A lot of times when we think about high school and the transition into college, we tend to only focus on academics solely. However, in reality, there is a big gap in the education of students regarding financial literacy. Through a financial literacy exam, it is reported that 48% of high school seniors displayed a strong need for financial education. Financial literacy is essentially the ability to understand and apply financial management skills. Now you may be asking why all of this matters and the simple answer is that most of these skills are not taught in academic settings. It is important that students try to educate themselves around finances to better LAUNCH their future!
Creating a budget is very important when learning how to save and spend money appropriately based on your personal financial situation. This helps you regulate how much money you spend on certain things and how to better save for future expenses and purchases. In college, managing money becomes a big responsibility and a very important skill, especially because access to funds becomes more limited more often than not. There are several ways to implement a budget in your daily life. You can create one in a notebook and frequently update it to keep track of your finances. A more contemporary, convenient way could be budgeting apps, for example, Mint. The app offers free budget templates tailored to all different types of people where you can fill out common academic, living, and personal expenses along with income. It allows you to customize the items to your specific lifestyle.
Here is a sample of the budget templates from Mint.com:
The National Center for Education reported that 85% of full-time, degree-seeking undergraduate students were awarded financial aid. Grants and loans make up the majority of federal financial aid. These programs are meant to make a college education more affordable for students worldwide. Most colleges and universities offer some combination of programs of grants and loans in order to cover the cost of attendance. Students also use scholarships to go toward the cost of college (see the high school to college page for more information).
Most financial packages are determined based on the Expected Family Contribution(EFC) which is a calculation of how much the federal government thinks the student’s family can contribute to the cost of attendance. This is usually based on tax records and pay stubs from the previous year. When receiving financial aid packages it is important to be vigilant when negotiating and communicating with the financial aid office at your respective school. Most of the time, the office has more money to give out but unless students demand/ask for more, they won’t award it. Remember, college is expensive and it never hurts to ask!
Forms of Financial Aid
Grants are funds given to students that do not have to be paid back. They are
usually disbursed by the federal government but corporations and other
organizations do this as well. A common federal grant is the Pell Grant. In the
2016-2017 academic year, 7.6 million students received the Pell Grant.
What does borrowing look like?
Loans, particularly for students vary based on who is rewarding the money and
the different courses of repaying it. Here are a few types of loans used to pay for expenses in
Federal Subsidized Loans
These loans are meant for undergraduate students who display financial need. The amount is usually calculated like this:
Subsidized Loan Amount =
Cost of Attendance -(Scholarships+Grants+EFC)
A positive about this loan is that you don't acquire interest as long as you are in school for at least part-time or during a deferment period (time during which a borrower does not have to pay interest).
Federal Unsubsidized Loans
These loans are meant for undergraduate, graduate, and professional students and are not based on financial need. These loans are calculated like this:
Unsubsidized Loan Amount=
Cost of Attendance-(Scholarships+Grants+EFC+Subsidized Loans)
The main difference is that these loans charge interest during school and
also deferment periods. With unsubsidized loans most should consider trying to pay them off as soon as possible because they begin accruing
interest right away.
These loans are generally more expensive and are provided
by private companies, banks, and credit unions. The interest is also
usually higher so in the long-run would cost more than other loans.
Direct PLUS Loans
These loans are granted to parents and guardians of dependents who
need financial assistance in school and
are similar to unsubsidized
loans. They have a fixed interest rate
that starts to accrue.
Financial aid can be very overwhelming and tricky, so if you’re still lost FAFSA has more helpful information. To calculate your EFC, visit Big Future or Finaid to get a rough estimate of how much college could cost your family. Remember, these numbers are just estimates and can be a lot different than what you actually have to pay to attend due to many factors.
Specific colleges may also have their own EFC calculators that may be a bit more accurate which you can search online or contact the school's financial aid office.
When transitioning into highschool and college is it very important to become familiar with banking because cash purchases become very inconvenient once you become older and have bills for example. This allows you to manage your money better, make purchases and payments online and also better prepare yourself for your financial future. Some common banks you may have heard of include Wells Fargo, BB&T, PNC Bank, and Capital One just to name a few. When deciding on a bank it is important to look at the different plans they offer and if they have special accounts for young adults. For example, Wells Fargo has a Teen Account for students aged 13-17 years old. This account is designed to help build good financial habits but also allows parents/guardians to monitor activity. Options like this are great for students to start a relationship with banks while building a strong foundation in their personal finances.
A savings account is essentially explained in its name, it is meant to help you save. This is why you do not have a card that allows you to make purchases straight from that account. With a savings account, most people set aside money here so that it builds up over time and allows them to save more of their money instead of spending it. With a savings account, you can deposit and withdraw money. However, to promote saving, most accounts limit the number of withdrawals you can make in a given time period.
A checking account is meant to store your money in which it allows you to make withdrawals (take money out) or make deposits (put money in). It gets its name from the usage of checks, being that when you write a check, it comes from this account. When people buy items with a debit card, the money is deducted from the checking account. Checking accounts have a balance that holds on the amount you can spend. If you spend more than the amount that is in the account it is known as an overdraft. An overdraft means that your account is in the negatives and this is where banks usually charge you because you have spent money you technically do not have.
Debit Card - When you open a checking account, you are usually given a debit card. This card allows you to spend money in your checking account without writing a check. These cards secure purchases by usually requiring you to set up a 3 or 4 digit PIN number to protect the security of your card. A good way to think about them is that they are a plastic version of all the cash you have.
Credit Card - Credit cards have a lot of components and can become very tricky when trying to responsibly manage your finances. Credit cards essentially allow you to make purchases and then pay off the balance at a later date meaning you do not have to have the full amount at the time of the purchase. These cards have a credit limit which basically restricts you from spending too much using that card when you have not paid off your balance. For example, if the credit limit is $500, you can only spend up to the amount, and in order to keep spending you have to pay off all of the previous purchases. Credit cards are designed for larger purchases and also help you build credit which is a representation of your financial position. A high credit score means you pay off your credit card balance in a timely manner. I know you may be confused at this point, and that's okay. Credit cards are very complicated and have many factors to consider and many students during this time do not own one, therefore don't stress too much if you’re not completely grasping it. Here's a resource if you would like more information on credit cards.
Checks - were basically the pioneer of payment outside of cash. Checks are slips of paper that provide information indicating the transfer of money from one person to another. When a person writes a check to another person, the money is withdrawn from that account only once the receiver has deposited it. Individuals who write “bad checks”, which you may have heard of, are those who write checks for amounts of money that are more than the balance in their checking account. This will lead to penalties and fees most likely.
HOBBIES TO INCOME
As a student saving for college, it is important to explore multiple avenues when looking for a way to make money. Some people do this by finding a summer job but others turn their hobbies into business. For example, designing clothes or doing hair is a common hobby that can also earn you money.
Steps to Start your Hustle
1: Pick a topic or hobby.
2: Create a catchy business name or brand.
3: Register for a LLC. (optional)
4: Build a social media account for clientele and exposure.
5: Launch your product or service.
One of our very own board members, Jayla Gillis (CFO), created her own hair business on campus. She built clientele and a reputation by creating social media pages and offering discounts and specials for students on campus.
Another way to make money is to land a work-study job. More than half-a-million students participate in the federal work study program. These are often jobs that schools offer to students demonstrating financial need that can go towards their cost of attendance. One caveat about this program is that you cannot earn over the amount of work-study aid you were awarded. However, despite this, the jobs are usually low-maintenance and easily accessible for students such as a media clerk or dining staff. On the other hand, many students land part-time jobs preferably near campus for easy access. Part-time jobs are also good ideas for making money. Aside from income, they also help individuals gain experience and skills that can add to their resume. Gaining more experience in the labor force better prepares you for after college too!