How to Survive as a Student without Drowning in Debt

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Being a college student nowadays can be overwhelming. Not only do you have to assume the burden of the ever-rising cost of your tuition, but you also have to find a living space that is preferably nicer than a cardboard box. Don’t worry – you are not alone. It’s not easy to learn and study if you are constantly worried about being buried in debt by graduation. While it is rare to eliminate student debt entirely, there are many practical ways for you to cut costs:

Become an RA
In exchange for monitoring the halls, manning the check-in desk, and organizing floor meetings and events, colleges provide RAs with room and board. That’s $8K – $10K on average that can be subtracted from your annual bill. Surprisingly, a lot of people dismiss this option because they are afraid that their peers will view them as “cops.” This is only true if you let it be true. In a way, being an RA is like being a supervisor: if you are cocky and power-drunk without being fair or personable, nobody will like or respect you; but if you always look for the humanity in others, people will see that you are genuine.

Use Budget-Friendly Cleaning Supplies
Every home should have a vacuum, a mop, some dish detergent, a bottle of Windex, and a few white hand towels. If you opt for the store-brand versions of these essentials, you can easily stock up for next to nothing. It’s also worth noting that you can buy a decent vacuum cleaner for under $100. Remember: cleanliness helps to reduce stress, so keep it clean while you pursue your dreams.

Get a Part-Time Internship
When you are strapped for cash, it is tempting to go for a job that “anyone can get.” But college is all about experimenting: instead of going for the same jobs as anyone else, think about the subjects that interest you, and look for a paid internship in that field. For example, if you like psychology, try reaching out to local clinics. If you don’t have a car, consider doing some part-time freelancing online. Most people don’t know what they want to do for a living until long after they graduate. By pursuing internships while you are still in school, you will learn what you like and what you don’t like. Ultimately, these types of experiences will help you develop end goals that you can tailor your education around.

Buy Used Gear
College textbooks are ridiculously overpriced. Few people have need for them when the class is over, and yet year after year, a new version is churned out – complete with negligible changes. Instead of buying new from the school bookstore, look for used versions online. Similarly, if you are living off-campus, browse thrift stores for used furniture.

Shack Up With Your Friends
It’s no secret that rent is cheaper with roommates, but have you thought about sharing your room, too? A lot of landlords offer attractive rates to students who are willing to put two beds in each room. While you may think that you need your own room, remember that it won’t be forever, and if you don’t have to shell out much dough for rent each month, you can use the excess to pay for groceries or a night out with your friends.

This article was contributed by guest author Sammy Dolan.

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