Everyone comes to college with a different level of financial knowledge. Some students may have a debit card tied to their parent’s bank account and have never considered how they will pay for anything. Other students work through high school, and many have paid for their transportation and extra expenses since they got their first job. No matter how financially savvy you are, there are a few things you can do to make the transition into college a little easier. Taking control of your finances early is important so that you don’t get in over your head while away from home.
Know-How You Plan to Pay
You can pay for school directly, through different types of financial aid, and using loans. Many people use a combination of methods to pay for school. Spend some time the summer before you head off to college figuring out how you will pay. Your school’s financial aid office will probably be helpful, as well as your high school guidance counselor. One option you may want to seek out is paying with private student loans. The terms of these loans are more flexible than those offered by the federal government. You can use them to pay for your education, as well as other education-related expenses.
Paying for Day-to-Day Life
Paying for class and housing is not enough. How much extra you need can be pretty flexible, depending on your lifestyle, but you will need additional funds. There are a few ways to handle the cost-of-living expenses. If your family plans to provide a monthly stipend, you may not need to worry about coming up with additional funds. Otherwise, you may consider taking out a little extra in student loans to handle the extra expenses that crop up during the semester.
Another option is working while going to school. For some people, balancing a job with your academic obligations is no problem, for others, it isn’t realistic. If you are enrolled in a tough major or you have faced academic struggles in the past, plan to hold off on getting a job until you see how easy it is to manage your academic load.
You can also work over the summer and use those funds to carry you through the year. Having some funds set aside in savings that you can dip into for unexpected expenses makes it easier to focus on your studies. Depending on your major, you may find that summer internships provide not only a solid educational opportunity but also a way to boost your savings. While some majors do provide competitive wages for their interns, others only offer a token amount along with academic credits.
Pay Attention to Your Spending
Regardless of how you manage your finances while you are in school, pay attention to where your money goes. Just because you don’t have the obligations of someone working full-time doesn’t mean you shouldn’t budget and keep track of spending. Many landlords check credit before allowing you to sign a lease, so keeping your finances is important for success after graduation.