There’s no denying that the cost of a college education is expensive and increasing every year. According to the College Board, the 2014-2015 average cost of tuition and fees (not housing) is $31,231 at private colleges, $9,139 for in-state at public colleges, and $22,958 for out-of-state students attending public colleges and universities. That’s the AVERAGE which means in some parts of the country the cost is more.

Even the most money-savvy students and their parents are struggling to pay for college. Here are some of our best tips and ideas for taking some of sting and expense out of saving and paying for college.

Start College Classes Early

If you have the opportunity to, earn college credit while you’re still in high school. Not only will you have to take fewer classes in college, but it will also cost you less to take them as a high school student. I know a college student who started with 40 credits she earned in high school for a few hundred dollars a class. That amount is well below the regular tuition rate.

Max College Credits

In addition to earning college credit while in high school, consider taking more credits in college. Often the difference in cost of 12 and 18 credits is nominal. Get through college faster and at less cost by maximizing the number of credits you’re taking each semester.

Live at Home

I know it sounds lame, but living at home is a great way to save on housing expenses. Room and board are not cheap. Some colleges have restrictions on who can and cannot live at home during their freshman year. Make sure you know your chosen college’s rules for freshman living arrangements. If it requires living in the dorms on campus, you’ll want to know that before you commit to attending school there.

Community College

Rather than jumping to a big (expensive) university, you can spend a couple of years living at home and attending a community college. You can get basic classes out of the way and transfer to the university for your major. Maricopa County Colleges in Arizona, for example, offers a variety of classes for undergraduates at reasonable rates for in-state students.

Talk to a college advisor at the university you’re planning to attend and ask which credits will transfer. You don’t want to pay to attend classes that won’t count later.

Off-Campus Housing

Take a look at the cost of campus housing versus living off-campus. It may be worth it to have a short commute to campus if it means thousands of dollars saved over the course of your college years. You may be able to live near a campus bus or train line that can get you to campus with relative ease.

Get a Job

Even if you qualify for a huge dollar amount of student loans, you don’t have to use all of that money. Cover the basics of tuition and housing, and then get a job to cover the costs of your living expenses like groceries (or more likely, pizza and beer). Living as lean as you can as a student means you can enjoy life after college when you have a job and income. If you’re borrowing now, you will have to pay it back at some point.

Rent Textbooks

With so many resources available online, there’s not really a need to keep your college textbooks. Rather than incurring the huge cost of buying books, rent your textbooks only for as long as you need them from websites like Barnes and Noble.

College is expensive but there are ways to save on college expenses that still allow for a full, fun college experience without paying through the nose for it. Ending college with as few student loans as possible is going to set you up for financial success once you’ve tossed your graduation cap in the air.


If you are a college student and are interested in learning about saving or budgeting, we are here to help set you on a path toward financial freedom as a young adult. Schedule a Eureka Session today! Also, parents, Eureka sessions make great graduation gifts. Just saying. 🙂