A Dozen Money-Management Tips

That Every College Student Should Know

Build Good Credit

  • Pay all of your bills on time
  • Borrow small amounts of money that you know you can pay back to show your responsibility
  • Begin building up a good credit score now so that you can make important purchases on things such as cars and homes later in life

Know the Ground Rules

  • Talk to your parents about money before you go to college
  • Will your parents bail you out of debt? Will they pay for unexpected expenses?
  • Ask before a crisis rather than in the midst of one

Organize Your Financial Stuff

  • Keep all of your important financial documents in a secure and organized place, such as an expanding file folder inside a (preferably fireproof) lockbox
  • Organize documents into categories such as Financial Aid, Student Loans, Bill Payments, etc.
  • Hold on to all financial records for 5 to 7 years in case you get audited by the IRS

Keep Looking for Financial Aid

  • You can keep applying for financial aid all the way through college, not just freshman year
  • Even if you spend literally like 6 hours filling out a tedious form to get $300 of scholarship money, that's still $50 per hour, a lot better than any work-study job you'll find
  • Most students miss out on financial aid money just because they miss out on deadlines
  • Don't be like that! Mitigate your student debt! Get all the financial aid you can!

Submit a New FAFSA Every Year

  • Federal financial aid has to be renewed every year
  • You should fill out a new Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each year as soon as possible after January 1st
  • Your parents will also need to fill out part of the form. Work with them! Don't give up!

Make Your Work-Study Job Work for You

  • If you have the opportunity to pick which work-study job you get, make a smart decision
  • Your work-study job should be related to the field you want to go into after college
  • This way, you're not only helping your present financial situation by earning money, but also bolstering your future financial situation by jumpstarting your career

Set Ground Rules with your Roommates Regarding Money

  • Money could be a source of major conflict between you and your roommate unless you take proper precautions
  • Decide sooner rather than later: will you each buy your own food, or will you shop for groceries together and split the bill? What about other expenses?

Keep your Friends and Money Separate

  • Money can cause divisions not just between roommates, but also between close friends
  • As a general rule: don't lend money to friends, and don't borrow money from them either
  • Make a promise to ourself ahead of time never to do this so that you have a good reason to turn money-lending offers down
  • You'll be glad to not have to worry about fighting over money with your buddies

Get Help if you Get into Debt Trouble

  • If you're missing bill payments, or borrowing from one credit card to make payments on another, stop denying that you're in trouble and get help
  • You can talk to a dorm's resident advisor, a financial aid officer, a campus psychologist, or even just your parents to learn what you need to do to start solving your financial problems
  • Talking to more than one of these sources is also preferable; you'll need both emotional and practical help to get yourself back on the right financial track

Take Advantage of Student Discounts

  • From everything to checking account deals to buying food and transportation, you can often save money just by showing your student ID
  • Even if deals for students aren't explicitly advertised, ask about them! Don't spend money when you don't have to!

Pay Yourself First

  • Get into the habit of immediately saving a portion of your earnings
  • Whenever you receive money from your parents or from work, put some of it into a checking account and a larger portion of it into your savings account
  • You'll be thankful to have money to fall back on in case of future emergencies

#1 Tip: Make School your First Job

  • Your work-study or off-campus job, as well as your social life, are not your first priorities while you are studying in college.
  • You are paying tens of thousands of dollars a year to go to school, so make it count.
  • Schedule time for studying as if it were time spent working; a high GPA and a thorough knowledge of your field will pay off later as you begin your career. Your education is an investment in your future!