5 Ways to Save on Your Child’s College Education
Tuition plus room and board are not the only things you and your child have to worry about when paying for college. There are a number of other expenses that will come up that most families don’t factor into the total cost. And they should. Expenses such as textbooks, entertainment, and technology (such as cell phones, computers, and printers).
Listed here are 5 ways to lower or totally avoid any of these additional costs from Kiplinger.com:
- New textbooks. To avoid paying unfathomable new-book prices, see whether your university offers a rental program — such services are most often available for the school’s core-curriculum and prerequisite classes. Or rent from a Web site such as Chegg.com, where you can save up to 85%. Order the book for a one-time fee — for example, about $60 plus shipping for a $180 calculus book — keep it for a semester, then return it with free shipping, or you could buy it. (Chegg even plants a tree for every book you rent.) You could also head to the used-book lot. BigWords.com searches the Web for the best prices on used textbooks. Always search for a book using its ISBN number — not just the title — to make sure you’re getting the right book and the right edition. Also check with professors about peripheral materials that come packaged with textbooks, which used books may be missing.
- Printer. Here’s what you can save by skipping this unnecessary item: about $50 for a printer, $30 for replacement ink and $9 for a pack of paper. For about $10, your child could buy a flash drive instead, save his 20-page term paper on it and print the paper in the campus computer lab, which you may already be paying for. Some schools include a technology fee in room and board costs — $100 per semester in some cases.
- Cable TV. These days, you don’t have to foot a hefty cable bill when your child can catch the latest movies and TV shows online. Hulu.com, Veoh.com and Fancast.com let you download current TV shows for free. The movies offered on these sites are slightly old, but you can get a Netflix DVD-rental subscription for as little as $5 a month. For $9 a month, you get unlimited DVD rentals, plus on-demand streaming to your computer or TV through a Web-enabled device, such as an Xbox 360 or a TiVo HD.
- A credit card. The average freshman amassed more than $2,000 in credit-card debt during the 2007-08 academic year. Starting in February 2010, Uncle Sam will try to help rein in that first-year frivolity with stricter credit-card rules: Anyone younger than 21 will need to prove his or her ability to repay any debts or have a parent (or someone else 21 or older) co-sign card applications. Before the new rules kick in, help your student stay in the black by telling him not to get a credit card until he’s proven that he’s responsible with his money. Talk with him about finances and get him started using a debit card.
- Big meal plan. Brain food is important, but avoid loading up your child’s meal account with enough money to feed the football team by researching the campus rules carefully. Each university has its own meal plan, whether set up for a certain number of meals per day or a certain amount of money per semester. Often, the money does not roll over from year to year — if you don’t use the money, you lose it. Best to start low and see how much your student uses. Many colleges will give you the opportunity to replenish the meal plan midyear.
You could also supplement your kid’s meal plan with gift cards to the local grocery (or the local pizza joint). Or you can buy gift cards at GiftCertificates.com.
Until next time,
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