The average student takes four classes per semester at Del Mar College with a cost of about $1,181 for district residents not including extra costs such as books, fees, etc. That leaves many struggling financially.
For students who want to attend college but don’t have the funds up front or financial help, there is a solution. For 65 percent of Del Mar students, financial aid helps. But for the 35 percent of students who are paying entirely out of pocket, according to the Del Mar College statistic profile, and need to find an alternative, a good and safe budget is where you need to start, experts say.
“I didn’t receive financial aid and my parents cannot afford to send me out of pocket. I have a job, and I have money saved; where do I begin?” said former Del Mar student Natalie Gonzalez.
According to college graduate Priscilla Franco, being single and having to work a full-time job and try to go to school is something very hard to balance. You have to set priorities and learn that the things you really want in life have to wait.
“When I decided that I wanted to further my education, I realized that in order to reach my goal I had to learn how to budget, I had to learn how to put myself on a strict budget,” Franco said.
According to Leticia Hinojosa, a local accountant, it’s a good idea to first sit with a financial adviser to come up with a plan to set goals for yourself and strive to do the best you can. Following these simple steps can help you achieve your budgeting goals:
1. Apply for Scholarships.
Del Mar College has many scholarships for students to apply for. Applying for these will help increase your chances of financial assistance.
2. Separate “wants” from “needs.”
You need food, household items, and money for gas, etc.
You want beer, you want to go shopping, to grab a bite to eat with your peers, and you want Xbox Live.
3. Set up a checking account. (Use a bank card only)
4. Use credit card on occasion for emergencies only.
5. Shop smart for textbooks.
Go online to Amazon, eBay, or Chegg. (Amazon offers Amazon Prime for students free for six months.) You can go to your local discount book store, rent your books or buy them used, or even borrow an old book from a friend.
6. Guess low for income.
If your income exceeds the amount you factored into your budget, all the better. But, we college students “overspend,” so be careful.
7. Guess high for expenses.
The price of your oil change may go up, so you want there to be that extra cash just in case.
8. Align your budget with the highest goals and values.
Short-term and long-term, keep everything in line and make sure not to overspend.
9. Stay on track.
Keep track of your bills and receipts such as housing, utilities, car expenses and loans.
10. Stay organized.
Keeping a folder or an accordion file will help keep you on track with your budget and very organized.
Review your budget every month to help stay on track.
12. Finally, forgive yourself.
It’s almost impossible to stay on budget — we’re human — and that’s OK! But, if you happen to fall off budget, forgive yourself and get right back on track!