Hi Money Masters,
Back to school season is JUST around the corner. I can almost smell the chalk! People are bustling about getting school supplies, shopping for new clothes (in bigger sizes because kids grow so fast!), and of course, checking and re-checking that budget! All this stuff doesn’t come free, right?
For those getting ready to head off to college, there are even more expenses, especially for those going away for school. Therefore, needless to say, a higher education is quite an expense. Saving for these expenses should start as early as possible. I have put together a checklist to help both future students and parents save together!
College Financial Checklist
#1. Set Up a Budget:
You will need to include everything from student loans, gas, food, lodging (deposit and monthly rent on apartment if not staying in a dorm), hiring a moving company (optional), clothing, entertainment, books and supplies, health insurance and basically EVERYTHING!
Once the budget is set, prioritize your spending. You may need to decrease entertainment funds and put that towards books, for example.
#2. Build Your Credit:
Since most high school students have little or no credit of their own, there are still ways in which they can begin healthy financial habits that will help them build and maintain positive credit as they get older. Making sure to pay bills on time is crucial (anything from a monthly subscription to a music app or a car loan payment).
When possible, pick up a weekend, summer and/or after school job(s) to sock money away. On top of all the regular expenses it is a good idea to also have an emergency fund for those unforeseen costs (i.e. car repairs or medical bills).
#4. Get a Head Start:
Depending on the student’s age and policies of the school, it may be possible to take courses at a community college prior to beginning the first year of college. With some earned credits already completed, this could reduce the tuition costs in the future.
#5. Do Your Homework:
Apart from the regular homework given currently in high school, there is much research to do to prepare for college. Both students and parents can research which majors and career paths would suit their financial situations as well as any scholarships, grants, and loan options. There is financial aid out there for students, but it won’t fall in your lap!
#6. Apply for Student Financial Aid
Whether a student is looking for need-based or merit-based scholarships/grants or a federal or private loan, following the steps is crucial. For more information click here!
I know this may seem like a tall order, and it is, but it is also completely necessary in order to be able to afford college expenses. Parents: guiding your children from a young age on proper financial habits will help them see the importance of the hard work they need to put in if they choose this path. Students: having the determination and will power to work hard NOW will stay with you as you begin your college path and grow into adulthood.
Blessings to you all,