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4 Financial Tips to Read Before Starting College

College student reading financial information

No doubt we have all heard the horror stories of simultaneously trying to juggle school, friends, and finances while off at college. It’s stressful to add a part-time job onto your already busy schedule. While it may sound unnerving, there are several ways to make the financial burden of college less stressful. Having a game plan in place before moving into the dorms and entering your first lecture goes a long way in ensuring your financial peace of mind.

1. Understand your financial aid

It’s crucial you take the time to look over your financial aid options. Before settling for a certain plan, it’s is important to be mindful of the long-term effects it could have on your financial health. Grants and scholarships are great ways to help cover tuition costs, so take time to apply to them before the school year starts. However, if you cannot take advantage of these, you’ll need to consider taking out a loan. As tempting as it may be to take out an amount that covers all your costs, it is important to stick to what you need. Saying no to those extra loans will save you from a lot of debt and stress in the future.

2. Be smart with your credit

Strong credit is a great thing and having a good score right out of the gate will open a lot of doors. There are a lot of wonderful student credit card options out there - just keep an eye on how you use it. A common rule is to not use more than 30% of your credit limit. Keeping this in mind will make it easier to track your payments and avoid unwanted fees.

3. Consider the cost of your living space

Residing in an off-campus apartment or private dorm room can be an attractive option; a good living space is vital for a positive college experience. Thankfully, it is possible to live comfortably while also being cost-effective. Although it’s not ideal, living with other people can save you a ton of money. If you are concerned about getting along with roommates, make sure to submit your roommate questionnaire before the college or apartment complex has assigned rooms. Additionally, there are lots of great cost-efficient ways to maximize small spaces - you don’t have to feel cramped.

4. Avoid buying new

Used textbooks are an obvious money-saver, but there are a variety of other essentials that you don’t need to purchase brand-new. Certain items, such as microwaves and coffee makers, can be bought used at your local garage sale or through online communities such as Facebook Marketplace or eBay. For items such as TVs and mini-fridges, check with your dorm to see if they have common rooms that provide those items.

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