Examining the cost of college
April 4, 2011 —
Every day, I hear comical excuses about someone being a poor college student. Thereís a great amount of pressure mounting on young adults with the introduction of loans, bills, rent, groceries, and the money weíre supposed to save for the rest of our lives. This is a stressful time for many studentsí bank accounts.
The SVSU office of financial services estimates the average-full-time undergraduate studentís tuition, housing, food, books, supplies and transportation to run between $14,000 and $16,000 per year depending on living arrangements. Thatís appoximately $60,000 over the course of a four year degree.
With these numbers itís no wonder that when I asked a classroom full of students, ďWho thinks things are getting too expensive these days?Ē that a majority of hands shot to the air in an instant.
As tuition and the cost of living continue to increase,
itís time to begin looking for more ways to counterbalance the system, starting with tuition.
My tuition fees average around $8,000 per year, a bit pricier than the average given by the financial office of about $7,000 for my category. Granted, Iíve taken an average of 30 credit hours per year compared to the 28 credit hours in the statistic.
According to estimates by Financial Services, the cost of books averages about $1,000 per year, but Iíve been able to manage about $700. Speaking with professors about the required textbooks for class may help you decide if youíll be able to share with a classmate or purchase an older edition since older editions generally have the same content.
But we are a generation of technology, and the Internet offers endless services to buy, sell or rent textbooks. I use Amazon.com to buy my books and Half.com to sell them. For renting, Iíve have heard good things about Chegg.com.
When I needed a textbook for my evidence and criminal procedure class last semester, I compared prices among SVSUís bookstore and different websites. The bookstore charged $188 for this book, but I purchased it from Amazon.com for $114 and was able to sell it on Half.com for $130.
Now what about the roof over our heads? Rental rates around Saginaw average around $550 per month. I live at Normandy Square, which Iíve found to be one of the most affordable places to live. Saginaw Pointe, Sterling Crest and Country Ridge will run cost around $690. Waterside Apartments averages around $740.
There are things you can do to help your chances at a better monthly rate, though. Most complexes will adjust your monthly rate based on your current employment status, yearly earnings and, most importantly, your credit score.
Along with shelter, everyone must eat. The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), in a survey on the average amount of money spent on food in 2011, stated that a single male between the ages of 19 and 50 spends around $222.40 per month on food.
Iíve gotten my grocery bills down to around $120 per month by changing my shopping habits. I havenít lived off ramen and Kool-Aid. Instead, Iíve shopped by necessity.
Most brand name products taste the same as the generic brands but cost half the price. Shopping at Aldi or Save-ALot as opposed to Kroger or Meijer can save you money while offering the same foods.
A name brand bag of kettle cooked barbeque chips at Meijer will cost about $4. At Aldi, the generic brand of kettle cooked barbeque chips costs $2.
Apply that 50 percent price drop to an entire cart of groceries and that $120 grocery bill now costs you $60. Coupons in weekly newspaper can lower the cost of groceries even more.
Now what about getting to the store? Those of us who have vehicles know the responsibilities and costs associated with them.
Savings may also lie in other aspects aside from the vehicle price itself, such as insurance and fuel. I used to have AAA insurance and was paying a premium rate of around $1,200 per year for my insurance. As I got older, the rates decreased to $1,000 per year because my age brought me into a new price bracket.
I decided to call about insurance savings seen on television and I did end up saving money. I received quotes from Progressive for about $900 per year and Geico for around $800 per year.
I was able to get my rates down to about $600 by adjusting my coverage and removing services I felt were overpriced, such as rental reimbursement and roadside service.
For some, these services are a necessity. But in my five years of driving, I never used them. By adjusting my coverage to fit my lifestyle, I was able to save around $400 per year.
Fuel consumption is different for everybody.
I used to own a Ford pickup that got 15 miles per gallon. I switched over to a V6 Chevy Camaro which gets 24 miles per gallon, which saves me around $75 in fuel per month.
Itís possible that with a little work, you can set a new standard for your own cost of living.