Broke College Student Survival Tips


College can be the four most expensive years of your life and there’s more to worry about than gaining the feared freshman fifteen. For me it was the four years, and still counting, most expensive years of my life. Food was the last thing on my mind, with expensive books to get, bills to pay, and the thought of how I was going to afford gas for the week. What was on my mind was where do I get the money. There’s parties, reinventing yourself, and for many like myself just surviving. Here’s five tips on how to survive being a broke college student.

1. Work Study and Regular Student Employment

So you didn’t qualify for full federal financial assistance and your family’s predicted assistance caused you not to qualify for enough student loans…what do you do next? Since refund balling didn’t work out, work study is a great way to pay for school or gain extra pocket and living money. If you don’t qualify for work study, check to see if the campus position you’re applying does regular student employment. RSE acknowledges that you are indeed a student on campus but your wages are taxed unlike workstudy, which is awarded based on your financial need to attend certain colleges or universities.

Being on work study allows you to qualify for the SNAP program or what many know as EBT. There are many government programs set up to help students living off of low incomes. When it comes to college, the saying is very true, you can not receive financially what you did not apply for. When applying for government assistance such as EBT, be truthful. Things like this can come back to haunt you in the future. Playing with other tax payers money can cause you to not only be a present broke college student, but a future young broke adult.

2. Scholarships and Paid Extracurricular Activities

Scholarships aren’t as much as they use to be, but as and when it comes to college, every little bit helps. Many extracurricular activities give out small scholarships. The more roles you take on inside of a club or organization, the more chances you have to earn money. Deliver the campus newspaper, become a campus tour guide, join the student literary magazine, and much much more. If you’ve already decided your major, apply for scholarships inside of your department. Apply each semester for more chances to qualify and also show you’re really interested and determined. Great places to look up scholarships are: Fastweb.com, Scholarships.com, and SchoolConnection.com.

3. Student Internships and Part-time Jobs

There are many paid internships out there. They may not count as school credit but work just like a part-time job. Many have flexible scheduling and if they are unpaid have many perks. Also if your college is in a big city or college town, now is the best time to pick up part-time job for the extra money, maybe waitressing or being a server. Personally, I believe tip jobs are the best way to earn quick and easy money for things. From gas money to money for school items, part-time jobs in general got me through some pretty tough times.

4. Student Loans and Refunds

Pell Grants and federal assistance running low? Well have you tried borrowing student loans? Many will tell you not to take this route, but eventually every college student will take out a student loan. Many fall into the temptations of using leftover student loan money or refunds, to have a social life, instead of paying off and securing a livable school semester. Instead of buying that expensive brand name outfit, try using that money to open a student bank account. With refund money, you can buy your books and other school supplies, buy a pre-loaded gas card, pay up on your apartment or phone bill, and even pay off a semester on your apartment or living arrangement. Borrow smart, while refunds dispense a huge amount of money into your hands at once, what’s better, new clothes and empty wallets, or old clothes and stuffed wallets…

5. Side Hustles and Untapped Talents

Have you been practicing cutting or styling your own hair? Tired of that one guy in your dorm charging over $15 for a simple lining and trim? Well invest in your own clippers or curling wand. If you’ve always been good at doing fast, simple and pretty hairstyles, turn that into a side hustle. Give the only person hustling $15 haircuts some competition and start cutting hair for $10. You’ll make back the money invested in buying clippers in no time. Tapping into your talents may be the fastest way to earn quick cash. Many students are a long way away from home and need a trusting face and steady hand to do their hair. Local salons may be too expensive and just like you, they could be tired of that one person monopolizing off styling hair in the dorm. Whether it’s hair, nails, clothes, or being a personal chef and turning yesterday’s cafeteria dinner and today’s ramen noodles into a budget masterpiece, tap into that talent and earn some extra cash.

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