By Auston Nigg
As you prepare for college, you’ve probably asked yourself a lot of different questions about financing your college education. “How to pay for college?” “Can I afford college?” or “How do I juggle school and a job so I can have money while in college?” are a few common questions in the college decision process.
Luckily, there are many great resources available to you as you navigate your college loans and scholarships. We narrowed it down to the top 5 financial resources for college students.
Here are the top 5 financial resources for you.
1. EXPLORE SCHOLARSHIP OPTIONS THROUGH FASTWEB
Searching for scholarships and loan options can be a time consuming and frustrating process. Searching for scholarships that apply to you can take up a lot of time. Fastweb is a great resource that aims to streamline this process.
They are considered to be the best website on the internet for discovering loan options, scholarship options and even internships while on campus. Fastweb also offers career advice that may help guide you if you are undecided in your degree program.
2. UNDERSTAND YOUR DEBT
Many students struggle with debt because they don’t understand or prepare themselves for the investment they’re making. Understanding your interest rate, the structure of your loan, and when you will have to begin paying it back is crucial in making college more affordable.
The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau has a great resource on their site to help students understand what they are signing for each and every time they get a loan. You would never choose a college without learning about it first, so be sure to treat your loans the same way.
3. READ BLOGS
It is always helpful and encouraging to read about people just like you who have succeeded with their college finances. They were in your same position and they found a way to make it all work. If they can do it, why can’t you?
Read up on blogs like Six Figures Under, The Penny Hoarder, or Student Loan Hero. When asking yourself “How can I make college more affordable?” sometimes the best avenue is trying to see how others answered that question for themselves. The North Central University Blog also contains a lot of great tips and advice for you as well.
4. SPEND A LOT OF TIME ON STUDENTLOANS.GOV
The resources above are more reader-friendly and will make researching more enjoyable. By the time you get to this resource, you will have a better grasp on all aspects of the student loan conversation. Studentloans.gov allows you to see what types of student loans you may qualify for, and walks you through the application process.
There are certain documents, and parent/guardian information you will have to provide in order to obtain student loans. This resource will give you all that necessary information.
5. CREATE A BUDGET AND STICK TO IT
Whether it’s the summer before your first semester of college or you’re reading this right before you graduate college, it’s never a bad time to start budgeting. It may not seem like having a budget can help you pay that large, somewhat intimidating tuition bill, but it can. Every little bit helps.
Whether you work a minimum wage job for 10 hours a week, or you work full time, setting aside a little bit of your income to go towards your loans while you are in college or right after you have graduated will make college more manageable for you.
Paying down your loans while still attending college or during the six month grace period that most student loans include, allows you to pay down the loan before the interest rate kicks in. This will save you so much money, while also teaching you the valuable skill of budgeting.
Thanks to smart phones, we now have great budgeting tools right at the palm of our hands. Mint is an app and website that allows you to see your spending trends and work to improve them. Analyze how you are spending and see how you can improve.
Use other apps like Buxfer or Venmo to help split bills or get that money back from your forgetful friend after you loan them ten dollars for a pizza. Don’t miss out on all the free help they can provide for you.
Did you know?
North Central University is one of the most affordable, private Christian universities in the state of Minnesota. Download a free cost worksheet to see how you can afford your education.