- Many participants said they thought it was a mistake to misuse student loans, not work while in college, go to an expensive school, and take out a private student loan.
- Some also said it had been a mistake to pay for a meal plan, bring a car to campus, and attend an out-of-state college.
- College students may be able to reduce current and future costs by taking out as few loans as possible, prioritizing federal loans over private ones, or attending in-state public schools rather than out-of-state or private colleges.
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Although enrolling in college may be one of the most exciting things you ever do, it could also end up being one of the most expensive .
Between tuition, student loans, and extra costs like meal plans and parking passes, attending college takes a chunk out of your wallet .
Education informational website College Finance surveyed 1,014 millennials, 829 of whom attended college. Looking back, millennials identified seven main mistakes they made with their money when they were students.
1. Misusing student loan funds
Of the people who attended college, 73% said they considered misusing their student loans a mistake.
Many of those surveyed also said they borrowed more money than necessary. Using student loans to pay for classes, room, board, and books can be a worthwhile investment but paying for anything else might not be.
2. Not working while in school
Fifty-two percent of college students said not getting a job in school was a mistake. For some people, getting a job in school isn't an option but if you're able, you might consider applying for a job.
Working full- or part-time could help you pay for school. A job might just provide you with enough money to go on spring break without taking out more student loans.
3. Attending an expensive college
Forty-eight percent of college students surveyed said it was a mistake to attend an expensive college.
Are you worried about the cost of your college ? You could consider going to a public school rather than private school, or to an in-state public university instead of an out-of-state school. You may even prefer to attend a community college to cut down on costs before transferring to a four-year college.
4. Taking out a private student loan
Of college students surveyed, 44% said it was a mistake to take out a private student loan.
Private student loans have different terms than federal loans. They often have higher interest rates , especially if you have a poor credit score. You also don't have access to certain benefits that come with federal loans, including Public Service Loan Forgiveness or an income-driven repayment plan.
5. Paying for a meal plan
Thirty-three percent of college students surveyed said paying for a meal plan was a mistake. Some colleges require you to sign up for a meal plan, but others offer flexibility.
If your living space includes a kitchen, you could opt out of a meal plan completely and cook for yourself. Or you may want to check whether your school offers partial meal plan options so you cook at home occasionally and eat in the cafeteria a few times a week.
6. Bringing a car to campus
Thirty-one percent of college students surveyed considered it a mistake to drive a car to campus. Between gas, oil, insurance , and repairs, cars have the potential to cost a pretty penny. You will probably also have to pay several hundred dollars per year to park on campus.
7. Attending an out-of-state college
Thirty-one percent of college students also said it was a mistake to go to an out-of-state school versus an in-state college. Although the prospect of moving far away from your parents may seem enticing, it will likely cost more money.
According to EducationData.org , the average cost of attending a four-year out-of-state college was $38,330 for the 2019-2020 school year, and the average cost of attending a four-year in-state college was $21,950.
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