10 Ways to Save Money for College this Spring

save money for college

College is one of the most expensive investments anyone can take on in their lifetime. From the rising cost of tuition to demanding schedules and expectations that make working even a part-time job often difficult.

There are many ways to make some money for college. This guide will give you a few tried and true methods to earn some extra cash for college this spring.

Comparison Table

Option Commitment Skills needed
Live at home Up to graduation Interpersonal skills
Scholarships Varies, some require referrals/essays Communication skills
Make a Budget and Stick to it Daily Understanding of finances and spending habits
Rent or Borrow Textbooks Semester None
Share Housing Semester, or length of the lease Interpersonal skills
Work Study Programs Semester or more Varies by position
Interest Bearing Savings Account Regular deposits None
Financial Aid GPA and completion requirements Repayment
Freelance Varies by Job Varies by job
Consider a Community College 2+ years None

Top Picks

Best Overall Way to Save Money for College

Make a Budget and Stick to it

Anyone can do it, a great skill beyond college

Most Valuable Way to Save Money for College


Options available for almost any student, awards range from a few hundred to full tuition coverage

Best Budget Way to Save Money for College

Community College

Classes offered at typically 1/3 the cost of traditional 4-year universities

Tip Guide

Planning ahead for college makes paying for college less stressful. With the cost of college on a steady rise, finding ways to save money for college is rapidly becoming more important than ever before. Here are the most common costs associated with attending college.


While the exact cost of tuition will vary from school to school, the cost of housing and books will be similar. For example, at the Community College of Philadelphia tuition for residents averages 25% lower than Delaware County Community College nearby in Media, Pennsylvania. It pays to know tuition rates before you apply to college.


There are many housing options for college students, depending on location and resources. Many 2- and 4-year colleges offer dorms. Dorms allow students to become connected to campus life, both in and out of the classroom. However, unless you land a scholarship that covers the cost of student housing, you may have to consider other options. Alternatives to student housing include living at home (with parents), sharing rental space with a roommate, or living on your own.


Books and related materials can sometimes take you by surprise when attending college. Specific materials such as scientific calculators may be required for some classes. Look in the syllabus of a course to find required and suggested materials or email the professor.

Meal Plans

Everyone must eat, even college students. Larger colleges and universities have on-campus cafeterias and restaurants where students can purchase their meals. Some even offer student discounts and meal plans to make planning for meals easier. Check with the college of your choice to determine what, if any, meal plans or food options are available.

Additional Expenses

There are hidden fees in almost everything we do, and college is no different. Fees for lab use, printing documents, and parking permits are just a few of the fees that students are not always clearly made aware of when applying to college.

The Best Ways to Save Money for College

Live at Home

By far the simplest way to save money for college is to live at home with your parent(s). If the college you are attending is within a reasonable drive, consider living at home. Some of the benefits of living at home include not only rent but utility costs and even food costs.


Make working hard in high school pay off by applying for scholarships. Academic scholarships are offered to students based on academic performance. Other scholarships are offered based on demographics and community involvement. Athletic scholarships, while awarded based on athletic ability and achievement, usually have academic requirements as well. The award amounts of scholarships range from as low as $50 a semester to full coverage of room, board, and meal plans.

Make a Budget and Stick to it

The best way to save money for college is just like everything else, make a budget. By taking the time to figure out your income and expenses, you can find out areas where you can cut costs and where you can save. Seemingly small expenses, like premium coffee, can add up quickly. A budget helps you recognize where your money is being spent every month.

Rent or Borrow Textbooks

One of the largest college expenses aside from tuition is the cost of textbooks. It is not uncommon for textbooks to run hundreds of dollars. Save money by renting or borrowing textbooks. Common textbooks can sometimes be found in college libraries. While school bookstores and online outlets offer rental options on most textbooks.

Share Housing

With the rise in housing costs, many college students cannot afford to live by themselves. Also, college towns usually have higher than average rental rates. By renting a room or sharing living spaces with others, students can cut housing costs in half or more.

Work Study Programs

A little-known solution to the high cost of college comes in the form of work-study programs. These programs allow students to work for their college in many areas. Common college work-study programs include cafeteria workers, student services, office assistance, and resident advisors. The amount that students are paid or earn varies depending on the position, but it adds up quickly.

Interest Bearing Savings Account

If you have a savings account, make sure that it is earning you some extra money by finding a bank that offers higher interest than others. Some banks even offer savings accounts specifically designed to save for college. Making monthly deposits into an interest-bearing account, and leaving it alone, can easily earn 2% or more. Check with your bank to find out what options they offer to help you save money for college.

Financial Aid

The federal government offers students the ability to apply for financial assistance. These programs offer lower-income students the possibility of grants, money that you do not have to pay back, and low-interest loans to help pay for college. Find out if you qualify for assistance for free by checking out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).


College students that have skills in English, Math, Science, or many other subjects and skills can earn money by offering their time and skills to other students. By offering services on a freelance basis, students have control over their time and in many cases can set their own rates. Many colleges also offer tutoring services, some through freelancing and some as hourly employees.

Community College

Community Colleges offer many financial advantages and other benefits. Here are some of the pros and cons of attending a community college over a 4-year university


  • Cost – tuition savings as high as 70%
  • Smaller Classes
  • Flexibility – evening and online classes available


  • Limited Curriculum
  • Lack of student activities


Now you know many ways to save money for college. Whether you are just starting your higher education or a seasoned college student, saving money is always a good thing. Now you have some tools to help you do just that.