College Senior Offers Financial Advice to Incoming Freshmen


Editor’s note:  This post was originally published on Admitted in July 2019. It’s being republished as part of NACAC’s Best of the Blog series.

It’s no secret that a college education is expensive. But there are ways to keep costs as low as possible.

Laura Uzes, a senior at UCLA, shared her tried-and-true advice for keeping college costs down with Homeroom, the US Department of Education’s blog.

High up among her tips: planning ahead.

Uzes recommends that all students map out their road to a degree as soon as possible.

“One of the best ways to save money in college is to graduate on time. Graduating within four years instead of six can save you tens of thousands of dollars in tuition and other expenses. One of the easiest things you can do to graduate on time is to manage your academic life. This includes planning and prioritizing classes necessary for graduation such as General Education (GE) and major requirements. Does the class ‘History of Rock and Roll’ fulfill a GE or major requirement? If yes, then great, take the class! If not, then maybe take that English Composition class required by your university for graduation instead. By carefully planning out your classes for your entire college career, you can be sure to graduate on time or even early,” she wrote.

“Effective class planning also includes ensuring that you take enough units each semester to graduate on time. In order to remain eligible for student aid, institutions require students to take a certain number of units per semester. Taking less than the recommended number of units at your institution can make it difficult to graduate in four years and can also jeopardize your student aid opportunities. Because of this, it is important to closely monitor the number of classes you take each semester and be mindful of the impact that dropping a class might have on your financial aid and graduation plans.”

Uzes also offers some helpful tips for finding cheaper textbooks.

“Early in my college career I often found myself spending hundreds of dollars at a time at the campus bookstore in order to buy the required textbooks for school. While books might be necessary for class, it is not necessary to spend large sums of money on them. Over my college career I have found that there are usually many cheaper alternatives to buying new textbooks from the campus bookstore,” she wrote.

“For example, if you are willing to do a little Internet searching, you can usually find a cheaper used book option online. Additionally, many college students directly sell their used textbooks to other college students on Facebook through pages such as ‘Free and For Sale.’”

Read Uzes’ full list of advice.

Ashley Dobson is NACAC’s senior communications manager for content and social media. You can reach her at

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