A Student’s Guide To Preparing Yourself Financially For College


If you’ve got a college place: congratulations! You’ve taken the first step on this exciting new journey. College is a time for learning, fun, exploration, and growth; a chance to dive deeper into your chosen subjects and find your feet away from home. However, there’s no getting away from the fact that it costs a lot of money to attend, both in regard to tuition fees and living costs.

Luckily, most students are in the same boat, so there is a wealth of information out there, both before you go and when you arrive at college. Nevertheless, this is likely the first time you’ll be taking out a loan and being responsible for your own daily expenses. So how can you prepare for this big life change? Read on to do your homework and find out.

A female college graduate is holding a piggy bank in her hands.
A female college graduate is holding a piggy bank in her hands. Image: Adobe Stock.

Explore grants And Scholarships


Tuition is one of the big expenses at college, and you’ll need to be sure you can afford it in order to attend at all. To start, make sure to look into any grants or scholarships you may be eligible for – you don’t want to pay a cent more than you have to, and doing the research can mean you don’t miss out. 

Some colleges award money on a first-come, first-served basis, so don’t be tempted to put this step off. Before you can qualify for any grants, you’ll need to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. Even if you’re not sure if you’re eligible for financial aid, completing this form means that you’ll have the opportunity to apply for funding if you meet the eligibility requirements.


Think About Living Costs And Start To Save


The next big expense on your list will be living costs – your accommodation, bills, food, books, and money to fund your social life. It’s unlikely that you’ll be able to cover all of this with grants or scholarships, so you’ll need to have a plan for paying for these items. Getting a part-time job in the school holidays is a great way to save a lump of cash to cover those first few months. 

Most college students will work alongside their studies, but when you first start, it can be nice to have a financial buffer that allows you to simply settle into your new surroundings. Then, when you’re ready, you can look for work – most common options include bar or shop work, although the rise of remote working has meant that more opportunities have arisen in recent years.

Understand budgeting


Most students don’t have unlimited funds. In order to live within your means at college, you’ll need to understand the concept of budgeting and stick within the allowances that you set yourself. If you’ve had a disposable income during high school, having to suddenly restrict your spending may feel hard and dull, but it’s all part of college life. 

Once you’ve got confirmation of your financial aid, you can see how much extra money you need to find. Then, you can make a plan and set spending limits. Remember to leave some room in your budget for ‘fun funds’ – you won’t get the full college experience if you feel restricted to your room. 

You might not want to think too tediously about the practical aspects of going to college, but being prepared is key. By thinking ahead, you can ensure that you’re free to enjoy the journey and are not stuck indoors worrying about your bank account.



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