Apr 16, 2012

Planning Your College Finances

Whether you are preparing to enter college or are currently enrolled in classes, you have your eye on the future. You may be thinking about which classes you want to take next semester, and perhaps you have your course load planned out several semesters into the future. While making plans to complete coursework is important, you also want to take time to review your finances and plan for your financial future.

Minimize Student Loans

Many students today pay for their college courses with student loans. It is also common for students to pay for some of their basic living expenses with student loans.

After all, as a student, you not only have to pay for tuition and books, but you also have to pay for food, gas and insurance for your car, medical expenses, clothes and more. While student loans can provide you with a way to pay for these expenses, this is money that will have to be paid back with interest in the future. Minimizing student loans now can minimize your debt load in the future after graduation. You can consider getting a part-time job to cover a portion of your expenses, living in more affordable housing with a roommate and other strategies that may minimize your current living expenses today. The less you have to borrow today, the better off you will be in the future.

Establish Credit

It's natural that students are making every effort to avoid getting into debt. This may mean paying for an older vehicle with cash and avoiding credit cards entirely. While it is wise to avoid going into debt as much as possible, some debt is not entirely bad. Your credit rating will be reviewed numerous times in the future. This includes by potential employers, landlords and creditors alike. You can take action today to responsibly establish a good credit rating. Consider applying for a small auto loan with monthly payments that are affordable for you, or open a credit card account with a small available balance. Only make charges on the card that you can afford to pay off in full each month. Having a credit card in your wallet not only helps you to establish credit, but it also may be useful as a source of cash in emergency situations.

Maximize Work Opportunities

Students want to focus on their studies during the semester, but there is plenty of time between semesters when you may be able to earn some extra cash. Some work opportunities require you to work regular, scheduled hours. Others, such as freelance writing, mystery shopping, babysitting and more allow you to enjoy greater flexibility with your work schedule. You may even consider outside-the-box money-making opportunities such as turning your car into a moving billboard by getting it wrapped. By taking advantage of as many work opportunities as possible, you can better manage debt and perhaps even save for the future.

When you are in college, it can be difficult to imagine what life may be like after you graduate. Many believe their financial situation will drastically improve once they start working in the “real world” in their field of choice. However, the years after graduation may include paying off credit cards and student loans, saving to buy a house and other costly ventures. Taking time for financial planning today can improve your financial situation today and well into the future. 


Author: Jerry Gerber is a college student and in his spare time he writes for Top Criminal Justice Schools. If you have an interest in pursuing a degree, he recommends checking out their list of the Top 10 Best Online Criminal Justice Schools.

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