The cost of higher education continues to rise every year. Between tuition, living expenses, and transportation, the price tag of a college degree can leave many wondering how they’ll afford it.

While student loans are the most popular way to fund a college education, it’s important to remember that you’ll eventually have to repay what you borrow – plus interest. It’s better to have a plan to reduce any possible expenses while in college to limit the amount you do finance.

Scholarships and grants are great if you can qualify for them (- don't forget to check if you qualify for our current scholarship!). However, an easier way is to change how you spend your summers.

Build Your College Nest Egg

Whether you’re heading home after the spring semester or about to graduate high school, you likely have a fun-filled summer planned. Before you settle into that routine of staying out all night with friends and sleeping in until noon, remember you want to enjoy college life, too.

Using the summer break to build your college nest egg is a wise strategy – one that your future self will be thanking you for many years from now.

  • For example, imagine you’re able to work throughout the summer. You earn $3,000 while living at home. While it may not be enough to cover another year at school, it will reduce the amount you need to borrow in student loans.

Do this four summers before and during college, and you’ll knock off $12,000 in student loans. That’s a significant amount – not including the interest that would have been accruing along the way.

How to Pad Your College Budget

Finding a summer job shouldn’t be difficult if you know where to look. Many businesses rely on temporary workers throughout the summer months – especially entertainment venues like amusement parks, movie theaters, and restaurants. Other companies specifically create internship opportunities to attract young talent over the summer months.

  • Consider a Summer Job.

Working a summer job may dampen your summer fun a little. But doing so will allow you to enjoy your college experience even more when you’re back on campus.

When you start working, open a special savings account at the credit union for your college funds. Having a separate account will prevent you from spending this money frivolously. You may even choose not to have an ATM card tied to this account. This tactic will help remove the temptation to dip into these funds over the summer.

Then, set a portion of each paycheck to automatically go into this account with Payroll Deduction. It’s a free service at the credit union that only takes a few minutes to set up.


  • Look for Paid Internships.

While any summer job is fine, you may consider looking into paid internships to get the most out of your working experience. Paid internships allow you to earn both money and credits toward your degree. Plus, you’ll get on-site experience in your future profession.

There are a few ways to find paid internships in your field:

  • Ask your college professors about openings available in your area of study.
  • Reach out directly to companies in your field and inquire about possible positions.
  • Search employment websites like LinkedIn or Indeed for available internships.

If you decide to seek out a paid internship, start your search well before the spring semester ends. These opportunities tend to fill up quickly. You may also ask for a recommendation from one of your professors to include with your resume and application.


  • Use Your Talents.

If you don’t want to lock yourself into a full-time job or internship, you can always use your skills and talents to earn extra money. For example, consider walking your neighbors’ dogs, babysitting the neighborhood kids, landscaping, or cleaning houses. Giving guitar lessons in the afternoon or soccer lessons at a summer camp are ways you can use your talents to make extra money.

With clever planning, you can still have that fun-filled summer while earning extra money simultaneously. Remember, every little bit helps when it comes to lessening your college expenses.


Always be looking for opportunities to decrease the amount of student loans you need to borrow. Seek out scholarships, grants, and spend your summers earning extra money for when school resumes. Every little bit helps reduce the overall cost of college and the interest that would be otherwise accruing on student loans.

We’re Here to Help!

If you’re preparing to head off to college or are coming home for the summer, stop by to see us. We’ll be happy to help you open your account and introduce you to all our convenient digital services. That way, when you head back to school, your account will only be a few taps away.

To get started, please stop by any of our convenient branch locations or call (949) 588-9400.


Each individual’s financial situation is unique and readers are encouraged to contact the Credit Union when seeking financial advice on the products and services discussed. This article is for educational purposes only; the authors assume no legal responsibility for the completeness or accuracy of the contents.