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Working Full Time While Attending School Part Time: How to Manage It

Aug 8, 2013

Unless you come from a wealthy family or have parents who have saved all of your life for you to go to college, odds are you won't be able to attend college full time without taking out some student loans. You may be one of the lucky few that receive full scholarships, but that is not the norm for most students.

What are your alternatives if you don't want to take out student loans? Your only option, aside from your family paying for your education, is to work while you're in school. If you want to avoid loans altogether, a part time job isn't going to cut it.

You may need to work full time and only go to school part-time. Here's a plan for staying on top of your finances and your schedule while working full time and attending school part time.

Set Aside Money for Tuition and Books Each Payday

In addition to your bills, you'll now need to factor the cost of your education for your bachelors degree into your monthly budget. Always plan to put away a little extra for fees and if books cost more than you had anticipated. The tuition rates will remain the same for the academic year, so planning should be easy. Multiply the tuition rate for each hour of classes by the number of hours you plan to take to get the total amount of tuition.

Find out which books your professor will be using so you can add that cost as well. Once you have your total, divide that number by four. That's how much money you'll need to put away each month for your education. Obviously, you'll want to start saving four months prior to starting classes to avoid going in the hole during your first term.

Avoid Making Big Purchases

When you're working full time, it's easy to think that you can afford more than you actually can. You may look at the new cars your coworkers are driving and think that you deserve one too. While you may deserve one, you shouldn't set your eyes on those new wheels yet. Maintain your focus on your education and remind yourself that sacrifices now will pay off by not having student loans later.

Lock Up the Credit Cards

If you're trying to avoid student loan debt, you should certainly avoid credit card debt as well. In fact, credit card debt is even worse than student loan debt because the interest rates are much higher.

To avoid the temptation of using a credit card to pay for something that doesn't fit into your budget, lock up the cards somewhere safe that's not easily accessible. Some people even freeze their cards in a block of ice to reduce the temptation to use them.

Be Prepared for a Tight Schedule

It shouldn't come as a surprise that working full time and going to school part time will not be easy. You'll have to learn how to manage your time really well. You will have to forgo many social outings in favor of studying or working. Get plenty of sleep and stick to your schedule. Working while in school will be a challenge, but it can help you avoid drowning in debt after you graduate which, unfortunately, happens all too often these days.

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