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Students find ways to stretch money

April 29, 2007|By ASHLEY HARTMAN

Living off campus, applying for financial aid, bargain shopping and buying used books are just a few strategies some college students use to stretch their education dollars during their college years.

Erin Hoch, a freshman at Shippensburg University in Pennsylvania, lives about 10 minutes away from the campus.

"I live off campus due to the amount of money it costs to live on campus at my college," Hoch said.

Resident tuition at Shippensburg is $12,245 per year versus $6,745 per year for commuters.

Senior Courtney James, who attends Shepherd University in Shepherdstown, W.Va., said he lives off campus mainly for working purposes.

"I mostly moved out because my teaching placements were closer to my house than to my college campus," James said. "But I did consider the worth of moving off campus compared to the value of room and board payments."

Although James said his loans took care of most of his room and board when he lived on campus, "I did get a refund check for almost $2,000 from the loan company when I moved home."

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Living off campus is not always an option for students.

"I've never really considered moving off of campus to save money, only because it is more convenient to live on campus," said Camille Rosetty, a senior at Mount Saint Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md. "Seeing as the Mount is in a fairly remote location, housing choices are limited to places like Thurmont or Emmitsburg."

Students also know that financial aid can help them meet expenses.

"I've applied for Pell grants and I've applied for scholarships to pay for tuition," said Jeremy Vancour, who has attended Hagerstown Community College for three semesters. "This year I got a Pell grant for the whole year."

"Personally, I save money because I run track and field here and a big part of where I get my money from is participating in athletic sports," said Ashley Lockard, who has attended Hagerstown Community College for two years. "It pays for about half of it (tuition) and the rest you can get from other scholarships you apply for here at HCC."

Some students limit their spending to only the necessities.

"I have been able to curtail my spending in the past year or two by allowing myself to try and put a limit on my weekly expenditures," said Rafael Barker, a senior at Shepherd University. "Pretty much, I only spend money on food out with friends, or movie tickets."

"To save money I bought a lot of things like laundry detergent, some snacks, and dishes and things for my apartment at the dollar store," said Casey Hynes, a senior at Mount St. Mary's. "I ended up spending $40 and getting a lot of what I needed there, rather than spending over $100 at a regular grocery store or supermarket."

Deanna Mushrush, a sophomore at Shippensburg University, said she saved money by transferring there from Mount St. Mary's University.

"I believe my freshman year loan was somewhere around 16 or 17 grand and that was with substantial financial aid," Mushrush said.

"Here at Ship, my starting loan amount is around 13 grand and would be less if I didn't have premium housing or request some extra to help cover living expenses."

Buying textbooks from a source other than a college bookstore can save a college student money.

For example, a used copy of a book entitled "Environmental Policy And Politics" by Michael E. Kraft, for the course Public Policy, costs $34.45 at the Mount St. Mary's bookstore. The same used book costs $21 on amazon.com. That saves about $10 after factoring in the cost of shipping.

"It's too expensive any other way," said 19-year-old Mary Ellen Leap, who attends HCC. She said she uses the Web site Buybackbooks.com to purchase textbooks for her courses.

"One word of advice is never buy textbooks from the bookstore," said Erin Fox, a sophomore at Mount St. Mary's University. "I made that mistake my freshman year, and now I look online for textbooks. If some teachers are picky about having the exact edition, you can buy the book new and it would still be cheaper than at the bookstore, or you can buy used books or older versions online and it saves so much money."

"We also remind students to not purchase their books from the list available in the bookstore prior to the first day of class," said David Cole, assistant dean of students at Shepherd University. "It is wiser to attend the first class to make sure all of the books on the list are really needed."

For nontraditional student Jewel Pachot, saving money is not only smart, but is also essential. Pachot, a 27-year-old single mother with four children, has attended HCC for two years.

Some strategies she has used for making her money go further have included not having cable at home, receiving financial assistance from the college and using HCC's Job Training Institute (JTI). She also works at HCC's Welcome Desk.

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