Things I did to save money in collegeCollege can be a tough time financially, but this doesn’t mean you have to just throw your hands up in the air and willingly accept all kinds of ridiculous or unnecessary debt. Rather than just assume that you’re going to come out of school with $100,000 in student loans, by making smarter financial decisions, and looking for ways to cut down the amount of debt you take on throughout the year, you may be able to whittle it down to a more manageable amounts.

Here are some of the things that I did throughout my four year college experience that left me with less than $10,000 in student loans to pay off after I graduated.

Go In-state

My first semester’s tuition was at the full amount. Every semester’s tuition after that was half the amount though, due to the fact that we had moved to the state in which I was attending school. While obviously I know that this isn’t possible for everyone’s educational experience, in-state tuition can certainly be an important factor to consider in cutting down the costs of an education.

Find Roommates

Finding trustworthy and responsible roommates can be a tough proposition during college, but doing so can help relieve a huge financial strain. I had roommates each and every year in the dorm, fraternity and apartment settings, and these people helped cut my college costs significantly.

From sharing food, utility, and transportation costs, to sharing books, rent, and furnishings, the advantages of a good roommate or two can add up to thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in savings during the course of a college career.

Summer Work

I really didn’t think that it was a great idea to work during the school year as I wanted to focus more on school and the college experience. However, summer made for the perfect time to buckle down and pick up a job.

I was able to get free rent acting as the summer house manager for our fraternity for two summers, and I picked up full-time summer and partial spring and fall employment managing the university golf course concessions department. The money I saved from these activities put a large dent in my overall college costs.

Take Out Loans

Taking on debt might seem an odd addition to an article of things I’m glad I did in college to save money, but compared to other classmates, taking on student loans was the right move. I knew people who used credit cards to rack up tens of thousands of dollars in college related costs that proved difficult and costly to pay off after graduation.

Comparatively, my government student loans had low associated interest rates and a six month, interest-free grace period after graduation before I had to start paying them back. This grace period allowed me to start working and build up a little savings that I could put toward those loans right away, saving me even more in interest payments.

Track Expenses

Tracking expenses was another critical aspect in saving money during college. You might be wondering how just writing down numbers could cut my costs, but it did.

Seeing where and how much I was spending and upon what, was an eye-opening experience and helped me eliminate some of my more frivolous expenditures. Tracking these expenses year after year helped me spot areas in which I could save more or make my money go further. By senior year, I’d got my college costs lower than they had ever been.

Buy and Resell Old Books

I quickly learned that I didn’t need to buy brand new textbooks. Better yet, in some instances I didn’t need to buy textbooks at all, choosing to trade or share with roommates and fraternity brothers who were in the same classes. And once we were done with those textbooks, the majority of them were resold for cash at the campus bookstore.

For students these days, there may be even easier and more lucrative online resale options out there; sites like where you might get an even better price for your used textbooks than on campus.