Oct 17, 2018 at 12:00am ET By Joanna Hughes

While your college investment has a big payoff potential, saving as much as you can during your student days can help you come out even further ahead. Read on for a roundup of five lesser known ways to save money while studying.

1. Live with your parents

Okay, so living with your parents may not sound like the most glamorous thing in the world. But the thought of saving thousands of dollars on rent over four or more years of undergraduate and graduate studies can make it a surprisingly appealing prospect. Factor in corresponding savings on things like food, and students who live with their parents stand to save even more.

But the benefits of living at home during college are not merely financial. Other advantages include more time to think about what you want to do with your life, the chance to focus on your studies free of other concerns like shopping and cooking, and starting a retirement fund.

Think you will be the odd student out if you go this route? Think again. More students all over the world are making this choice. In the UK, for example, 26 percent of young adults aged 20 to 34 still live at home, while in Canada it is 42 percent.

One US student said of her decision to live at home, “My friends went away to college and then ended up moving back home and stressed about their college debts. My mother told me this would be a good option because I wouldn’t have to worry about money.”

2. Pick a college that is accessible by public transportation.

Not only are cars expensive, but so is their upkeep when you factor in insurance, parking, and other costs. Choosing a university with many public transportation options can help you keep costs low. Plus, many forms of transportation offer student discounts on weekly and monthly passes.  

3. Look for student discounts.

Speaking of transportation discounts, many stores and restaurants offer student discounts. Check out The Simple Dollar’s list of 60 student discounts, including everything from five percent off most Apple purchases to ten percent off of moving truck rentals.

One tip? Not all businesses advertise their student discounts. If you're not sure, ask.

4. Cook at home.

Even if you don’t live at home with your parents, you can still save money on food costs by cooking for yourself. Eating out is expensive with even the cheapest options still packing a financial punch. Not only will your dollars go much further at the grocery store, but you will also be eating healthier and saving time -- especially if you cook enough for multiple meals at one time.

Still don’t have enough money to eat? According to a recent Business Insider article, some colleges and universities are now offering food banks and pantries to students in need.  

5. Study online.

One increasingly popular study route that many savvy students are embracing? Online studies. Not only are tuition costs often lower at online schools than at their bricks-and-mortar counterparts, but you also stand to save on room and board, transportation, and even commuting time.

For example, Key West University (KWU), a new online university headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida, offers high-quality bachelor’s, MBA, and DBA degree programs -- all 100 percent online and with tuition rates starting at just $5,000, including all learning materials.

In fact, the inspiration for KWU was helping students avoid the college debt trap. Kathleen Zabelin, KWU campus director and co-founder, said, “I remember reading data published by the College Board in 2016, indicating that the average student in the US graduated with nearly $30,000 in student debt, and thinking that I needed to change this situation. It was my call to action. Millennials shouldn’t be saddled with student loan payments for years after they graduate, nor should lifelong learners, who want to earn a new degree to advance their job prospects or change careers."

The high cost of college is a deterrent for many aspiring college students and their families. The good news is that with the right planning, information and a few smart behaviors, college students can keep costs low while still gaining all of the amazing benefits of a college education.

Joanna worked in higher education administration for many years at a leading research institution before becoming a full-time freelance writer. She lives in the beautiful White Mountains region of New Hampshire with her family.

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