Affording your four years at IU: Tip #1

College is expensive. From tuition to housing to meal plans, the costs just keep racking up. After spending four years at IU, I've learned a few things about getting the most for your money and saving a few bucks along the way. I'd like to say that I'm a pretty frugal person, aka my savings account matters to me. I worked throughout college with the intention of giving myself some sturdy financial ground to stand on come post graduation, especially if finding a job would prove to be as difficult as everyone was claiming. I hate to say it, but they were right. 

Graduation may be four years away for some of you, but it's never too early to understand the cost of college or how you can get the most out of your tuition rates. Being an adult starts now, even if you don't have the bills to show for it. It's best to educate yourself early and SAVE early. 

A few of these tips are more like IU hacks. Hopefully they help keep your wallet a little fuller this year. 

Tip #1 Max out your tuition credit card. 

IU tuition (plus student fees) is a flat rate per year. 

  • In-state students Fall 2015: $5,221.10 per semester 
  • Out of-state students Fall 2015: $16,897.46 per semester 

This rate allows any student to take between 12-18 credit hours. You must take 12 hours to be considered a full-time student and most classes are 3 credit hours, so you're pretty much guaranteed a minimum of four classes. However, to get the most bang for your buck means taking the maximum: 18 hours. 

Some classes will require more time than others and prove to be more challenging. If the professor takes the time to explain how difficult or time consuming a course will be, believe them. Past students are always good indicators too. It's important to strategically plan out your schedule and utilize the drop/add function. You aren't locked into classes for a good two weeks after school starts so if you need to make adjustments, do it! 

Taking 18 credit hours a semester could put you on the fast track to graduation. Graduate a semester early and bank that money instead (that's what I did).

Fair warning. 

18 credit hours is no easy feat. Make sure you understand the requirements and workload of your courses. Spread out the challenging classes and be dedicated to managing your time wisely. If you're up for the challenge, this could save some major money in the long run. Short term pain, for long term gain my friends. I was in a sorority, I've seen plenty of students take 18 credit hours and still have time for a social life, I PROMISE. 

Here's a formula that might give you a better idea of what your school time commitment might look like. I would lean on the lower end in terms of study hours, but that's just me.For every one credit hour in which you enroll, you will spend approximately two to three hours outside of class studying. Therefore, to help determine the course load most appropriate for you, use the formula:

  • three credit hours (typically one course) = three hours in the classroom and 6-9 hours of study time per week. Total of 9-12 hours a week.
  • twelve credit hours (minimum for full-time student status, typically four courses) = 12 hours in the classroom and 24-36 hours studying. Total of 36-48 hours a week.

If you study, socialize and work a job.

Keep this in mind. You don't by any means want to work yourself to death. There is no point in taking 18 hours if you fail one or two of the courses. For incoming freshman: you'll learn what you can and can't handle, it's a trial and error process as you adjust to college academics. Here is a chart to help you determine how many credit hours you should be taking during a regular semester if you are also working:

Working and going to college at the same time
Hours working per weekCredit hours per semester
403-5
303-9
206-12
Less than 2012-18

Keep on the lookout for my next post! I'll let you take a look at my four year plan and we'll chat about how I managed to graduate early.

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