Paying for College

Getting By for Less in College

Looking for an interesting book about how to stretch your dollars for college? Here's a good one: BROKE! A College Student's Guide to Getting By on Less.

Authors Trent Anderson and Seppy Basili ask: "What's the first thing any self-respecting college student does the first time he goes broke?"

Here's yet another oddly shaped 4.5-inch high, 8.5-inch wide Kaplan Publishing book that's loved by many who read it. It offers universal, timeless wisdom about a crucial aspect of the college experience: finances. The reason I'm declaring it a "Best Buy" is because this 2003-era jewel can be had from Amazon sellers for a fraction of the original cover price. A best buy, indeed.

Just like its companion paperback, Once Upon a Campus: Tantalizing Truths about College from People Who've Already Messed Up, it has a light, breezy conversational tone about it that makes reading a pleasure. Here are some key examples from the student comments the authors have gleaned:

The best time to buy an airline ticket online [might be] around 3 AM or 4 AM. This is when companies update their systems and lower prices on tickets that aren't selling.

-- Junior, Biology, Carnegie Mellon University

Don't rely on the paycheck coming on Friday to cover a check you wrote on Tuesday.

-- Senior, Biology, College of Charleston

I didn't know how hard it is to get your landlord to give back your security deposit. Keep really good records and make sure you document damage already in the apartment or your landlord will stick you with it.

-- Senior, Public Relations, Brigham Young University

A couple of classmates were stranded in Mexico because the travel agency "forgot" to mention that in the fine print it says that only airfare TO Mexico was included in the price, not the airfare FROM Mexico.

-- Junior, History/Pre-Law, Ohio State University

I suggest all college students try to get at least one card in their name to help build credit. When you graduate and need to rent an apartment or buy a car it will give you some form of credit history. Just make sure to use it responsibly.

--Graduate, Communication and Culture, Indiana University -- Bloomington

Realize that if you have a bad credit history, it will be difficult to make any major purchases -- such as that dream car. It's all about good credit . . . so don't get into any debt!

--Junior, Biochemistry, Beloit College

And authors Trent and Seppy add:

"You've heard the horror stories about college kids who have charged up huge credit card bills that they can't pay. Don't fall into the trap. Before you pull out the plastic to pay for a DVD player just ask yourself if you have the cash to back it up. If you don't, you could end up damaging your credit. Let's take a step back from the adrenaline rush of spending and examine the ins and outs of credit."

The 15 chapters cover an amazing spectrum of important money-related topics, such as:

- Budgeting Basics

- Budget Unknowns

- Banking 101

- Credit Card Charges

- In The Hole: Debt in College

- No Free Rides: Managing Scholarships and Loans

- Savvy Shopping: Textbooks and Supplies

- College Gourmet

- Entertainment Value

- The Cost of Greek Life

- Fun in The Sun: Spring Break

- Traveling "Broke" Style

- The Cost of Living: Housing

- Fast cash

If you're a parent of or a soon-to-be college student, this would be an excellent gift for that young man or woman. It's a quick and easy read. This is an especially crucial aspect for our attention-span-deprived kids who seem to be distracted with their own matters during most circumstances.

So, here are pearls for pennies. Check out Broke! now before your son or daughter comes close to reflecting this book's title!


Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles and book reviews at College Confidential.