I commend you for being conscious about avoiding excessive debt at such a young age. I sometimes wish I had that level of self-awareness when I was younger, as I'm still paying off my student loans at 37. However, it was an investment in my future, and I have no regrets.
With that in mind, there are numerous options available to help you minimize costs during college. One approach is to attend a technical college for the first two years, then transfer to another college or university to complete your degree. Alternatively, you could look into obtaining in-state residency status if the college you're interested in is out of state. Additionally, there's a wide variety of financial aid opportunities you can apply for through writing essays or other activities. You might also be able to find internships in college that offer both school credit and a small stipend.
College is an amazing experience, so make sure to embrace all the opportunities it offers, stay mindful, and don't stress too much!
Nathaniel recommends the following next steps:
- Don't be afraid of living a bit further from campus, if you have the right roommates. With friends, the bike/bus/walk is more bearable, and you're all able to save some money on rent, which tends to be a bit lower the further you go from campus
- Buy food in bulk! Costco, Sam's Club, and Smart & Final were life savers - we used to buy eggs, potatoes, chicken, vegetables, etc. in bulk and split as a house. Per item it was way cheaper
- Take advantage of what is covered with school fees - Campus fees are always a pain, but they often cover some cool perks. Gym memberships, rec sport leagues, sometimes concerts, therapy, health, maybe coffee during finals, etc. are all covered by your student fees. Definitely understand what membership of the student organization gets you
- Have fun with your community - everyone is feeling the squeeze in college. Know you aren't alone and enjoy living frugally/spending wisely with your friends. It's fun to have park days, movie nights at home, and get by with friends, the best part of the experience.