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Regardless of where your child decides to go to school, there are ways to cut down his or her costs. One of the best is to buy used textbooks. A brand-new chemistry textbook can cost as much as $300. If he or she can find the equivalent textbook used it should be heavily discounted. It's also important to use the Internet. Even if you factor in the shipping cost, buying a textbook from an online store can be much cheaper than buying it at your college’s bookstore.
Second, it's not necessary to have a car to go to college. Most college towns offer good public transportation, which in some cases is even free. If your child's school doesn't offer public transportation, encourage him or her to carpool with a friend or roommate. Alternately, he or she might be able to bike or even walk to class. Any of these alternatives would be much cheaper than buying gas and paying to maintain an automobile.
Find a free checking account
Banks often offer students free savings or checking accounts. This eliminates the need to pay for withdrawals or fund transfers. Online banking is also a good option because this could allow you to keep an eye on your child's spending and help make sure that he or she does not overdraft. Also, if you put a set amount of money every month into an account that comes with a debit card, it’s easier for him or her to access the money when necessary. Plus, when the money's gone, that's it. If your child runs out of money before he or she runs out of month, a valuable lesson could be learned.
A part-time job
You might encourage your child to get a part-time job – assuming it will fit his or her class schedule. This is probably the number one way to cut the cost of going to college. Restaurants in college towns are almost always looking for wait staff, and delivering food or waiting on tables can translate into good tips. As an example of this, we know of one young woman who has been working part-time as a cocktail waitress and earns almost $200 a night in tips. Another great way to earn money while getting some studying done at the same time is to work in your school's library. This is usually not a very demanding job and is pretty quiet offering the opportunity to study for class and get paid at the same time.
Be smart about renting an apartment
Finally, most students will want to leave their dorms and get apartments after their freshman years. If your child decides to do this, encourage him or her to get some roommates to split the rent. Also, consider whether or not the apartment includes a washer and dryer, refrigerator, a microwave and other handy accessories. If so, this would be much cheaper than having to go out to a Laundromat or eating out often. Utilities can cost a lot so emphasize with your child the importance of conserving water and electricity. It shouldn’t be that difficult to remember to turn out the lights or to take shorter showers.