Paula Peyton and Chrystal Turner are both two years away from earning degrees at the University of Memphis. They're close enough to see the finish line, but talk of rising tuition is making a tough financial road rockier.
Surprisingly, it's not the university that is considering a price jump. The Tennessee Board of Regents is starting to spur discussion when it recently proposed a statewide tuition raise, according to Memphis' WMC-TV.
For many students like Peyton and Turner, another spike in tuition costs could leave them on the outside looking in.
"Right now I'm paying about $1,000 out of pocket every semester," Paula Peyton told WMC-TV. "You can't get a job without the degree, you can't pay for the degree without the job. I grew up on food stamps. I had state insurance. So I do rely heavily on loans for school."
The unfortunate truth is that loans, scholarships and grants aren't always enough for some students. That's why a two to eight percent rise in state tuition the board is looking at is cause for concern.
"It just makes that divide even more profound," Turner told WMC-TV.
And it's not just the cost of school itself. Textbook prices are skyrocketing at head-scratching rates. Between 2012 and 2013, the cost of textbooks increased 82 percent, according to the Government Accountability office. That's nearly three times the rate of inflation.
"We are very committed to getting degrees and are doing the best that we can to that," Peyton said. "But at some point we need help or at the very least we don't need to be pushed down anymore."
So how can students save money while paying for college costs? It can be a difficult subject to broach, but there are ways to help lower your spending habits while you pad your basic savings account.
Rent or buy used textbooks in order to save money
According to a report from advocacy group U.S. PIRG, some students are sacrificing their education to save a few extra bucks on books. But what's the point of spending all that money on tuition if you aren't going to buy the necessary tools to be successful?
PIRG surveyed 2,000 students and found that 65 percent said they didn't buy a textbook because it was too expensive.
"Not only are students choosing not to purchase the materials they are assigned by their professor, but they are knowingly accepting the risk of a lower grade to avoid paying for the textbook," the study concluded.
But students shouldn't avoid a necessary class or textbook just to save money. One method to save cash on books is to rent or buy a used textbook instead of paying the full cost for a new one. Another option is finding someone in class you can study with and ask them if they would be interested in sharing the cost of the book.
Lower your costs around the house
One way for students to reduce their utility costs at home is by cutting cable television from their life, which more people are starting to do around the country.
According to Business Insider, all the major TV providers - AT&T, Comcast, etc - lost a combined 113,000 subscribers in the third quarter of 2013. More people are starting to use Internet-based television services - such as Netflix or Roku - which come in at a fraction of the cost.
In all, roughly 5 million people terminated their cable and broadband packages between the beginning of 2010 and the end of this year.
Trim the bad spending habits
Do you need a morning caffeine fix to get your day started? There are cheaper alternatives than dropping $5 a day at Starbucks, which comes out to $1,825 per year.
According to Reference.com, a cheaper alternative with similar effects is eating an apple. The natural sugars found in apples will provide an energy boost, and the average apple contains 20 grams of carbohydrates, providing fuel for your body.