How You Can Help Your Parents
From stock market declines to job losses, the current economic crisis could be impacting your parents’ ability to pay your college bills. If you want to pitch in and take some of the burden off your parents, here are some places to start.
- Get to work: Use earnings from a part-time job for tuition and other college expenses. Not only will you make money, you spend less because you'll have less free time.
- Cut back: Some items such as textbooks are essential, but perhaps you can buy secondhand books instead. Other items may be “wants” rather than "needs". Do you need to buy meals every day or could you pack a lunch? Could you rent a movie instead of going to the theater? Do you need cable TV in your dorm room?
- Create a budget. Work with your parents to create your own spending plan. Determine how much money you'll need (for non-tuition payments) and see where you can trim expenses. Learn more about adjusting your budget here.
- Talk to your financial aid office. If your parents' employment changes, you may qualify for additional aid.
- Look for scholarships. Even if you're not an athlete or at the top of your class, there are plenty of scholarships for which you may qualify. Your financial aid office may be able to provide suggestions on where to find scholarships.
- Take out your own loans: Students may qualify for their own college loans, removing some of the cost from parents.
- Move back home: If you're living on campus but your college is close to home, consider moving in with your parents and commuting to school. This may increase transportation costs, but you'll save money on room and board. Before making this decision, make sure to
compare the costs of living off-campus and living on-campus.
- Have a sale: Offer to help your parents hold a garage sale or to sell some items on auction Web site.
- Investigate tax savings: You and your parents may qualify for several college tax credits and deductions.
- Ask Grandma: If you know one of your grandparents has money he or she plans to leave as an inheritance someday, consider asking if he or she can help with college bills today instead.
- Take a break: A more drastic measure would be to reduce your course load, using the extra time to earn more money. Learn more about making yourself more employable here. Be sure to research how this may impact your financial aid and health insurance.