Let’s face it, earning a degree can get rather expensive and most of us don’t have the necessary funds to pay for higher education upfront. When you are considering attending college right after high school or in your 40’s, the first thing that comes to mind is, How will I pay for college? For the majority of us, the first thing that comes to mind is Financial aid. Although, you are responsible for paying tuition, books and housing; the Department of Education can provide you with financial aid (if you qualify). Financial aid is available for every student, regardless of situation; thus, you can be granted financial aid in the form of grants, work-study, and/or loans. Financial aid and Federal student aid are just two of the forms you can utilize to achieve a higher education degree, however, it is not the only way. Depending on your grades, you can also qualify for Institution, City, State or Private scholarships. However, the most important thing is to learn to manage your financial aid correctly and effectively. Below, we will explore my personal experiences with managing Financial aid.
The first step in managing you financial aid is to total the cost associated with attending college, this should include tuition, books, fees, travel, and housing. The second step in managing your financial aid is to file a Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA). Lastly, contact your College’s Financial aid office, request an appointment and speak to a financial aid counselor to determine your Financial Aid plan. Once you have a financial aid plan mapped out, it is time to manage those funds to last you through each semester.
Personally for me, once my financial aid funds are awarded, I create a plan of action for the current semester that will help my entire journey to complete my bachelor’s degree. Once your courses are paid, your college’s Financial aid office will disburse the extra funds left over on your account. Most student spend these funds outside of the college. I, on the contrary use these extra funds to purchase the books and other required texts needed for each course.
The college I attend, prints books specifically for their courses and let me tell you, these books run on the expensive side. Depending on your particular situation, financial aid can help you with your books in the form of a book allowance, which is a life saver. If you college doesn’t provide this service or you are not awarded a book allowance, don’t dread it. Federal Student Loans can also be another option to help pay for such things as books, fees and other related expenses. Of course, be mindful that loans will have to be repaid when you are done with your degree, therefore, keep that in mind as this will be another part of your financial management map. As an alternative, I have purchase several books online which are incredibly cheaper, and are the 98% similar to the printed books for the college. I have saved a few hundreds dollars by using this method.
By savings on purchasing books online, has helped buying materials from the campus bookstore required for some courses. What do I mean by materials, a composition book for note taking, mechanical pencils, lose paper, high-lighters, rulers, erasers, even a book back I found on sale. I kept in mind, to purchase what I need, not what I wanted, or what would help me to study more efficiently. Thus, these extra funds provided the materials I need for college, and since I am student on a budget, I need to stretch every penny as much as possible. With a little bit of planning and managing your financial aid, you can achieve a higher education and graduate with as little debt possible.