How to Get a Higher Education on a Low Budget

Higher EducationDo you have a college fund? You know, the kind that your family has been paying into since before you were born? If so, you can go ahead and skip to the next article. Saving money at college is not one of your immediate concerns. Money may not be a source of anxiety for you. In fact, you will probably never see a single bill related to your higher education.

For everyone else, you may be in for some sticker shock. According to, the average cost of a year's worth of education at a public school is $22,826. A year of private education nearly doubles the bill.

The costs can be broken down into three major categories of expense:

  • Tuition and fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Room and board

But those are just the costs that we talk about in public. One of the major expenses that gets very little print is entertainment and lifestyle. College students are people too. They still need to order pizza, go to movies, drink more beer than they rightly should, and all the other things associated with day to day living. They still need soap, and toothbrushes, and haircuts, and clothes. Some students have debit cards provided by their parents for such needs. Others have to take a job to support themselves through college. Let's face it; education is expensive.

Here are a few ideas that can help:

Stay home

I'm not talking about skipping classes. I'm talking about online education. This is the single most important thing one can do to take a bite out of the cost of higher education.

It works on so many levels. Staying at home greatly reduces, if not eliminates the cost of room and board. It often results in lower tuition. Also, many online programs greatly reduce the amount of time needed to complete a degree program, doubly so if you have transferable credit hours.

Click here to learn more about accelerated online programs.


To make things even better, online students often have access to scholarships and other financial awards that can help them to pursue their educational goals and fulfill their career objectives. The amount that is available to students depends on the school that they choose and the program in which they are enrolled.

All eligible students have to do is maintain a good GPA and then submit an application for the award. This money goes a long way towards paying for a student’s tuition, especially when combined with the reduced costs of online education.

Go community

No one loses a job opportunity because of where they did their first two years of college. It is mostly core curriculum no matter where you go. Why not spend those first two years at home and enjoy the more approachable and relaxed pace of community college. Oh, and you will save tens of thousands of dollars in the process.

Don't go Greek

If you insist on going to a traditional university as far away from home as possible, stay out of the fraternities and sororities. I know they seem like lots of fun, and probably are. That's the problem. Regardless of their benefits, they are expensive distractions that the student on a budget simply cannot afford. The wild parties with excessive drinking and recreational drugs are not an exaggeration. There are countless reasons why not to join a fraternity or sorority. If you are a student on a budget, money is one of the best of those reasons.

Unfortunately, the cost of books and supplies is mostly fixed even if you buy electronic textbooks. Buying used print books is less expensive, but inconvenient. Buying ebooks is not the most expensive way to go, but they can’t be resold. New print books are the most expensive, inconvenient, and have to be resold at the end of the year.

The good news is if you go with any one of the above suggestions, you will save more than enough for any kind of textbook. Also, expect those savings to cover pizza night for the rest of your time in college.

If you have any questions, please ask below!