While going to college can be a very exciting time, it can also be very expensive. With the average debt of graduating students increasing annually, students need to be aware of college costs sooner than later. It’s now becoming obvious that the ability to go to college depends on how much financial aid a student can attain. While celebrating college acceptance with joy, you should also realize the value of financial aid. Here are seven (7) simple, but effective financial aid tips for college-bound students.
I. Understand Your Financial Aid Options
Since most students need some sort of aid to help them finish their education, the idea is to understand all options and take advantage of them all. Apart from specific, university scholarships, research whether or not you qualify for funding from a) hobbies that you are going to pursue, b) the major/minor that you accept, and c) the organization or society that you affiliate with or join. There are grants and other scholarships tied to hobbies, specific majors, and organizations that you might not realize or knew about.
II. File Your Applications and Stick to the Deadlines
Financial aid may come from different sources such as your state, school, or local city government. In order to succeed, you must send your application before the deadline. Always remember to send before the first deadline to be seriously considered. I advise students to send applications 2 to 3 weeks prior to the first deadline.
III. Budget Well
I think we can agree that it would be difficult to manage a full class load without some sort of agenda or calendar. The same thing applies to your finances. It is imperative to prepare a finance plan based on effective budgeting. Although you don’t have to track every dollar, you should know where the money is coming from and going every month. You should track how much money you spend every month. Just make sure you prepare a budget and stick to it. And avoid making unnecessary expenditures every month. Save as much as reasonably possible.
IV. Contact the Financial Aid Counselor
Just like politics, awarding financial aid is a bit of a political embarkment. The type of plan that you produce will determine whether you qualify or not. A financial aid officer has the authority to make the decisions that will ensure you get the financial aid. Due to the extensive financial aid application review process, you need to specifically ask the financial aid counselor how much money you could possibly be granted. Knowing how much aid you may obtain will further help with budgeting every month.
V. Avoid Credit Cards
Try to avoid credit cards at all costs. Being able to afford concert tickets or a trip to the Cancun is not worth overworking yourself to pay significant credit card later on. You are already going to finish school with student loans, so it is unwise to burden yourself with credit card debt post-graduation. If you have to resort to obtaining a credit card, make sure you do enough research to get a credit card with a lower interest rate. Credit card companies can hit you with high-interest rates and other charges since they know that you do not have many options for financing purchases. Don’t just sign up for the first offer that comes to you. Do you diligence and research a card with the best interest rates.
VI. Enjoy Student Discounts
One of the perks of being a college student is that you may be eligible for discounts around town. With your campus ID, you can reap a lot of benefits such as discounts from restaurants and major shops selling dorm products, gadgets, and meals at a discounted price for college students. Once in a shop, store or restaurant, ask the sales clerk or hostess whether they offer any discounts for college students.
VII. Love Frugality
If you make wise financial decisions, you will definitely reap positive benefits in future. Don’t be a person that must live an excessive life as student only to be faced with a life of debt in the future. If you must enjoy yourself you can reward yourself once in a while for a long week of studying as opposed to barhopping every weekend. If there is ever a time that you need to practice frugality in your life, then now is the time.
Although university or college life is not cheap, if you make the right decisions you can keep your costs at a low level, manage your student aid, and enjoy the journey. Enjoy your time in college and be productive. Happy studying college students!
Guest Author Bio – Maria Hills is part of the community outreach team at Edu Aid, a home tuition agency. Maria is passionate about education at all ages, and when she isn’t learning new things, she is a keen walker and cyclist that can be found exploring mother nature.