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Pre-PA the FI Way: Things to Consider in College (Undergrad)

financial independence pre-pa Jun 18, 2022

So you’ve graduated from high school – congrats! Now, you are off to college or university… Here are some suggestions of how to maximize your path to FI while you are in undergrad. 

Live at Home

Perhaps you took the previous advice to heart about seriously considering starting your college education at a community college. Well, many community colleges do not have on-site housing. If you and your family are both onboard with the idea, plan to live at home and commute to school. This will save you so much on housing costs. You also will likely save on some meal costs if your family is still willing to share some delicious homemade meals with you as well. Consider pitching in and taking turns with other family members to cook meals!  

Get a Roommate 

If you do live on campus or near campus, having a roommate or a few may help you save on costs. 

Live on Campus, but Become an RA (Resident Assistant)

If you become an RA at your college, you could enjoy discounted or possibly even free room and board, as well as sometimes free or discounted meal plans or a monthly stipend. However, due to the many financial benefits of being an RA, many students are applying to only a few spots, so becoming an RA can be a very competitive process. 

Consider House Hacking

This is one concept that sounds so interesting to me now, though I was completely unaware of this idea in undergrad! This idea is an alternative to you just renting an apartment with a couple of roommates or living on campus. Being able to house hack likely is only applicable to a small percentage of college students, depending on your financial situation or if you perhaps have a spouse. If you’re able to financially afford to, consider buying a duplex or triplex or even a whole small, but affordable, house to live in one area of the place, while renting out the other areas / units to either roommates or tenants. The income from the roommates/tenants will likely cover most, if not all of the mortgage, allowing you to live for free while building equity in the property. Many couples will choose to continue this concept if the roommates/tenants are in a more separate area of the property. This is of course assuming that everyone would be onboard with the idea! Of note, it would not be advised to purchase a home with someone that you are not in an incredibly stable, long-term relationship with, ideally a spouse. Housing costs consume approximately one-third of people’s living expenses, so this is a great way to reduce that cost! 

Continue to Apply to Many Scholarships

Instead of only applying to scholarships when going from high school to college, continue to apply to scholarships throughout your years of undergrad. Do this when you transferring from a community college to a four year state or private college or university, or if you are transferring between four year state or private college or university to different one. 

Buy Used Textbooks for Classes, or Rent Them

Many students at your school who have already taken the classes that you will be taking next semester have the exact same textbook that you will need, and they likely will never look at that book ever again. They very likely will be happy sell you the book so they can recoup a small amount versus just letting the book lie around collecting dust. Even if your professor highly suggests the next updated edition of a textbook, typically the changes from edition to edition are so minute that using an older textbook would be perfectly fine. Additionally, now there are several website/company options where you can rent the textbooks that you will need for the semester. Once you are done with the rented book, you can ship it back to the company for the next person to use. 

Obtain Healthcare Experience in a FI Way

Although getting healthcare experience is something that could be started in high school, most PAs that I know started working on their experience while in college or during a gap year after college. Not all, but many PA programs do require healthcare experience prior to attending PA school. Even if you apply to programs that do not require it, many strongly prefer that their applicants have it. There are many options for obtaining medical experience, and some are more affordable than others. Some options can be more expensive to complete the training (such as RN, surgical tech, EMT, LPN, MA, etc.), though these jobs likely would pay more than more affordable options that are either free or very cheap (such as CNA, HHA, PCA, phlebotomist, medical scribe, etc.). Ultimately, you have to decide which route is right for you! 

To conclude, there are many things you can consider in regards to FI while you are a college student in undergrad. Doing one or even all of these things will help further limit your debt, and help to continue to accelerate your path to FI!


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