Student loans? No more! Ways to save money for college costs

The following is a guest post from Good Nelly.  Most TFR readers are probably well beyond their college years, but some may be pondering this for their kids or even to acquire a new degree for themselves in a field of their interest. College can provide a great head start in life and even help change careers but student loans are a huge burden for most people.  Higher education needs a serious hack to tame this massive cost beast.   This post reminds you to keep hacking away till you bring your education costs down to a manageable level.  Nelly, all yours…

The $1.3 trillion student loan debt in the country is not letting college graduates become debt free. If you’re one of them, then look for ways to pay off your student loan debt as soon as possible.

But, if you’re a future college goer and don’t want to take out a student loan, look for ways to save money for college costs.

Here’s a list of how you can save money for college expenses by avoiding student loan.

  1. Get scholarships and grants

The federal and state governments and many colleges provide grants to students who cannot afford their college expenses.  In addition to FAFSA, there are a number of online scholarship/grant programs that you must search for, understand and possibly even apply for, several months prior to your college starting year.

The Federal Pell Grant offers “up to $5,815 per student in the 2016-2017 academic year.”  That’s a significant grant.

Also, you can get information on other federal grants from the Department of Education and get state grants on

As far as scholarships are concerned, very few students get a full-time scholarship from the university. You can look for private scholarships through charities, businesses, government and civic organizations if you haven’t received one from your college.

Or, check out websites like and for millions of scholarships.

  1. Earn college credits

If you start taking college classes while studying in high school, you can earn college credits.  The more college credits you have before going to college, the less you have to pay for your college costs.

  1. Go to a community college

You will get an affordable education at a community college. So, before enrolling yourself in a 4-year specialization course at a university, complete your general education from a community college.  (Mr. TFR adds:  A friend of mine’s kid did just this.  She spent two years at a small community college in Virginia and then graduated from a top 10 university by attending only the last 2 years there, saving over $25,000 in costs!).  

  1. Look for affordable housing options

There are areas where living off-campus is cheaper than living in a college dorm. But, you need to consider other factors like rent, food, transportation, and so on that may increase your expenses. If you find any low-cost rental options (after calculating all these factors) off-campus, go for it.

  1. Earn while you’re in college

You can take a part-time job to arrange money for college expenses like tuition fees, food, textbooks, activity fees, and so on. If you find it too stressful to manage work and study at the same time, try to work during summer vacations.

You can also enroll in a work-study program to pay for college costs.

  1. Select the right meal plan

If you choose the correct meal plan, you can save a lot on your food. Plus, some meal plans allow you to purchase additional points, which you can use at other eateries on campus.

  1. Avoid buying new textbooks

It is one of the easiest ways to save money for college expenses.  Borrow books from your seniors, purchase used books from the campus bookstore, or get them on rent from websites like Chegg and Bookrenter and save your precious dollars.

  1. Get freeware for computer

Instead of purchasing computer software like MSOffice with hundreds of dollars, download free software like OpenOffice to save more money.

  1. Take an extra class each semester

You may think you are super busy, but, taking one extra class each semester will help you complete your college degree before time. If you do so, you can also save money on meals, rents, and other living expenses.

  1. Cut costs on other things

Besides cutting college costs you must change some of your financial habits like stop buying useless or expensive items, stop using credit cards for every little purchase when you can pay with cash, and so on.

To attain complete financial freedom you should make a proper budget. Remember, a wrong budget will put your financial life in danger. So, create a budget that excludes all unnecessary expenses and helps you achieve your economic goals.

Last piece of advice…

You can get a student loan anytime. But, try to avoid it as much as possible because they’ll only lead you to debt (provided you pay it off sincerely). So, save as much as you can before your graduation degree to stay away from student loan debt

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14 comments on “Student loans? No more! Ways to save money for college costs”

  1. By jakir chy


    great read. I thoroughly enjoyed reading about . Love this post!!
    It’s so interesting to see the statistics of a lifestyle we are trying to make work for us.It sounds as
    if you have worked yourself to where you want to be . Congratulations and continued good fortune!

  2. By Dividend Daze

    I agree, most of the time living off campus as well as getting off the typical college meal plan will save a lot. Also, I would add if a student is planning on going to college, they should start to contribute to a 529 early on. While this doesn’t save money in the traditional sense, you can take advantage of the tax benefits and use that as extra income for future college expenses. Thanks for sharing.
    Dividend Daze recently posted…Dividend Update – MarchMy Profile

    • By Good Nelly

      Hey Dividend Daze, thanks for drawing our attention toward the 529 tax-advantaged savings plan. It’s a great way to save money for college costs. I think, with a bit of determination one can keep aside dollars to fund his/her education.

  3. By Katherine Felix

    Hi TFR,
    Indeed, you have put some good effort by sharing some excellent information in this high value article. Today many students faced the financially problem, and may be some students don’t know how can get the student loans and what is the procedure, So once again thank you for sharing this article.

    • By Good Nelly

      Thank you Katherine for appreciating the work. I think with a bit for common sense and perseverance we can save lots of dollars for our education and other expenses.

  4. By Jax

    I went to a community college for two years then transferred to a state university and lived at home the whole time. I was lucky that my family situation allowed me to live at home and not have to pay rent as long as I was doing well in school.

    Another way to reduce the total cost of college is by becoming a RA in the dorms. It’s a job, but the leadership skills you learn are great for a resume, and in exchange you get housing for free and sometimes a meal plan or stipend. If you have to live away from home that is a good option.

    • By Good Nelly

      Thanks Jax for sharing your experience with us. I think, becoming a resident assistant is the best you can do for not taking out a student loan. Plus, it’s a golden chance to improve your personal qualities as well.

  5. By Smart Provisions

    Great tips, Nelly!

    I would also add learning how to cook healthy and frugally to the list as well! Meal plans usually come out more expensive from the second year on as they’re more geared towards freshman who don’t have a kitchen in their dorms.

    • By Good Nelly

      I really like your idea of cooking food. It’s another great way to save money during your college days. I would definitely share this with my viewers. Thanks Smart Provisions.

  6. By Mustard Seed Money

    I definitely took advantage of going to community college in the summer to save money on classes. Plus the classes were smaller and I got some of the attention that I really needed in order to pass them. Great list!!!

    • By Good Nelly

      I’m glad that you liked it. Moreover, studying in a community college has its own benefits like they give professional and short-term certificates, provide online classes and financial aid, and so on.

  7. By Lars-Christian

    Being conscious upfront about reducing the costs of attending college is key to financial success later in life, because it will increase your chances of building your investments in the early years after joining the work force. This, of course, means extra time in the markets, more compounded returns and so forth. Personally, I think earning money while studying is a great option, and something I practiced while in University.

    • By TFRadmin

      Absolutely Lars-Christian. Unless you get rid of student debt fast, you miss the critical early years of investment that compound faster and help reach retirement sooner. After a few years of work experience, where you got your degree from hardly matters.

      • By Good Nelly

        You’re absolutely right. The sooner we get rid of our debts, the better and healthy will be our economic condition. I think it’s totally worth taking a bit of pain now for an effortless financial life ahead.

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