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Archive | August, 2013

Go to College Prepared: Don’t Be THAT Guy

Go to College Prepared: Don’t Be THAT Guy

collegemoney1Most prospective college students know that tuition, housing and textbooks cost a significant amount of money. However, there are also several hidden expenses that add up over time. This can result in long-term student loan and credit card debt. Estimate these costs when budgeting for your college education.


Depending upon where you decide to live, you may incur travel expenses when attending classes, buying groceries or visiting your family. The average American college student spends almost $1,100 per year on transportation, according to Wells Fargo. Among other things, travel costs include parking fees, bus tickets and taxi fares. Some of these expenses range from free to several dollars in different locales; city Web sites often list specific prices.


The small size of a one-room apartment or dorm room may encourage you to recreate more often. Peers may also persuade you to visit movie theaters, bars, fraternity houses or stadiums. Unfortunately, college recreation often proves costly. You will probably spend money on travel, admission fees and expensive snacks or drinks. For example, the latest statistic from the National Association of Theater Owners puts the average price of a movie ticket at almost $8. The cost of attending a concert currently exceeds $67, according to the New York Post.


It’s difficult to cook or store substantial amounts of food in a dorm room. Even if you rent an apartment, you will probably eat lunch at the university. Cafeteria and restaurant meals typically cost several times more than they would at a grocery store. The USDA indicates that Americans spend about $93 to $171 per month to eat at home. Various estimates put the cost of college cafeteria meals at $5 to $9, so the monthly cost is approximately $630. One way to reduce this expense is to find local eateries with student discounts.


A furnished dorm room or apartment usually lacks a number of items that you will need to purchase. For example, many students need to buy bedding, fans, reading lamps and hair dryers. Small air conditioners cost at least $100 new. The average American college student spent about $837 on electronics, clothing and furnishings in 2012, according to the National Retail Federation.


To protect yourself from the financial consequences of theft or fire, you might want to insure your belongings. Your parents may have homeowners insurance that will cover items in your dorm room. The cost of this coverage varies from one state to another, according to An alternative is to purchase a separate dorm or renters policy.

Insurance is important because theft remains a serious problem at colleges. For instance, the University of Oklahoma reported that thieves stole over 400 bicycles on campus between 2007 and 2012. They were valued at nearly $160,000. Shared housing also provides thieves with easier access to valuable electronics and textbooks. The Times Union blog offers some tips on protecting your belongings in college.

Washing Laundry

College students typically have to use coin-operated laundry equipment. You may also need to buy laundry bins, detergent and dryer sheets. The cost might come as a surprise if you presently wash clothing at your parents’ house. Also, most small housing units don’t give residents the opportunity to save money by putting up clotheslines. It costs roughly $3.50 to wash and dry a load of laundry. Some apartment and dorm buildings have laundromats; if not, you can use the Laundromatic app to find one.


You may be accustomed to using a landline phone with unlimited regional calling. If you move to a dorm, non-local calls may become much more expensive. Students often use cellphones, calling cards or payphones to communicate. These methods generally vary in cost depending upon the length of a telephone call. Most people pay at least $70 per month for cellphone service, says Time magazine. Most wireless providers offer student discounts.

Fortunately, there are many ways to minimize the expenses associated with college. You can do without a car, buy used merchandise and compare insurance companies to find the best rates. Adequate income will reduce the amount of debt you accumulate; consider scheduling classes so that you have time for a part-time job.

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Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Could Change Your Life: Here’s How

Your PSAT/NMSQT Score Could Change Your Life: Here’s How

In the past, PSAT simply stood for Practice SAT, indicating that this test was merely a way to sample the questions and atmosphere of the all-important SAT exam. Thanks to a partnership with the National Merit Scholarship Corporation, the PSAT is now much more important. Today’s PSAT/NMSQT exam has a major impact on students’ future college education.

The PSAT and National Merit Scholarship Partnershiptest

PSAT no longer stands for Practice SAT. The test became the Preliminary SAT when the National Merit Scholarship Program decided to use it as a qualifier for its program. Now, the Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship QT (PSAT/NMSQT) exam has a new level of importance for high school students.

Those who score in the top two percent on this test will become semifinalists for the National Merit Scholarship program. Students may choose to opt out of this program. However, those who gain the standing of National Merit Scholars have many life-changing opportunities in the way of college finances.

What the PSAT Says About You

The PSAT is a reliable predictor of how a student will fare on the SAT exam. The two tests are nearly identical except for the essay, which is not included in the PSAT exam. Both tests have verbal, math, and writing sections. Scoring for each test is on a scale of 20 to 80, giving the entire exam a maximum possible score of 240.

PSAT scores give a clear picture of a student’s strengths and weaknesses academically. The test is typically given in October of the student’s junior year. Some students can also take the test in their sophomore year. Sophomore test takers aren’t eligible for National Merit Scholarship consideration unless they plan to graduate early. However, taking the test early can offer some insight into how to prepare for the following year when the scores do count for the National Merit Scholarship Program.

The National Merit Scholarship Competition

Students who score in the top two percent on the PSAT/NMSQT exams receive notification in September of the following year. These students become semifinalists in the National Merit Scholarship Program. There are usually about 60,000 semifinalists each year.

Semifinalists must send more information for consideration. This includes an essay, high school transcript, and recommendation letter. The student’s SAT score counts at this point as well. Approximately 90 percent of National Merit Scholarship semifinalists go on to become finalists based on this information. These finalists have many exciting options for college financial assistance in the way of scholarships.

The Rewards for National Merit Scholars

The program awards National Merit Scholarships of $2,500 on a state-by-state basis to select finalists. Finalists may also receive corporate-sponsored scholarships and college-sponsored scholarships. Corporate-sponsored scholarship programs typically look for students related to employees, living in a certain community where the company is present, or planning to pursue a career in that corporation’s field. Colleges award their scholarships to finalists who have chosen them as their first choice school.

Not all colleges and universities offer scholarships based on the National Merit Scholarship program. For example, the Ivy League schools have chosen not to use PSAT scores as an indicator of a student’s future success. If you’re pursuing scholarship funds through this program, it’s important to make sure your first choice school participates.

Some other national scholarship programs use PSAT/NMSQT scores as the basis for their decision-making as well. The National Achievement Scholarship for African Americans and National Hispanic Recognition programs award scholarships based on this exam.

How to Make the Most of Your PSAT/NMSQT Exam

Students had the luxury of taking the PSAT lightly before this exam became the deciding factor for so many scholarship programs. Now that these scores are given such importance, students have good reason to treat this exam more seriously. Proper preparation will help students get a higher score and increase their chances of becoming a semifinalist.

Since the PSAT/NMSQT exam is a preliminary version of the SAT, any SAT prep program will help students get ready for this test. Preparation materials that focus exclusively on the PSAT are available as well. Some sites offer practice PSAT tests online.

Since semifinalists must send their high school transcripts, it’s wise for students to focus on their academic career early on in high school. Those with good grades in a variety of challenging courses will have the best chance at becoming finalists in this program.

Students who win scholarships through the National Merit Scholarship Program often find that these funds help them pursue an education they couldn’t have otherwise paid for. That’s great news for students willing to put the work in.

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5 Tips for Saving Money While Studying Abroad

5 Tips for Saving Money While Studying Abroad

studyabroadmoneyA life-changing study abroad trip can turn into a nightmare if your finances start running low or run out completely. It’s tempting to spend money on fine ethnic dining, a trip to the café every morning or buying expensive souvenirs for all your friends and family back home. But being smart about budgeting saves you from worrying about whether you’ll even have enough money to pay the baggage fee at the airport. Here are some tips for saving money while studying abroad.

1. Leave the cellphone at home

Most cellphones won’t work in other countries, anyway, and buying a cellphone abroad can get pretty expensive. Instead, take advantage of online communication. Email, blogging, social media and Skype are good alternatives – and they’re free. Skype, and even some email and social media sites, allow you to video chat with friends and family if you’re feeling homesick.

2. Walk whenever possible

There is no cheaper method of travel than walking. If you’re staying in a city, hoofing it is fairly easy and saves you money you would’ve spent on taxis or buses. Walking also lets you experience the country’s people and culture firsthand. Just make sure to pack a sturdy pair of walking shoes.

3. Eat cheaply

It’s okay to splurge on fine dining every once in a while, but eating at expensive restaurants every day will drain your finances. If possible, buy groceries from local stores or vendors and cook your own meals. When that’s not an option, eat at inexpensive restaurants, preferably those with student discounts, lunch and dinner specials.

4. Give yourself an allowance

Calculate your monthly expenses – including transportation, food, textbooks and entertainment – and withdraw the amount you’ll need each month. Don’t forget to withdraw a little more than needed in case of an emergency. This helps you keep track of your spending so it doesn’t get out of hand.

5. Safety first

It might not seem obvious, but staying safe while traveling is another way of saving money. Taking measures to hide your money and not wear expensive clothing or accessories makes you less likely to be robbed. Not jumping off that 20-foot cliff into the nearby lake reduces your chances of being rushed to the hospital. Being covered by an international student health insurance policy helps you avoid paying expensive hospital bills if you do decide to jump off said 20-foot cliff.

Being frugal while studying abroad is possible. Don’t let your trip abroad be ruined by making poor financial decisions. Make an effort to stick to your budget and take advantage of affordable or free activities, and you’ll be heading back to America with an intact bank account.

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Putting Social Media to Work in Finding Student Loans

Putting Social Media to Work in Finding Student Loans

Social media offers potential students a lot of information about college, career options and even, financial aid. For students looking for help paying for college, there are plenty of ways to use social media to find student loans.

social-mediaOnline Forums

Online forums can be a great way for students to talk to others about loan opportunities and financial aid options.

Wells Fargo, for example, began a forum to give students and their parents an opportunity to ask questions and gain information about student loan options.

The forum is moderated by Wells Fargo representatives but the conversation doesn’t have to revolve around Wells Fargo’s student loans. Instead, community members discuss any college-related topics, such as selecting a major or finding affordable housing.

Community members can also ask questions about financial aid and they can gain insight not only from Wells Fargo professionals, but also from other students and parents.


SoFi, which is short for social finance, is a company that offers student loans in a non-traditional manner. Through SoFi, college alumni actually loan the money to students and use it as an investing opportunity.

Alumni donate the money to a general fund, which reduces each investor’s risk. After graduation, students begin repaying the loan in a similar fashion to traditional loans.

SoFi currently works with 78 different schools. The program reports that over $90 million has been invested with a zero default rate.

SoFi uses social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to attract perspective investors as well as students in need of financing.


GreenNote is another alternative way to borrow money for education by leveraging the social media power of friends and family.

Students looking to borrow money can fill out an online profile at GreenNote. Anyone in the student’s social network is then invited to loan money to the student.

GreenNote creates a legally binding contract for the loan and handles the details. The interest rate is fixed at 6.8 percent.

One of the benefits is that there is no credit check so students with a poor credit history can obtain funding. There is also no need for a co-signer.

Personal Social Media Efforts

Some students have taken financial into their hands and have found ways to leverage social media to help pay for tuition.

For example, some students have made announcements on Twitter asking people to help pay for their education.

Others have created their own websites or used Crowdfunding sites to attract attention to their financial. Some students ask for donations while others ask for loans.

Financial Aid Institutions and Social Media Problems

Some of the major financial aid institutions have been criticized for the way they’re using social media.

Sallie Mae has been in the spotlight for deleting criticism from students on its Facebook and Twitter pages. They’ve even been accused of blocking anyone who makes negative posts on their social media sites.

A financial institution’s use of social media can certainly have a big impact on how it is viewed by the community.

While many traditional lending institutions haven’t yet embraced social media, other non-traditional sources are using social media’s power to obtain funding for students.

About The Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Amy Morin. She writes about business and psychology topics, such as how small businesses can review reputation problems.

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Engineering Scholarships Worth Pursuing

Engineering Scholarships Worth Pursuing

scholarshipmoneyFinancing a college education is a formidable challenge but determined students will always find a way to make it happen. They can, for instance, look into the various scholarships awarded by a number of institutions. These often cater to applicants of a certain background and field of study. Prospective engineers have plenty of options to choose from, most of which will be listed at their school’s admissions office. Below are just a few of the most promising opportunities for engineering students:

Wayne V. Black Memorial Scholarship

Amount of Aid: $5,000

Eligibility Criteria: Open to current undergraduates in the US or Canada, of good academic standing, who are taking up courses in Engineering/ Engineering Technology, Telecommunications/Information Technology, Computer Science/MIS, Pre-law, or Political Science. The students must already be enrolled and studying full-time to be considered.

Application Process: Students must submit a one-page biography, an essay, and an application form, which is available on their site. The finalists may be asked to provide a copy of their transcript of record. The deadline of submission is usually in the month of January prior to the school year for which the aid is being sought. The winner will receive notification by March.

Additional Information: This scholarship is given out by the Energy Telecommunications & Electrical Association (ENTELEC), which is based in Irving, Texas. Mr. Black was ENTELEC’s General Counsel.

TELACU Undergraduate Scholarship

Amount of Aid: up to $5,000, renewable for up to 4 years

Eligibility Criteria: Applicants must be a first-generation college student from a low-income family with a GPA of at least 2.5. They must be enrolled on a full-time basis for the next succeeding academic year. Incoming freshmen may apply. TELACU prefers applicants that come from underserved communities around California, Texas, and Illinois. Successful candidates may be required to attend weekend seminars throughout the academic year if they are studying at local colleges. Priority is given to business, science, technology, engineering, and math majors, especially those attending schools, which provide matching funds in Southern California.

Application Process: Application forms must be submitted before the March deadline. Those that show the most potential will be invited for an interview with the selection committee. The panel will evaluate the applicants based on extracurricular involvement, academic achievement, financial need, leadership qualities. TELACU is interested in developing not just intellectuals but also community leaders.

Additional Information: TELACU also provides scholarships for outstanding graduate students through the David C. Lizárraga Graduate Fellowship. They also have another undergraduate scholarship program for business and engineering students which is partly funded by Toyota.

Winston Churchill Scholarship

Amount of Aid: $45,000 to $50,000

Eligibility: The applicant must be a US citizen, between 19 and 26, who is a college senior or a graduate of a participating university. This scholarship is for those who wish to pursue graduate studies in the sciences, engineering, or mathematics. Exceptional academic achievement must be demonstrated through course grades, creative work, and letters of recommendation. Those who have extensive laboratory experience and internships are preferred. Involvement in extracurricular activities is a plus. The selection does not discriminate based on marital or parental status, sex, sexual orientation, gender, race, color, religion, disability, national origin, or any other characteristic protected by law.

Application Process: The deadline of the submission of application falls on the second Tuesday of November. This should include a personal statement, a proposed program of study, letters of recommendation, and the application form.

Additional Information: Successful applicants will get the chance to study at the prestigious Cambridge University as a full scholar for 9 to 12 months with living allowance and opportunities to travel around Europe.

Author Bio

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Ayers. He is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education. In this article, he describes a few engineering scholarships and aims to encourage further study with a OU Masters in Electrical Engineering Online.

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Student Loan Interest Rate Deal: What Does This Mean for Your Education?

Student Loan Interest Rate Deal: What Does This Mean for Your Education?

student-loans-building-blocksPublic debate has raged for years about reforming student loans. While the housing crisis, once the only loan debate in town, seems to have somewhat subsided over the last 5 years, student loan debt is “the only form of consumer debt that has grown since the peak of consumer debt in 2008,” according to the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

With student loan debt topping $1.2 trillion in May, 2013, students, tax-payers, educators and politicians are advocating for a solution to the problem. Recently, congress approved the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013, a deal aimed at easing the financial burden of higher education for students and taxpayers. The bill has been met with enthusiasm, as well as criticism. The general consensus from education groups (who largely disapprove of the bill) is that students will ultimately pay far more under the new plan than they would have before, despite the low starting interest rate. Still others—including Ohio representative John Boehner, who calls the bill “a victory for students, for parents, and for our economy”—believe the bill is a welcome relief to the student debt problem.

The Bill

On Wednesday, July 24, 2013, the Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill regarding student loan interest rates, aptly named the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. The Senate passed the bill 81 to 18, and it was then sent to the House, which passed it with even greater strength, 392 to 31. When the President of the United States recently signed off on it, the bill was retroactively effective July 1, 2013 (meaning it will apply as though it had been passed on July 1).

The bill is relatively straightforward, and represents a step in the right direction for bi-partisan law making, given how easily it passed. It seems both sides of the political spectrum were in favor of the bill (though Republicans were more so than Democrats—17 of the 18 “no” votes in the Senate came from Democratic Senators).

The purpose of the new student loan interest rate bill is to lower the cost of loan repayment for students, while keeping them intrinsically linked to the state of the economy. The theory behind it is that the United States needs to take care of both students and taxpayer’s—help the former, but not at too big of an expense to the latter. While the bill is fundamentally designed to make life easier for students with loan debt, it takes into account the fact that the market in the U.S. ebbs and flows. Ultimately, the politicians agreed, student loan interest should ride the same waves as the rest of the economy, ebbing and flowing with the market.

What are the New Interest Rates?

For this year (as aforementioned, starting retroactively on July 1, 2013), the interest rates for newly issued loans will be as follows:

  • Subsidized undergraduate student loans will be just 3.8%—a large improvement from the previous 6.8%.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford loans will have interest rates set at 5.4%.
  • For graduate students with subsidized loans, the interest rate will be 5.4%.
  • All PLUS loans (for graduate students or parents of students) will be set at 6.4%.

While rates are fixed, they are also tied to 10 year Treasury notes. That means that those taking out loans this year will have a fixed interest rate of 3.86% (for subsidized undergraduate loans), but those taking out loans next year will have a different rate, and so on and so forth. As such, student loan interest will only rise as the economy continues to rebuild itself and overall interest rates rise. There is, however, a cap—meaning that there’s a limit to the amount of interest charged.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan estimates that the bill will save students an average of $1,500 in each loan at the current rate, which is certainly a substantial amount for the roughly 11 million students it would currently affect.

From a taxpayer perspective, this is another win, as the Congressional Budget Office estimates that, over the next 11 years, taxpayers will save $715 million with the passing of this bill (based on the assumption that they will not have to cover amounts owed by students who default on loans).

Why Students are Torn

The deal is an emphatic improvement on interest rates in the short term, since current rates are higher than the ones listed above. Furthermore, all of the repayment benefits remain, such as teacher loan forgiveness. However, critics worry that the interest rates of students’ loans, which are tied to the economy, will go up (beyond what they would have prior to the bill) as the performance of the economy improves.

While current rates still represent historic lows, they will not remain at these levels indefinitely. The bill offers cap provisions (8.25% for undergraduate loans and 9.5% for graduate loans for students) that are meant to keep student loan interest rates from skyrocketing to above 20%. Yet students and educators argue that the caps are higher than the 6.8% rate students would be paying without the bill in place. It stands to reason that a stronger economy, which would trigger higher interest rates, would grant graduates more job opportunities; however, this is not always a certainty, and some students may risk facing a tough job market and higher student loan interest rates.

Last but not least, some opponents of the bill do not believe the legislation solves the student debt crisis in the long-term. Says Massachusetts Senator, Elizabeth Warren:

“I don’t think we should be making profit off the backs of our kids when they are trying to get an education. That’s going to be a big issue. There’s two things we have to do; we have to bring down the cost of college. The cost just keeps climbing, and that’s bad for our kids who need to get an education. The second thing we need to do is we have got to concentrate on a trillion dollars of outstanding student loan debt.”

The rising cost of tuition as whole has, thus far, not been addressed by the student loan deal.

The Future of Student Loans

In the coming months and years, the new student loan interest rate bill will be heavily discussed. And while it is encouraging to see both parties come together to pass a bipartisan law regarding education, it remains to be seen whether this is actually a step forward in the education of our youth.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Logan Wheeler, a freelance blogger and recent college graduate currently residing in Houston, Texas. When he isn’t learning more about the byzantine rules and regulations surrounding his college loans, he is at work earning his license to become a freight forwarder in Houston.

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Creative Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

Creative Ways to Save Money on Textbooks

textbooksBooks can be incredibly expensive, especially for college students who are putting all of their time into education and who do not have time for a job on the side. Dropping four hundred dollars or more, per semester, can be daunting and sometimes impossible. However, colleges and universities refuse to supply books along with the cost of the courses, so what can you do? Below are a few creative ways to save.

Buy the PDF Versions

The publishing world is changing. These days, you can choose to buy many books in PDF form and then read them on your tablet, your smartphone or your computer, rather than buying paperback copies. Since the cost of printing a paperback book or a hardcover book is far higher than the cost of assembling a PDF – which can then be resold many times over – the PDF versions usually cost much less. You might be able to get a $100 book for under $10. If you do this with even half of your books, you are going to save.

Get Science Books Directly from Former Students

If you need science books, you can often get them right from the students who took the class before you. They will need new books for their next classes since they will be taking different subjects, so they will want to get rid of the ones that they have and get some money to buy the new ones. They will be happy to sell to you, rather than selling the books back to the school, because it cuts out the middleman and makes it a good deal from both sides. Even if you pay less than what it would have cost to buy a book from the school, you will still be giving them more than they would have gotten while selling the book back to the bookstore. It is a win-win situation.

Share a Book with Another Student

If you have friends who are taking the same classes as you, but they have the classes at different times, you should consider sharing the book. You will still get a great education because you will have the tools that you need, but you will not have to pay nearly as much. If you split the cost of books in half this way, you can really save a lot, though you may have to study together when exams come around.

Buy Your Books Late

Some professors will assign books for the course and then never use them. You can often figure out if this is going to happen in the first week or so. They will choose to give you an education based around presentations and lectures, but they may have assigned the book just because they felt like they had to give you something. You should go to your first week of classes without any books, figure out which classes you really need them for, and then only buy those ones at the bookstore. This keeps you from throwing away money on a book you would never open anyway.

Increasing Your Savings

If you use all four of these tricks at the same time, you can drastically cut back on what you pay each semester. Even if you only saved $100 each semester, you will be saving $800 by the time that you graduate. If it takes you more than four years to get your degree, or if you are able to save around $200 per semester, your savings will increase. Take these steps as soon as you can to give yourself financial freedom while you get your education.

Author Bio

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Ayers. He is a writer who creates informative articles in relation to education. In this article, he offer advice for students buying books and aims to encourage further study with an OU Online Civil Engineering Master’s Degree.

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Swap Clothes, Cancel TV, Rent Textbooks & Head to College

Swap Clothes, Cancel TV, Rent Textbooks & Head to College

College isn’t just about classes and credits—it’s also the time you gain independence and learn how to do “real-life” stuff, like budgeting your time and money wisely. Sure, the old advice about making simple changes in your spending habits (“Give up expensive coffee drinks!” “Only shop for clothes on sale!”) still holds true, but there are a number of money-saving tricks and tips out there online that can help you keep your money in your wallet.

Drop Cable and Satellite Services

Although most college-age students were raised in a time when TV was king, a surprising number have decided they can live without paying for expensive cable or satellite TV packages. For most of these students, it’s not that they are giving up watching their favorite programs. Instead, according to Forbes, many of your peers are now watching their favorite shows on their computers via the Internet. Basic cable packages start at about $30 a month, whereas streaming giants Netflix and Hulu Plus are only $7.99 a month.

Of course, not every type of programming is available online. Fortunately, most of the ones that aren’t available are also ones that are typically more fun when watched with your buddies. For example, you probably will be able to easily find viewing parties for such fare as the Super Bowl or the Bachelorette finale.

Photo by Flickr user Mediocre2010

Rent Textbooks

Don’t buy your textbooks outright unless you absolutely have to. Instead, rent them through websites such as Chegg, or buy them used. According to The Digital Universe, you will save an average of about $55 per book when you rent textbooks and return them in good shape rather than purchasing them new. Most colleges also offer services for the buying and selling of used books.

You should also check to see whether or not the textbooks you need are available digitally. Those that are typically cost quite a bit less. In addition, post textbooks you want to sell on Facebook, so you can cut out the middleman.

Work With Your Car Insurance Agent

Sometimes you can save a substantial amount off your auto insurance policy if you just request discounts for things you may already be doing. Look online for discounts that are available through other insurance companies, such as ones for good driving records, good grades, low driving miles or taking a driver’s education course. Armed with this information, go to your agent and ask for similar discounts.

Hold a Clothing Swap

Remaining fashionable on a budget is difficult but possible. A solution that has become increasingly popular is a clothes swap. During these events you and your friends bring clothes you no longer want to swap with others. Using a site such as, you can turn these swaps into a regular monthly event.

Photo by Flickr user somaya

Go Beyond Craigslist

Everybody knows to look on Craigslist for used furniture and other items for your dorm room (remember, never meet a seller or buyer by yourself). However, Goodwill stores and your local pawn shop is a good place to find deals on these things, too. Even better: Visit, where the items are free, as long as you go pick them up.

Photo by Flickr user Sterling College

Consult Pinterest

Dorm room decorations can look numbingly the same. Instead of purchasing items from a big retailer, you can find great ideas on Pinterest that will help you create one-of-a-kind but easy pieces for your room. Some examples of easy-to-make items on Pinterest for dorms include painted used dressers and pretty storage cubes made from old boxes.

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