As a young adult, the day you enter college is usually one of the proudest days of your life. You begin to assert yourself as an independent adult that no longer needs the protective arms of mom and dad. You start walking down the path to your career and financial freedom. Unfortunately, this is usually the time that most young adults begin to accumulate a truck load of debt that’ll take years to unload. As a father of two college age students, I wanted to make sure that they were well aware of the pitfalls that get many young adults firmly entrenched in the drowning river of debt. Here are some things that I shared with my sons and want to share with you.
You Must Be In Control
You must be in firmly entrenched in all the financial decision making revolving your college career. Unless you’ve got rich parents, chances are you’re going to be the one saddled with any decisions that are made. Make sure you have a checking account that has student perks that you set up. You’re an adult now and you need to be responsible.
Know exactly how your schooling bills are being paid. You should be applying for every scholarship possible. Even if you feel like you’re a long shot, if you qualify then you need to apply. Make sure that you’re watching out for any scholarship scams. People in the financial aid office can usually easily identify the scams and you should stay in constant contact with them any way. Also, make sure that your FASFA information is always accurate and up to date. Be sure to submit a new form each year. If you need a student loan, by all means do it, but only as a last resort. Make sure you understand the payment terms of the loan before you accept it.
If possible, stay at the dorms as much as possible. The bills there are generally far cheaper than an off or on campus apartment. If you have an apartment, try to get a roommate to reduce the costs of rent and utilities. Protect your private information. A small safe is a great way to secure your information. Try to get a school meal plan which can really save you money.
If you need a job, try to get one on campus that won’t require a commute. If you have to get an off campus job try to ride share or cut your gas costs by using the helpful tips in the linked article. Keep in mind that you’re in school to start a career and a job will only deter you from your goal.
If you’re a student then you’re a target of credit card companies. Credit card companies know three things about college students. First they know that you have access to large sums of money via student loans and scholarships. The Second thing is they know that you’ve got parents that will probably try to help you get out of debt. But the biggest thing they know is that college kids love to spend and they’re going to take full advantage of that. Resist the temptation and get out school with as little debt as possible. You’ll be thankful that you did.
More from this contributor:
Money Management Tips for Young Adults
5 Ways to Teach Kids About Money Management
How to Reduce the Cost of College Tuition