U.S. Markets closed

3 Things You Can Do This Summer to Make College More Affordable

Maurie Backman, The Motley Fool

Make the most of the summer -- you’ll be thankful for it later.

Waitress in red apron holding food

Image source: Getty Images

One great thing about college is getting an extended break during the summer. It’s a great time to relax, bum around, and clear your head after spending the semester plugging away.

Or is it? The truth is that summer break offers an opportunity to make your degree more affordable. Achieve this goal with the following moves.

1. Get a job

You might think that when you’re between semesters the only job you can get is a lousy one. You’ll be ringing up purchases at a cash register or flipping burgers for hungry beach tourists.

Not so.

Plenty of respectable companies need summer help. If you polish your resume and brush up on interview skills, you might land a job that gives you great experience and a decent income to go with it.

Even if you don’t score a great wage this summer, some money is better than none. You can use the money you make to start paying off your student loans. Or to pay for your upcoming semesters and avoid taking on more debt.

Is your student debt already at a manageable level? Have you not taken out many loans so far? Are you not accruing interest on your loans during your studies? Then you can use your summertime earnings to build some emergency savings. Those funds will come in handy. Perhaps even during college, like when your car breaks down or you get stuck with a large medical bill.

2. Take required classes at a local community college

Many colleges have core requirements you need to fulfill to graduate regardless of your major. If you still need to check some of those classes off your list, consider signing up for them over the summer at a community college.

For the 2018–19 academic year, the average cost of tuition at a community college was $3,660. For a public in-state college, it was $10,230. Out-of-state public colleges averaged $26,290.

You’ll save money by taking core classes where tuition is cheaper. You might even manage to shave a semester off your studies at a more expensive school. And you know what that means: Less student debt to deal with afterward.

3. Get help with academic areas where you struggle

It’s not unheard of to get tripped up by a specific subject in the course of your studies. But if you need those classes to graduate, failing them is going to set you back and, in many cases, cost you money when you take them all over again.

This summer, take the opportunity to get some help in the areas where you struggle. Ask a friend for some tutoring. When your peers aren’t stressed with their own academic loads, they may be willing to help. Or find a low-cost tutor you can pay for assistance. It’s a worthwhile investment in your academic success -- as well as your sanity.

It’s tempting to spend your summer lounging on the beach just hanging around. But you’re better off earning money, knocking out required college courses on the cheap, and brushing up on areas that might hold you back. In the long run, you’ll be happy you did.

The Motley Fool owns and recommends MasterCard and Visa, and recommends American Express. We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule. If we wouldn’t recommend an offer to a close family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Ascent either. Our number one goal is helping people find the best offers to improve their finances. That is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.