while everyone’s situation is different it is possible to have a debt-free college education. many people think that bible college is not affordable and that they must take on debt to attend a private bible college. however, i’m here to tell you it is possible.
there are 3 major steps to a debt-free college education:
– know the cost
– apply for financial aid
– build a budget
1. know the cost
there are many different ways that colleges can help you estimate what it will cost to attend. once you know how much college will cost you will have the information to make the first step to have a debt-free college education.
- direct costs – costs paid directly to the college. these are costs like tuition and student fees. see boise bible’s direct costs online.
- indirect costs – expenses paid for while you go to school but may not be paid directly to the school. these are costs like transportation to and from school and textbooks.
- cost of attendance – this is the total of direct costs plus indirect costs. the cost of attendance is used in financial aid calculations.
average yearly cost: includes on-campus room and board, required student fees and 12 credit hours each semester tuition charges. source: //research.collegeboard.org/pdf/trends-college-pricing-2019-full-report.pdf
2. apply for financial aid
there are many places to apply for financial aid to attend boise bible college. when you apply for financial aid, you will reduce the costs so that you can have a debt-free college education!
institutional aid – these scholarships or grants from boise bible college can range from merit-based, need-based, and other specific similarity-based scholarships. our goal is to equip students to become servant leaders while minimizing debt-load. a new student will potentially have access to $9,500 in scholarships, and returning students have access to over $25,000! apply online for theses scholarships at our website.
outside aid – these scholarships and grants are available through organizations outside the college or common places to look:
- civic organizations
- community groups
- online search engines
learn more by checking out our post “hiding spots for scholarships“.
federal aid – depending on your calculated ‘need’ you may be eligible for government grants such as the pell grant. grants are not loans and do not need to be paid back. you can apply for federal aid by submitting a free application for federal student aid (fafsa) at fafsa.ed.gov.
payment plans – don’t assume you have to pay for the entire semester at one time. many colleges, boise bible college included, have a small fee attached to payment plans
employment – working part-time on-campus or off-campus while attending school is a great way to offset some of the cost of a college education.
3. build a budget
no matter how much things cost and how much aid you will receive, being wise with your finances is critical to have a debt-free college education. a big step to being wise is to create a budget for each academic year.
a budget has some basic components and we will review in short each part:
- timespan of budget
- balance your budget
- maintenance of budget
this information is modified from creating your budget from the federal student aid website.
time-span of budget
this is the period of time you are budgeting for. it usually is a month, semester, academic year, or calendar year. keep in mind that your income may vary from month to month, and not all of your expenses will be the same each month. larger expenses (such as car insurance and books) and seasonal expenses (such as a trip home at the holidays or a higher electricity bill in summer when the air conditioning is on) need to be incorporated into your budget.
i recommend budgeting for the academic year by including both semesters. then use a tool such as a spreadsheet, budgeting app, or the financial awareness counseling tool to track your data.
estimate how much money you will have coming in each month. if you are using a semester time span that is about 4 ½ months – that would make an academic year 9 months long. your income may come from sources such as your pay from work, financial contributions from family members, or financial aid (scholarships, grants, loans, and other aid). if you have not already, be sure to apply for the fafsa yearly!
if you’re working while in school, review your records to determine how much your take-home pay is each month.
if you earn most of your money over the summer, you may want to estimate your yearly income then divide it by 12.
to estimate your monthly expenses, you’ll want to start by recording everything you spend money on in a month. this may be a bit time-consuming but will definitely be worthwhile in helping you understand where your money is going and how to better manage it.
after that, gather your bank records and other statements that will show you other expenditures that may be automatically paid. in addition, you will also need to estimate college costs such as tuition, fees, books, and so on. the financial aid department will be happy to give you an estimate of what those may be.
once you’ve identified your expenses, you should group them into two categories:
— fixed expenses and variable expenses.
fixed expenses stay about the same each month and include items such as rent, car payments, and insurance. when creating a monthly budget, divide the amount due by the number of months the bill covers.
if you had a yearly $1,200 insurance bill that’s paid in two $600 installments six months apart, then divide it by 12 to know you need to set aside $100 per month.
or, room and board at boise bible college for the 2020-2021 year costs $3,200 a semester (that would be about $6,400 for the academic year) for a quad-occupancy. you would then divide the yearly amount by 9 (an academic year is 9 months long) to know you need to set aside about $711 per month for that.
note: remember that room and board at boise bible college includes other services including laundry, internet, 3 meals a day, and utilities. an apartment alone would be more than that!
variable expenses are those that are flexible or controllable and can vary from month to month. examples of variable expenses include groceries, clothing, eating out, and entertainment. you’ll want to examine these expenses to make sure they stay under control so you do not go over budget. these types of expenses are the ones that the envelope system helps to control.
include “savings” as a fixed expense in your monthly budget. your savings can be used as an emergency fund to help you deal with unexpected expenses.
the ideal amount of an emergency fund typically covers three to six months of your expenses. however, begin small with one month.
balance your budget
now that you’ve identified your sources of income and expenses, you’ll want to compare the two to balance your budget. to do so, you simply subtract your expenses from your income.
if you have a positive balance, then your income is greater than your expenses. in other words, you’re earning more money than you’re spending!
if you have a positive balance, you shouldn’t start looking at new ways to spend your money. instead, focus on putting the extra money toward your savings to cover your emergency fund or to support future goals such as buying a car. also, if you have a positive balance but you’ve borrowed student loan funds, pay back some of your loans and consider borrowing less in the future.
if you have a negative balance, then you are spending more money than you have. you’ll want to balance your budget and make sure your expenses don’t exceed your income.
balancing your budget may include monitoring your variable expenses, reducing your expenses, and/or finding ways to increase your income. spending less can be a lot easier than earning more. ask yourself before buying anything, “do i really need this?” to help with that questions you may categorize your variable expenses into need and want categories – then rank them. this will help prioritize what you really need to spend your hard-earned income on.
most people overspend because they buy things on impulse. the next time you’re tempted to make an impulse buy, ask yourself the following questions:
- what do i need this for?
- can i afford this item?
- if i buy this item now, will i still be happy that i bought it a month from now?
- do i need to save this money for a financial goal?
- will this item go on sale? should i wait to buy it?
if you take a moment to think about what you’re buying, you’re more likely to make a choice that fits your budgeting goals.
maintenance of budget
now that you’ve created your budget, you’ll want to make sure it remains a living document and you update it over time. you should regularly review your budget on a monthly basis. maintenance of your budget will keep you on top of things and may help you avoid being blindsided by something unexpected. then, create another budget when your budget timeframe is over. you can find more tips on budgeting here.