Category Archives: affordability

OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

I tend to catch a certain sort of article that comes across my radar with fair regularity, such as : “Four Steps to a Debt Free Degree” by financial blogger Jeanie Ahn, which is a rehash of the included video by Rachel Cruze.

According to Mrs. Cruze, specifically to get through college debt-free a student needs to:

  1. Choose a College You can Afford
  2. Seek out all Opportunities for Financial Aid
  3. Work Your Way Through School
  4. Ask Your Parents for Help

I take no issues with articles like these in that they provide a little bit of food for thought to those who haven’t explored even the most basic options to save and earn money for school. I would highly encourage any student to seek out these opportunities in addition to dozens and dozens more that would shave one’s out-of-pocket costs down to reasonable levels. I’m hoping this upstart blog and upcoming book can shed more specific light on some of these over the next few months.

I also wholeheartedly agree with the article’s #1 being #1. Your first step toward an affordable education should be to stay within your means. That much seems obvious. But it brings up a question: Just what does “can afford” mean?

Continue reading OK, But What Does “Afford” Mean?

Chowing Down on the Cheap

Chowing Down on the Cheap

Unhealthy fat man trying to eat one more pizza part

 

I save the least important subject of the site for last. You will always have a food budget, and eating right costs good money. In terms of its toll on health and wellness, cheap food is rarely worth the price. That said, you can eat well and save money as a student if you forego the more common options presented to you. Let’s dive into some of the food options and plans distinct to the college experience. Continue reading Chowing Down on the Cheap

Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State

Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State

Most expensive room & board by state

Elsewhere we’ve detailed the full-cost breakdown students face when going to college. The big lesson was to not ignore the fact that we must also consider the financial impact of room, board, books, and transportation when making plans. After I presented that chart I was tempted to provide you with a series of tips on how to save money on such things. But I realized to do so at this point in this blog’s lifespan would send the wrong message.

This chart unwittingly proves this point. Here we have an infographic and state-by-state breakdown compiled by ecollegefinder.org of the most expensive dorms in each state (note, however, this chart and figures refer to room and food, meaning the combined cost of dorms and meal plans).

While fun and informative, this chart serves as a great object lesson to not get too mired down in dealing with such expenses.  Yes, we need to consider them when pre-planning our annual allocations of resources. But… Continue reading Chart: The Most Expensive College Dorms in Each State

Housing

Housing

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Housing

Ah, the college life. Fond, fond memories of those two a.m. prank runs, the late night bull sessions, the sort of crazy antics that come anytime you put six teenage guys in a small space with no direct supervision.

One way or another, college housing dynamics make or break a college experience. It probably goes without saying, but you will spend more time with your roommates than your profs and more time around your living space than in any classroom. Getting this right matters quite a bit to the college experience. You will have a lot more considerations to the situation than purely financial ones. Roommate selection, amenities, décor, proximities and so forth impact everything you do in college. Continue reading Housing

Soaring Textbook Prices

Soaring Textbook Prices

Textbook Prices

Every fall students all over the country will flock to their respective colleges, enroll in courses, pick up their syllabi, walk over the bookstore and freak out at the prices of the required textbooks. No kids, those aren’t typos. Your physics textbook really does run $350 and yes, you are paying more than when you started just four years ago.

This week’s chart, brought to us by the American Enterprise Institute, shows the rapid rise in textbook costs relative to inflation and, super bonus, to books in general. Textbook costs have risen substantially faster than general inflation, home prices, and medical care. And this in a world where Amazon regularly slashes the prices of popular titles… traditional publishing books have actually decreased in price over the years.

As the AEI full article points out, with average textbook prices for some disciplines in the range of $250 and with several books required each semester, this can add thousands and thousands of dollars to the cost of one’s college tally. Nobody will deny that students are getting ripped off, but what to do about it? How do we work these costs into our plans? Can these costs be combatted? We have given you some great tips, which you can find by clicking “books” in the categories column to your right.

 

Addressing Textbook Pain (3 of 3)

Addressing Textbook Pain (3 of 3)

Vector concept of investment in education with coins books and scales

Note: This is the third installment of a 3-part series of tips on how to mitigate the ever-rising costs of college textbooks. See also posts 1 and 2 on this topic. 

Let’s address three strategies for your textbook woes that don’t actually require you to buy any textbooks to get the job done. These may not come into play as often, but if they do you’ll be glad you tried. Continue reading Addressing Textbook Pain (3 of 3)

Chart: The Costs of Excess Credits

Chart: The Costs of Excess Credits

Cost of Extra School

cost of extra school II

(Click on either chart above to go to its source article)

These charts come to us courtesy of articles by Danielle Douglas-Gabriel of the Washington Post and Melissa Korn of the Wall Street Journal. Both provide us some detail on the costs associated with taking more courses than necessary for the completion of a degree. We get two today because this has been a public policy hot topic of late with states looking to trim their higher education budgets. After all, it costs money to offer classes, and when a student at a state school continues to rack up credit hours beyond graduation requirements it affects the bottom line of both. Continue reading Chart: The Costs of Excess Credits

Audits

Audits

Science Teacher Standing At Whiteboard With Digital Tablet

Another Test Drive

Lastly, colleges often offer free or highly discounted classes via the academic audit*. In an audit arrangement students must get permission from the registrar to sit in on a class. The student can then attend the class and have access to all the related materials but will not take part in testing nor receive a formal grade. Continue reading Audits

Go Against the Flow

Go Against the Flow

Andere Wege gehen, Zweifeln, Abspaltung

In a previous post I encouraged summer school attendance as a key way to save both time and money in college. But any time the topic of summer school comes up so do objections such as, “But I need to work in the summer,” and, “But by the time summer comes I’m ready for a break.” However, both these concerns can be addressed if students can think about attendance in an even more contrarian fashion. Continue reading Go Against the Flow