Archive for the ‘ Graduation ’ Category

Stay on track with financing college


college kids

High school graduation is right around the corner. There’s no way your baby is old enough to be going off to college. You just waved goodbye to kindergarten and you’re dealing with the fact you really do have a child old enough to be in college. And it costs how much? What do we need to do when? What’s a parent to do?

We know there are many important steps to getting your son or daughter into school, so here’s a college preparation checklist to help keep you on track:

Now:
• Complete income tax forms as early as possible (information is needed to complete federal and state financial aid applications)
• Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and the Pennsylvania State Grant Application. The FAFSA can be completed online at www.fafsa.gov and the PA state grant application can be found at www.pheaa.org.
• If the college/university requires additional documents or applications, be sure to complete those, too. Make sure all forms are completed before each school’s deadline.
• Continue searching for scholarships now and the entire way through college.
• Plan college visits if you’re still deciding on the right school.

April through June:
• Financial aid packages/award letters and college acceptance letters will start rolling in from schools. Keep track of them and pay attention to any deadlines.
• Thoroughly review the award letters to determine how much financial aid (grants, scholarships, work-study and loans) you’ll receive and how much is still needed to bridge the gap between the cost of attendance and the amount of aid offered.
• If financial aid and college savings plans aren’t enough to cover all school-related expenses, start researching additional options (ex. monthly payment plans with the school, federal & private student loans, etc.)
• Attend one of our financial aid seminars for addition details on financing a college education. They’re scheduled for April 24, May 22 and June 26. You can register online at
www.members1st.org.
• Complete applications for student loans if necessary.
• Open a checking account and VISA® Debit Card with us for your child and set up across account transfer capability so you can transfer money from your account to your child’s account.
• Celebrate graduation with family and friends!

Not sure what do make of the entire student loan process or just need to talk to someone with some expertise? Call Tiffanie DeVan, our Specialty Loan Administrator, at (800) 283-2328, ext. 6017 or (717) 795-6017 or email devant@members1st.org.

 

Money Tips for College Grads


Graduate of 2013

 

Guest post by Nico Leyva
Nico Leyva writes for Nerdwallet, a consumer finance website that promotes financial literacy and looks for the best ways to save you money.

Congratulations! You’re just about to graduate or already have graduated from college and are now officially an adult ready to embark on a journey into the real world. Unfortunately, you now have a whole new set of responsibilities and commitments. You are starting to become, or have become, financially independent, which brings with it a number of potential pitfalls and difficulties. You may be expected to support yourself with a job, pay your own rent, pay for a car, and pay for various other cost-of-living expenses, including food, health care costs and student loans. Keeping up with your finances is probably starting to seem a bit daunting. Don’t fret! We have some tips to help college grads stay financially healthy.

Don’t Overuse Your Credit Card – A credit card can be a great option to help you manage your expenses. But don’t start charging everything, because your account could become unmanageable as your amount owed increases. Credit cards tend to have higher interest rates for younger consumers, and bills can quickly spiral out of control. Unpaid bills or late payments will negatively affect your credit score and, in turn, your ability to receive loans and credit in the future.
Do Establish Credit – Managing debt is a very important way to establish credit and build towards better credit. Making sure you pay your student loans on time, and managing monthly personal loan payments or credit card bills will have an immediately positive effect on your credit score. Keep your total amount owed as low as possible and check your credit report (you get one free report each year from each of the three main credit bureaus) as often as possible, to ensure there are no errors. If you need help, schedule an appointment with a GreenPath counselor, a free service provided to members of Members 1st Federal Credit Union.
Keep a Budget – This might be the first time you’ve had to manage a budget on your own, and keeping track of every monthly or weekly expense can be tough to do off the top of your head. Create a worksheet or calendar of all your potential expenses and compare that to your monthly income. Keep it as simple as possible. Try to cut back on unnecessary expenses and focus on needs versus wants. It’s also very important to use online banking or a checkbook to track your transactions, so you know how much money you have and don’t get charged for overdrawing your account.
Start Saving – It’s never too late or too early to start saving. You should have a savings account that you contribute to regularly. It can provide back-up for your checking account, and it will help you be better prepared for future expenses and for life stages like buying a house, or saving for retirement.
A Car: To Buy or Not to Buy? – Cars are a big financial burden. Not only do you have to consider paying off the car itself, you have to account for possible loan payments, insurance payments, gas, and repairs and service when needed. Before considering a car, check out public transportation options in your area. Is there a bus line, subway or metro that runs near your work? Can you bike to work? All of these options will cut down on the amount of money you would be spending on a car each month and free up funds for other uses. Ask Members 1st about their First Time Car Buyers Program that’s available to college graduates.

You have your whole life ahead of you. Make sure you are putting your best foot forward financially. And don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially from your local Credit Union. Members 1st Federal Credit Union has a financial Advice Center to help you with any questions you might have, and you can always call them to speak with someone one-on-one. They’ll help you get on the path to financial success.

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