Cash-Strapped College

Top Five Part-time Jobs for Students

Since I’ve been posting so much about the heavy industry-side, here’s a little break for student readers. These jobs are the most convenient and can make the most money while taking up the least time!

  1. On Campus Job—Bookstore or Library

An on campus position is the most ideal part-time job for a student. It’s convenient in proximity, and the stores tend to be more lenient when it comes to scheduling and letting you do homework or study on the job (always a plus around finals).

On-campus jobs tend to have little perks, too. It’s different for each book store, but at the University of Washington Bookstore, for example, there is a program that subsidizes your bus pass (which in a city like Seattle definitely comes in handy), and the pay is awesome (nine to nine fifty an hour). At the University of Arizona Book Store, they have a “loan a textbook” program, which essentially gives the working student free books for their semester. On top of all the extra benefits, you get valuable “real world” experience.

  1. Bartender/Server

Bartending and serving aren’t necessarily the easiest of jobs, not to mention the fact that they aren’t always “part-time,” exactly. But Infobarrel has a good rundown of three reasons to work as a bartender and/or server: friends/social interaction, convenience, and last, but definitely not least, money.

While serving, especially at a bar, chances are you won’t completely miss out on the fun because your friends will socialize where you work. Restaurants and bars, depending on the type, are typically generous to second hand priorities.

Most people who work in the food industry have other obligations—so the schedule is pretty relaxed. If you work at a bar your shifts will typically be at night—so you’ll never have to miss a class! People are usually pretty generous when it comes to switching shifts as well; everyone is just trying to make some money!

Lastly, servers and bartenders might not make the best hourly wages—but what they lack in salary they make up for in tips. A server/bartender can walk away from a nights work from anywhere in between $80-500 depending on how sophisticated their place of work is. If you work three times a week that’s at least $240 in extra spending money!

One thing Infobarrel didn’t mention was the experience required to serve or bartend. Any profession one goes into afterwards can be benefitted from a solid training in people skills, patience, multi-tasking and hard work–all of the things tested as a server.

  1. Residence advisor (RA)

Free room and board? Having your own room? And living in the perfect location? What’s better than that? Nothing! That’s why being a resident advisor (RA) is so great while in college. You save money, and there’s nothing better than free food. The benefits are outrageous—not to mention the amazing experience and leadership skills you’ll gain. It’s a well-rounded job for any college student.

  1. Nannying/babysitting

We can’t condone any illegal action—you should always consult with your employers—but most of the time nannying or babysitting, especially if done sparingly, can slide by tax-free. Don’t know anyone with kids? With plenty of websites to help the nanny/babysitter find work, finding a position is never hard. Companies like nannies4hire, sitter city, care4hire, also give background checks so you know that you are being put in good hands! While the good money is probably the biggest perk, some would say getting the chance to be a kid again is up there too!

  1. Internship

For those overachievers who already know what they want to do, (just kidding!) an internship is the perfect opportunity. It not only gives you the experience you need for your professional life, but it’s a great resume builder. If it’s not paid, or giving you a stipend, then it’s accepted as college credit. Either way you are killing two birds with one stone. It’s a great way to interact with people in your field of interest, and gain the knowledge you need to be successful once you reach your big graduation day!

Is College Getting Too Expensive?

There have been a lot of announcements about tuition hikes in the news recently. Since tuition is arguably the single largest expense when going to college, will this mean an undergraduate degree will become too expensive to obtain?

Last year the University of California voted to hike tuition fees for undergraduates by 32%, brining the total fee for undergraduates at UCLA and UC Berkeley to over $10,000 per academic year in 2010. There are already warning signs that tuition could more than double in the fall of 2011.

California is not the only state hiking their tuition fees. In Denver, undergraduate students can expect increases of 9% at Boulder, 7% at Colorado Springs and 9% at Denver.

Illinois is no different, with Eastern Illinois University students expected to pay 5.9% more in tuition, as well as University of Illinois, where the tuition rose by 9.5% for the 2010 school year and is scheduled to rise by an additional 6.9% in the fall.


A personal note, and New Textbook Editions: Scam or Substance?

 First, a personal note:

Thanks to all the great comments and suggestions I have gotten on this blog.  Over the past week I was able to step back and reflect a bit as I took my family on vacation to Disney World.  Well, I wouldn’t really call it a vacation as we didn’t get much rest, but it was nice to spend time with the family and enjoy seeing my kids experience the magic of Disney.  If you haven’t been in a while the place has really changed–I haven’t been in almost 20 years.  I consider myself a pretty organized person but this trip tested my trip planning and execution skills. There’s so much to do that it’s overwhelming to figure out where to start!  Now that I have spent a few days at each park I am much more knowledgeable (No, I am not starting a new blog).  Pretty cool how one place can cater to people from newborns to senior citizens.

Refreshed and recharged I have a nice calendar of new blog posts to share with you as we start to build up to the August back to school rush.  If you have any stories you want to see, let me know!

With the prices of new textbooks skyrocketing, and new editions coming out every couple of years, many students find themselves wondering if it’s really necessary to buy the newest edition. Sometimes entire chapters are added or page numbers are entirely reshuffled, but in other cases, it’s a few new photos or an introduction. The Irish Independent (albeit in Europe, not the US) asserted that most of the changes to textbooks are surface design changes.

This is important to know for students on a budget, who may not always be able to buy the new edition of every textbook.
Here’s a list of general classes, and whether or not it’s a good idea to use older editions of textbooks assigned to them:


Cash-Strapped College Part 3: Now what?


This is the last of a three-part series on how to save money on your education. Find the first post here, and the second here.


I believe more congratulations are in order if you are reading this section. You’ve suffered through 4-5 years of undergrad and you’re looking toward the future. Maybe you are a bit more weathered and a bit less bright eyed and bushy tailed about the future, but you’re here and you’re going to make the best of it.


Dealing with huge loan payments in an already dismal employment market can be back breaking. On top of the car payment, credit card payment(s) and cell phone bill, you now have to start paying for that sheet of paper on your wall that says you learned something. But don’t fret too much—you do have options.


STAY IN SCHOOL: This is the first option many consider and as counter intuitive as it may seem, the idea has some merit. While sticking around for grad school or another BS/BA may easily double your debt, it also allows you to defer your payments until you graduate. While this tactic obviously digs the hole even deeper, it buys you time. Time to get more education, more internships and presumably a competitive edge in the job market. It also buys you time outside of the job market in the hopes that when you are finally forced from the warm cocoon of college life into the unforgiving “real world” that the job market will have improved.

DEFERMENT: Instead of staying in school to defer your debt, among other reasons, you can also defer your debt for other reasons that don’t come with more student loans. Besides student enrollment, deferment comes in two other flavors that you should know about: economic hardship and unemployment.


Cash-Strapped College Part 2: Once you’re there


This is the second of a three-part series. Find the first post here.

Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to college and secured enough scholarships, loans and savings to enroll. Now you get to explore the large and exciting (and parent—free) world that is college life. Chances are this will be your first time living away from your parents and it’s probable that you’ve never managed your own expenses before. With all the freedom that college offers, it can be easy to forget that you don’t always have the finances to explore all of that freedom. 


By this point hopefully you’ve sat down with your parents, or at least had a serious discussion with yourself, and created a monthly budget. It’s important to not only plan for your known expenses but to have enough wiggle room to accommodate unforeseen expenses like car repairs, replacing stolen property or even late night pizza for your “study group.” With that in mind, it is important to cut corners where you can because every penny you save is a penny you don’t have to borrow and pay back later at 12% interest.


Here is your guide to pinching your pennies at college.


Cash-Strapped College Part 1: Before You Leave


Next to purchasing a home, paying for college is one of the largest investments in a lifetime. Obviously, saving money is on the top of the priority list. Having wealthy parents is the first money-saving strategy. If that’s out of the question, there are still a few things you can do before, during and after your college years to save money. This is the first of a three-part weekly series, and going in logical order, will outline some strategies for both parents and students to cut costs and reduce loans before you even get on campus.


The earlier you start preparing for college the better. For parents, starting a college fund earlier rather than later is always advisable, even if you feel you can’t contribute very much to it each month. One option is a 529 savings plan, which is especially beneficial if your student is aiming for a state school. These plans  “are operated by the state government, [and] allow you to lock in future tuition costs at participating schools at today’s prices, providing a guarantee against tuition inflation” says Rachel Grumman, in her Mom’s Guide to College Savings.


Things like having an after school job to put money away can help too, but one of the most valuable things a student can do is learn how to budget. Learning about money goes hand in hand with earning money, and high school students who are responsible for their own expenses are often more financially responsible when they reach college.


Lisa Belkin, at New York Times blog Motherlode, says that “being the parent of an 18-year-old means second guessing a lot of choices made over 18 years, and one that I might have done differently is the decision not to have him get a job until the end of high school.” Her regret isn’t unique, as any parent slammed with a credit card bill or a pleading phone call can attest. Over the course of a four-year undergraduate study, the ability to budget their income and avoid expenses can save a student more than many scholarships award.