Manage Your Money

Master the skills that can help you manage money throughout life.

Seven Money Rules for College Students

Follow these cardinal rules of money management during college

  1. Have a payment strategy in mind before you start college. Planning for college should start as early as middle school. Why? To give you more time to think about how to pay for your degree or certificate. Start exploring college costs by visiting school websites. Most colleges and universities offer a financial aid dpartment that itemizes expenses for the cost of attendance. Next, consider your financing options: Will you pay for college through savings? A job before and during college? With your parents’ help? By borrowing federal student loans? A combination of all these?
  2. Develop a spending plan for college expenses. Realistically estimate your expenses (for example, rent, car payment, tuition, books, clothing, and living expenses) and create a spending plan that you stick to.
  3. Be ready to repay any loans. There is usually a six-month grace period for student loan payment after graduation. That means you don’t make payments on your loans, but you will need to be prepared when payment comes due. Make the most of your grace period by knowing what you’ll owe, when, and to whom.
  4. Estimate a realistic salary given your degree or certificate. Salaries for people just entering a given field are lower than they are for people with experience. Refer to Career Choices to get an idea of starting salaries for jobs that interest you. You can also refer to the Occupational Outlook Handbook.
  5. Find out whether your income will cover your loan repayment. Major Choices offers you a great tool for determining whether the degree you earn in Texas will pay enough to cover your expenses, including student loans.
  6. Don't forget about Uncle Sam. Once you've arrived at a realistic income figure, subtract about one quarter of it for taxes. Divide the remainder by 12 to arrive at your monthly take-home earnings. This amount can be used as the basis for your after-college spending plan.
  7. In case of financial trouble, get help as soon as you can. If you discover problems managing your finances, either while you're in college or after, talk to a consumer credit counseling service. Experienced financial counselors can give you free advice on successful financial management.

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