Eight Tips for College Students to Save Thousands of Dollars on College Costs for 2009/2010

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College students can save thousands of dollars with these tips on textbooks, meal plans, tax credits, financial aid, health insurance, car costs and summer school.

But, with a little planning, research and good bookkeeping, students and their families can save thousands of dollars off expenses including textbooks, room and board, taxes, car expenses, health insurance and cashing in on AP credits. You just need to get started now and not delay.

Over the next month nearly 19 million students are set to return to college campuses across the country during the worst economic crisis in more than 70 years. Making matters worse, over the last 25 years, tuition and fees have risen four times faster than the rate of inflation. But according to Steve Loyola, president and founder of Best Book Buys, a leading online comparison shopping service for textbooks and books, students can save thousands of dollars off their 2009/2010 college costs.

"These are very challenging times for students and their families," said Loyola. "But, with a little planning, research and good bookkeeping, students and their families can save thousands of dollars off expenses including textbooks, room and board, taxes, car expenses, health insurance and cashing in on AP credits. You just need to get started now and not delay."

Loyola recommends the following tips:

  •     Buy textbooks online. According to the College Board's Annual Survey of Colleges, students spend more than $1000 per year on books and supplies. By comparing the cost of buying textbooks at an online comparison shopping site like BestBookBuys.com, students can save up to 76 percent off the list price of their textbooks. BestBookBuys.com compares the cost of renting or buying used, new, and international textbooks across thousands of online sellers and online stores including eBay, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Abebooks, Powells, Textbooks.com, Chegg, half, Overstock and many others. BestBookBuys compares the cost of more than 6 million book titles and also enables consumers to compare the costs of books via their cell phones at http://m.bestbookbuys.com .
  •     Compare the cost of meal plans. Meal plans vary widely in price and the number of meals allowed. For example, at Occidental College meal plans range from $1,790 to $2,615 per semester and at Vassar College meal plans range from $2,140-2,742.50 per semester. By selecting a mid range plan, students can save hundreds of dollars annually.
  •     Consider making a financial aid appeal. If your family's finances have taken a detour in 2009 compared with 2008, do consider filing an appeal with your financial aid office. Check your college's website for instructions. If you can't find instructions, call your college's financial aid office. If one of your parents lost their job or the family income was reduced, explain in detail. If you haven't applied for financial aid, do so by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  •     Don't forget to claim the new higher education tax credits made available by the stimulus plan signed in February. Under the credit, taxpayers can get a reduction in their 2009 tax bill of up to $2500 per student provided the tax filers have an adjusted gross incomes of less than $80,000 a year (if single) or $160,000 (if they file jointly). An eligible family with two kids in college could get a tax credit of $5,000. In order to get the credit, you will need to fill out IRS form 8863.
  •     Check your health insurance. Many colleges charge a built-in fee for health insurance through the college. If you are already insured on your parent's policy, appeal this amount. At the University of California Irvine, for example, you could save $671 per year if covered under a separate health insurance policy.
  •     Leave your car at home. By leaving your car at home you will not only save on the amount you pay in car insurance but also on parking permits ($711 annually at UCLA and $568 annually at the University of Arizona), gas, oil and other upkeep. Check out instead if your college town offers free public transportation to students, many do.
  •     Make sure to claim your Advanced Placement (AP) credits. By now, incoming freshmen have received their AP scores. Check out http://www.collegeboard.com/ap/creditpolicy to see if your score may have earned you college credit. In addition, if students received scores of 3 or higher on at least three or more AP Exams, they should check with their college to see if they have sophomore standing. If you have sophomore standing and attend a public university you may have saved yourself at least $6,585, the average tuition and fees at a four year public university according to 2008 Trends in College Pricing from the College Board.
  •     Consider going to summer school. By attending summer school at a junior college, students can potentially save hundreds if not thousands off their college expenses. Just make sure to take the description of the course(s) you are considering to your college advisor to make sure they will accept the credits.

About Best Web Buys
Best Web Buys™ first made a name for itself twelve years ago with the launch of one of the first online price comparison sites- Best Book Buys®. Best Book Buys has been helping college students from more than 1500 colleges across the nation find the best prices for their new and used textbooks since 1997. Best Web Buys' five product specific sites -- Best Book Buys, Best Music Buys, Best Video Buys, Best Bike Buys and Best Electronic Buys -- compare prices, shipping and availability of more than six million titles and items at hundreds of online stores and thousands of Alibris, eBay, half.com and Amazon marketplace sellers. Steve Loyola, a former Jet Propulsion Laboratory computer scientist, founded the company.

Editors Note: Best Web Buys, Best Book Buys, Best Bike Buys, Best Electronic Buys, Best Music Buys and Best Video Buys are trademarks of Best Web Buys. All other trade or brand names mentioned herein are the property of their respective owners


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Theresa Smith, Pathway Communications
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