Smart money-saving tips for college freshmen

Liv Deguzman, Staff Writer

As the weather becomes warmer, and the final days of high school fly by, college creeps up right around the corner for a majority of seniors.

Looking at pricey tuition and figuring out when to start planning your college experience might seem intimidating. Yet, there are numerous ways to make smart choices that will save you stress and money during and even before the journey to college begins. 

College planning is best to start thinking about at the start of high school for underclassmen. Keeping a high GPA and filling up extra time with clubs, extracurriculars and volunteer opportunities are important. Many colleges look for students who are involved and are able to balance good grades.  Often,  these students are awarded scholarships. 

“I received a presidential scholarship from a school when I applied to colleges,” current Loyola student Hailey Gilio said. “I always maintained a high grade point and pursued my passion for dance while volunteering where I could, and it seemed to pay off.”

Even if you are a senior, there are many reliable sources for scholarships within your reach. Contacting admission offices and even your school college counselor can set you on the right track to find scholarships and grants. 

“There are many state-specific admissions officers that can help connect students with scholarship opportunities,” San Diego State admission officer Adrianna Ramirez said over the phone. “Students have an easier and sometimes better time finding more help when it is directly related to the school.”

FAFSA, known as Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is one of the most important steps to saving money. This application offers several different forms of aid including grants, scholarships, federal or private loans and work-study programs. 

Grants are a form of aid that does not typically need to be repaid. An abundance of grants is available based on financial need, parents, career and families in service. 

Student loans are money you borrow and must pay back with interest after college. These types of loans can come from the federal government or private institutions like banks. Federal student loans usually have more benefits than private loans. 

Work-study programs allow students to earn money to pay for school by working part-time, either for an outside establishment or within the university. 

According to the U.S. and World Report News, most families miss out on the chance for financial aid, mainly because of neglecting to fill out FAFSA until the last minute. Making the deadline is the best shot at acquiring the most aid from colleges and universities. “My parents and I filled out FAFSA the first day it opened, which is Oct. 1,” senior Marissa Richmond said. “It’s better to get it out of the way, so colleges know your financial situation as soon as you submit your applications.”

Most campuses offer money-saving amenities as well. From food, recreational activities and dorm needs, savings are offered within universities if you look for the right ones. 

“My college offers packages for gyms, cafes and even discounts on school spirit wear,” Santa Clara University student Kailyn Pedersen said. “At the beginning of the year, I contacted the school’s offices, and they gave me a list of programs and amenities exclusive to the students. It’s saved me hundreds that I would’ve wasted not discovering what my school will offer.” 

Unfortunately, universities can’t provide all access to student supplies and necessities. Textbooks are a major expense each year, ranging from $100-500 dollars a book, but there are an abundance of websites, allowing students to rent books online.

“I actually compiled a list of all the places I’ve rented books over the years,” Ohio State graduate Nicki Pedersen said. “Some of my favorites are Chegg, Amazon, and Student 2 Student. All are super reliable and easy to access.” 

With many saving opportunities in college, there are still many you can find right in your hometown. Working before college and opening a savings account for later use seems like a given, but it can be helpful to many students. 

“I put aside $100 dollars of every paycheck since I started working,” North senior Grace Skowron said. “I’m not able to touch it until I’m in college which is great for me. I will be able to have enough money to sustain myself without having to find a job right off the bat in a new place.” 

College is an exciting time to travel somewhere and start living on your own. No matter where you decide to go, choose somewhere that benefits your ideal lifestyle and somewhere that gives you the most benefits.

“A school is a school in the end, and it’s best to pick the schools that appreciate your hard work,” senior Marcuz Mendoza said. “Receiving an education that can financially benefit me and allows me to pursue my future is more than I can ask for.”