Frugal Beautiful

Posts Tagged ‘College Savings

Maruchan, the breakfast of championsThe best advice to save money on your campus is to be resourceful (beyond stocking up on Top Ramen).   Each school is different in how it provides perks to its students, so keep an eye out for freebies.  Until then, here are some resources for your resourcefulness:

-Free Amazon Prime: If you’re a student, you can sign up for a free year of Amazon Prime for free shipping on anything- not just textbooks or school supplies.  Sign up with your student email here.

-Cell Phone Discounts: I currently save 17% on my phone bill each month just for having a student email address.  Know that not all schools have deals negotiated with cell phone providers, and rates may vary from school to school.  Call or visit your provider’s website for details by looking up “Employee Discount.”

-Student Rates on Software: Again, different schools offer different discounts, but you can get software cheaper than retail if you’re a student and your school qualifies.  One site that does this is

-Fee Waivers: If you haven’t submitted applications yet, be sure to check if you’re eligible for an application fee waiver.  Visit the university’s website and type “application fee waiver,” in the search bar.  I was able to save several hundred dollars this way when I applied to grad school.

-TRIO/SSS: If you are a first generation and/or low income college student, see if your school has any of these federal programs.  Different states might have local organizations like this- such as one I was in, California State University’s Educational Opportunity Program.  Each semester I received stipends and access to free facilities, mentoring and book and equipment loans.  Call your financial aid office to see what programs are set up at your school if you can’t find information online.  (Also know you will have to fill out a FAFSA to qualify for these programs as they are need based).

-Free Books: I seriously never want to buy a book for school again, so I use Inter-Library Loan at my university.  You can request your syllabus early or look up the booklist at your school’s bookstore or student center.  Get to the library ASAP and request whatever you can.  Also, almost textbooks are available to check out in-house for a few hours, or can be found in academic labs on campus, so get your tuition’s worth and use what’s available!

-Free Food: If you don’t know how great college is for free food, you haven’t been paying attention.  Campuses are notorious for having bulletin boards plastered with campus events and information sessions that feed attendees.

-Campus Jobs: Simply being around faculty and staff will mean you will have a network in place that will put you ahead of your peers in terms of finding the best scholarships, exclusive campus events and people to write better letters of recommendations for scholarships and graduate programs.  Working on campus builds rapport with staff and helps you connect with hard-to-find perks.

I graduated from my (relatively affordable) state college DEBT FREE and was able to save enough to put money towards my graduate education. How? It all starts with an application.

If you’re attending college- you need to fill out the FAFSA. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is available online and can be done in a relatively short amount of time-don’t be intimidated! Doing so will help you qualify for any available aid in three categories: Federal aid, State aid and School/Private aid and scholarships.
As soon as your taxes are done for the previous tax year (and your parents if you’re claimed as a dependent) start the application.

Even if you feel you will not qualify for Federal or State Student Aid, your FAFSA results are still required in order to apply for certain scholarships through your school or charitable scholarship funds.

Log on to Fafsa.Ed.Gov with the following:
-Your social security number, along with your parents if you are claimed as a dependent (and under 24 years of age).
-Driver’s license information, and the birth dates of your parents (if they are claiming you).
-Your most recent income tax return AND that of your parents (if they claim you).
-Your bank statements and parent’s financial information. (This will be used to document your assets- if you fill a form out online, you will not have to have an official hard copy, but you will have to be honest!)
-Apply for an online PIN to log in. If your parents are claiming you, you will need to register them as well- which might delay your completion (based on how cooperative your parents are).  DO NOT lose your pin- you will need it to access your information to edit or reapply later!

The Deadline:
Each school has a different date for the priority registration of the FAFSA. The sooner you apply, the better.

Don’t get frustrated or hung up on the details- just like doing taxes, it’s an annoying process and sometimes not having the right information on hand can be a stumbling block.

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August 2020