(WHTM) — Inflation is hitting people hard, including students getting ready to head off to college (and their parents).
“Cash doesn’t go as far today as it did even three months ago, so a lot of families were planning, thinking, ‘We got it covered, we’re going to be all right this first year.’ And as it turns out, of course, many of them don’t have as much cash on hand as they once did,” said Jennifer Finetti, director of outreach and advocacy with ScholarshipOwl.
Ahead of the upcoming fall semester, inflation is really impacting new college students. The price of tuition, housing, books, food, gas — all up. Finetti says families borrowing against their investments don’t have as much as they thought and are scrambling to make up the difference.
Get daily news, weather, breaking news and alerts straight to your inbox! Sign up for the abc27 newsletters here
On average, it takes about 20 years to pay off a student loan. While there’s not much you can do about that, Finetti says students can save by changing their spending habits and becoming a little more frugal.
“One great tip I love to share is that a lot of students don’t know that many times today, professors will not require their textbooks because there’s been a huge movement among universities and especially community colleges to reduce the cost of textbooks,” Finetti said.
Students can also rent any necessary textbooks or try the cheaper option of e-textbooks.
To save up some money, Finetti said, “Other than working a regular job, the best thing they (students) can do is try to do some things like add some gig employment. You can drive for Uber or Lyft. You can do some meal delivery services. There are all kinds of side hustles now that students can take on and earn a little bit of money to bring some extra money before tuition is due, and also they can do that throughout the school year.”
Would that interfere with school, though? Finetti said, “Most students can pretty easily add 10 to 15 hours a week of work to their schedule without it negatively impacting their academics.”
Of course, a big way students can earn money is through scholarships, and it’s never the wrong time to be looking for them.
“You can apply throughout the school year. Scholarships have different deadlines, they’re awarded different times of the year. There are some scholarships that will award money before the tuition bill is due, but there are also scholarships that will continue doing awards in late August, September, October, November, so any time you can get some extra money is a great time,” Finetti said.
Finetti recommends that students apply for scholarships three times a week. She says that may seem like a lot, but being persistent often pays off. Students can also continue applying for scholarships throughout their college career, not just during the first year.