The Lowdown on Student Debt & What You Can Do

Hey Y’all!

            This post will kick off the first post for my Smart Spending Series. The series will include three posts that cover all things scholarship and budgeting for students {like myself}! I hope you all enjoy!

            College is expensive.  Really expensive.  Luckily I feared student loans at an early age so I was able to save and apply for scholarships ahead of time to alleviate the monetary cost. However, I know that others are not as educated when it comes to student debt.  Here are some of my tips when finding ways to alleviate the financial obstacles on your way to getting your degree!

The Lowdown on Student Debt

It makes me really sad when I hear others not even think twice about taking out student loans before looking at all of their options. It is incredibly difficult to discharge student debt. Therefore if you ever find yourself in financial bond you will still be entitled to pay back your loans + interest.  {I would not want to spend my hard earned big girl job checks on that right away}

Grants {FASFA}

This should be common sense for most, but I remember having dinner with one of my friends about a year ago, and she was asking me how I was able to support myself in college. I told her how my EFC on my FASFA was 0 due to my legal guardianship and she looked at me absolutely confused. She had no idea that all this time she could have been receiving grants for school. The FASFA is where every student should start when applying for grants and financial aid. While it may be difficult for some to receive financial aid due to their financial standing, something is always better than nothing. Even if you received $500, you just alleviated the cost of textbooks for the year! You can fill out the FASFA through https://fafsa.ed.gov/, and of course it is free! You will need your most recent tax information, as well as your parents. If you get confused when filling it out there are little tips on the sidebars that will explain each section {these are your new BFF}. My biggest tip for filling out the FASFA is to apply EARLY! Some grants are first come first serve, therefore applying January vs. March can earn you an extra $500!

Scholarships

I know a lot of students do not want to take the time to apply for scholarships because most of the time the likelihood of receiving one is slim once you are already enrolled in your undergraduate program. However, to make your chances larger it is important to apply for scholarships that will have smaller group of potential recipients. For example, apply for major specific scholarships, scholarships through charitable clubs in your city/state {shout out to Mandeville Rotary}, scholarships that require essays, and/or scholarships within your college at your university. You may not receive the one scholarship you apply for but you widen your chances when you apply for more! I applied for TONS of scholarships in high school, and was blessed enough to receive one that tremendously reduced my financial burdens. One out the fifty you may apply for may have the same affect.

Some of favorite sites are the following:

·      http://www.fastweb.com/college-scholarships

You can see a wide range of scholarships and narrow it down to a smaller audience to increase your chances of winning one!

·      http://myscholly.com/

Scholly is actually an app, but I love it because I can browse scholarships in between classes and work. You also create a user profile so they find scholarships that you are eligible for

Work Study

Work Study is typically offered through your university to help lessen the cost of education expenses. Work-study programs may vary so contact your student financial aid office at your university for more information.

Get a J-O-B

I know it may seem difficult to work while excelling academically, but I have found that working 15-20 a week gives me enough time to break away from my studies to clear my mind while making some $. My advice is to look at all of your income vs. your upcoming expenses for the year, and see where the shortage or where it could possibly be financially difficult. Once you have an idea of how much you are short by you can find a part time job to lessen where you may find yourself short of cash. For example, if my scholarships and grants just about covered everything I may work weekends at a shop near school to have spending money through out the school year. Working is 100% possible with great time management skills {which you should be learning anyway within your undergrad years} BONUS: there are some scholarships that you can apply for through your university only if you work part/full time, and you can have your boss write you a letter of rec!

Next week I will cover budgeting for the Smart Spending Series! I will include some of my favorite budgeting apps + how I manage a budget for each semester. So check back for that next week. I hope this helped some of you!

Xoxo, Whit