Manage your finances
Manage your finances
Consortium students may have the good fortune of receiving a fellowship or other scholarship to help pay for their educational expenses. On the other hand, students have other financial obligations beyond the cost of tuition that need to be considered while preparing to enter graduate school. Worries about covering living expenses and monthly obligations while you are a student may be avoided by taking steps now to prepare financially. The financial transition from work life to student life may be eased by careful planning, ultimately enabling you to have a sharper focus on your academics and fewer worries about financial issues.
Ten Tips to Prepare Yourself Financially for Graduate School
- Retrieve your credit report at no cost to you at www.annualcreditreport.com. By law, you are entitled to one free annual credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian, and Transunion. Unless you want to run a comparison report by retrieving all 3 major credit reports at one time, you may want to consider retrieving each report at various intervals throughout the year.
- Clear up any disputed or outdated information on your credit reports before enrolling in graduate school. Contact the agency that shows the incorrect or outdated information: Equifax, Experian, and/or Transunion.
- If you have running balances on your credit cards, stop using them and, if possible, try to pay down credit card balances.
- Read and understand your school’s financial aid website. These websites often have a wealth of information for students, provide financial aid contact information, and are designed to answer most questions students have about educational financing.
- Avoid over-borrowing by developing a monthly budget and sticking to it. Often, students borrow the maximum loans offered in their financial aid package. Don’t automatically borrow what the school is offering in loans. Strategize about ways in which you may be able to live for less than the school’s published cost of attendance. For example, consider living with a roommate so that you only have to pay half of the rent.
- Cut corners whenever possible by taking advantage of discounts on products and services and using coupons for food and other living expenses. Search online for companies that offer student discounts. Your school may even have a list of local companies near campus that offer student discounts.
- If you have a car, consider selling it. You may find that you don’t need a car on campus and can get around quite well by using public transportation or shuttles offered by your school. The savings in gasoline and insurance costs may be considerable and these costs generally are not allowable for determining the amount of a student’s loan eligibility.
- Prepare for climate changes prior to starting school by taking advantage of sales on seasonal clothing. Waiting until the last minute may result in having to pay higher prices.
- SAVE-SAVE-SAVE. Often, the more you save before entering graduate school, the less you have to borrow in student loans.
- Review the tax benefits of education on http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/p970.pdf in order to understand how you may be eligible for tax credits and/or tax deductions when you file your federal income tax return.
|Loan Type||Maximum Annual Eligibility||Credit Check Required?|
|Federal Direct Stafford Loan||Cost of attendance as determined by the school less other financial aid including such things as scholarships, fellowships, tuition/fee stipends, employer reimbursement; capped at $20,500 per academic year||No|
|Federal Direct Grad Plus Loan||Cost of attendance as determined by the school less all other financial aid, including loans||Yes|
|Private Education Loan||Cost of attendance as determined by the school less all other financial aid, including loans; maximum annual amount varies by lender||Yes|