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5 Ways To Be Financially Responsible In College

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UIC chapter.

College is a time to really find yourself as a person; you get to do many new and interesting things. You meet tons of people while learning all about your future career. You get to be involved with the community around you, on and off campus. It’s a great time to just be free and get to know who you are and what you like. Unfortunately, along with all the fun is a bunch of reality; specifically, your financial situation. Fortunately, there are ways to budget out your earnings and pay your school back so that you’re not completely in debt. Here are some ideas:

1. Scholarships

Although this is not the easiest way to obtain cash for your classes, it is fairly simple. Colleges offer students scholarships and funds that they could apply for in order to help cover their education bill each semester, if not the school year. The best part is, many scholarships are targeted at each individual’s area of study, so if there are 600 students applying for the everyday scholarship, go ahead and apply for that one, but you have the upper hand because you are also able to apply for another one; that being your area of study, providing you the upper hand and a possibility of obtaining more cash! There are the lucky ones who are granted full scholarships to whatever college they choose to attend, and are set, but, what about the rest of us? Those of us who have to pay out of pocket for our classes have scholarship options as well, and not many of us know that. As always, do not be discouraged if you feel that you cannot receive any type of funding, you never know what’s out there unless you stick your foot out the door.

2. Speak With A Financial Aid Advisor

This may not be an easy option, and it may be a bit confusing. Many of us in college are afraid of approaching any financial situation because it may seem complicated and overwhelming, so we may choose to avoid it as much and as long as possible. Again, this is not ideal. It is better to get a handle of your financial situation very early on in your academic career so that when you do graduate, you are not surprised to find out that your annual salary for the next six years is equivalent to only half of your student loans that must be paid back. Speaking with a financial advisor can help you better understand everything you need to know before it’s too late and you are stuck in a black hole of uncertainty.

3. Adjust Payments To Something More Affordable For You

This is an option that one could consider mainly because you have options. When signing up for a payment plan with your university, you are given dates and amounts to pay. Usually, this seems to be the easiest because the payments are evenly distributed and the borrower has time to collect funds (if you are paying out of pocket) each month to pay back the school. But, there are times where you have six payments that all equal $600, and the first two months are fine and dandy, but the third month comes in hard and you are left trying to figure out how to save up your earnings in the little amount of time you have and how to do so by only being able to work 15 hours a week on minimum wage. Yes, this is difficult to budget out in certain cases, but, again, there are options. One that could work well is to adjust the scheduled payments to an amount that you are able to afford at the time and while the last payment you make could be a good chunk of change, you were able to save up some money from work to pay the school in full with no problem. Of course, everyone’s situation is different, so, budgeting before planning would be a smart move.

4. Set Up A Payment Plan That Will Be Specific To Your Individual Situation

As stated previously, each individual college has a system of payment plans that are unique to each students’ situation. The best thing to do would be to research what options are available before picking just any payment option. Some payment plans are geared towards students who live on campus but do not have a job because they are unable to work for whatever reason. You could ask a financial advisor for assistance as well with setting up a payment plan specific to your needs; just know that there is more than one option available.

5. Extra Hours At Work Or Add Another (Temporary) Job To Your Life

Of course, working long hours is not for everyone. There are those who do not mind picking up a few extra shifts, and then there are those of us who would rather stay in bed all day. It may seem like a last resort, but this option could definitely help in the long run. It may not seem ideal at the time, but, I promise, it won’t be forever. In this case, you just have to be smart with your money and be willing to negotiate the amount of sleep you get since you also have to find time to do homework.

Ultimately, what you decide to do is your choice, just know that just because it seems like you are running out of options, it does not mean that your education has to be put on hold. Evaluate what is available to you before making drastic changes.


(Photos courtesy of pexels.com)

My name is Maggie, and I am currently a junior at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). My major is English, with a concentration in professional and technical writing. Currently, I am interning at Classic Chicago Magazine, an online magazine located in the city of Chicago, and I am one of their social media correspondents. Being a member of HerCampus UIC is wonderful opportunity and exactly what I need to learn how to achieve my goals while enhancing my writing and technology skills.
UIC Contributor.