College is a very exciting and scary time in your life. On one hand it’s the first time you get a taste of independence, are able to live away from home, and get to stand on your own two feet as a young adult.
But on the other hand, it’s too expensive for a freshly graduated high school student (expect to shell out around 20k a year), professors could not care less about you on a personal level, and you always feel like something’s due, always.
Well fear not, these are just some of the natural pros and cons that will present themselves to you whenever you first venture out to a university or technical college. I centered this post around making sure that you have enough money to experience these first hand.
I have written this with you having a part time job in mind. It doesn’t matter if you are a summer only worker or year round, as long as you are finding a way to legally bring in money to put towards your education (don’t be trying any shady shit) .
Ideally, you should be reading this post your sophomore or junior year as this is the time I would recommend you start putting some thought into saving for college. If you’re even going at all (a topic for a different time).
Despite whatever age you are, this post will help guide you through some things that I did not know until arriving to college and paying my fees.
WHY I DIDN’T SAVE
Now if I knew how much college was going to cost I would have started putting more into my piggy bank instead of paying 70% of my tuition with loans. However, my school nor anyone else told me that you have to pay your tuition up front.
I know that may warrant a response like, ‘Well duh, everyone knows that’. I didn’t. And if you are a high-schooler reading this and just finding this out then I’m glad to have reached you before it was too late.
I had always heard of people complaining that they had to keep paying for college even after they graduated years ago.
Back then I thought that they were paying back the school directly, now that I am actually in college I know that it is the loan that you are paying back directly, and trust me, loans are not your friend.
I could go on about how interest rates can really put you in the hole and how you may not even be approved for the loan (by you I mean your parents/legal guardian if you don’t have any credit) but I think you get the idea.
Loans are bad and if you have to borrow try to borrow as little as possible!
HOW YOU CAN
Ok, so now that we understand the importance of saving we can actually get into the actual subject. Now you may think, ‘But Max, if all I have to do is save then I just have to not spend my money. Problem solved right?’
It’s not always that simple. Sometimes other financial obligations arise and you will have to address them. Some parents may decide to help you out financially for as long as you need it and others will urge you to get a job and pay for your own stuff as soon as you legally can.
This is more for the latter, but stick around if this isn’t the case for you. You might learn something useful.
1. SPLIT UP YOUR CASH
Splitting up your income is a skill that is going to be very useful in adulthood. It takes you out of the childhood mindset of money being a thing that buys more things.
There’s no need to get rid of it all as soon as you get it. Now how you split up your wages is completely dependent on your situation but here is a basic rule of thumb to follow.
BILLS, SAVINGS, AND RECREATION
For bills these are all your financial obligations so you’ll want to take care of these first.
- Spotify/Netflix etc.
Those are just a few examples and what resides in that lists varies depending on your situation. Fortunately if you’re living at home, that cuts off a lot of other expenses such as rent, cable, electricity, groceries, etc.
This is why you have got to take advantage of your opportunity and save while your financial obligations are the lowest they’ll ever be.
For savings you can tackle this two different ways (depending on how much time you have)
- Take whatever money is left over after paying your bills and halve it. Put one half into your savings and the other you can use as play money. Put that towards recreation and spend it however you like
- If money is tight and you are low on time then put everything left over after bills into your savings completely skipping over recreation
The second option will yield the most money the quickest if you’re low on time and/or have a large goal that you need to reach but it can be quite difficult to do.
Often times you will feel like all you do is work without seeing anything in return.
To be honest I (and many adults) still struggle with this but you have to keep your eyes on the bigger picture. Your future.
If you are able to graduate college relatively debt free, then the money you earn can go towards buying a new car or house, paying for bills, and also you’d have some money left over for you to save, invest, or spend casually.
Again, this all depends on your career of choice, how smart you are with your money, and any financial obligations that you have.
Sometimes, you will barely miss your money goal or won’t make it at all. For those instances you will need to apply for scholarships, grants, or even student loans.
I’ll quickly run through what is typically offered but I would recommend you call or email the financial aid office of your desired school of choice and go over the options with them.
2. GRANTS AND SCHOLARSHIPS
Firstly, let me say that to be qualified for most financial aid you will need to complete your FAFSA (The Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
My financial adviser recommends that students look at their school’s FAFSA deadline and complete their application ahead of time. Financial aid is given out on a first-come, first-serve basis.
So make sure that you are there as early as possible!
Scholarships and grants can be viewed as free money, however they both have separate requirements.
Grants tend to be need based and are given out to families that may have difficulty paying for their child’s education with their current salary.
Your academic performances will influence your eligibility for scholarships. They can be given based on GPA, ACT or SAT scores, and other academic or athletic accomplishments.
Scholarships are very competitive and can be quite difficult to achieve. Be sure to contact financial aid at least seven or eight months in advance before starting your first semester. That way you will find out if you have already qualified for any already. As well as know what you need to work towards if you have not yet qualified for one.
Keep in mind that scholarships vary based on your school and state so always check in with your university/technical college as well as your high school counselors to see what scholarships are offered in state
3. STUDENT LOANS
Now, although I said to stay away from these, sometimes you just might have no other choice but to acquire a loan to help with the remaining tuition balance.
You will have to be pay back the money borrowed plus any additional interest that is placed on them. Always research your specific loan before signing any paperwork.
The government and private lenders both offer student loans, interest rates vary between the two.
Federal student loans should be your first option as the government will work with you in paying them back. Some careers even have student loan forgiveness, which eliminate your need to pay them back.
As for private loans, these would be through a company. They typically have higher interest rates than those of federal loans.
However, there can be some benefits to these loans. Interest is tax-deductible, there are interest rate discounts, and many have no hidden fees.
Check out the pros and cons here https://bit.ly/2K7ahqC.
The financial service Discover rewards students for good grades and SunTrust has some very low interest rates. If you had to go through a private lender I would consider them first. Give them both a look down below.
And with that, you should have a good idea of how you will be able to pay for college.
Before you go remember to be careful and patient with information. Look over all pros and cons, and get a second opinion from parents and financial advisers before reaching a conclusion.