Start now and you’ll thank us (and yourself) later.
Fill out the FAFSA every year by April 15. Complete the FAFSA before each new school year, regardless of your family’s financial status to see if you’re eligible to receive funds. The FAFSA helps you tap into federal, state and institutional grants and scholarships.
Apply for scholarships and grants. Scholarships aren’t just for freshmen. Keep applying for scholarships for specific costs, such as study abroad, or for fellowship programs to cover the cost of unpaid internships. Check with your academic department and watch for other scholarship program announcements from companies and organizations who may have opportunities that are relevant to you. Sign up for alerts from scholarship search organizations like fastweb.com.
Visit your local bank. Ask about checking and savings accounts designed especially for students. These often have lower fees and no minimum balance required. To track your balance and avoid expensive overdraft charges, use online banking to check your balance regularly.
Pay your credit card bill in full—if you have one. If you elect to get a credit card, choose one with the lowest interest rate and only charge what you can afford to pay off in full each month. This will help you avoid late fees and costly credit card debt while you establish good credit for your future.
Lower your interest rates. Do you have loans or cards with high interest rates? Call the lenders to ask if they will lower them.
ON CAMPUS SAVINGS
Borrow or rent textbooks. Textbooks can be surprisingly expensive. Before you hit the campus bookstore, see if you can borrow books from a fellow student or from the university library. If not, buy or rent used textbooks at Amazon.com. You can also rent books from Chegg or Barnes & Noble’s textbook service or order digital textbooks through sites like iFlipd, which offer a pay-as-you-go model.
Explore campus amenities. Check out activities that are available on campus. Everything from movie nights to fitness classes might be offered free of charge.
Choose housing wisely. It usually costs less to live in the dorms than it does to live off campus. If you choose to live off campus, stretch your housing budget even further by splitting the cost of utilities, etc. with roommates.
Check out the library. Use the library on campus and in your community to check out books, videos, audiobooks and other resources. Many Indiana libraries offer digital services and also have items available for checkout, from museum and pool passes to bakeware, board games and even outdoor games and instruments.
Workout at on-campus facilities or exercise outside. Skip paying a monthly gym membership and check out on-campus fitness classes or get outdoors to get your sweat on. There are also a number of in-home workouts that you can access for free digitally.
Don’t leave home without your student ID. Many places offer college discounts, from tech companies like Adobe and Apple to local restaurants, major retailers, cultural and arts institutions, etc.
Create a budget. Use an app like Mint, EveryDollar or You Need a Budget to help you track and keep control of your money.
Shop thrifty. Consider buying things second hand to save. Many consignment shops offer student discounts. Some friends also have fun swapping clothes as long as each person takes good care of the items borrowed.
Limit meals out and brown bag your lunch. If you bought into the meal plan at school, use it! Student discounts aside, the costs of eating out can add up quickly. You may also stock up on groceries for snacks and to brown bag your lunch instead of purchasing snacks from vending machines or grabbing lunch on the go.
Shop generic brands and plan meals. When you shop for groceries, buy the off-brand and plan ahead so you buy what you need and don’t waste food. You can also stretch your food by eating your leftovers. Consider meal planning or creating a cooking schedule with your roommates to share in the preparation and expense.
Make your own coffee. If you are a coffee lover, invest in a good coffee maker instead of spending money every morning on lattes.
Don’t own a car. Parking, gas and insurance (not to mention unexpected car repairs) add up to a substantial amount. You could use public transit, borrow a friend’s car or use a Zipcar if you need to travel long distance. Carpool with friends or take advantage of scooters or bikeshare programs available for quick trips as well.