College can have a significant effect on your life and financial future- making the right choices in college can give you a solid foundation for achieving your dreams and career goals. However, the wrong choices can put you in debt for a long, long time. Here are the most frequent mistakes new students can make:
Many students go out-of-state for school, and this often means new bank accounts as they travel out of their banking network. Many campus-area banks offer student “deals” that can take advantage of incautious spending with high minimum balances and stiff penalties. If you decide to sign up for one of these account deals, be very wary of your bottom line, and track your spending carefully.
“Magic Credit Card” Syndrome
Another trap for new students is signing up for credit cards, or being handed a line of credit by a family member. It is vital to remember that there are very real spending limits, and potentially harsh interest rates on debt that can escalate quickly for the unwary. Again, be careful not to overspend- try to only use credit for purchases that you know you can pay off immediately.
A Better Computer Does Not Equal Better Grades
You do not need the shiniest, most expensive new product out there to ensure success. Try looking for used PCs or Macs for sale near campus- or at the college’s computer store if available- before shelling out for a high-end model that you don’t need. Many students need little more than a word processor to complete most of their assignments. If a class requires special software, it will likely be available in that department’s computer labs. Furthermore, take syllabus recommendations for items like graphing calculators with a grain of salt: models are usually good for three to five years before becoming outdated, and you can always find them for sale from other students.
Paying Full Price
Student services are frequently underutilized. Campus health centers can provide a lot of basic care for little to no cost. This is much better than many dependent clauses in family healthcare plans provide, and can be a good transition for young adults looking to become more self-sufficient. Other examples of real-world services that are largely free to students include fitness centers, counseling, and financial guidance. Student discounts are available at a tremendous variety of businesses- from the grocery store to the movie theater, to the auto service center. It’s always worth carrying your student ID with you and asking about possible discounts.
Waiting For A Better Tomorrow
Just because your future is ahead of you, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t plan for it today. Always fill out the Free Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) quickly each year, and regularly ask your student or financial advisers about possible scholarship opportunities. You might also consider trying to pay off student loan interest before you graduate, to decrease the amount of repayment once you enter the workforce. And, if you find yourself with a light class schedule, why not try a part-time job? It could be a resume builder, and might at least give you extra pocket money.
There are many other expenses- necessary and unnecessary- associated with college, but addressing these common problems is a good place to start. Keep your eyes open for opportunities as well as pitfalls – college is a learning experience after all.
Nicole Rodgers has been blogging in the education, business, and finance industries for three years. Recently Nicole’s nephew asked her about advice about graduate school. She told him to get a free credit report to make sure he gets all the loans and financial aid. She also gave her nephew examples of her experiences with grad school. She also told him to take some gmat prep classes to better his chances of getting into the school of his choice.
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