Five Financial Tips When Leaving School

As we have officially moved from spring to summer, many students have just graduated and many more are taking a well-earned break from college. Whether you are done for now or finished completely, there are some things you can do to make sure you keep your control of your finances and stay on top of any student loans you have received. Below are five easy steps you can take to avoid financial trouble.

  1. Check in on your financial aid status. This includes any loans you may have taken out. You can visit the National Student Loan Data System and sign in to see what aid you have received, the student loans you owe and the name of your student loan servicer(s).
  2. Set a budget. This may seem premature, especially if you are not working yet, but it is critical to know what the bare essentials will cost you. It will also help you to assess whether or not you can make a requested loan payment and if you need to ask for help.
  3. For those of you returning to college in the fall, this budget will enable you to plan for the upcoming academic period. Remember to include your basic expenses and your tuition, books and school fees.
  4. Pay yourself first. This is one of the most difficult rules for many of us to follow. It is also one of the most important. It doesn’t mean don’t pay your bills, it means put some money into savings and keep there for a day when you really need it. If today is the day that you really need it – put it to good use. Pay the items that really matter – rent, utilities, transportation costs, etc. Ask yourself, “is this expense going to help me survive?”
  5. If you have recently left school or graduated, your first loan payment will be due about six months after you leave. Be sure you know who should receive payments and, if you are concerned you will not be able to afford a payment, contact the servicer right away. There are seven different payment plans that you may be eligible for if you have federally backed student loans. If you are not sure what those options are, click here or, better yet, contact your loan servicer.

There are many more ways to ensure that you are financially stable. These are just a few of the basics that are sometimes overlooked while we are in college or are excited about our future as we are finishing up. For more information on managing student loans or maximizing your student aid, contact the financial aid office at your school or call a credit counselor today. For more budgeting tips, information on managing your credit report or score, visit our blog.