Money on My Mind

Money makes the world go round. It also happens to be a hot commodity on any college campus. My first year of college consisted of studying, working, a little bit of socialization, and a lot of worrying about money. After first semester, it became apparent that although I thought a relative was helping me pay for school, I would now be paying for the remainder of my college. At first I was okay with this. My parents never claimed that they would be able to pay upfront. But soon the reality of how much money it really costs to go to college set in. My second semester was marked by a lot of stress: about classes, about money, and about a personal situation that came up halfway into the semester. 

It’s hard for me to write this post because right now, I don’t know what I’m doing for school next semester. I may stay at Marquette, but more likely than not I will be transferring to a community college. After this year, I’m tired of money consuming my thoughts and of every decision I make being made with money in mind.

While this may seem like a negative post, my freshwoman year was not all negative. It wasn’t what I expected, but things rarely are.  I met some awesome people and was lucky to participate in some awesome events, including meeting Laverne Cox! I learned a lot about myself, including that I need to be more disciplined with studying 😛 I also learned that no matter the distance, if you care about keeping friendships alive, you will. And that’s all.

Advertisements

Buying Books Blows

Even if you’re only a freshman in college, you know the pain of buying textbooks.  All that hard earned money out the window and then you can only sell them for what feels like pennies in comparison, if you can sell them at all.  It’s especially painful if a professor tells you a book is “required” and then you only use it once. Evil schemers.

I’m here to tell you how to save as much money as possible on your college textbooks.  I read my dear friend Megan’s post from a few days ago and I think $1000 a semester for books is blasphemy.  Blasphemy! Unless you’re in 8 or 9 classes (in which case I wish you good luck) your books SHOULD NOT be that much if you use the right venues.  I admit, sometimes it takes a smidge more effort to do it my way, but if it means saving a bunch of money I’ll put the time in.

To put it into perspective, I spent around $300 dollars on my books this semester and around the same last semester.  I’m only in 5 classes right now but I had to buy 18 books which is a pretty decent amount.  Unfortunately, there are some circumstances where you’ll have no other choice but to pay over $100 dollars for a book, but a lot of times that can be avoided.  This might happen to you if:

a. the book is rare or old-last semester the textbook my French teacher wanted us to have had been out of print since the 90’s so the only place I could find it was at my University’s bookstore.

b. the book is customized for a specific course at your school-all freshman at my school are required to take a Valparaiso University designed class we call CORE which doesn’t really fit into any subject category. As a result, if I were to transfer, there’s a large chance the credits from that course wouldn’t transfer over with me.  That also means my University designed the textbook so it literally does not exist anywhere else but here.

Besides these two cases, most books can be found in numerous online and offline locations.  Of course, your University will have all those books ready for you to order with one click, but looking somewhere else can mean the biggest difference.  At first I was skeptical to buy my books on any random website that claimed “We sell and buy new and used textbooks!” But to be honest, I’ve bought from at least 4 websites and haven’t run into any problems or scams.

I stumbled across this website: http://www.slugbooks.com and holy crap do I love it.  You enter the title or ISBN (I recommend the ISBN) of the book you want to buy and it will tell you the availability of that book as well as compare prices of it on 10 different websites! Awesome, right?  Every book is different, but with the majority of mine I found that http://www.chegg.com is always the most expensive and either http://www.amazon.com or http://www.valorebooks.com is your best bet.  Shipping can seem expensive, but I did the math and still came out on top.

I don’t know if I’ve said this yet but DO NOT buy your books from your University if you can help it! To put it into some more perspective, if I had bought/rented all my books at the cheapest prices my University was offering they would have cost me $600 without shipping. I cut my spending in half! To be fair, I know I won’t always be able to do that, but it’s worth it when you can.

So! I hope something I’ve said helps you out, even just a little.  And maybe in the future your book buying experience won’t blow so much.

Mich out.

College $$$

(OMG It’s already second semester!  Sorry the posts have been few and far in between but we’ve all been busy dealing with adjustments for spring and spending much time with loved ones before moving out again.  Here is a nice realistic post to go along with the college thing.)

So hello everyone!  I hope everyone who is in college had an awesome break, and that everyone who doesn’t have a month long break at least had a nice time celebrating the winter holidays!  I want to take some time today to talk about college finances, which I know for some may not be the most comfortable topic for everyone, but I’d like to share what I’ve experienced and some tips for everyone.

Going to a private high school that had a yearly tuition of over $10,000, I have some experience with trying to creatively pay for expensive education.  I was lucky enough to receive both academic scholarships and participate in a work-study program, which made it possible for me to attend DSHA for a much reduced price.

Now, both going to school and living on campus at Marquette come at a much higher price than high school.  To be exact, tuition for this year is $35,480, plus another $11,000 to live on campus, plus another $450 for ‘fees’, whatever the heck that means.  This doesn’t include paying for books (which could be easily be another $1,000 depending on your class load and if you buy or rent), paying for travel between college and home, and paying for the multiple miscellaneous expenses that come up in college.  Basically, college is freaking expensive if you want to go to a private university. (Or any University)

Over the summer, I was unsure if I was going to be able to go to Marquette.  I would have been okay with switching to another nursing program, but Marquette has one of the most respected nursing programs in the area and has an awesome reputation not only in Milwaukee, but in Wisconsin.  I was convinced though that I would have to give up my dream school and go somewhere else or take a semester off to save up money.  However, after getting another loan, my dad offered to pay for the first year.

Just a little breakdown of what I have to pay for before I go further, after everything, loans, grants, and scholarships, I have about $7,000 due for the year.  I decided to commute to save myself that extra $11,000 in fees.  Because we pay here per semester, it shapes up to be about $3,500 per semester plus books and other miscellaneous expenses.

This semester, my dad expressed to me that he does need help paying for school.  I’m totally okay with that, I never expected that either of my parents would just be able to straight up pay all of my tuition.  I have two jobs that both pay pretty decently, and I’m applying for a scholarship that if I get it, I would only have to come up with about $1,000 each semester.  Obviously everyone’s situation is different, I just wanted to share mine with everyone.

Now there are definitely some things I wish I would have done differently!  One of the biggest mistakes I made was not taking more advantage of private scholarship searches.  Now some of them were really involved scholarships that wouldn’t have been a lot of money for the application, but some of them I could have easily applied for!  I encourage everyone to look for scholarships; free money is always the best money.  I highly recommend exhausting your free money before you look for loans.

Another thing I learned about college finance: you can’t just go to a bank and get a loan like magic.  Because you most likely won’t have any credit, you need a cosigner.  I don’t have anyone in my family who would be willing to cosign for such a large loan.  This is why you exhaust your free money options, so you don’t have to get a loan!

I hope I didn’t scare anyone… Yes paying for college is a huge responsibility, but there are so many options!  There’s scholarships, grants, loans, work study!  Apply for everything, don’t write off any opportunity for free money, and try to have fun!  One of the perks of college is that there are so many free things going on, from free speakers to excursions to club sponsored activities, having fun doesn’t have to be expensive!  So have fun everyone, and Happy January!