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Listerhill Credit Union is a nonprofit financial cooperative improving lives in our community.

If you live in Alabama, Georgia, Mississippi, Florida, or Tennessee, you are eligible to become a member. Depending on your individual eligibility, we may require membership into an approved association at no cost to you.

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How Much Money Should I Save for College?

College is an exciting but expensive stage of life. While student loans might seem like a simple way to pay for your tuition, you will be starting your career in debt. And, when you factor in interest, you will also owe more than you initially borrowed.

That's why it's a great idea to file your FASFA early, explore scholarships, talk to your college’s financial aid department, and find other forms of financial assistance to cover as much of your tuition as possible.

But how will you pay for gaps in your tuition funding, books, housing, and other expenses? The best way to prepare for these costs is to save. The sooner you start, the more money you can save.

Now is the time to set up a checking and savings account. You can have your paychecks deposited directly into your account, track your spending, automate your savings deposits, and pay any bills you may have.

Consider Following the Rule of Thirds

It's time to work out how much you and your family should come up with, but how much do you need to save?

As you plan how much to save, a good rule when it comes to paying for college is the Rule of Thirds.

  • One-third of your college tuition costs come from financial aid, scholarships, and grants.
  • One-third comes from you or your parent’s savings and investments.
  • One-third comes from student loans—of course, the goal is to keep this as low as possible to avoid costly debt.

How Much Does College Tuition Cost?

College costs vary greatly depending on whether you choose to study in or out-of-state. If you attend a public college in your home state the cost is significantly lower, so the simplest way to keep costs down is to choose a public university in your home state.

Here's a comparison of some of Alabama's most popular colleges:

*Tuition rates below refer to one academic year only.


University NameIn-State Undergraduate Tuition & Fees*Out-of-State Undergraduate Tuition & Fees*
Auburn University$12,536$33,944
The University of Alabama
$11,900
$33,200
University of Alabama at Birmingham
$11,040
$27,330
University of Alabama in Huntsville
$11,878
$25,460
University of North Alabama
$12,800
$25,600

*Tuition rates are for the 2023-2024 academic year.

So Exactly How Much Money Should I Save for College?

Let's say you decide to follow the Rule of Thirds. If you choose Auburn University, and you're from Alabama (in-state):

  • The total tuition is $12,536 per year.
  • You need to save one-third of $12,536, which is $4,178.
  • It's a four-year college, so you need to save $4,178 x 4 for a total of $16,712.

However, keep in mind that this example is for tuition only. You will also need to include housing, food, books, and any additional living expenses in your calculation.

How to Find College Scholarships

The Rule of Thirds says you can reasonably aim to get about a third of your college education costs paid for through scholarships and financial aid. But how do you find college scholarships and how do you know if you're eligible?

The first place to start is your high school counselor. They should know of scholarships that you may be able to apply for locally. Make sure you meet all scholarship submission deadlines and fully complete the applications.

Also, explore the website of your potential college and make an appointment to meet with their financial aid department. They will be a valuable resource to you throughout your college career and will be able to help you find additional scholarships and grants that you can apply for. Regardless of the number or amount of scholarships and grants you receive, you will still need to file your FAFSA.

Lastly, check your credit union for scholarship opportunities. For example, as yet another way to support our community, Listerhill promotes higher education by funding endowment scholarships through local colleges.

How to Save for Your College Education

Let's do a quick recap. A good rule of thumb is that you can expect to pay for a third of your college costs through scholarships and other financial aid. You can then pay for another third through student loans. This means you and your family will be responsible for the remaining third.

Luckily, saving is simple once you open a dedicated account. At Listerhill Credit Union, you can open a Share Savings Account with just $5 and earn interest not just on your balance but on quarterly dividends as well.

Checking Accounts

Related: How to Save Money Fast On a Low Income


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Frequently Asked Questions

  • What if I prefer to make my payments through a pre-authorized automatic payment arrangement (ACH)?

    Please contact TruHome at 844-203-3642 to set up automatic payments or visit here to set them up yourself.

  • What if I prefer to make my payments through the Listerhill Mobile Banking app or Online Banking?

    Unfortunately, when the transfer occurs, mortgages will not be displayed on our app or in online banking, but we are working to bring that functionality ASAP.

    In the meantime, please visit here to view all mortgage information and payment options.

  • What if I prefer to make my payments through the "Pay Your Loan" link on the Listerhill website?

    Unfortunately, after the transfer you will not be able to use this link to pay your mortgage. However, you can visit here to view all mortgage information and payment options.

  • What if I prefer to make my payments over the phone?

    You can reach TruHome's payment center by calling 844-203-3642.

  • What if I prefer to make my payments by mail or through Bill Pay at another financial institution?

    As a national servicing company, TruHome will probably be in your other financial institution's list of payees who accept electronic payments. If not, you can set up the account using the address below:

    TruHome Solutions, LLC

    P.O. Box 219958

    Kansas City, MO 64121-9958