Three ways to keep college costs to a minimum and secure your financial future:
1. 30 to Finish. Taking 30 credits per year is the best way to graduate on time and within budget. The Indiana Commission for Higher Education estimates that every additional year students spend in college costs at least $50,000 in tuition, fees, and lost wages. Plus, under Indiana law, students must complete 30 credit hours each of their four years of college—an average of five classes per semester—to keep their maximum amount of state financial aid. Finally, research shows that committing to 30 credit hours a year also means you’re more likely to graduate.
2. Borrow only what you need. Student loans may be a necessity, but be cautious. The more debt you have, the more you will have to pay—and need to work to earn—to keep up with monthly payments that will begin six months after you graduate. Look for alternatives such as a part-time job and scholarships that don’t need to be repaid. Avoid credit cards and car loans, too. Keeping debt to a minimum is the best way to protect your future.
3. Small expenses add up. Look at where your money is going on a daily, weekly and monthly basis. Living like a college student means taking advantage of student discounts, meal plans, free entertainment and transportation. Save spending on restaurant meals, bar tabs, and pricey coffees for special occasions—or even after you graduate and have meaningful employment.
Trusted Online Financial Advice
- Investedindiana.org for advice on financial literacy, student loans and options for Indiana students.
- FAFSA.ed.gov offers the most up-to-date federal financial student aid advice and planning tools.
- Studentaid.ed.gov covers all the basics on college, types of financial aid and how to apply.
- Moneysmarts.iu.edu offers classes, a podcast and helpful advice on avoiding debt and spending more wisely.
- Purdue.edu/mymoney provides web-based, reliable budgeting tools and student loan calculator.
Online Tool Helps Your Keep It Real
How much do you have to earn to match your lifestyle in your favorite Indiana city? Which occupations match your hoped-for salary? How much will you earn in your ideal profession?
The Indiana Department of Workforce Development and the Indiana Business Research Center at the IU Kelley School of Business teamed up to create the online tool IN Reality at hoosierdata.in.gov/inreality. Provide some basic information and in just a few minutes you’ll get a realistic picture of what you can afford, based on your own finances, aspirations and career goals.