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Often lost amidst the enthusiasm of impending graduation from high school and the prospects for an exciting college adventure is the fact that, in this day and age, true “adulting” as a college student involves a great deal of financial responsibility and ownership on behalf of the student.

Given this, it is refreshing to see an increasing number of students these days who have an understanding, if not appreciation, of the financial costs and career benefits of higher education.

In the College Savings Foundation’s (CSF) 2022 13th Annual Youth Survey of Generation Z High School Students, CSF found that among the high school seniors, juniors, and sophomores surveyed across the nation, 90% intended to pursue higher education with a record 82% of those surveyed having plans to work either full or part-time while pursuing their college degree, with 54% intent on paying for part (35%) or all (19%) of their higher education expenses. This is financial responsibility.

While working part-time is an excellent way to experience college, and college freshmen can look for part-time work on or off campus or work-study programs to help cover their expenses, getting a part-time job is not always accessible, available, or even practical.

Here are some other ideas that financially savvy college students are employing:

Creating a weekly budget is another way to contain the cost of college. College freshmen should start by creating a budget that outlines their income and expenses – even factoring in what has already been paid for with their tuition, fees, room, and board. Having a budget will help students manage how much extra money they have to spend each month and help show them where they can cut back if necessary.

Accessing Financial Aid by filling out the FAFSA form every year should be a no-brainer – even if your student does not believe they need to tap into it. They do not have to accept the funding and may consider it a reserve or as a break-in-case-of-emergency backup plan. Filling out the FAFSA will give students access to not only financial aid, but in some cases, institutional grants and scholarships.

Applying for scholarships is not just an incoming freshman’s game. Funds and scholarships through websites like and are available for the persevering student of any age – the key is to apply.

Being thrifty never goes out of fashion. As a former college “thrifter”, I take great pride in seeing that my college-aged sons and nieces still appreciate and seek out a good second-hand store. College freshmen can save money by cutting back on unnecessary expenses, such as eating out or buying new clothes. They can also take advantage of student discounts and look for textbook deals and other necessary items.


Source: Source: College Savings Foundation, 2022.



A mom of two recent college graduates, Vivian has been a vocal advocate of saving early and often for loved ones’ educations through college savings programs. She has served in management and leadership roles with financial services organizations TIAA, BlackRock and Morgan Stanley, and has worked in San Francisco, Hong Kong, Taipei, Los Angeles and New York. Vivian is a Certified Investment Management Analyst and a Certified Private Wealth Advisor and has been the Chair of the College Savings Foundation since 2020. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania.