As college students we must push ourselves to be more knowledgeable about our student loans, and realize the control we have over how much money is taken out each year.
In my sophomore year of college I decided it was time to take my future into my own hands and find ways to reduce the amount of loans I had. The process I went through consisted of 5 steps that any college student can take to ensure their loans are not more than what they need.
1. DO NOT be afraid to talk to your financial aid advisor
Financial aid gives you an estimate of how much it costs to attend college, but it is usually more than what you need.
So when you go to visit your advisor, make sure they give you a break down of all the costs associated with the estimated cost of attendance.
They should be able to see what classes you are enrolled in along with everything else that would contribute to the attendance amount, and they should give you your actual cost of attendance based on your specific situation
2. Make a budget for how much financial assistance you will need outside of the determined cost of attendance
If you live off campus, calculate how much rent and bills will be for the school year + summer living (if you need it).
Calculate the cost of transportation, food and other expenses that are necessities for you to live, and factor this into your year long budget.
* Be sure to add in extra money in case of emergencies and unexpected expenses that may arise
The amount of money you need for living expenses should be added to the actual cost of attendance to give you the total amount of financial aid you need
3. If the total amount of financial aid you need is less than what they are offering you, always start by cutting your unsubsidized loans first
Unsubsidized loans accumulate interest while you are still attending college and therefore make your loan amount much higher at a quicker rate
You should also look at the different interest rates on your loans and see which one has the higher rate, and cut that one first as well
4. Create a separate savings account for your financial aid refund so you can better manage the money you receive
Having a separate account makes it easier to keep track of your spending and allows you to stay more consistent with the budget you created
5. Throughout the year ensure that you are staying consistent with your budget and make sure your spending is staying within your plan
You do not want to have to pull out more loans and create more debt, so always keep track of how your spending aligns with your budget
The budget you made for your financial aid gave each dollar a plan and had added cushion for emergencies, therefore leaving no room for unnecessary overspending of your budgets
You can always supplement the money you receive from financial aid by having a side hustle in college that speaks to the needs of your fellow classmates or monetizes a talent or skill that you have.
Visit my instagram @greenlineplanner to get some cool side hustle ideas and more information about which side hustles are the best for students.