-Written by Erik Sargent
Another summer is coming to a close and for many, the time to head off to college for the fall is quickly approaching.
For all of the fun and responsibilities that come with enrolling in college, there’s one unfortunate side-effect that comes with it – debt. The continued spike in college tuition has placed a large number of people – those who have completed their degree and otherwise – in a substantial amount of debt they are required to handle the minute they leave campus.
According to research completed by The College Board, reports released in 2015 and 2016 showed moderate increase in published tuition and fees ranging from 2.2 to 3.6%, with the continued increased fees of colleges and universities outpacing financial aid, family incomes, and the average prices of other goods and services.
“The reports document that, despite the moderate increases in average published prices, there were considerable increases in net tuition and fees over the past few years,” said co-author Jennifer Ma, policy research scientist at the College Board. “These increases, combined with stagnant incomes for many families, raise concerns about ensuring educational opportunities for low and moderate income students.”
Where does the cost come from?
“The demand for higher education has risen dramatically since 1985,” said Richard Vedder, an author and distinguished professor of economics emeritus at Ohio University in an interview with Business Insider. “Once demand goes up and nothing else happens, that will raise the prices.”
Everyone sees the hefty price tag attached to a college diploma, but where exactly is all of the money going?
A large chunk of this money is going straight into tuition. According to CollegeData.com, the moderate college budget for an in-state public college for the 2017-18 academic year averaged $25,290. A moderate budget at a private college averaged somewhere around $50,900.
Other fees that the research highlighted included:
-Room and board ranged from $10,800 at four-year public schools to $12,210 at private schools.
-The average cost for books and supplies for the 2017-2018 school year was $1,250 at public colleges and $1,220 at private colleges.
-The estimates for things colleges don’t bill you for – transportation, clothing, personal items, and entertainment – averaged $3,270 at public universities and $2,730 at private colleges.
The best ways to save
There’s always something that can be done to save money, especially for college students, and being conscious of where your money is going and what you’re spending can help you make the right decisions.
With the media coverage around these rising costs, students have taken notice and started to plan accordingly – both on their own, and with the help of their parents.
According to an article by the U.S. News Personal Finance section, some effective ways a student can save during their time in college include:
-Avoid additional loans at all costs
-Look for on-campus work to make extra spending money
-Master simple, low-cost foods for meals and snacks outside of meal plans. If living off campus, stay away from meal plans and use coupons and sales when grocery shopping for low-cost meals!
-Stick to being an authorized user on someone else’s credit card
-Utilize on-campus resources for entertainment and social connections
-Buy used textbooks or use textbook rental
-Check out the student discounts around your college town at restaurants, stores, gyms, etc.
Another useful and effective way to save money during college – and put you in line for work in the future – is through internships.
All around the country, companies offer internships to college students where they can earn a summer paycheck, and even college credit in some cases. These internships not only help students get adapted to the professional workplace, but also give them real-life experience in the fields they are working toward.
One company that offers an extensive learning opportunity through an annual internship program is the international moving company, TWO MEN AND A TRUCK. Each summer, college students are given the opportunity to work in various departments at the Home Office location in Lansing, Mich., where they gain valuable experience performing hands-on, innovative tasks.
“Interns have access to a number of resources while they are interning here during the summer,” said Rocco Cironi, employee development manager for TWO MEN AND A TRUCK in an interview last year. “Our interns meet with each member of the executive team to get to know them better and ask 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 and prepare them for life after graduation.”
From marketing to finance, human resources, information technology, and sales, the TWO MEN AND A TRUCK interns aren’t just getting coffee for their supervisors – they‘re involved in real-life tasks, and get placed into the everyday working environment for the company, while still finding time for fun and new experiences.
“In addition to daily department responsibilities, our interns also take part in various educational sessions we host at our corporate office,” Cironi said. “Our hope is 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.”
Start planning now
Although the tips above are best for saving money while in college, one of the best ways to cut back on the rising costs is to plan ahead with saving. Scholarships and financial aid are two of the most important ways you can help save money and get yourself on track to avoid massive debt.
“Scholarships can make all the difference in college affordability,” said Chicago Tribune Contract Reporter Terry Savage in an article last year. “Set aside some time in the holiday season to search for them. High school sophomores and juniors should search, too. Starting early to build credentials required for some of these scholarships – or practicing writing application essays – can pay off when it comes time to apply.”
Thankfully for anyone finding themselves on this path, the Internet has an abundance of resources to choose from to find scholarships that fit any background. Visit sites like Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com, TuitionFundingSources.com, and SallieMae.com to find out more about which scholarships you may be eligible for.
For information on financial aid you are eligible for, fill out your FAFSA form.