Getting Schooled –
College Finance 101
So you sent your pride and joy off to the great wide open of college
life. How are they doing with their money the first quarter on their own?
Here are a few reminders that may help them along the way and a few ideas
that you may be able to slip in during Thanksgiving break.
Avoid those credit card offers. Make sure you reintegrate that they steer clear of tempting credit card offers that come with sign up bonuses. College will be plenty expensive without tacking on an extra couple thousands worth of unnecessary debt.
Student loans should provide them with money for all of the necessities, like books, meal plans, and housing quarters. Any extra expenses should be saved for with summer earnings or even a part-time job during the school year.
Let's hope that they still have some of their loan money left. Student loans should help pay for your school, not help you have the most decked out dorm room on campus. It can be really easy for them to blow a semester's worth of money on one weekend trip or visit to the local electronic store.
Campus food may not be the best on Earth but it beats paying off nice meals for 20 years because they spent loan money on going out to Chili's twice a week.
A great way to avoid having to use up all of your loan money is to establish a good budget. Having gone through most of the first semester should help them calculate how much they spend per semester. So when they are back for break you can set up a budget that accounts for all of their costs and the best way to use the loan money and make it stretch for the remaining of the year.
This next one can be debated by many, but should be considered. Heavy class loads and mountains of homework may make it difficult to earn extra income, but there are many options that may allow them to do both. There aren't many college students that couldn't benefit from working at least a couple of hours a week to get some extra funds.
There are many jobs that can be found that allows little work at all and can even allow you study time. Then there are always work-study programs that give you tuition assistance while you are still learning.
Here is another idea that is often met with odd looks by your kids. Convince them to skip the big spring break trip. I know it's like wrestling honey from a bear, but too often it is an excuse to spend way too much money. Besides, they are going to be going to school for at least 4 years, why not save up and go on a big getaway senior year.
They can come back home and even work for a few days to earn some extra money for the final couple months of the year. Spring break is also a great time for them to find a summer job. Whether they are coming back home or not, by looking now you can beat the rush and secure some income during the summer.
Did your kids shop around for their books or did they go straight to the bookstore and shell out big bucks for new overpriced books? Books along with many college needs can be purchased used. Unless pages are missing there is no reason why a used book will not work for them.
Other things you can buy used are microwaves, mini fridges, TVs, couches, chairs, or any other thing that they can fill a dorm room with. There are plenty of places you can find used items to fill a dorm room. If there is anything that they haven't bought yet try and find it cheaper. Have your kid look around campus on the bulletin boards to find things for sale.
Get next year’s financial aid done now. Don’t wait until last minute to turn in the forms. The earlier you get it done the quicker you know how much money you will be awarded. Plenty of things can go wrong with financial aid and by getting it in early you can correct any mistakes before it is too late.
College is a great time, and it's even better when you don't drive yourself into unnecessary debt. There is the cliché that you have to live off of ramen noodles and cheese sandwiches to truly experience the college life. It doesn't have to be that way when you think ahead. It's not too late. They can start anew this next semester and carry it on through graduation.
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