College is a fun time, but if you do not manage your finances, you might not be able to afford it for long. The experts at Communityforce have put together this list of tips to help you manage your finances in college more effectively:
Keep an eye on your FAFSA and financial aid
FAFSA determines how much financial aid you qualify for, and it is important for every student seeking funds to fill out. The FAFSA can be filled out at the beginning of the year, and it is returned to you in a couple weeks. Monitor your FAFSA online and make sure everything was sent in properly because you do not want to risk receiving less funding as a result of a small problem. Common FAFSA mistakes include not paying attention to the registration deadline, prioritizing your schools in the wrong order and not clicking the final submission button on the confirmation page.
Get a job
Only get a job in college if you believe you can commit to it and handle the added time to your schedule. Don’t forget why you are in college: to study and get a degree. A job is a regular source of income, something most college students could use to deal with unexpected expenses. Examples include parking fees, dorm decorations and electronics.
Make a budget
It is not easy to predict all your monthly expenses, but there are some things you can take into account, such as groceries, clothes and gas. Look at your scholarships, grants and other sources of income to make sure you have enough to cover everything. Limit how much you spend on entertainment and be sure to not exceed your set amount.
Make sure your budget can cover utility bills when living off campus. If you don’t want to study in the dark, it is necessary to pay them. Mark the due dates for each bill down on a calendar and be sure to pay each one on time.
Look into renting books
College bookstores can be pricey and online book renters offer a money-saving alternative for students. According to Time, the price of new textbooks rises about 7 percent each year, and online renters can save students up to 70 percent.
Use your student discount whenever possible
Your student ID can do way more than just checking you into the dining hall, and a number of businesses offer discounts for students. Some of these include 15 percent off at J. Crew, 20 – 30 percent off FedEx shipping and a 75 percent discount on The Wall Street Journal.
A number of services also offer discounted or free trial memberships. Amazon Prime Student gives students six months of free two-day shipping, and Sam’s Club has special membership deals for students. Doing a little research about the things you qualify for can be fun and save you money.
Monitor card use
Credit cards can be beneficial in college because you can earn rewards, learn to understand your credit score and have emergency funds. Naive students are easy targets for credit card companies who charge high rates and late fees, so if you are thinking about opening a credit card, speak with your parents and weigh your options carefully.
Keep track of all your purchases because the little things you buy with a credit card can really add up. For example, you use your credit card about three times a week to buy a $3.75 latte at a local coffee shop. The expense seems small at the time, but when you get the $45 bill at the end of the month with added rates and fees, it will seem much more expensive. You are already likely going to have student loans after you graduate, you don’t want to add massive credit card debt to the list.
Don’t stop applying for scholarships
Many students believe applying for scholarships is only for high school students and incoming freshman. This is not true, and many scholarship programs will accept applicants at any grade level. Never stop your scholarship search because applying for one today can save you a lot of money in future student loan payments.
For more information about money, financial aid and scholarships, please visit Communityforce website.