Like many prospective students, you may consider attending college to earn a degree in order to enhance your career aspirations. However, with tuition costs rising, you may be wondering how you can afford to pay for school. Turns out, there are plenty of ways to get a college education without breaking the bank.  Getting a quality education without spending too much money is still possible in uncertain times. 

Apply for scholarships and grants. 

Students walking in between classes on Auraria Campus.Applying for scholarships and grants can help you afford a college degree on a tight budget. Many scholarships and grants are available to students, and the process of applying for them is relatively simple.  


You can find a list of scholarships and grants online or by asking the Office of Financial Aid and Scholarships. Our Gender Institute for Teaching and Advocacy also helps all Roadrunners obtain prolific scholarship opportunities. Here are a few tips to help ensure you have the best chance of earning a scholarship or grant. 

Start your search early: Many scholarships have deadlines months before the start of the school year, so it is important to begin the search as soon as possible. 

Apply for every scholarship available: Do not limit yourself by overthinking if you might get chosen for a scholarship. Just apply. National scholarships tend to be more difficult to win but are still worth pursuing because the amount may be higher. Local businesses and organizations also offer many scholarships that are much easier to win. 

Check your application for mistakes: Finally, be sure to accurately complete the applications. Taking the time to do this will make you stand out from the crowd and increase the chances of getting the funding you need.  


Choose a school that offers affordable tuition rates. 

When you make the decision to pursue a college degree but have a tight budget, it is always good to make a Top 10 list of schools that offer the program you are interested in and have affordable tuition. Meeting with a student advisor from each school to discuss your goals and budget will help guide your decision and may provide you with additional resources for tuition assistance that you were not previously aware of. 


Sticking with your budget is important but finding a school that is a perfect fit is really the most important thing. With scholarships, grants, financial aid, and careful planning of your finances, you will have a strong chance of meeting the criteria needed to start the degree program. Do not be afraid to have multiple conversations with student advisors until you are able to determine if there is a way for you to meet tuition requirements. 


Live with family or friends while you are attending school. 

Attending college is a great way to further your education and improve your career prospects. However, rent and food are two of the most significant expenses for college students. One way to save money while you are in college is to live with family or friends. This can help you lower or avoid the costs of rent, utilities, and other expenses associated with living on your own. 


In addition, you’ll likely have built-in support systems that can help you succeed in school. Family members can help with childcare or transportation needs, while friends can offer emotional support during difficult times. So, if you’re looking to save money while you’re in college, consider living with family or friends. It’s a great way to keep your expenses down and stay on track for success. 


Work part-time to offset your college expenses. 

Working part-time while you’re in college can offset your expenses and make life a little easier – and is something the vast majority of MSU Denver Roadrunners do. It can be tough to balance work and school, but it’s worth it in the long run. Here are a few tips to make the most of working while in college: 

Find a flexible job: Start by finding a job that fits your schedule. If you’re taking a full load of classes, you’ll want to find a job that doesn’t require too many hours. Look for jobs that are flexible and offer evening or weekend shifts. 

Find a job related to your degree: Try to find a job related to your field of study so it can be considered as work experience. This will give you valuable experience and might even lead to an internship or a full-time job after graduation. 

Stay frugal: Many students use their part-time earnings to cover their living expenses, like rent and food. Others save up for tuition or textbooks. Whatever you do, be sure to budget carefully to avoid ending up in debt.  


Take advantage of student discounts. 

One of the best ways for college students to save money is to take advantage of student discounts. Many national and local businesses offer discounts on everything from clothes to food to entertainment just for showing a valid student ID. Many museums, zoos, and other attractions also offer reduced prices for students. So, if you’re looking to save some money, be sure to ask about student discounts before you make any purchases. You might be surprised at how much you can save. 


Many college students have found that saving money at local restaurants, on their cell phone bills, streaming provider and other places has made a big impact on their monthly budget. Even if you do not see student pricing advertised, be sure to ask about it, especially with local businesses. They may be willing to provide a lower price even if they do not have an official student discount policy. 


Buy used textbooks and other supplies. 

Textbooks and supplies continue to be an added expense for college students each semester. The great thing for students on a tight budget is that you can buy used textbooks and other supplies as you need them. You can find used books in a variety of places, including online retailers, campus bookstores, and even Facebook. 


Not only will you save money by buying used books, you’ll also be able to resell them after you’re done with them, further offsetting the cost of your education. Be sure to take great care of your textbooks and supplies so you can get the highest price possible when you try to sell them back to the college bookstore or other students. 


Make a monthly budget and stick to it. 

Most college students have to juggle a lot of responsibilities, from classes and studying to working part-time jobs and maintaining social lives. It can be hard to find enough time in the day to do everything, let alone save money. But if you want to be able to afford your college degree, you’ll need to make a monthly budget and stick to it. 

Tips for Sticking to Your Budget: 

Make a list of your expenses or use an app like Every Dollar:Track your expenses each month, however it makes the most sense to you. This will help you see where your money is going and where you can cut back. 

Set realistic goals for your budget: If you know you can’t live without cable TV or streaming services, then don’t try to cut that expense out completely – just reduce it by $10 or $20 each month if there are different levels available. 

Create a savings account just for college expenses: Have a savings account that’s specifically for your college education costs. Try to contribute at least $50 per month towards this account. It might feel small at first but will be helpful if you ever get in a pinch and need some extra money for an unexpected expense. 

Tell your friends about your goals: Telling your friends about your goals with your budget and tuition costs is a great way to keep you from overspending. Great friends can help keep you accountable even during times when you want to splurge for something extra. 

Take student discounts seriously:  It might feel uncomfortable asking about discounted pricing, but this can be a huge win for your budget. Stay positive about your goal to earn your degree on a budget, do not be shy to ask for student pricing. 


Final thoughts 

You are not alone in trying to earn your college degree on a tight budget. Following the tips provided in this article will hopefully help you reach your goals without breaking your budget. 


Metropolitan State University of Denver has over 90 degree programs for undergraduate students and 10 graduate programs. We are one of the area’s most innovative universities, and from online classes to campus-based options with flexible schedules, you will find something to help you achieve your goal with MSU Denver.  


Reach out to an admissions counselor today to start planning your degree and take that next step toward career advancement with a completed college degree. 


Wondering about the ROI of a college degree? Check out MSU Denver’s RED for how the mission makes all the difference.