Managing your money plays an important role in obtaining the lifestyle you’re hoping to gain by seeking a higher education. However, poor money management, both while in school and after, can mean a large portion of your salary will go towards your debt and not much else.


Racking up debt without a solid financial footing can lead to disaster. While your student loan debt may seem manageable at the moment, interest and finance charges have an ugly way of adding up. If you are not able to pay off your debt each month, you may be forced to cut back. Therefore, borrow only what you need to pay for your educational expenses rather than the entire amount for which you’re eligible. Use your credit cards sparingly!


To help ease your financial burden, here are a few suggestions to start practicing now:


  • Be aware. Keep track of everything running through your checking account and your student account. Small purchases and fees may not seem like much, but the cumulative effect may leave you with less money than you were counting on.

  • Be smart about your credit cards and other lines of credit. Charge only the amount you expect to be able to pay when the bill comes in each month, and never let anyone else borrow your credit card. Limit the number of accounts you have to one or two.

  • Learn to say “no” to your friends. Chances are, others are also feeling the financial pinch, so, every once in a while, suggest an alternative that requires less (or no) money.

  • Talk to your roommate(s) about money matters. Make sure it is clear up front what each person’s responsibilities are. Know what is shared and what is up to you to provide or contribute. Discuss everything from rent and utilities to food and incidentals.

  • If you live on campus, choose the meal plan that’s best for your needs. There is no point in paying for meals you won’t be eating. If you live off campus, make a trip to the grocery story to stock up before you blow all your money on fast food.

  • Take advantage of student discounts and ask around for special student offers. It usually involves no more than showing your school ID card.

  • Avoid rent-to-own stores, pawn shops, payday and title loans and check cashing stores. The instant gratification you may get from using these businesses is sure to be overshadowed by the increased cost you pay for dealing with them.

  • If you are thinking about moving from campus housing to an off-campus apartment or house, make sure you weigh all the costs of off-campus living. Consider more than just the cost of rent. Security deposits, utilities, food, cooking supplies, cleaning materials, insurance and basic household items should all factor into the decision and your future budget.

  • Visit with your school’s student employment office to find a job on campus that fits within your schedule. Campus jobs often have flexible work hours and save you the expense of commuting to an off-campus location. A campus job that relates to your major can also be a nice addition to your resume.

  • Curb your vending machine usage. Spending just a dollar a day in vending machines during a four-year degree program adds up to $1,461. Purchasing the same volume of snacks from a grocery store would cost about $432. This is a savings of more than a thousand dollars.


8 percent rule for student loan payments


College can be expensive. Your objective is to limit the amount of student loans you have to borrow, and ultimately pay back. If you decide to take out student loans, most financial advisors recommend that your monthly student loan payments should NOT exceed 8 percent of your total monthly gross income after you have graduated. 

To help you manage your current and future expenses develop and follow a budget and use the repayment estimator to determine how much student loan you can afford.