| Admissions | Paying for College | Financial Aid | Financial Literacy
Whether you are just starting college or graduate school, or if you are leaving college to start a new career, you will be facing new financial challenges.
Overall, the development of prudent financial decisions such as how much you borrow or spend while in college and the judicial use of credit cards and checking accounts and other financial management tools will affect how you approach finances and debt management in the years to come.
Borrowing for school has become a common practice for college students. But before you take that step, make sure you have researched all potential sources of scholarships and grants.
Many students begin by filing a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Filing early and before important deadlines may qualify you for optimal financial aid packages—putting you in better position to pay down student loans after graduation. According to the Institute for College Access and Success’ College InSight report, 66% of 2015 college graduates living in Massachusetts had student loan debt and the average amount of debt owed by Massachusetts college graduates was $29,391. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education reports that the average federal loan debt of WSU student borrowers is $19,500.Debt can be expensive. Interest payments on debt work against you. Payments on your debt will affect your future income.
While you should look at borrowing to help meet educational expenses as an investment in your future, you should use common sense and good personal finance practices. Don’t feel alone if it seems like there is never enough money to make ends meet. It happens to almost everyone at one time or another. The key is to avoid making bad financial decisions that you will have to live with later on.The Financial Aid Office is a great resource center that you can use to find ways of paying for school.
Transit – Financial Wellness is designed to empower students with the skills to successfully manage their finances while in school and beyond. Transit equips you with the knowledge and skills necessary for making responsible financial decisions. Transit provides information to keep your student loans in good standing, tips on budgeting, the advantage of paying bills on time, the importance of your credit score, and the value of setting a savings goal. Transit also covers other topics to help you understand the terms and features of your loans, credit cards and financial accounts.
WSU students may access this service by logging in to the Transit website and using the registration code 7b1cb86c and entering Financial Aid in the Group field.
As the days become shorter, we realize that fall is just around the corner, and so are those back-to-school items. The following are some tips to help you create your own back-to-school spending plan:
Source: CCCS Credit Counseling
Source: Debt Management Counseling/Jan Marie Coombs - Citizen's Bank Education Finance
Many people think that credit cards are "free." In reality, you pay for the use of credit cards in every purchase you make. The merchant providing the service pays the credit card company and charges you in the price of the goods and services you buy (1.5 % to 3% or perhaps more). If you pay your credit balance each month, that is all you pay. If you carry your balance forward, you will also be charged interest of up to 19% or more on your balances. Things to know about credit cards Credit cards can be a very handy tool for students if used correctly. If not, they can become a burden and can cost you a great deal in the interest that you pay the credit card companies. When applying for a credit card, look for the best deal. All credit cards are not the same.
Paying balances in full at the end of each month is the best way to make sure that credit card debt does not get out of hand.Avoid using credit cards to buy things that you could not afford to buy if you did not have one.Even small card limits of $500 to $1,500 can seem enormous when you don’t have the money to pay your balance and interest charges begin stacking up every month.Manage Debt NowStop spending money on things you don’t need. If you can, live at home for a few months after graduation to save on rent. Don’t use your credit card. If you have a summer job, work overtime or get another part time job and pay off your credit card debt.Remember, you can only spend your money once. After that, you are spending the credit card company’s money and they charge you big time for the privilege.Consumer Credit Counseling Service is a free nonprofit foundation, available to help you manage your debt. Call 800-388-2227 or contact them at www.creditcounseling.org.Close Look at CreditMaintaining good credit will help you:
Signs that you might have a problem with too much debt are:
Record KeepingKeep all copies of loan, credit card, and checking account paperwork. Keep all notification from lenders, guarantors, and servicers. Keep all copies of utility bills, etc. to help in making an accurate budget. Read and respond to all mail.
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