College Finance Survival Guide

Attending class, having a social life, participating in school activities, and going to class all add to the stress of a college student, but surviving financially can be the biggest of them all, but it doesn’t have to be. There are several things students should realize before they attend school. A college degree is an investment. Meaning that one must spend money with the hopes of eventually making more money resulting from a degree. This investment is, by all means, a worthwhile investment, because students are actually paying for their education, but often recieve wonderful social experiences as well.

In order to keep your head afloat, a college student must be honest with his/herself. They cannot afford to spend money they do not have. Credit card companies are like vultures and prey on college students as if they were road kill. In a metaphoric sense they are. They have no substantial income, therefore, need a means to make purchases they desire. I would strongly recommend that all college students avoid credit cards, if that is not possible only accept cards that offer a 0% APR for twelve months. When that twelve months is complete find a card that offers a similar deal and also offers free balance transfers then simply swap cards. It seems like you are cheating the system, but the system wants you to be in debt, so I say do what you can to survive. Student loans to me would be a last resort, however keep in minds that the interest rates on student loans are generally much lower than credit cards. There is a lot of money available through student loans, but if you do decide to get one only take what you absolutely need.

Scholarships also help alleviate the financial burden of tuition. Apply for every scholarship that you are qualified for, even some that you are not. Being aware of deadlines is a must! Once a scholarship is earned find out if it is renewable and the requirements for that. Make sure that you meet those requirements; they usually have certain gpa’s you must maintain and a certain number of hours you must be enrolled in. Some departmental scholarships require you to take certain courses or remain in a certain major. I actually failed to apply for a renewal of one of my scholarships and subsequently lost a thousand bucks despite my good grades. Pay attention to requirements!

Get a job! Working in college is beneficial for several reasons. The most obvious would be the money, but if you obtain a job in a college town, you will most likely be working with college students, therefore enhancing your social life. Waiting tables is an excellent choice. Working nights or weekends and taking cash home daily is ideal for a typical college student. Getting a job on campus can also prove to be beneficial. Campus jobs tend to work around class schedules easily and you may even become familiar with faculty members and make important connections. Whatever your decision is be sure that you have a steady income to supplement your scholarships or whatever your parents are giving you.

Lastly, I would suggest making close friends and help each other save money. For example instead of each of you buying a twelve pack of bear, why don’t three of you chip in and by a thirty pack? Use the same logic for eating out, traveling and even living if you choose to move off campus. Friends also make a great support system and if you choose your friends well they may help talk you out of irrational purchases.

Follow these simple tips to insure your financial survival. Notice I said survival, and not success, or any other word that would indicate that an average college student would be able to make and save massive amounts of money.