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Top 10 Least Expensive Public Colleges for In-State Students

by Suada Kolovic

It seems like students are willing to do just about anything to save on tuition, from saying “I do” to asking for handouts to applying early and often for college scholarships. But what if you’re not willing to take the plunge, have a sense of humility and scholarships just aren’t covering the astronomical costs tied to college tuition? Then attending a public school might be your best bet and to slash the bill even further, selecting an in-state public school is the way to go!

According to a survey conducted by U.S. News, the average tuition and fees for in-state residents among the 452 public colleges that reported data was $7,042 for the 2010-11 school year. Check out the 10 least expensive public schools for in-state students, accounting for tuition and required fees (but not room and board, books, transportation or other miscellaneous college costs) below.

  1. New Mexico Highlands University
  2. Macon State College
  3. Fayetteville State University
  4. California State University—Northridge
  5. Elizabeth City State University
  6. University of Wyoming
  7. University of North Carolina—Pembroke
  8. North Carolina A&T State University
  9. Eastern New Mexico University
  10. Fort Hays State University

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Easy Ways to Afford Your Dream School

by Brittni Fitzgerald

Whether it is gas, food or tuition, prices are rising on everything. Everyone wants to attend their dream college without having to end up in debt at the end. College tuition will, depending on your university, have a small increase in price every academic year but if you plan ahead and follow these helpful tips, you can ease that financial burden.

First, open a savings account at your local bank to learn how to manage your money. Banks such as Fifth Third offer students goal setter savings accounts, which allow students to put money into the bank to gain interest as well as receive a 10-percent bonus when they reach their goal. A goal can be $500 and up and you cannot make withdrawal until the goal is met. This feature allows the money to grow without allowing you to give in to temptation and drain the account.

Another way to save is by adjusting your meal plan each semester. Most colleges and universities require that all freshmen have a meal plan each semester and upperclassmen usually have some sort of meal plan whether they live on campus or off. Meal plans are packaged with room and board and can become very expensive. Instead of choosing the meal plan with the most meals per day, choose a meal plan that works for your appetite.

Finally, consider applying to be a resident assistant, or RA, in the university dorms. RAs have to take on a lot of responsibilities like mentoring students and enforcing residence hall policies in addition to a full class schedule but the tradeoff is well worth it: Room and board is free.

Though she moved from Fremont, Calif., to Chicago at the age of 5, Brittni Fitzgerald will always remember the sun and fun of California life. She is the youngest of six children and is currently attending Chicago State University. There, Brittni is an accounting major and an active member of the Student Government Association but also a published poet (in 8th grade, her work was published with the Illinois’s 2004 “Celebrate! Young Poets Speak Out”). Brittni enjoys running, swimming, dancing, singing and shopping. Her motto is “Live Life Loud.”


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Keep Your Wallet Happy Without Sacrificing Style, Technology or Fun

by Jessica Seals

The pressure of always wearing the trendiest clothes, owning the newest cell phone and having an active social life can leave a deep hole in any college student's wallet. However, there are ways to avoid throwing money away every week.

Don’t spend $200 on jeans. Most cities have stores like T.J. Maxx and Marshalls that sell designer clothes for less. So many students put themselves in debt only to say they are wearing True Religion jeans but you can get more for your money while looking just as good, if not better!

Don’t buy electronics as soon as they are released. Although you may be dying to have the latest smartphone, waiting a few months will guarantee you a lower price. Also, there are cheaper smartphones that work just as well as an iPhone; check with your wireless provider to see if you’re eligible for a free or discounted upgrade as well.

Don’t make a habit out of eating at restaurants all of the time. Bills from Olive Garden and Red Lobster can add up quickly so many students become best friends with fast food dollar menus or decide to only dine out at nicer places on special occasions like birthdays. If you have a meal plan, figure out what dining halls serve the best food and if your dorm has a kitchen, it can be cheaper (and healthier!) to make your own meals. It can be fun cooking with friends and trying each other's recipes, too!

College tuition and fees are enough to put a student in debt. By cutting down on expenses for your social life, you'll still have a great college experience but without a great deal of financial stress.

Jessica Seals is currently a senior at the University of Memphis majoring in political science and minoring in English. At the University of Memphis, she is the secretary of the Pre-Law Society, the philanthropy chair of the Phi Kappa Phi Student Council and a member of Professional Assertive United Sisters of Excellence (PAUSE), Golden Key Honor Society, Alpha Lambda Delta Honor Society, Sigma Alpha Lambda Honor Society, and Black Scholars Unlimited. She also volunteers to tutor her fellow classmates and hopes to attend law school in the near future.


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College: The Ultimate Life Lesson

by Radha Jhatakia

There are many things I wish I knew before I started college...or even a year or two in! Tips about what professors are difficult, what dining halls serve the best food and where to find the dorms with the most square footage are quite often available but the biggest tip – which you won’t realize until you’re done with school – is that college itself teaches you how to get by in life.

The process begins before college with the prep work you do. You take six classes a semester in high school when during college you take three to five classes depending on the semester or quarter system. You take the SAT or ACT, which test your ability to take a test itself, not your intellectual abilities. You participate in every extracurricular possible to make your transcripts appealing, only to realize that those activities won’t really matter on campus. All of these tasks are tests: In college, you’ll spread yourself thin between a job, challenging classes, clubs and your social life but thanks to your prep work, you’ll know how to balance it all.

Once you’re on campus, college prepares you for the obstacles and struggles that await everyone after graduation. You’ll take engineering courses, biology labs and communications lectures and complete projects and papers to gauge how well you can apply the material you’ve learned and tight deadlines to help you to think on your feet. Whether you’re finding a way to pay off student loans or trying to secure a job in your field, those seemingly small assignments you completed in college will have prepared you to deal with the real world.

You’ll gain a lot from your college experience – friends, memories, knowledge – but most importantly is your degree, a testimony that you will be able to make it in life beyond those hallowed halls.

Radha Jhatakia is a communications major who will be transferring to San Jose State University this fall. She’s had some ups and downs in school and many obstacles to face; these challenges – plus support from family, friends and cat – have only made Radha stronger and have given her the experience to help others with the same issues. In her spare time, she enjoys writing, reading, cooking, sewing and designing. A social butterfly, Radha hopes to work in public relations and marketing upon graduation.


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Sick at School? Feel Better...Fast!

by Katie Askew

Being sick at a school that’s hours from home and – let’s be honest – your mom is hard to deal with. Don’t think you’re immune, either: It’s much easier to catch illnesses when you’re living in a 12’x12’ space with another person. On top of that, missing just one college class could be the equivalent of missing an entire week of high school! If you do happen to fall ill, there are ways get better without calling home.

Before moving to campus, make sure you have proof of health insurance (a copy of your insurance card is fine but the real thing is even better). At a new clinic, they will ask you for this so they can treat you and no proof of insurance means no care. Make sure your health insurance covers the clinics and doctors in your new area (some plans don’t) and know your personal medical history and allergies because Mom won’t be in the doctor’s office with you to help.

Next, learn about the health benefits your college has for you. Most universities have free student clinics right on campus with qualified doctors and nurses to remedy you but their limited weekday hours and usually no weekend hours mean you have to work your class and extracurricular schedule around them. In case of emergencies or weekend sickness, know where the nearest hospital, clinic or acute care center is.

For everyday pains, headaches and small scrapes, have a first aid kit in your dorm room. Fill it with the necessities like Band-Aids, Neosporin and Tylenol so you’re not knocking on doors in the middle of the night looking for medicine.

The best way to not get sick, though? Prevention! Wash your hands, get enough sleep, don’t share drinks and eat more than just cake and soda in the dining hall. Stay healthy, my friends!

Katie Askew is a freshman at the University of Minnesota pursuing degrees in journalism and English. At school, Katie can be found reading, drumming or working in the Office of Admissions. Outside of school, she enjoys traveling, performing or teaching music and spending time outdoors with friends and family. Katie loves all things zebra and has a necessary addiction to coffee. Her iPod is perpetually playing Death Cab for Cutie or classical music because she truly believes that when words fail, music speaks.


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The Good and the Bad of Job Search Sites

by Casandra Pagn

It's hard to look for a job on any search engine without coming across a result from CareerBuilder, Monster, Indeed or another employment website. As a recent graduate and someone who has browsed and used these websites extensively over the past few months, I'd like to help you get the most out of posting your resume and other credentials on the Internet.

The good: Career-centric sites can be great tools in helping you browse available jobs in desired industries and particular areas. Since these websites have a large and credible following, many employers will post opportunities because they know there will be lots of traffic from potential applicants. You can also post your resume directly to the sites so that employers can search by criteria and contact you if they are interested; another benefit of these websites is that you can have your resume reviewed by professionals – for free! – and receive valuable feedback.

The bad: If you post your resume to one or more of these websites, it’s likely that you’ll be contacted by companies that send out mass emails expressing their interest in hiring new employees. They are usually sales or insurance agent positions and if that's not your forte or field of interest, the emails can get annoying quite quickly. Also, spam emails or weekly updates can cloud potentially important emails in your inbox.

The lowdown: If you are looking for part-time or full-time work, use these websites but with some savvy. It can be extremely helpful to browse these career posting websites to find job opening but I recommend using them as a resource and then contacting the employer directly. Doing this allows you to submit the correct formats of your resume and any other documents you might need (i.e. letters of recommendations, certifications or awards) and personalize your email and cover letter to the appropriate hiring manager.

Chicagoland native Casandra Pagni spent the past four years in the wonderful city of Ann Arbor at the University of Michigan. From watching football games in the Big House to bruising her knees playing intramural broomball on ice, she had the time of her life while at Michigan and embraced her inner and outer sports fanatic by covering the softball and hockey teams for the campus newspaper, The Michigan Daily. Casandra was also a member of Alpha Delta Pi sorority and a teacher ambassador and this past April, Casandra graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in English and earned a secondary teaching certification. She is currently in Chicago looking for a teaching position.


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Later Classes for Students Mean Sleep More, Booze and Lower Grades

by Suada Kolovic

Ah college, a sacred time in your adult life when waking up at noon is considered the norm, Ramen noodles as a diet staple are typical and your classes don’t start until 2 p.m. (Trust me, it’s the good life.) Unfortunately, night owls, there’s a downside: According to a recent study, college students whose classes start later in the day sleep more but they also consume more alcohol and have lower grade point averages.

The study, led by two psychologists at St. Lawrence University, in Canton, N.Y., surveyed 253 students about their sleep, class schedules, substance use and mood, among other things. It found that night owls were likely to get more sleep than early birds but were also more likely to binge drink and their grades were moderately lower. They found that students who had later classes tended to stay up later, were not as well rested and had more daytime sleepiness. “Later class start times seemed to change the choices students make: They sleep longer, and they drink more," said Pamela Thacher, co-lead author on the study which was presented at SLEEP 2011, the Associated Professional Sleep Societies meeting in Minneapolis.

Do you agree with the study’s findings? Are you more likely to stay up late if you don’t have to wake up for an early class and does being up late translate into making poor decisions?


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Living on a Budget

June 17, 2011

Living on a Budget

by Anna Meskishvili

Ah, college living. Welcome to the life of Ramen, Groupon deals and at-home-manicures.

Attending school in a city, I have a lot of unforeseen spending like cab fares and impromptu coffee stops. Here are some tips on how to maintain a livable and realistic budget when you start school:

Eat at the dining hall. Dining halls don’t get enough credit. They are the best way to save at least $25 a week on one of the biggest areas of spending for college kids – food. To make a mundane cafeteria meal more fun, plan a dinner with your friends. If and when you do go out, get a doggy bag – great late-night snack or lunch the next day!

Stay in. It’s the seventh Friday of the semester and you and your friends are getting ready to cab your way ($6 each way per person) to the frat house ($5 at the door) to have a mediocre time...like you’ve been doing every week. The whole night will cost you about $20 and a jungle juice stained top, so why not save some cash and stay in? I’m not saying don’t be social but one night in with a movie and a $10 pizza for you and three friends can be a good time for less.

Make trades. Imagine having access to 10 fully-stocked closets. That’s the beauty of living in a dorm: You have the ability to share clothes and make new friends. If you’re nice about it, that cute girl down the hall will let you borrow that expensive top for your hot date. Take advantage but be responsible!

Living on a strict budget is not easy but grinding through it can be fun! Every time I make myself a bowl of Ramen, I am happy to know it only set me back $.19.

Anna Meskishvili is a rising senior at Boston University pursuing a degree in public relations at the College of Communication and hopes to someday work in healthcare administration communication. She is part of Kappa Delta at BU and has loved every second of it. She is also involved in Public Relations Student Society of America and Ed on Campus. Anna was born in the Republic of Georgia and considers herself a citizen of the world because she’s lived in Russia, England, France, Brooklyn and Connecticut. She loves to travel, run and learn.


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Meet Scholarships.com's Virtual Interns: Abby Egan

by Abby Egan

Hi all! My name is Abby and I’ll be a junior this fall at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA). Nice to meet you!

I chose MCLA mainly because it was as far away from the city as possible: I’m from Quincy, MA, right outside Boston, so I’m well acquainted with the city lifestyle but when choosing a college, I wanted to step outside of my comfort zone. I major in English Communications with a concentration in writing and a minor in philosophy but when I’m not busy with schoolwork, I love to read, drink tea and walk around town with my camera. Most of the time, however, I run a very busy lifestyle including working three jobs, participating in two volunteer groups and testing out more clubs than I could possibly count.

I applied to be a virtual intern with Scholarships.com this summer because I saw this as my chance to use my own experiences to help incoming college students get a taste of what college is really all about. When it comes down to it, I’m just a regular girl finding her footing in the college atmosphere...just like you. Hopefully I’ll be able to shine some light on what it’s like to live away from home and start the next chapter of your life but the best advice I can give you would be 1. sleep is the most important thing in the world, and 2. your college experience will be what you make of it. Looking forward to sharing more with you soon!


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Branding Yourself in College

by Shari Williams

Scoring internships and jobs can be tough and one thing you don't want is to blend in with the rest of the crowd. Avoid this fate by branding yourself.

Think of places like McDonald's, Burger King and Chipotle: You can’t miss them because they are branded with specific colors, fonts and logos. But this sense of branding can go far beyond food chains and retail stores: It’s just as beneficial to brand yourself because it creates the initial perception that people will have of you.

Start by creating a simple personal logo that you can add to your resume. This can provide a lasting impression of you for potential employers. In the social networking realm, try to be consistent. For example, if your name is John Doe, try your best to make John Doe (or something similar to it) your Twitter name, Facebook name, LinkedIn name, etc. It’s important to keep a consistent name or alias and keep all content organized and presentable. (Leave the party pictures out of this equation!)

Next, create an About.Me profile, which allows you to link all of your websites, links and profiles together in one place. It’s like a virtual business card that potential employers could view quickly – something much appreciated to anyone with a busy schedule. This can also impact positively beyond the workplace, giving a way for fans of your craft to become familiar with your name and talents.

Branding is a great way to stand out from the crowd and make yourself known. Just be sure not to overdo it and you could see your name in lights before you know it!

Shari Williams is a junior at Towson University with a double major in deaf studies and broadcast journalism and a minor in entertainment, media and film. With experience in public relations, a love for music and a passion for acting, she longs to be a jack of all trades. A Baltimore native, Shari is an avid traveler and opportunity seeker. She hopes to become the next face seen on the morning news or the voice heard over the radio.


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