When you put together a list of your financial goals for the future, you often realize that to get to where you want to go, you need to head back to school. Having the right education for your dream job is often a key part of becoming financially stable, yet unfortunately going back to school can be an expensive undertaking. Read on for some tips you can follow today to help you stick to a budget when you next hit the books.
Make a Plan
First up, the best way to ensure you don’t have to go into lots of debt for your studies is to sit down and make a plan well in advance. You should be clear about exactly what course you need to do to get the results you’re after in your career, and then find the best yet most affordable institution to study at that offers that course. Keep in mind that the prices charged by different education provides can vary widely, even though the piece of paper you get at the end is the same.
Whenever possible, try to save up for your university expenses before you actually enroll, because this will give you a buffer of savings to use, rather than having to go into debt. When doing so, make sure to check out the best checking accounts to avoid any fees. Also makes sure to investigate exactly which expenses you’ll need to pay for during your studies, and then put a detailed budget in place that you can adhere to while you’re at university.
If you struggle to adhere to a budget, check out some of the many great free and low-cost apps which are available these days to help you track where your money is being spent and to keep on top of bill payments.
Speed Up Your Studies Wherever Possible
Another good way to save money on your studies is to try to complete your education as quickly as possible so that you’re not paying for college accommodation, textbooks, tuition and the like for so long, or out of the workforce for so many years.
There are numerous ways to speed up your studies, and the time difference can be months or even a full year or more at times. You might decide to shave time off your course by finding ways to get credit for relevant work history or previous studies you have done or, alternatively, you can enroll in summer courses to extend the length of time you’re working on your course each year and earn more overall credits.
In addition, if you want to study two different degrees, try to find a university offering them as a combined degree. This will allow you to study both at once and will trim a significant amount of time off your education as a result.
Next, if you really want to spend less money while you’re studying, think about opting for an online degree. There is a large range of universities and other institutions offering online options these days, and often you’ll find the same professors are running the courses as if you were to attend on-campus.
One of the key benefits of online study is that these types of programs can be studied from the comfort of home, at any time of the day or night. As such, because they’re so flexible, this means you can continue to work in your current job while you complete your studies.
In turn, this can make a huge difference to your earning capacity and will help ensure you don’t get into too much debt. While you do need to be disciplined and motivated to work in a full or even part-time job and then come home and study, doing the hard yards like this can really pay off for your finances.
Utilize Financial Aid
Lastly, don’t forget that many universities, other educational providers, government departments, and even private companies have financial support opportunities for students to take advantage of each year. For example, there are various types of scholarships, grants, and other financial aid you can get access to that will cover your tuition, board, textbooks and/or other associated study costs. Many of these funding options don’t have to be repaid at all or, if they do, have very low repayment rates which won’t set you back so much over the long term.
Another idea is to speak to your current employer, if you have one, to see if they might be willing to foot the bill for any of your study costs. If you will end up using the new skills and knowledge you receive from your degree at work, your company might be open to paying for some or all of the fees involved.