Getting a college degree, be it a bachelors or masters, is a necessary evil in the current economy. The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects scarce opportunities in the next decade for those in the labor market without college degrees. However, keeping your head above water in a sea of jobs and personal finance isn’t always easy.

Read on for four tips to help you save money on college so you can get the degree you need to succeed.

Check Out Work-Study Options

Sure, it’s important to apply for grants and loans to cover college, but you may find additional funds through work-study programs. According to Federal Student Aid, “Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.” You’ll typically work for your university to help fund your tuition.

Choose a Non-Traditional Education

Save money on the degree itself by choosing a non-traditional online education. For example, Online Criminology & Criminal Justice Programs are more affordable and accessible than their on-campus counterparts. What you’ll save will vary depending on the academic degree program and institution you choose; however, overall, you’ll avoid the unnecessary additional fees that come with a traditional college campus – recreation fees, anyone?

Rent eTextbooks

Old-school textbooks are costly and antiquated. Plus, they’re heavy to lug around. Choose eTextbooks – especially those you can rent – whenever possible. Amazon offers a program specifically for eTextbook Rentals.

According to Amazon you save money when you, “Pay Only for the Time You Need - Choose a rental length between 30 and 360 days and pay only for the exact time you need a book. Extend your rental for as little as one day or convert to purchase.”

Some book sellers — and even your university — may tell you that you’ll make money back by reselling hard copies of textbooks. However, the money you’ll make back is typically less than half of what you’ll pay. With textbooks selling for upwards of $100 a pop, renting textbooks for up to 80 percent less is a no-brainer.

Stay On Top of Finances

Saving money on college starts and ends with managing your finances. It’s impossible to know all your financial roadblocks if you aren’t constantly crunching the numbers. Begin by choosing a free checking account and make sure it’s balanced. Create a budget to avoid overdraft fees that can add up over time.

In the same way you balance your income, deal with your debt. Taking out a ton of student loans and then ignoring them until six months after graduation leads to unnecessary headaches. Many loan companies won’t disclose an estimate of your post-grad payment schedule if you have a variable interest rate. Be proactive and make your own estimates to ensure you understand the level of income you’ll need to take home. Understand current trends in the economy, especially in the job market, and make adjustments to the skills you cultivate college (ensuring you’ll have a better shot at a future, entry-level job).

Tools that help save:

Are you a college student? What are some of your money-saving tips? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

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