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Budgeting Your Money Each Semester


There are many great things about being a college student: making new friends, discovering new things about the world and yourself, building the framework of knowledge that will guide you for the rest of your life. With all of the great things about the college experience, there are two things it usually isn’t: easy and cheap.

Be Prepared

There are many expenses that are out of your control. The largest of these for a college student is tuition. College registration and fees have risen more than 8 percent over the past year and over six-fold since the 1980s, so make sure to budget accordingly by choosing the most affordable college that fits your goals and, if necessary, supplementing your expenses with scholarships, loans, or family support.

The second cost out of your control is housing. As appealing as living in the campus library may be, you have to lay your head somewhere and that somewhere should preferably have a roof. Budgeting for this requires understanding what you actually need for a living space and anticipating costs such as electricity, water, and cable.

The third type of expense that’s out of your control involves emergencies. People get sick. Cars break down. Make sure there are sufficient funds to cover these things before the semester starts. If you don’t have a regular credit card, look into prepaid credit cards.  The cards offer the same spending options without the risk of overspending.

Take Control

But there is one type of expense that you can take control of: books and course material. Excelling in class means studying hard and finding the right information at the right time. While textbooks assigned by instructors can be very expensive–a new physics textbook alone can more than $200 – there are alternatives that are just as good but at a fraction (or none) of the cost.

The most traditional ways to save on textbooks and materials are still great to consider. Check your campus library. Look on online retailers, like Amazon and eBay, for good deals. But there are also a multitude of sites that offer educational material for the needy student.

For example, did you know that MIT offers free online classes through its OpenCourseWare initiative? With over 2100 courses available, it’s a great way to supplement your existing classes or dive into a new subject on your own time.

The National Repository of Online Courses (NROC) is another great tool that serves as an online repository for eCoursework and information from schools across the country. From courses in American Government to Calculus, you’ll often find the supplemental information you’re looking for in NROC’s free-to-use library.

Need more than supplemental resources? Need to find your assigned eTextbook and the eResources that go with it, but at a smart and reasonable price? Well, if you can find the right service, you’re ahead of the curve. You need the largest and most specialized publishers in the industry, making more than 90% of in-use textbooks available as eTextbooks. A simple search by ISBN, title, author, or keyword leads to savings.

College life is expensive. Make sure you budget for the expenses you can’t control and understand your options for the expenses you can.



My name is Derek, and I have my Bachelors Degree in Finance from Grand Valley State University. After graduation, I was not able to find a job that fully utilized my degree, but I still had a passion for Finance! So, I decided to focus my passion in the stock market. I studied Cash Flows, Balance Sheets, and Income Statements, put some money into the market and saw a good return on my investment. As satisfying as this was, I still felt that something was missing. I have a passion for Finance, but I also have a passion for people. If you have a willingness to learn, I will continue to teach.

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