How to save money on a college budget

Budgeting may seem simple, income vs. expenses and when they’re due, but for some college students, and people in general, budgeting can be a struggle.

It may feel like you’re already standing in knee-deep water that’s quickly rising when it comes to finances; but with the right resources you can get back on track.

“I think the key for students to budget is knowledge,” said Lisa Shewman, specialist for the Early Alert Program at the Student Achievement Center. She believes that the root of most financial issues is not knowing the proper resources.

The SAC, located in the University Center on campus, focuses on parent and student knowledge regarding budgeting for college, specific to NKU.

The 2012-2013 tuition rates for NKU were $7,992 for in-state students and $15,864 for out-of-state.

“At Northern Kentucky University, 64.5 percent of full-time undergraduates receive some kind of need-based financial aid and the average need-based scholarship or grant award is $5,067,” according to U.S. News and World Report in 2011.

On-campus housing prices can range between $1,875 and $3,270 per semester according to the Office of University Housing, last updated Jan. 27, 2012. A meal plan can cost up to $1,565.

Students may be entering college not fully aware of the cost of living, the amount they have to cover those expenses and the difference between them.

Preparing funding for college extends beyond the realm of tuition and boarding. The SAC compiled a list of “The Hidden Costs of College” which includes appliances and utilities, books and supplies, entertainment, food, laundry and telephone, toiletries and clothing as well as travel.

All of those expenses can add up quickly, especially if you’re not mindful about where your money goes, said Shewman.

“In today’s economy, a higher education is a prerequisite for success, representing the clearest pathway into the middle class,” according to the U.S. Department for Education.

Shewman said it is important for students to know that you can “max out” on your student loans and end up paying out of pocket. She said the key to budgeting efficiently just requires knowledge of your funds.

For more information on the resources NKU provides for budgeting and finances visit

The Northerner’s recommendations for saving money:

1. Know the difference between wants and needs.
2. Get a job on campus, even if you’re a commuter, you can save the gas by not driving somewhere other than school.
3. Use your student discount anywhere possible.
4. Buy used books.
5. Avoid overspending.
6. Don’t pay for a fitness club membership, use Campus Rec.
7. Open a free checking and savings account.
8. Apply for scholarships and grants, it’s never too late.
9. Save your change.
10. Have an emergency plan. When budgeting, set aside extra money just in case something was to happen.