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Back-to-school doesn’t just mean K through 12; it includes college as well! Whether you are sending your child off to school or going back yourself, cut costs with these college planning tips. Are your kids not in college? We’ve still got you covered with our Back-to-School: Money-Saving Tips blog!

Look into Federal Student Aid
Start off by looking into FAFSA, which stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Here you can create an account and apply for various types of financial aid. It’s best to take a look around the Federal Student Aid website to see which type you may qualify for, how to repay your loan and to even obtain a FREE College Preparation Checklist! These websites are great because they show options for students directly out of high school going to college or for individuals who have taken a few years off and want to go back to school.

students_in_libraryReduce Textbooks Costs
Now that you’ve figured out how to pay for the actual college classes, you need to look into what materials are required. This usually includes expensive textbooks, calculators, and more.  Find the best deal on textbooks by first emailing your professors to ask about applicable previous editions since they are typically cheaper. Also check to see if any textbooks are labeled “recommended”, and only purchase what books are required.

Where to buy or rent textbooks
While you may be tempted to buy your textbooks from the school store because of convenience, you can save a substantial amount of money by ordering your textbooks elsewhere. Amazon offers both new and used textbooks for a fraction of the cost. Sign up for Amazon Student for free two-day shipping and other great deals. Other options include Chegg, where you can rent the textbooks you need for the semester, or the newly popular eTextbooks, which can be downloaded and saved on your mobile device. An additional tip is to sell any purchased textbooks at the end of each semester to make back some money.

When to buy or rent textbooks
You should purchase or rent your textbooks about a week before school starts. This way, if you neglected to email the professor, you can return or exchange any textbooks based on their recommendations after classes begin. On the first day of class you should bring a notebook, a pen, and a pencil. Unlike grade school, you will get a syllabus on the first day of class and will be able to see what school supplies you need. Most professors will allow you to bring a laptop into class with which you can take notes rather than having to use a notebook. In addition, The Apple Store offers monthly payment plans and student discounts on products and software.

Check Printing Options
Before putting out money for a printer, check to see what your school offers. Often times students have a printing account, which allows them to print a pre-set amount of pages each semester. You can also see if your school has a copy center and compare prices. Printers and ink can be costly, and using your school’s copy center may be a way to save you money.

college_students

Check for Student Discounts
Speaking of discounts, make sure to take advantage of any student discounts that are available! From a free gym membership at your school to multiple stores in the mall, you can save at places you never imagined. Click here for a wide variety of student discounts, but be aware that discounts can change and be applicable only to certain states, so as a best practice ask before you buy!

Compare Meal Plans
Whether you are commuting or living on campus, it’s always a good idea to scope out the meal plans. This will allow you to decide if bringing your own food is a better option than committing to a specific meal plan.  When deciding, keep in mind that colleges usually offer a limited time period at the beginning of the year to increase or decrease your meal plan without being charged.

Additional Ways to Save
If you are living on campus, look into being a Resident Assistant. Typically colleges allow RAs to live on campus with free room and board! If you are commuting, try public transportation or carpooling. This will save you gas money and keep you from having to purchase a parking pass.

Going to college is expensive, but the benefits of obtaining a degree or certificate greatly outweigh the costs. Let us take the stress out of financing so you can focus on your studies!  Mariner Finance makes loans for just about any reason, and we will work with you to make payments fit your budget. Call or stop by your local branch today to see how we can help!

This material was prepared for general distribution. Although all blog posts are intended to be accurate, the information and third-party links provided in the Mariner Finance’s blog are intended for general knowledge and educational purposes only without any warranties, implied or express, of any kind. The posts do not constitute investment, financial or other advice. Authors may or may not be licensed financial professionals; for specific advice, seek the input of a licensed and trained financial expert. Mariner Finance’s blog entries may also be viewed at www.personalfinancecompany.com.

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