At Colorado State, we break up the puzzle of finding your financial fit into four pieces: Cost, aid, strategies, and outcomes. Once you have an idea of your total cost and where you stand with financial aid opportunities like loans and scholarships, you should move on to investigating other creative funding strategies that can help reduce your bill. Don’t worry, you don’t have to do it alone. Keep reading for suggestions on how to keep working on your plans to pay for college.
#1. Cut costs when you can
This may seem like an obvious one, but making intentional-and-wise budgeting decisions consistently throughout your college years can pay off gradually. Lean on your campus dining plan or cooking at home to avoid dining out too often. Use public transportation options, many of which are free to students in Fort Collins, to cut back on parking permits, fuel, and vehicle-maintenance costs. Explore second-hand stores throughout Fort Collins like CSU Surplus, and give yourself a little pat on the back for buying used or repurposed items that benefit your wallet and the environment. Take advantage of on-campus resources that are free or reduced in price to students, like bike maintenance at The Spoke.
#2. Explore accelerated programs
One simple way to cut costs is to complete your degree in a shorter time frame. Accelerated programs are currently available in 10 majors at Colorado State, each with various concentrations to choose from. If the program you’re interested in isn’t listed, have a conversation with your advisor about whether or not an earlier completion date might be possible in your program. You’ll need to plan to take classes for at least two summer sessions. If you’re from out of state, you’ll find that summer base tuition is reduced for summer classes.
#3. Get a head start on college credits in high school
Taking advantage of AP and IB classes in high school as well as dual-enrollment opportunities can be an additional way to reduce the amount of college tuition you ultimately pay. Entering college with some credits already under your belt can help you move on to more-advanced classes sooner and maybe even graduate a little early.
(Note: Keep in mind this is only a cost-saving measure if your credits are degree applicable, as students at CSU begin accruing differential tuition once they become upperclassmen.)
#4. Enroll in a CSU payment plan
If paying your student bill all at once isn’t doable, consider making monthly payments through a CSU payment plan. Enroll in a plan via RamWeb or FamWeb and set up an automatic monthly payment for either a single semester or a full year. Keep your payments up to date with your plan balance to pay off your full bill by the end of each term.
#5. Secure part-time and summer jobs
Between on-campus, off-campus and work-study job options, there’s bound to be a part-time position that works well with your academic schedule. Securing a summer job that allows you to put in more weekly hours during your break from class can help you save up to cover expenses for the next school year when you’ll need to cut back work hours.
#6. Find a paid internship
When it comes time to start looking for internships, prioritize positions that offer a stipend or hourly pay. Take advantage of the Career Center to find internships that fit your academic and career goals, and consider completing multiple internships during your college career. Your resume and your wallet will thank you later!