5 Tips for Navigating Finances During College
1. Consider going to community college first.
If you’re a first-generation college student like myself, college can be pretty expensive and maybe you don’t want to cause a financial burden on your family. Community college can be a practical choice for anyone looking for a cost-effective education. You still get the same quality of classes you would be getting at any four-year institution, and many Chicagoland community colleges have partnerships with DePaul geared to make a successful transfer in your junior year. Try destigmatizing the stigma of community college and save yourself (and your parents) some money!
2. Apply to as many scholarships you can!
You might have heard this several times before, but it’s true; a great way to pay for college and save money on loans is to apply for scholarships! You may be given a great amount as an incoming student to DePaul and I definitely understand that the initial amount may not be enough, that’s where you should investigate external scholarships. Through DePaul Scholarship Connect, you can skim through scholarships offered by third parties that have been verified by DePaul, so there’s virtually no risk in applying.
3. Get an on-campus job, or any part-time school friendly job!
I basically have worked throughout my entire college experience and some outside jobs weren’t as considerate of my education. However, once I found out I was able to get a job on campus, everything changed! All my supervisors put an emphasis on my schoolwork and were always ready to give me any support I needed, including extra hours or less hours to take care of class matters. Not only do you have easy access to school (no travelling across the city to get to class after your job) but you also feel more connected to the DePaul community than you would if you had an outside position. It’s a great way to finance yourself during college and there’s always an opportunity for upward mobility, like internships!
4. Maximize your credits.
Do you know that at DePaul, a full-time student is a student between the credit hours of 12-18? Most students end up taking four classes at four credit hours each (16 total), and may not have a use for the extra two credit hours leftover. But if you’re someone possibly looking to graduate early and do not want to spend the extra money to take another class each quarter, just take on a 2-credit hour class. Your tuition will continue to fund you at 18 credit hours, as long as you don’t go over – and you end up saving money in the long-run. It might also give you an opportunity to venture out of your comfort zone and take some classes you didn’t even know existed, like yoga, art therapy, and there’s even a class about The Beatles!
5. Consider living at home or renting an apartment off campus.
Living on campus can be a great and fulfilling experience, but it can be quite costly for many students. Consider living at home if you live close enough. You save money on room and board, and you don’t have to eat ramen noodles every night. Or, if you want to be decently close to campus but need some space from mom and dad, get some roommates and rent an apartment. This is quite common practice for most students at DePaul (usually junior status students and above) as it allows you to continue your college experience without worrying your parents will ground you for not being at home before curfew. Renting an apartment for the first time can be intimidating, thankfully DePaul offers help in a partnership with Apartments.com where you’re able to find verified student-friendly listings and also help connect you with other students looking for roommates. You definitely save money on loans either way and potentially discover other parts of Chicago you didn’t know existed.