Keep Control of College Costs

Need to do college on a budget? Zoe Nash of Indianapolis graduated from Indiana University in Bloomington in 2018 with money in the bank, even after a semester studying abroad and having an active social life. How she did it:

Work. “My parents paid for my room and board when I lived on campus, and when I moved off campus, my rent and utilities, which was really nice. But since I was 16, I have worked—mostly babysitting—and saved all my money, because any money I wanted to spend, I had to earn.

“I worked all the way throughout college, babysitting and at a campus information technology job. I got that job by signing up to be a peer tutor in my Information Systems major, and when it came time to hire for campus IT jobs, they came to the peer tutors. It pays to network within your major and the university to find those campus jobs, which are usually flexible hours. If you need to study or have a test, they are very understanding. Working also keeps me more disciplined with time and money.”

Save and manage. Planning ahead for expenses is key. “I make sure I have a blanket of savings in place, and keep adding to it. I check my bank balance every day to see where my money is going, and if it hits a certain level, I stop spending. If I know something big is coming up, I’ll decide not to eat out at restaurants at all for an entire month before.”

Don’t miss out. “I don’t like to miss out on things, so that is always my motivator to save money, and why it is so important to manage my money.

“I studied abroad one semester and paid for all of it with my own savings and scholarships. I applied for scholarships through IU specifically for study abroad, and I also applied for a scholarship through a national, fraternal organization my dad belongs to and earned a $4,000 scholarship.”

Advice: “It’s important to work and save. A lot of managing money in college is learned before college. Some people come to college after living a certain lifestyle, and, when they don’t have their parents handing them money, that’s when they run into problems.”

Download the simple budget tool from Money Under 30.