In her novel You Had Me at Hello, internationally acclaimed novelist Mhairi McFarlane remarks upon the time spent in a university in this manner- ‘University’s like this little world, a bubble of time separate from everything before and everything after’. University is supposed to be a time bubble when one reads, learns, and indulges in harmless fun. A moment of coming into one’s own complete intellectual identity, if you will. However, the national conversation around student loan debts that lead to major financial duress in one’s working years is intensifying. If these conversations are any indication, the intellectual growth bubble that universities can be is truly available only to the privileged. For others, it can become a space for daily calculation that amount in ways to not drown in debts.
As with many things falling in the purview of larger institutional realities, the climate crisis for example, there definitely need to be systematic changes. Meanwhile, there is a need to be aware of the personal ways in which one could reduce the financial load, even as the expected and important systematic changes are taking time. This article will look at some personal ways to upkeep one’s sanity as a university student in the times of insurmountable debts. .
Tuition remains the largest chunk of the expenditure that is incurred by a student. It is often also the axis on which a decision to apply to an institution is based. It is imperative to look for financial aid that is available. As students, especially those entering the space of higher education for the first time, it is important to claim space and remember that the scholarship and aid benefits are designed for you. It is best to consult a trustworthy person who has done similar research. The process becomes even easier if one were to consult an agency to investigate available aid options. It makes the process smooth and reliable. Remember to enquire about financial aid in your application mail (at the relevant section). Grants, scholarships, work-study subsidies are but a few examples of available financial aid options. There are great guides out there which can help you out. All you need to do is look for them.
College accommodation can be broadly divided into the on-campus and off-campus options. Affordability, safety, and aesthetics seem to be the three top facets that fall as priority for student accommodations. On-campus spaces provide the students with the benefits of safety and easy access. The accommodations which are off-campus might be less affordable and need more searching. It is recommended that students spend time on alumni networks online to locate housing that might be in the process of being vacated by a graduating student. This can prove beneficial in cutting the search short and a conversation with the outgoing student can reveal the actualities of the neighborhood (bonus: the person might even sell some old furniture for a lower price). The obvious tip while looking for roommates is to have a conversation with them where you get to know each other a little bit better and contract on personal and chores-related boundaries. No one wants a less-than-agreeable housemate, heh? And, moving places consumes a great deal of time, energy, and money.
Book-related costs are often unaccounted for and fall through the cracks and come back to give a shock. It is estimated that a good percentage of the college-related expense, secondary to tuition, can be chalked down to books and other study material. While the purchasing of books for basic course work might have to wait till the commencement of the academic year, a thorough research about the essential readings and supplementary readings (which can be skipped or borrowed) can go a long way in reducing costs. Equally useful are many apps and platforms that can take the edge off of not only the financial burden but the academic pressure as well. One should look at archived solutions to frequent college textbooks on platforms like Bartleby and alternative medium of learning like these podcasts, which unpack academic concepts in innovative, comprehensive manners. It is the glorious benefit of the digital age that a student does not have to singularly depend on hardcover books.
Ensure that you carry your student cards to claim the discounts that are available to you on food, beverages, and entertainment. In fact, ensure that you stay on the lookout for places that have exciting offers and discounts for students – this will cut down weekend expenses to a great measure.
Conversation around the Systematic Inflation in the Cost of Education
The conversations around the future of education in terms of the financial inflation state that one cannot use the ‘all or none’ logic. In the same vein, this recent article looks at the current need to look at education as a necessity, and also have a fair gauge on the affordability of each educational institution. The extrapolation of the article would be an assurance that the different demographics that are affected by such inflation in different manners will not cease to send their children for higher education, but might be very wary about the risks they would take; protecting themselves from a higher zone of financial risk.
Since we agree that higher education is going to be a continued effort, above are some ways to survive the onslaught of financial burden that befalls a new graduate. Go forth, and learn.