College is expensive. Many students struggle to make ends meet as they balance going to classes and work. The data are staggering. According to the Census Bureau, including college students in off-campus housing can significantly raise the poverty rate. In Athens, the poverty rate jumps almost nine points when including off-campus college students.
College life can be difficult financially, but students can make several easy adjustments to their lives to manage their money more responsibly.
For example, many students enjoy picking up a daily cup of coffee at the Jittery Joe’s in the Miller Learning Center or the Starbucks in the nearby Tate Student Center. However, for frequent coffee drinkers, it may be cheaper to invest in a coffee machine. For a regular coffee, Jittery Joe’s charges $1.80. A K-Classic Certified Refurbished Coffee Maker costs a relatively inexpensive $60. Using Keurig’s auto-delivery offer and ordering three packs at a time, a Dunkin’ Donuts 24 count K-cup box is only $13.12, around $0.55 per cup of coffee. Using a french press and buying coffee in bulk would further reduce the price of daily coffee consumption.
Students should also choose their credit cards wisely. Credit card usage is common among college students. According to Sallie Mae, 57% of college students have at least one credit card. Picking the right credit card can enable students to save money and have more control of their financial well-being. U.S. News and World recommends several credit cards for college students with little to no credit history, including the Discover it Student Cash Back card, which offers free monthly credit score access. Access to individuals’ credit score is particularly important as Sallie May’s data show that 58% of college students with a credit card say their primary reason for having one is to build credit.
Students can also save money on transportation costs. Many students who live both on- and off-campus choose to purchase parking spaces on-campus. In addition, gas is expensive, and the price is often volatile, leaving uncertainty in budgets. However, Athens-Clarke County offers busing to all University of Georgia students with valid identification for free. Depending on your transportation needs, it could be much cheaper to rely on busing from the university and county and avoid having a car on campus at all.
With large bills, a very limited income, and, for many students, the first-time need to manage responsibly manage their money, many students can struggle to make ends meet. By looking at their expenditures and researching what options they have, however, college students can find ways to stretch their income and ease their financial difficulties.