What College Students Need to Know About Finance
If you’re a college student headed off to school, suddenly managing your own finances can be daunting and complicated! Unless your parents were amazing at teaching you to manage money bit by bit while you were growing up, this new responsibility can be overwhelming. What are important things you need to know about managing your money, as you begin adulthood?
How to Budget
Especially as you figure out how to pay for individual things at school, making a budget is critical regardless of your age. Remember, there are lots of grown adults still figuring this out, too! According to Nerdwallet, practice begins by making lists of what your known expenses are monthly: water, electricity, housing, internet, and phone. Estimate how much your food budget should be and see what other expenses you may have. If you drive, gasoline is essential, as is setting aside money for car maintenance like oil changes, for example. This shows you what you need to survive, and exactly how much “extra” you have for savings and fun money.
Getting Financial Aid
On October 1st, you need to have filled out that FAFSA form every year, even if you don’t intend to use student loans to get through school. According to AAI, filing out your FAFSA application is the first step to getting financial aid for higher education. Depending upon your income (or your parent’s), financial aid may be offered as either grants, which don’t need repayment, or loans, which do need repaying when college is completed. Talk to your financial aid office if you have special circumstances.
Credit Card Offers
There will suddenly be millions of credit card applications which arrive in your mail, from the time you graduate onward. Growing a healthy financial future does involve having a line of credit, but this is not the right time for opening up a lot of them. Investopedia says that it’s incredibly easy to apply for credit cards, and to use them when life gets complicated, but then wind up with large bills that get overwhelming. Use FAFSA for college loans, but only what money is necessary. Use credit rarely, and only when you have the money to immediately pay it off.
Learning how to use money is one of the most critical skills you will gain in life! Practice using only what you have, and use cash carefully. It gets easier with practice to stay within your budget, so start practicing now. Adjust what you must, and keep going—your ongoing financial education is worth it!
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