Money Tricks for Soon-to-be College Students

College can be a stressful time.  Not only for prospective students, but for parents as well.  While you’re excitedly searching for the perfect college that fits your interests, you’re suddenly faced with the thought of: How am I going to afford this?

Not only are tuition prices increasing, but also federal aid isn’t awarding enough money to cover the costs of attending.  For me, this was a huge factor in deciding what to do once I graduated from high school.  I attended Mendocino Junior College that’s located right in my hometown for the first two years. By attending a JC (junior college) first, I was able to save thousands of dollars.


When you attend a JC you pay for classes by the unit.  This means that if a class is 3 units and it’s $36 per unit, then one class would total out to be $108.  If you’re choosing to be a full time student then the minimum units you need to have is 12.  So, on average, classes for a semester cost around $432.  This is a HUGE difference compared to a university which tuition for a quarter is around $4,333.


Books are pretty costly at a junior college.  On average you pay between $400-600 for a semester.  There are tricks to affording the hefty textbook price at a JC.  You can find out what your textbooks are going to be ahead of time, and instead of buying them at the bookstore located on campus, find them on Amazon, or possibly another online bookstore.  Other sellers will be retailing them for reduced prices that are in very good condition.

My number one policy about buying books is getting them used! There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the textbook; it just means someone has previously read it for a semester and it’s not brand new anymore.  This way you can buy it for a significantly lower price than the new one.

Another option is renting your textbooks if you believe that they will not be of any use to you further once the semester is over.


After transferring to a university there’s no getting around paying the big bucks.  The first thing I did at the JC, and especially after transferring, was fill out a FAFSA form.  This is where the federal government will give you money, which is dependent on your need for aid.  Also, fill out as many scholarships as you can!  A lot of them are dependent on your major, but if you do a thorough search you’ll be able to find ones that are broad enough for any major.  The university that you choose to attend will also award you grants and scholarships as well based on your financial standings. For me, I struggled even after all that was awarded to me.  So, I took out a separate loan through Chase.  The convenient thing about this is most banks don’t require you to pay back any of the loan until after you graduate.  This means, you can continue on with your education without the worry or hassle of figuring out how to pay it all back while attending school!


  1. Attend a Junior College
  2. Get a part time job to help afford the cost of attending.
  3. Do your research!  Find the best price you can for textbooks!
  4. A little help goes a long way.  Apply for scholarships, FAFSA, and grants; whatever it takes to help pay is beneficial no matter how big or small it is.

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Kali White

Kali White

Kali White is a junior at the University of California, Davis pursuing a degree in Communications and a minor in Sociology. Her goal is to have a career working for a publication company writing and editing. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, reading, playing and listening to music, and travelling.