Let's admit it – we all love money! Money is what allows us to buy the things we want, do the things we want, and invest so we can save money for a rainy day. But, the same thing we love can also be our worst enemy.
There is tuition that needs to be paid, bills that need to be paid, food to be bought, student loans to be repaid and so on and so on. At times it can feel like all we are doing is spending money. Having a good financial plan and understanding how the choices you make today – while in college – can affect you down the road well after you have graduated is critical to becoming financially savvy.
At College of DuPage, we want to help you become financially savvy. This site is geared towards providing students with vital information regarding budgeting, credit cards, credit scores, conditional loans and how to manage your student loan debt while in school and after.
How do you become financially savvy and make wise financial choices?
Think of a budget like planning for a trip – you may know where you want to go but how will you get there?
The same thing can be applied towards creating a budget. You know that you have monthly expenses that need to be covered, but do you have the money available to cover those expenses? If not, you might need to develop a budget to see where you can cut some costs.
Creating a budget will help you see where your income is spent. For example, if you buy a Starbucks Grande Latte every day for one month – that is $109.50 every month and $1,314 for the year. You will soon see that every dollar adds up quickly!
Need help creating a budget? Check out Federal Student Aid Create Your Own Budget
*IMPORTANT NOTE* If you are planning to borrow student loans – or already have loans – don't forget to include your student loan payments in your budget. You can use the Loan Simulator to help determine your monthly loan payment.
Your credit score is used to determine your creditworthiness. What does this mean for you? If you are looking to buy a car, a house, get a credit card, or borrow money for any reason, your credit score will be the main factor used by lenders to determine whether you are approved. The better your score the better your options are for low interest loans and/or approval.
Don't know what is on your credit report? Check your credit report online at www.annualcreditreport.com
*IMPORTANT NOTE* If your credit score is not great – don't despair there are ways to increase and improve your credit score. There are things you can do today to fix your credit score.
For some, student loans may be the only way you can pay for college. If we look at all student loan debt held by all borrowers it is about $1 trillion – this now exceeds credit card debt.
If you do have to borrow student loans, borrow wisely. What does that mean?
- Don't expect to live off your student loans entirely. Student loans are to be used for education related expenses first, such as tuition and book costs. Any remaining loan funds can then be used towards living expenses.
- Ask yourself if you need the full loan amount being awarded to you? Students are never required to accept their full federal student loan awards. Students can reduce and/or decline their federal student loans. After all, this is money you will have to pay back - with interest.
- What education related expenses do I still need covered?
- Have I exhausted my options for grants, scholarships and/or work study?
- Make sure you know what you owe? Ideally, you should not borrow more than your expected first year salary.
When it comes time to pay back your student loans, know there are different repayment options available. There are also loan forgiveness programs, forbearances and deferments that may be available to you. You want to always make sure you keep in contact with your servicer.
Financial Aid Tips
If your student loans have become delinquent or default, please be wary of student loan debt relief scams. For more information on Student Loan Debt Relief.
Here are some resources to help you manage your student loan debt:
Office of Student Financial Assistance
Student Services Center (SSC), Room 2220
Fax: (630) 942-2151
Monday and Tuesday, 8 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Wednesday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.