Unfortunately, college is not free and there is no guarantee that you will be provided with financial aid, whether it’s scholarships, grants or loans. Therefore, you must be prepared to pay for some of the costs yourself.

Knowing how you spend your money each month will help. What do you spend on rent, food, utilities, transportation, childcare and clothing?

If you can’t answer these questions, you should prepare a monthly budget. A monthly budget allows you to:

Compare the amount of money you earn to the amount of money you spend each month.

TIP: This will help you determine how many classes you can afford to take each semester.

Figure out which expenses are necessary and which are not.

TIP: Cutting unnecessary expenses can help you save money from classes you need to take.

To help you prepare your monthly budget we’ve included a spreadsheet that you can work through to keep track of your income and expenses.

Other budgeting tips include buying textbooks online (or borrowing them from the library) and using computers and software on campus.

  • Every college has a computer lab for students. It’s free and staffed by people who can help you. However, there may be a charge for printing.
  • If the computer lab is not an option, you can purchase a computer online for less than they cost at a store. Many of the major computer companies like Apple or Dell offer student discounts. There are also many websites that offer used desktop and laptop computers at deep discounts. If you purchase a computer through a store, be sure to ask about student discounts and bring your student identification card. Here are a few sample websites: