How do students afford the rising cost of attending an expensive university? How can we make sure that we get our money’s worth when we graduate? Is having a part-time job the best option?

Students often hear the news about rising tuition or school budget cuts, and suddenly have the feeling their tuition will increase dramatically. Loans typically seem to be the easiest route when facing a sudden financial change. In fact 38% of undergraduates take out loans averaging $7,100 according to It might seem like an easy route to take out a loan, but loans will most likely still be there when you graduate and years after. There has been an increase of 13.4% in federal loan defaults from 2011 to 2012. Combine this statistic with the average $8,000 in federal loans and it’s no wonder students are having a hard time paying them back.

What should students do? Here are some tips to help you make the most of your financial situation in college:

Apply for Scholarships. Although completing scholarship applications can be time consuming, the reward can be a huge benefit to your financial situation. When applying for scholarships, it’s important to read all the requirements carefully and be sure that you qualify before you apply. Pay attention to the scholarship deadline and proofread your essay before you submit. There are lots of scholarship resources out there, do your homework and find the scholarship that is right for you. Don’t forget to check out scholarships available to NSCS members.

Don’t be too quick to work part-time. Most incoming freshmen mistakenly think that a part-time job is required and begin working to pay off expenses. Although this makes sense in the short-term, in the long-term it can have a negative effect because having a part-time job cuts into time spent on school work. Instead of a part time job, consider applying for a paid or unpaid internship. Internships enhance your resume and many employers want to hire students with internship experience after graduation. If you have to work part-time, apply for a job on campus so you don’t need to travel far, taking unnecessary time away from your studies.

Don’t Overspend. There are many ways to keep your spending in check. For college students, temptations are many, but avoiding extra spending can help you save more money to pay off your loans after you graduate. Instead of spending money to see a movie in theaters consider waiting until it comes out on DVD and renting it from Redbox or Netflix. Not overspending on school supplies will also help you save more money. Do a little research before your classes begin and buy your textbooks ahead of time online. This saves you from having to buy the expensive textbooks at the bookstore.

What other tips do you use to save money in college?

Francisco is a senior at the University of California, Santa Barbara majoring in Economics/Mathematics with a minor in Statistical Science. He enjoys being physically active through activities such as swimming and boxing. He is interested in the stock market, fiscal policy, and the financial markets.