Earning a college degree is a smart financial move. It boosts your future earning potential and opens up new career opportunities. Unfortunately, college is becoming more and more expensive every year. According to a recent Forbes article, the cost of attending a four-year college has increased 180% in the last 40 years. Today’s college students have to be more financially savvy than their parents if they want to get their degree without taking on a mountain of debt. Check out these seven finance tips for college students to help you navigate these crucial years successfully! 

Start With Community College 

The cost of college is increasing overall, but community college is still cheaper than a traditional four-year institution. You can earn the same credits at your local community college for less than half the cost of a public university. Even if your goal is to earn a 4-year degree, consider completing your first two years at community college. In most cases, your credits will transfer. 

Choose A Public University 

When it comes to choosing a college, there’s a lot to consider. Students make their school choices based on location, academic programs, extracurriculars, and more. Cost should also be a major factor in your decision. Public universities are almost always cheaper than private options. Many public colleges offer the same quality of education at a much lower cost compared to private universities. 

Apply For Scholarships 

Everyone knows that scholarships are a great way to help pay for college. But many students assume that they aren’t eligible for scholarships if they don’t make straight A’s or play sports. The truth is, there are many types of scholarships available, even for students who aren’t at the top of their class. Look into scholarships at the university you plan to attend, or search and apply for others using this free resource

Rent Or Choose Used Textbooks 

Textbooks are a huge expense for college students. Some books cost hundreds of dollars, and it’s unlikely you’ll use them for more than a single semester. Instead of paying full price at the university bookstore, a great finance tip is to look for used copies of textbooks online or at your local used bookstore! If you’re buying used, be sure it’s the right edition. Many colleges also allow students to rent textbooks for a fraction of the cost.  

Create A Budget 

One of the best ways to take control of your finances is to create a budget. Many college students have no idea how much money they’re making or spending. Tracking your spending and setting goals will help you ensure that you don’t take on unnecessary debt or live outside your means. Learning how to create and stick to a budget is an important life skill that will help you succeed even after you earn your diploma!  

Work Part-Time 

Most college students don’t have time to work 40 hours a week. Between classes, homework, and extracurricular activities, your schedule is bound to be pretty full.  If you can find the time, a part-time job is a great way to stay on top of living expenses while you’re in college. Many universities offer work-study programs, which allow students to work on campus. These jobs can be flexible and accommodate your class schedule. A part-time job can help you pay for rent, bills, and groceries while you focus on earning your degree. 

Be Careful With Credit 

Even with a part-time job, your living expenses can really add up during your time in college. Scholarships might help offset tuition and fees, but many students turn to credit cards for their day-to-day expenses. Younger students might not realize just how quickly their spending adds up, not to mention how much interest you’ll end up paying! Another one of our finance tips for college students is to check the interest rates and fees before signing up for a credit card, keep an eye on your credit score, and make sure to pay the credit card companies back as soon as you can.