How to Cover Your College Expenses

How to Cover Your College Expenses
  • Opening Intro -

    Your return to campus for the fall semester has you in a bit of a quandary.

    Your financial aid package was sufficient and you have enough cash on hand to pay your share of tuition and board this semester and next.

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However, you’re falling short in having enough money for to pay for your books and for meeting personal expenses, a problem you hadn’t anticipated earlier. Fortunately, you have some options available to you when you seek to cover your college expenses. We’ll look at three here and discuss various benefits and shortcomings as you consider your choices.

1. Get a job. If you’re an incoming freshman, working may not be a good option. You need to get used to college and adjust to a new academic schedule, make use of your study time and learn how to prepare for tests, exams and term papers.

For returning college students, work can certainly be beneficial if the hours are limited and you manage your time. Check with your college for campus jobs first. When working for the college, you’ll have an employer that respects your time, understands your needs and can give you a schedule that is flexible. The pay isn’t great, but it can more than fill your financial shortfall.

2. Establish a payment plan. Your college may show financial flexibility by allowing your to make payments monthly instead of paying a lump sum at the beginning of the semester. You’ll still have to pay what you owe, but your financial picture may change as the semester progresses.

Check out the Bankrate.com student budget calculator to help you manage your money. You can track expenses for eight months from September through April.

3. Borrow money carefully. Unless you’re on a full scholarship, you may still find the college financial road a tough one. Millions of students will borrow money to pay for their education, but this is a decision that requires much thought and should only be taken when all other options have been exhausted. One of those options is the federal Pell grant, something your Student Aid Report may not have reflected. Visit your college’s financial aid department to make sure that all financial aid that you have coming to you has been awarded.

When it comes time to take out a loan, the first place to start is with the federal government and its Stafford Loan plan. A federal Stafford Loan is available for undergraduate and graduate students attending college at least half time. You get a fixed interest rate and typically can find the best loan deals available. Your state, too, may have a loan program available — your college financial aid office can advise you there.

Private student loans are another option and, like federal and state loans, should be taken out after only much consideration. The payment terms are different from public loans and the rates are typically higher. The advantage here is that parents can take out loans too. As with any loans — public or private — you’ll be expected to pay the money back. Avoid big debt — limit your loans to only the monies that you need to get through college.

College Considerations

Don’t forget to take what tax deductions are due to your family when filing your income taxes each year. You may find that the deductions provide enough cash to handle your financial gap, a remedy that can keep your college expenses under control.

College Financing reference:

finding money for college guide

 
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Categories: Finance