Whether you’re a freshman or a grad student, chances are good you’re relying on loans to help pay for college. The best option you have to make the eventual repayment easier is to limit how much you borrow. Therefore, we’re offering financial advice to help students save and spend responsibly to avoid unnecessary student debt.
Strategies to Avoid Student Debt
To avoid debt, whether it’s student debt or credit card debt, you need to manage money wisely. The best way to do this is by implementing an effective budget. Start by using a budgeting worksheet to get an accurate picture of your income and expenses. Creating and following a budget is a skill that will set you up for financial success for the rest of your life.
With a great budget in place, you can start to employ additional strategies to avoid student and other consumer debt.
Smart Money Management Strategies & Resources
- Wisely Choose a Bank – Consider your specific banking needs and services, not just the freebies you’ll receive when you open an account. Are there hidden fees for any programs or services? Is there a bank that is in both your college town and hometown? Use the Bank Account Comparison and Choosing Credit Card worksheets in ACCC’s College Financial Workbook.
- Work While in School – Think about retail jobs, paid internships, federal work study jobs, and tutoring to earn and save money while in school. It’s important to save for now and for your future – for an apartment after graduation, student loan payments, or a relocation for a job. Get any financial advice you can get from any and all resources available. The saving by cutting back guide from ACCC is a great resource that can guide you.
- Monitor Your Accounts Regularly – Take a few minutes each day to log into your accounts (including bank and credit card accounts) and check for any suspicious activity. This will help safeguard you against any fraudulent charges and potentially identity theft. Check out the financial advice on what you should do if at any point you fall victim to identity theft.
Ways to Save & Spend Wisely
- Use Credit Responsibly – It can be tempting to make purchases with a credit card when you’re short on cash, but make sure you’re not biting off more debt than you can handle. Racking up too much credit card debt now can severely hurt your credit score and your chances at obtaining other lines of credit in the future. It can also hurt your chances to rent an apartment. Only charge what you can afford to pay back quickly.
- Use your Student ID for Discounts – Not only will you need it to enter your dorm, the dining hall, and the library, but your student ID can also earn you discounts at hundreds of retailers nationwide. If you are not sure if a company offers a student discount, just ask. Check out the College Financial Workbook for a full list of discounts.
- Research the Cheapest Options – From textbooks to meals and clothing make sure you do research online to see what your best options are. Is your textbook available to rent? Is there a used version online or in a store that can be bought at a fraction of the cost? Can you shop more at bargain grocery stores, thrift stores for good deals instead of the department stores?
Refer to ACCC’s college planning resources for additional tools to help you get through college without overrelying on student debt.