Personal Finance 101: Saving Money Before and During College

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College applications are in and students around the country are excited about starting a new chapter of  their lives. But even with a university destination determined, one question remains unanswered for many young scholars: How am I going to pay for all this?

According to the College Board, the average yearly cost for a public college is $5,836 and the cost for a private college is more than $22,000. So when you’re planning your education future, it’s a good idea to create a clear financial plan before you ever set foot on campus.

Here are some smart tips to get your financial house in order before you head off to college:

* Make a plan and stick to it. Draft a budget well in advance of enrolling in school. Also, considered contacting your bank to automatically set aside funds into a separate savings account designated for college expenses. With the fluctuating costs of books and living expenses, it’s smart to have a little money tucked away for a rainy day.

* Research financial aid. During your senior year of high school, research financial aid options and mail your applications early. Sites like  can help students determine the programs they may be eligible for.

* Look into corporate scholarships. Scholarships are offered by many large companies so do your homework. Once your financial plans are prepared, the battle isn’t over yet. Keep these tips in mind for staying on track during college.

* Stay organized. Financial software programs help track your expenses and prevent miscalculations. Many computers come with these types of programs are already installed, so you many may not have to purchase any additional software.

* Stretch your dollar. Learn to make your money last with economical solutions for food, books and other expenses. For instance, save money on textbooks by checking for deals online and on food buy nonperishable items in bulk. When you need furniture, check the classifieds and similar websites regularly. College towns are hotbeds for moving sales.

Overall, treat college not as a time for going into debt, but as a time of careful financial planning that will pay off in the future.

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