As a senior in high school, graduation day and the start of your college years are right around the corner and will be here before you know it. Now is the perfect time to begin finding ways to save.
Here are a few ways to save for college as a high school senior:
Take AP classes
Advanced Placement (AP) classes offer high school students the opportunity to earn college credits while they’re still in high school. This can save students both time and money because it means fewer classes they’ll need to enroll in once they’re in college. Programs and criteria for advanced placement will vary by school, so be sure to speak with your school advisor for more information.
Take on a job
According to the College Savings Foundation, more than 53% of high school students currently have jobs to save up for college – a jump from 46% in 2012. Remember that your first priority is making sure you have plenty of time for your studies and that your grades don’t suffer as a result of taking on too much. But if you have the time to spare, a couple hours after school every day or on the weekends can help give your college savings a jumpstart. Make a commitment to yourself to put a portion of every paycheck you earn towards your college fund.
If you have the summer before college available, that could also be a terrific opportunity to take on a job and earn some last-minute cash before you start college in the fall. Even if your fall expenses are completely taken care of, you’ll want to take advantage of any chance you have to earn some extra money for those inevitable expenses that’ll pop up later on. Better yet, you may have the opportunity to earn some college credits a little early by taking on a paid summer internship.
Begin applying for scholarships
Your opportunity to start applying for scholarships doesn’t just begin once you’re officially a college student – you can get a head start on the process by applying for scholarships while you’re still in high school. In fact, some scholarships are created exclusively for high school students and can help students pay for some (or even all) of their college education. Scholarships.com and FastWeb.com are two great sources for finding scholarships as a high school student; you’ll also want to meet with your school counselor to find out what options are available to you.
Cut back where you can
If you haven’t been thinking about your spending habits before, now could be a good time to start. Even small purchases can add up and make a big difference, especially in the long run. For instance, if you’re used to buying your lunch at school, consider a homemade lunch instead. If you could just save $10 a week for an entire year and put it towards your college fund, that’s $520 more than you would have had. That can easily cover miscellaneous college costs, such as transcript and application fees. The savings may not seem significant at first, but when you consider the bigger picture, eliminating some of these costs by simply cutting down on spending can help ease the financial burden.
Have a garage sale
If you’re going away for college, this can be the perfect time to reevaluate what you’ll be bringing along, what’s staying behind, and what you really wouldn’t miss if it were gone forever. Clothing, video games, and other items that you’ve either outgrown or no longer have a use for can help make you some extra money for college. Ask your parents to help you put some of these belongings together, and then have a weekend garage sale. If you have anything remaining, consider selling it online – whether locally through websites like Craigslist, or worldwide on websites like Amazon and eBay. Not only can selling some of your unwanted items make you a bundle, but it can also help get rid of a lot of clutter.
Open up a savings account
From the money you earn working, to the money you’ve saved by cutting back, you’ll want to put everything you’re saving for college in a savings account. Many young adults open up their first bank accounts when they’re seniors in high school. In fact, most banks offer accounts exclusively for students. Student account features will vary by bank, but generally, include a lot of the same features that a standard account holder will have access to. One difference, however, is that student accounts will have waived (or reduced) monthly maintenance fees and minimum balance requirements. Keep in mind that if you’re under 18, a parent or legal guardian will need to be named as a joint account holder.
Typically, a bank account will include both a checking and savings account. Savings accounts offer an array of benefits; not only are you less tempted to spend that money because it’s set aside for a different purpose, but the balance in your savings account will eventually gain interest.