Finances and Money Management
Completing the FAFSA
The FAFSA is a free application that gives you access to federal aid to pay for college. This must be done EVERY year! The federal deadline is June 30 - however, it’s best to complete the FAFSA early on since financial aid is distributed on a first-come, first-serve basis. Some schools might even have their own individual deadlines, so be sure to check-in with the Financial Aid Office at your school.
You can complete the FAFSA form at fafsa.gov. Additionally, at studentaid.gov, you can find more resources about:
- How to prepare for college, career school, graduate school, and professional school
- The types of aid that are available (including aid from the federal government, state where you live, or the school you attend), and
- How to apply for that aid
Did you take out a loan to pay for college? If so, it’s important to know the answer to the questions below:
- What’s the balance of your federal student loans?
- When do you have to start paying your loans back?
- Where will you send the payments?
- Did you know that you may be eligible for a 0.25% percent rate reduction if you set up auto-debit payments?
Budgeting and Saving
If you’ve ever asked yourself, “Where’d all my money go?” it means it’s time to set up a budget! This will help you keep track of where your dollars are going. Your budget may need to shift over time - for example, if you move from a dorm room into an off-campus apartment, you may incur different expenses.
Check out this video on budgeting to find out how easy budgeting can be and find a method that works for you. You should also view this sample budgeting template, and use that to get an idea of what you should be budgeting for while in college.
If you don’t have one already, be sure to set up a Bank Account (Savings and/or Checking). Bank accounts are a necessary tool to help you track, spend, and save money. If you don’t already have a bank account, learn more at https://www.consumer.gov/articles/1003-opening-bank-account. Keeping track of your expenses is a habit that will come in handy for future loan repayment.
It’s also important to create an emergency fund for unexpected expenses; and to begin thinking about saving up for grad school and for other big future goals! Find out more about saving money at mymoney.gov/saveandinvest.
Manage your credit cards
How many credit cards do you have? Do you know the interest rate for each card? Credit cards can come in handy, but they can also get you into financial trouble, so use them wisely. For more information, check out mymoney.gov/borrow.
Khan Academy has some solid resources to help with your personal finance! Check out Khan Academy’s Personal Finance course if you are interested in learning about general financial literacy.