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Higher education doesn’t have to be expensive. If you want to get a degree but are worried about the debts and the cost of resources, here are just a few ways in which you could save money.
Look for a sponsored course
Believe it or not – there are actually companies out there that will pay your entire course fees for you. This could allow you to graduate debt-free. What’s the catch? Unfortunately, there are very few companies out there that offer these sponsorships, and usually they’ll only sponsor a couple students a year, making these sponsorships highly competitive to gain access to. Our son has been told that degrees in Engineering are an area that offer sponsored courses. As part of the deal, you’ll also have to work for the company that sponsored you after you graduate, so your career options will be limited. On the flipside, you will have a job secured for when you leave and it will likely be well-paid given that the types of companies that offer these sponsorships are big and successful.
Take an online course
There are now more online courses than ever – these allow you to study from home rather than having to attend lectures, seminars and exams at a campus. You can even take a masters online such as this masters program in education with distance learning. These courses a great option if you’ve got other commitments back home such as family to look after, allowing to study more flexibly.
Online courses aren’t just convenient, but they’re also often cheaper. On top of paying cheaper study fees, you’ll also not have the costs of living on campus such as accommodation.
Consider an accelerated course
Three years is a long time for some people who may be looking to kickstart careers. What if you want to gain a degree more quickly? You can do with an accelerated course.
Accelerated courses are more intensive allowing you to graduate more quickly. They’re also generally cheaper as you’re paying for two years of studies instead of three. Just be certain that you can deal with the added intensity of these courses.
Want to get an education and travel? Studying abroad is a popular option that can allow you to experience living in another country whilst getting a degree. Because course fees vary all across the world, it’s possible to find cheaper options abroad. There are even some countries such as Germany in which university is free both to domestic and foreign students.
You will have to factor in the cost of travelling there and back to study, plus the cost of living could be more expensive abroad. However in the case of free education, you’ll still save money overall even with these added expenses on top.
Some courses require you read a lot of literature. If you’re buying paperback books every time, the cost could start to add up.
E-books are by and large much cheaper than physical books. In fact, they’re cheaper than most used physical books. You may want to invest in an e-reader first (although you can read e-books on laptops on desktops too). Look out for sales on e-readers throughout the year.
Share books and tools
You may be able to alternatively share books and other tools with coursemates. In fact, you could make a pact with someone on your course to each take turns to buy books and then take turns to use them. There are also sites where you can connect with fellow students and share and trade resources.
Use your university resources
Providing that you’re studying on campus, you may be able to take advantage of the university facilities to save money. You may be able to rent out books from the library for free – generally there will only be a few copies and these will tend to disappear fast, so try to plan ahead when borrowing these books. Most universities will also have free computers that you can use for doing work as well as free printers to save you money on paper and ink (quite often there will be a paper quota in place though, so bear this in mind).
Take advantage of student discounts
An advantage of being a student is that you’ll be entitled to various discounts on everything from train travel to meals out with an NUS card to snap up these deals. Remember to ask everywhere you go if they accept NUS as not all places will have it clearly advertised. But also look out for independent stores and restaurants that may offer their own deals. Many bars in the area are likely to have cheap student drinks nights.
Choose the right bank account
You may also be able to save money by switching your bank account. Some banks offer overdraft facilities with zero interest for students (although you will have to pay if you go over your overdraft limit). For those times when you’ll inevitably run out of money, having an overdraft without interest could be very handy.
Learn to live frugally
Most students have to learn to live frugally – this means making cutbacks in all areas of life. Whilst most students are eligible to a maintenance loan to cover living costs, this is likely to barely cover the rent in some instances, giving you only a pittance to live on. Getting a job or having some family support is likely to be the solution to this, but by also cutting your expenses you can further prevent yourself from running out of money.
Start putting in place a weekly budget thinking about whether you need certain things or not, for example If you’ve got a car, consider whether it’s worth taking this off the road for the years in which you study (it’s unlikely you’ll be using it much and often you will not have anywhere to park it). Plan meals and use ways to avoid food waste will save money even further.