Start on the right track
As classes get underway, students are right to be filled with excitement and enthusiasm for the start of their university careers. Unfortunately, many students are equally occupied with anxiety over the less glamorous aspects of post-secondary life: namely, the financial burden it often entails.
Luckily, for every debt-laden and newsworthy student exemplifying the rising cost of post-secondary education, there is an unsung student who is managing to control her expenses and pay down her loans. If you are committed and focused it is even possible to finish your education with no debt at all (yes, it can be done!).
So your new goal is to avoid debt. You want to do things right from the start and control what can be controlled.
First, there is plenty of help available to you to make this new aim a reality. Financial Services at Dalhousie grants access to funding, and the Dal Student Union reaches out through both the food bank and the Career Services Centre. Countless groups, on and off campus, offer information and help regarding personal finances. That doesn’t even touch the wealth of information available online.
While it is impossible to control tuition or other fixed costs, there are ways to save on your variable expenses—those items that you can reduce.
Creating a budget, either on paper or on a spread sheet, can help you determine exactly where your money is going. Simply knowing where you are spending can help you decide where to cut back. You may find that you can cut your food budget by half, or realize that you are spending too much on a cable subscription.
Aside from trimming expenses it is important to search for work. Unless you are fortunate enough to be supported from home or are on a generous scholarship, for the vast majority of students working while at school is the most reliable way to safeguard your finances.
Just part time hours through the semester and full time work during summer will set you up for success. There are excellent, well-paying jobs right on campus that are extremely flexible toward student needs. Likewise, there are opportunities outside of campus that are fantastic for students.
To help bring in some extra money there are also grants that you can apply to and plenty of scholarships that carry significant awards. However, the easiest scholarship to aim for is obtained simply by maintaining a high GPA. With no application process at all Dal will automatically credit your tuition account hundreds or even thousands of dollars for doing what you are doing anyways. So keep those grades up!
Concerns about the cost of university are real, but the problem is not going to go away. Waiting for someone else to take care of the issue is futile; it is most effective to take control of the situation yourself. Take advantage of the resources available to you, keep your goal of a debt-free education in the front of your mind—and don’t forget to have fun along the way.