Some tips to beat the student debt blues:
1. Apply for Scholarships, Bursaries and Grants. The very best way to earn money as a student besides getting a part time job is to apply for scholarships. If you are a winning candidate, it will be the best investment of time you will ever make. I spent several days applying for a SSHRC grant and it was hard work. I had to deal with seething criticism from a professor who was, in retrospect, kind enough to edit my work and improve my proposal. But for a grant that was worth $27,500 it was probably the most I will ever be paid for about a weeks’ worth of work. Research all possible scholarships before going to university – research the ones your university offers but also check the internet. Many corporations or local organizations offer scholarship opportunities. During my last year in highschool, I applied to everything under the sun, and it paid off. Aim especially for the ones that are renewable.
2. Plan ahead. Your success in receiving scholarships may depend on the work you do before applying. Be aware of this as a highschool student and as an undergraduate. You never know if you will want to go to grad school, so leave yourself the opportunity. Take every opportunity to publish, attend conferences, give presentations, keep your grades up, and do some volunteering or extra-curricular activities on the side. It will pay off.
3. Take advantage of your benefits while you can! As soon as you graduate, you are likely no longer eligable to receive any of the medical or dental benefits your university offers. So take advantage of them while you can! Shortly after I graduated, I met with my dentist and realized I had literally of thousands of dollars worth of dental surgery of me, and I was not yet employed. I also had to deal with a chronic back problem and shelled out hundreds of dollars for osteopathic and chiropractic work. Even if you find employment right away, there is often a 3-month probationary period before you become eligible for your benefits.
4. Seek out the student-friendly network of health practitioners if you are not fully covered for dental, chiropractic, massage or physiotherapy. They give students highly discounted rates. For example, if you are a grad student at the University of Waterloo, you can visit a chiropractor listed under the Chiropractic Network, and pay only $5 a visit. ($40 for an initial visit but $25 after that – and the student health plan will reimburse you for $20 per visit.)
5. Proctor as many exams as you can! No one likes to do this, but you should take advantage of the opportunity. After all, you’ll make a good hourly wage, just for walking around a classroom and trying to look scary.
6. Take advantage of your school gym – and enjoy yoga, pilates and all kinds of sports activities for cheap. It’s far more economical to use your school facilities than buy a membership at another gym.
7. Milk your student card. Ask everywhere you can if they give student discounts. Many shops and restaurants will do this, even if they don’t advertise it. And check the expiration date on your student card – it may expire months, or even years, after you graduate.
8. Don’t pre-drink. Everyone “pre-drinks” before they go out as an effort to save money and it fails every time. Why? Because you get drunk faster, and enter the bar with your inhibitions already lowered. The more you drink, the faster you drink. All you care about that point is having fun – the cost be damned! If you go to the bar while sober, you’re more likely to sip slowly on a few drinks and head home.
9.Eat for free – This is a really funny post on how to get free food as a student!
10. Follow the other tips here at Saver Queen. Take your bike, walk or take public transit, take your lunch to school and bring a travel mug and water bottle with you. Keep snacks and drinks at your desk if you have an office. If you go out with friends for coffee between classes, just go for the chat and avoid buying stuff just for the sake of having a break.
11. Take the minimum number of years to complete your degree. Work hard, and you will graduate sooner. Slack off and you can add thousands of dollars to student debt load, just for being lazy. Get focused, ask for help if you need it, buckle down and study.
12. Buy Apple products online at the apple store for education or at your university store when you buy Apple products. You will save $100 off your laptop!
13. Claim all your expenses on your taxes including tuition, books, research expenses (this includes your computer, books, travel and equipment) and interest on your student loans. If you aren’t earning enough income to make these deductions now, you can use them later.