I've had plenty of financial blunders in the last five years! Some that I'm still paying for, LITERALLY! I found that my peers and I, all of us searching for a means to pay for college, were making many of the same mistakes. Throughout our entire college career, we received some scholarships and grants, had little to no tuition assistance from home and were depending on federal loans to pay for the rest of our education.
My friends and I discovered the “life-saving” refund check and couldn’t resist the sense of financial security that it gave to us. A refund check is funds that do not have to be allotted to the cost of tuition, but is supposed to be used to pay extra costs such as books and rent. Refund checks typically come from extra monies in a loan disbursement. I'm not saying that I was "making it rain" with refund checks, but now that I look back I definitely could have borrowed less money, which would have bettered my current financial situation now.
Highly consider becoming a resident advisor. Free room and board is worth the time put in to making crafty bulletin boards that nobody even cares to look at. That $6,000-$10,000 a year will end up saving you tons of money in the end. Did I mention that resident advisors usually have free meal plans as well? Sounds like a no brainer to me!
There are other options for sensible living on a college campus. Many campuses across the country offer coop community housing. This gives students a chance to live in affordable houses and have a sense of community and family with a diverse group. This experience can also give you the ultimate college experience. Please do your research about coops on your campus and proceed with caution if you are not a people person.
If being a resident advisor or a coop community house isn't an option, then try finding a house to rent with a couple of roommates. Instead of rooming with your friends, find some serious students that can pay rent and keep the environment conducive to studying. This saves so much money! Yes, you have to sacrifice a little privacy but how often are you at home as a college student anyways!
Keep your minds open while researching housing options on campus. I wish I did more research and was more open to alternate living solutions in college. I could have easily cut my loan debt in half! I will never make any financial decisions in the future without doing my research!