The freshman 15 – words that inspires dread and pre-semester dieting in young men and women entering their first year of college – commonly refers to weight gain, specifically a gain of 15 pounds, associated with the new college student lifestyle freshman experience in transitioning from high school, often including the consumption of more fast food than what they would have eaten while at home with mom and dad and probably more beer than parents would like to admit. Sallie Mae wants to throw out the negative association and put a new, positive spin on the old expression by offering up their own version of the freshman 15 meant to help new students save money with 15 penny-pinching tips.
Sallie spokesperson Nikki Lavoie said, “As students head off to college this fall, they need to be financially savvy as well as book smart. By setting a budget and keeping these tips in mind, college students can save money while still enjoying their college experience."
According to a national study by Sallie Mae conducted by Ipsos global market researchers, 27 percent of students and parents combined are borrowing money to pay for college tuition. An average of only 30 percent of tuition is covered by grants and scholarships, while a combined 36 percent of paid tuition comes from parents’ and students’ earnings and savings.
With parents and students taking on the majority of college expenses, saving money is critical to post-college success. After all, the more you save, the more money you will theoretically have in the bank when you graduate. And borrowers will pay less overall.
Sallie Mae’s “Freshman Fifteen” tips:
1. Skip a meal out a month: by passing on one pizza or taco night a month, you could save enough to pay for emergency expenses or needs after graduation.
2. Make your own coffee: while those fancy take out coffees are delicious, a home brew can save you several dollars every time you indulge in a cup of java.
3. Eat at the dining hall: most likely, you’re paying to have a meal plan anyway. It’s a low cost way to get daily meals, and can help you save big over the course of a year.
4. Shop at discount stores: thrift stores and discount retailers can be fun. Bring your friends and make an adventure out of it – you never know what you’ll find.
5. Use your student ID for other discounts: many local restaurants, theatres and museums offer discounted tickets for students.
6. Don’t bring your car to campus: after insurance, gas costs and parking, having a car can add up. Many schools don’t let freshman bring their cars on campus anyway, but sticking to this plan will help keep your wallets full. Walking and public transportation work!
7. Buy used books or share books: textbooks often come at a hefty price tag. Shop around for discount bookstores that offer what you need or buy used books from your campus book store. If you share classes with your roommate or friends, offer to share textbooks to save costs.
8. Buy in bulk with your roomies: nobody needs 2,000 cotton swabs! Buy things in bulk and split them with your roommate for a better value.
9. Find a part-time job on campus: many colleges and local organizations offer part-time jobs for students. Think about working at local shops, restaurants or libraries to earn some income, every little bit counts.
10. Do laundry at home: if you live nearby, your parents will likely be happy to help. If you’re further away, offer your friends a few buck and do laundry at their houses.
11. Start paying off your student loans early: it’s never too soon to start. Loan providers like Sallie Mae offer programs that let you start paying small amounts during college. You’ll have a smaller repayment amount after graduation and get a better interest rate.
12. Use Hulu or Netflix instead of going out to movies: many theatres are charging $10+ per person for a movie. Save a few bucks by staying in and renting or streaming a movie with friends in your dorm.
13. Go to your school gym instead of paying for a membership: gym memberships are also pricey in many cases. Use your school’s facilities to get your workout in.
14. Ask for electronics at high school graduation: computers, TVs, microwaves and other electronic needs for freshman year add up. Ask for them in advance for graduation gifts from friends and family.
15. Use Upromise to earn rewards: Upromise is a free service that helps families, including current students, earn extra money for education through use of a Upromise credit card. Members can jumpstart their college savings or pay down student loans by earning 1-25% back on qualified everyday purchases online or in-store. You can get money back just by eating out, buying groceries, purchasing travel and more.
By utilizing some or all of the suggestions in the Freshman Fifteen, Sallie Mae says students will pay less and have more when they get ready to walk onto the stage and pick up their hard-earned diplomas.