for financial aid. Essentially, the more research students and their families do, the better equipped they are going to be to pay for college, and the more they will understand how much it actually costs instead of going up blindly and ending up with large student loan numbers.”

When working out the payment plans for your college education, it is important to fill out the FAFSA and find out how much money you are able to receive through financial aid. Any money is helpful when it comes to paying for college, and financial aid allows you to work out payments in the future so you are able to get the education you need.

Fastweb produced a list of money saving tricks for students in college outside of scholarships and financial aid, with some important ones that included: buying or renting used textbooks, limiting the amount of times you eat out, using public transportation instead of a car, and never taking out a loan for anything but education.

Paid internship programs or part-time jobs to earn extra cash, particularly during the summer months when school isn’t in session are two additional ways to support the expense of higher education. One company that offers an extensive and hands-on internship program is the international moving company TWO MEN AND A TRUCK®, with opportunities offered at their corporate headquarters in Lansing, Mich.

Students who intern with TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® are given the chance to work in a variety of business fields that can translate anywhere in the professional world, including the marketing, finance, human resources, information technology, and sales departments.

“In addition to daily department responsibilities, our interns also take part in various educational sessions we host at our corporate office,” said TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® Employee Development Coordinator Rocco Cironi. “Our hope is that not only do our interns learn more in the areas they work in, but they also have a better understanding of other departments throughout our corporate office. Our goal is for them to go back to school with a better understanding of the culture and pace of a corporation.”

The interns at TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® are given a variety of tasks to complete within their respective departments, and through other departments as well. This includes everything from volunteer work to video projects, helping set up events, and assisting in  daily responsibilities at both Home Office and the Lansing, Mich., franchise. Near the end of their internships, they complete a final presentation highlighting their summer and what they’ll take away from the experience.

This internship is designed to be extremely beneficial to everyone who participates, and TWO MEN AND A TRUCK® strives to provide as many resources as possible for the interns to use in the present and future.

“The interns have access to a vast amount of resources while here during the summer,” Cironi said. “Our interns meet with each member of the executive team to get to know them better and ask them questions about their experiences. They also meet with our directors through our ‘Lunch and Learn’ program. We want them to learn both professional skills and personal development skills while they are here, as this will help them become more well-rounded individuals and prepare them for life after graduation.”

As Randolph pointed out, there are a multitude of ways to go about handling the expenses of college education, but the most important thing to remember is be smart about your spending. Don’t take on more than you can handle, and be smart about where your money is being allocated, as this will ease the burden of life after graduation.

“One thing we like to say a lot at Fastweb is that when you are in college, you should live like a college student so you don’t have to live like a college student when you graduate,” Randolph said. “This is the time in your life when you should be buying used textbooks, looking on Craigstlist for furniture, living with a roommate, and doing anything you can to cut down on your daily, monthly, and yearly living expenses.”

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