I am a person currently attending community college, and I can tell you the benefits it brings to my academic career.
Not only is community college significantly cheaper than four-year institutions, but it’s also a great place to start your post-secondary education as someone unsure of a program of study to pursue.
It’s beneficial for students to weigh all of their options before deciding what college to attend. The Department of Education’s College Scorecard is a tool that provides data to prospective college students and their families about the costs of different colleges.
This resource can be used not only to compare the costs of different institutions, but also to compare other metrics of a college such as its graduation rate, the post-college earnings of graduates, and more. The College Scorecard is a great tool for current and prospective students to make well-informed financial and academic decisions regarding their post-secondary education options.
When it comes to basic economics, 23 states do not require high school students to take personal finance classes. This is directly in contradiction with the need for these specific skills as the prepare for college and financial decisions in general. The Council for Economic Education’s recent 2022– Survey of States found this inconsistency.
To be successful financially now and in the future, you need to follow these 5 steps.
Create a Budget
Regardless of your current financial situation, creating a budget and sticking to it lets you control where your money goes instead of wasting time wondering where yours went. A budget is a guide that helps you track and organize your cash inflows and outflows. Your budget should account for personal financial goals, which may include paying bills, saving, giving to others, or treating yourself.
Start an Emergency Fund
Sometimes life can be unpredictable and changes happen quickly. That’s why when the unexpected happens, an emergency fund can be helpful in mitigating financial crises or unforeseen expenses.
An emergency fund is a cash reserve that’s set aside specifically for financial emergencies or unplanned expenses. Losing a job, needing car repairs, or experiencing an illness are all realistic examples of what you could use an emergency fund for. The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority guide to setting up an emergency fund recommends that your emergency fund adds up to roughly 3-6 months’ worth of living expenses.
Make sure you keep these funds somewhere where they’re easy to access, but also where you won’t be tempted to use them for anything other than emergencies! Having this safety net gives you peace of mind and helps protect you from incurring debt when the unexpected happens.
Apply for free scholarships before the FAFSA deadline
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid is an online form completed by both new and current college students. It is a great way to determine if you are eligible for federal aid that can help you pay for college. The first “F” in FAFSA stands for free, and it costs nothing to complete this form every year.
You’ll need to fill out the FAFSA annually to be eligible for scholarships at your college, so make sure to take care of it in time. Also, don’t forget about other types of financial help like scholarships! Scholarships can be offered on the basis of a variety of criteria, which can include academic merit, athletic skill, inclusion and diversity, and financial need. Scholarships may also differ drastically in terms of their amount too. These are just some resources check out the Federal Student Aid website or call the financial aid department at your college to learn more about these options as well as how many scholarship opportunities they have available!
How To Build Credit and Know Your Credit Score
A credit score is a metric used to represent how likely you are to repay a loan on time. Choosing the bank or lender that will finance you is important because it affects your ability to purchase a house, car, and financing for large purchases. Your credit score can affect your ability to obtain discounts offered by banks and insurers in the property market.
Most scores range from 300-850 and the higher your score, the more trustworthy you appear to other lenders in general. Details about how credit scores are calculated can be found here. Also, it’s worth noting some of factors that contribute like bill card history and amount of debt; likewise, it’s important not to max out any cards as this may influence your score negatively!
Start Planning for Retirement
For many college students, saving for retirement may be an afterthought because it’s so far off. Even though most college students will not retire for several decades, now is the best time to start saving to ensure a successful retirement. Explore all your options for different retirement savings accounts and make sure the chosen one fits you best. By beginning to save early, you’ll begin to benefit from the power of compound interest–the process by which your savings grow exponentially or continuously–and start preparing for success!
It’s important to ensure that you are financially literate all the way through college or you may have financial regrets. By continuing your education, you could open doors that would not of been possible otherwise. Making wise decisions now will place you ahead of your peers in the race for financial success and wealth later on down the line.