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Simple Tips Add Up To Big College Tuition Savings

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Joel Thomas
Joel is an Emmy Award winning journalist with more than 15 year...
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HUDSON OAKS (CBS 11 NEWS) – The Limbocker family of Hudson Oaks has a big day tomorrow.

“Tomorrow I’m moving into college,” said Jeff Limbocker as he packed personal items to go to SMU. “It will be an exciting time.”

The parents are sending off their son, but they don’t want to send any more money than they have to.

“You know we’re approaching retirement age,” Debra Limbocker laughed. “We’d like to be able to retire someday!”

College planners say step one to saving money is to look for hidden fees on your college bill, like dormitory phone line fees, or tickets to home sporting events.

“The mantra is question everything,” said Kevin Campbell, a college planner with College Planning Authority. “If you’re not clear what it is and what you’re being charged — if you’re student is not an athlete and you’re getting charged an athletic fee, you should be asking why.”

And why buy an expensive cafeteria meal plan?

“Most students do not need a three meal a day meal plan,” Campbell said.

SMU required the Limbockers to buy a meal plan for their freshman student. But they didn’t buy any more than the minimum required.

“He can eat at the dorm or he can figure out how to buy it,” Debra Limbocker said.

And there is one small item you don’t want to pack — a credit card.

“No,” Debra said. “He’s not going to take a credit card. And our oldest still doesn’t have a credit card because that’s a difficult thing to handle.”

“I’m going to have the money I have in the bank now and the allowance my parents give me once a month,” said Jeff Limbocker. “And once I spend it, it’s gone.”

And, if you’re allowing your student access to their allowance via debit card, Campbell recommends getting one without overdraft protection. That means when the account is empty, the student has no access to cash. Overdraft protection not only allows accounts to run into deficit, it can charge $25 for every swipe of the card.

And, especially for a freshman, leave the car at home to avoid gas, parking ticket and fender bender expenses.

All those little tips will likely add up in a big way for Limbockers.

“Say you save five percent by watching your bills over four years of college,” Campbell said. “That’s five thousand dollars over four years.”

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