As a state that embraces a large and culturally diverse population, California provides various opportunities for college students to experience and embrace new and novel languages, cultures and ideas. However, California college students also face high costs.
According to a report released on March 24, 2014 by the Campaign for College Opportunity, the number of California undergraduates who take out loans to pay for college has soared 75 percent in the past decade.
It’s true. The rising tuition, exorbitant campus housing payments, textbook fees and other costs, such as health insurance and transportation, make it more and more difficult for students to afford college.
Therefore, it is worth noting some viable ways students can reduce their college expenses.
Tuition – Take Summer Classes
In California, college tuition has increased in a steady upward trajectory over the past few decades. One of the good ways to reduce tuition costs is to take summer sessions.
Spending one of the three months of summer vacation on campus is not only academically rewarding, but it’s also economically rewarding.
For example, at UCLA, the 2014-2015 estimated university tuition and student service fees are $13,000 for in-state students and $35,000 for out-of-state students. Depending on how many units are taken per quarter, in-sate students have to pay $320 to $360 per unit, and out-of state students have to pay $870 to $970 per unit.
However, the cost of per units during the summer session is only $271 for both in-state and out-state students. Therefore, during your four-year college career, if you take a summer session every summer vacation, you can save at most $2,000 dollars (in-state students) or $14,400 (out-state students). You can also graduate ahead of time.
Staff or graduate students teach some summer courses, so it makes sense if some students worry about the education quality during the summer session.
But Annie Wang, a second-year psychology major student at UCLA, actually considers it as an advantage. “Although some of my psychology classes are taught by graduate students during the summer, I actually enjoy their teaching because they are more accessible than professors, and I can make good friends with them,” she said. “I get more help not only during their classes but also in the following years.”
Housing – Live Off Campus
Although living on campus is convenient, housing and dining costs are very high. The solution: off-campus living.
Living off campus in a community nearby is a good option for those who want to save money without missing opportunities to get involved in campus life.
At UCLA, living on campus costs about $12,000 to $18,000 per academic year. However, if a student lives in an apartment in Westwood, which is the closest community to the UCLA campus, he or she only has to pay $7,000 to $9,000.
Mandy Xia, a math major student at UCLA, lives in a two-bedroom, two-bathroom apartment in Westwood with three other girls. According to her, two of them share a room, and their apartment has much more space than a dorm.
In addition, some of the apartments in Westwood are even closer to instruction buildings at UCLA than the dorms. I lived in Hedrick, the farthest dorm on campus at UCLA, when I was a freshman. It took me 25 minutes every day to walk to my classrooms. After I moved into a house with a bunch of girls on Hilgard in Westwood, it now takes me only five minutes.
Remember that living in an apartment also means you have to cook for yourself and deal with trivial things by yourself, like cleaning the bathroom and maintaining a neat kitchen. Still, consider living off campus from another perspective: it’s a good way to become independent and quickly grow up.
Textbooks – Use Other Resources
Textbook prices are sometimes outrageous, especially at an on-campus bookstore.
For example, the required Fund Accounting Principles textbook for UCLA’s Management 1A and 1B classes costs $195.50 at the campus bookstore. For most college students, a textbook like this will only be used once, so it’s not necessary for college students to buy each required textbook.
Obviously, reducing the textbook costs is another way to reduce overall college costs. Besides buying and renting textbooks on Amazon, Chegg or other websites, trading textbooks within your network or borrowing textbooks from a library are also good ways to save money.
UCLA has many textbooks available temporarily shelved at College Library Circulation Desk for a two-hour reserve. Although students can only use the textbooks for two hours at a time, they can check out as many times as they want.