Find out how much you spend on your own education: Text books, paid note services, tuition, registration, course fees, professional fees, etc.
You know how much you spend on your own education, right? I know that the financial aid office may deduct your tuition from your rewarded aid money before you even see it, but at the very least you should know how much your education is costing you.
Why? Well, do you want to finish in debt or debt-free? If you’re in a doctoral program (in STEM) disciplines, many of these non-negotiable fees are passed onto the PI’s or the department, but this is not necessarily the case if you are in a doctoral program outside the STEM disciplines. Additionally, if you are a graduate student in a masters program you will definitely want to pay attention to the cost of your education.
As a student financing your own education, you should apply for as many scholarships and fellowships as you can because increasing your cash inflow will allow you to build up your emergency savings if you are unable to lower your cash outflow. Although many educational expenses are tax-deductible or have associated tax-credits, which is another reason to know what you spend on education.
You can also save a lot on text-books, especially if you will not be using them as references in the future. Many companies now offer decent rental services on textbooks which allow you to use them at a much lower price. If you really don’t want to spend a dime on textbooks, ask the professor to put the book on course reserve. It’s much easier to read the book when at a library when you have a time limit anyway as it really forces you to focus.