"What about college student finances? Are they really that important?"
Ever had a month where there was too much month at the end of the money? College Student Finances anyone?
You're not alone! Have you wondered, "How should I manage my finances as a college student?" or "What do I need to know about college student finances?"
Well, again you are not alone.
Keeping your student finances in order can be as easy as making a plan and then sticking to it (yea I know, easier said than done).
From student credit cards to student loans, money can be pulled in so many different directions that you might lose track!
But, knowing a little more about these things can make for easy management during college.
A few things that you'll want to know about are student budgets, student credit cards, what expected family contribution is, college student debt, college student cars, common college costs, college loans, and some other financial resources.
One tool that you can and should have for managing college student finances is a plan for keeping track of all your expenses. You might already know what I'm talking about-a budget!
Don't fret however. I use the phrase loosely because I know that a budget has a restrictive connotation. Lets just call it a money plan. This allows you to "follow the money". Just knowing where your money goes every month can be a huge help.
There are a couple of things that you need to do to make sure that you have financial balance and success in college-
Make a list of each of these per month:
-Where is the money coming from?
-Savings -Loans -Family -Scholarships -Grants -Work
-How much will you have each month?
-Tuition -Cell Phone -Textbooks -etc. -Fees -Insurance
-Food -Clothing -Rent -etc.
-You've got to have some fun!
-When and how much money will be used:
-Weekly -Monthly -Emergencies
I know that no one can plan for emergencies, but financial experts agree that having a safety net is important, even for college students.
The great thing about a money plan is that it can be adapted and easily implemented according to your personal college student finances.
You don't have to have this kind of structure. But, it will probably save you a lot of head ache and money in the long run.
After you have laid out your plan, then comes the hard part- implementing it! A plan will always just be what could be unless it is accompanied by action.
If a money plan (or budget) isn't for you, then you should at least setup online banking with whatever financial institution you choose.
For your college student finances, I would recommend that you set one up with a local bank or credit union so that you can talk to someone in person if you need to.
Another great resource is a website called www.mint.com. This website can help anyone find where their money is going each month and make a plan (budget) no matter what your financial situation is. Another financial tool that may or may not be right for you as a student is a credit card.
As far as college student finances are concerned, having a credit card can be very useful and helpful for emergencies. But, depending on your spending habits, this may not be a good idea.
If you do decide to have a credit card, look at credit unions and banks near the university where you attend.
Some universities even have a financial institution associated with the school. They will have financial tools that cater to students.
An example may be special interest rates and options for students when it comes to credit cards and auto loans. They may even have options for discount student auto & renters insurance.
You may want to contact insurance agents in the area around the school for more info as well.
Make sure that you know the interest rates associated with any loan or credit card! Make sure you know if that is just a promotional interest rate and if it will go up after a certain period of time.
Debt can accrue fast in college with student loans. Don't make your college student finances and loan amount worse by running up a credit card just because you have a $1000 limit!
When it comes to expected family contribution and other available sources of money for college students, you need to determine whether or not you will use them.
The expected family contribution (EFC) is a value that you will enter on the FAFSA if you apply for financial aid. You should discuss with your parents or guardians what the EFC should be.
Your parents might have some money saved for you or know other family members who have saved money for your college student finances.
If there is no money available to you, the FAFSA may be able to help. You need to fill this out to get Pell Grants, Federal student loans (subsidized and unsubsidized), and work study.
If you don't think that you will qualify for it, you should still fill it out. You never know what you may be awarded. It is just like scholarships- it never hurts to see what you might get! What if you are already done with college and want to consolidate your college loans? If this is the case, then you will want to check with your loan provider if they have any options.
If they don't, checking with local financial institutions and other financial service providers would be good. Just make sure to do your due diligence. Student loans are a different animal than other loan types.
All in all, when it comes to managing your college student finances, there is an under-tone constantly occurring here: self-control.
Whether you are getting a student loan, or paying it off, make sure to use common sense in your spending.
Having the knowledge you have now, you can make better financial decisions.