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Categorized | Paying For College

Getting a Graduate Degree on a Budget

When preparing to enroll in a graduate program, it is important to budget carefully in order to avoid accumulating debt. There are many ways that students can keep costs low while studying to come out with a degree for the least possible cost.

Keep Working

Rather than putting off your job to further your education, keep working while you study to maintain your income. You won’t have to borrow as much, or if you earn enough, at all. If possible, work close to home to keep your travel costs down. Buy inexpensive work clothes that you can wash at home to save on dry cleaning costs. And of course, take a lunch to work with you instead of eating out every day.

Study Online

Balancing a job and classes can be tricky, but it is much easier if you complete your studies online. You can listen to lectures at your leisure rather than having to be on campus at specific times for classes. You also save money that would otherwise be spent commuting to campus several times each week. Additionally, tuition for online master’s degree classes is frequently less expensive than for the same class taught on campus.

Save on School Supplies

Textbooks are especially expensive, but there are many ways to save on them. If you have an e-reader, find out whether your textbooks are offered in e-book format, which is a less expensive option than paper books. You can also look into renting textbooks, which is significantly less than buying books. If you do have to buy a book, get it used if possible and resell it at the end of the class to get some of your money back. In order to further lower school-related expenditures, buy school supplies such as pencils, paper, ink cartridges, etc., in bulk whenever possible.

Budget at Home

By learning to live frugally, you can save untold amounts of money. Forgo cable, which is expensive and distracts you from focusing on your studies. You can also save money on your utility bills by using your heat and air conditioning sparingly and using space heaters or window air conditioners in areas where you spend most of your time. Use coupons and other money-saving methods when grocery shopping.

Track Your Money

Before enrolling in your program, make a plan for how you will pay for it. Create a budget for the years in which you will be in school; calculate how much money you expect to bring in each year through income, financial aid, and student loans. Subtract the tuition for the year, and then divide the remaining amount by 12 to determine how much money you will have leftover each month. Plan how you will allocate this between housing, food, transportation, insurance, and spending money.

Many worry that an advanced degree is out of reach due to limited finances, but anyone can learn how to budget to make dreams of a graduate degree within reach. With a little planning and foresight, you will soon find yourself applying to graduate school, with the peace of mind that comes from knowing that you have what it takes to succeed in your venture. Best of luck!

Today’s guest article was provided by Joseph Baker.

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