Jan 16, 2018

How to Get Your Finances in Order Before College

college finances

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel! College is right around the corner and you might be feeling a little overwhelmed when it comes to your finances. Check out this list of 4 important steps to take before you head off to college! 

Submit your FAFSA 

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is a form that's filled out annually to help students cover the costs of attending college. In Arizona, the Federal deadline for the 2017-2018 school year is June 30, 2018. Use this tool for more information on FASFA completion dates in different states. Even if you don't think you'll need federal financial aide during school, applying for FAFSA is still a good idea because some schools use it to consider in-house scholarships and work study program eligibility.

If you've submitted your FAFSA and have received your award decision but are still looking for additional funds, you can consider a private student loan. Hughes Federal Credit Union has partnered with Sallie Mae to offer the Smart Option Student Loan* to our members.

Apply for scholarships

Even after you've been awarded your financial aid, keep in mind that there are hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of scholarships awarded to students just like you every year! By obtaining a merit-based scholarship you will have a little extra cushion when it comes to finances and it might help you handle the stress of thinking about how you're going to pay for day-to-day life. Hughes Federal Credit Union is accepting applications for $10,000 in scholarship funds until April 14, 2018. To qualify, you must be a high school senior entering a college, university or trade school and be a member of Hughes.

Consider a part-time job

Did the application fees for colleges shock you? For the Fall 2018 semester, some fees are as high as $90 per student with the University of Arizona's fee at $50 for local residents. Consider fees like this when you're planning your budget to enter into the "real world" and ask yourself if a part-time job would be a good idea. A part-time job is a great way to fill extra time on the weekends or school during breaks in order to pad your bank account for the fall.

Plan for your savings and spending

Make sure you have a plan for your savings account and a budget before starting your first semester! If you haven't yet, open an interest earning checking account, enroll in online banking and consider setting up direct deposit if you're expecting a pay check. By lining up these resources you'll have a better handle on how much money you're able to spend and save, helping you build a budget. If you aren't sure where to start when it comes to a budget or don't know what to expect, check out this quiz that will give you an estimate on how much your adult lifestyle might actually cost. 

Don't forget to tap into other resources, like your high school counselor or other mentors when you have questions or concerns. These people are here to help you during this important time in your life!

*Private student loans should be used as supplemental funding after exhausting all other sources of financial aid, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans. Federal loans offer more attractive terms when compared to most other borrowing options, including private student loans. For more information on federal loans, visit http://www.fafsa.ed.gov.