David Bakke writes about money management, careers, and education on the financial blog, Money Crashers.
So you submitted your college applications. Now it’s time to start thinking about actually paying for college. Let’s face it – the cost of a higher education is out of control. The average price tag for just one year at a public institution is slightly over $20,000. If you’re considering private school, double that number. For those of you lucky enough to have a 529 college savings plan or other funds for college already saved, you're off to a good start. (Woot!) But even so, very few students have enough saved to afford a four-year education, which means it's time for you to contribute to your own college savings fund.
Here are four ways to get started:
1. Get to Work
Pick up a weekend gig during the school year or sign on for seasonal help. Plenty of employers hire high school students on a part-time basis. (Read: they understand that your class schedule comes first.) You could also go the self-employed route. Think landscaping, babysitting, and dog walking. Or find a part-time job during summer vacations.
Tutoring is another way to start your own business, but deserves special mention because, as a student, you're uniquely positioned to profit from this opportunity. If you generally get good grades or shine in a particular subject, tutoring could be just for you. Undoubtedly, there are a lot of students you know who need help. Hang flyers at school, let teachers know which subjects you tutor, create a page on Facebook and Twitter offering your services, and share the news with family and friends. Your schedule will be booked in no time.
3. Sell Your Stuff
What do you own that you no longer use? Now ask your parents and siblings the same question. Does your household have old textbooks or old electronics like cell phones, digital cameras, or GPS devices? Round them up and list them on eBay or Amazon. If you're under 18, you can't open your own account, but you could always help sell items on a parent's account if they're willing to open one. Also, be sure that listings are accurate, and that you ship items quickly and package them safely. This will make returns less likely.
4. Investigate Free Money Options
There are many college grants and scholarships available based on gender, race, religion, educational achievements, and many other factors. Always check with the financial aid office of the university you'll be attending as well. Grants and scholarships mean fewer student loans and less interest you'll have to pay back.
We know that graduating with high student loan debt might seem like a far off concern, but if you take smart steps to alleviate some of the financial burden now your future self will thank you. Trust us.
Find more scholarship opportunities here. GO