Archive for the ‘ student loans ’ Category

How to Be a Money-Smart Graduate Student


Whether you’ll be pursuing a master’s degree in English literature or a Ph.D. in chemical engineering this fall, life as a graduate student likely will require a good deal of thriftiness. But that doesn’t mean you have to limit yourself to a steady diet of instant noodles and cereal for the foreseeable future.

Here’s a look at several sustainable ways that grad students can maximize their stipends or other income and cut costs in the process.

Find a roommate

Sharing a house or an apartment with others may have taken some getting used to as an undergraduate. By now, though, you’re probably a seasoned veteran. And that’s a good thing, since finding a roommate is still one of the best ways to save money.

As well as being able to write a smaller rent check every month, you may also want to divvy up utilities and split groceries. Consider using an app like Roomi to find someone who has similar attitudes toward noise and cleanliness, which can reduce tension down the road.

Catch the bus

Unlike your first college stint, you probably won’t be running back and forth between the far corners of your school’s campus to get to class. In grad school, you’ll probably spend most of your time in one or two buildings. A car, therefore, may not be essential. Instead, use a bike or hop on public transportation. Many schools offer subsidized transit passes to lighten the load on students’ finances.

Use student discounts

It can be disheartening to create a budget only to find that there isn’t much money left over for meals out or nights at the neighborhood bar. But if you take advantage of student discounts — and memorize that bar’s happy hour schedule — having a good time doesn’t have to put a major dent in your wallet.

From movie theaters to museums, many places offer student discounts. Although saving a couple of bucks may not seem like much, it’ll make a difference over time. This extra cash can then be put toward your future, either by eliminating debt or saving for retirement.

Tackle debt, save what you can

Only about 1 in 10 millennials say they feel “very confident” that they’ll have enough cash for retirement, according to a recent survey. If you’re worried about running out of money during your later years, consider starting to set aside some of your income now. A good amount to shoot for is about 10% of your monthly earnings.

You’ll also be doing your future self a huge favor by slashing as much credit card or student loan debt as possible. Also, do your best not to rack up any new consumer debt. Use your plastic only in emergencies.

The bottom line

Pursuing an advanced degree can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but not financially, at least not right away. It’s therefore essential to take advantage of all the breaks you can get, such as subsidized transportation passes and other student discounts. That way, the only thing you’ll graduate with is more knowledge, and not mountains of credit card debt.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


For more information about Graduate Loans and other student loans, visit the our student loans web page or our Student Choice website.

How to Fund Your College Social Life While Maintaining Your Finances


Unlike Snoop Dogg, incoming college students might not have their minds on their money and their money on their minds. But if you’re just starting out on campus and can put some of your focus on your finances, you have a great opportunity: Knowing how to manage your cash can save you endless headaches down the road.

Here are a few things you can do to keep your finances in order.

Learn to budget

Tuition, groceries, dining out, textbooks, rent — the expenses never seem to stop piling up. Creating a budget can help you regulate how much you spend and on what. Use a spreadsheet, a notebook, or a good budgeting tool or app to track what your purchases. And always prioritize essentials before indulging on new shoes or concert tickets.

Know the ins and outs of financial aid

Students miss out on billions of dollars in free government aid each year. Fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, early and you’ll be more likely to receive the scholarships and grants you qualify for. These should always be your first priority when it comes to financial aid.

Private scholarships can also be valuable, even if they’re small sums. Try to spend two hours a week researching and applying for scholarships.

If you still need funding, try federal loans first and private loans last. Neither is free, though it might feel that way now, so borrow only what you absolutely need.

Practice good credit card habits

Horror stories of spiraling credit card debt might have made you wary of plastic. But the length of your credit history is a key part of your credit score. And having a good score can earn you a lower interest rate on a car loan or a mortgage in the future.

Although you’re a student, you don’t automatically qualify for a student credit card; you’ll need income or a co-signer. If you don’t have either, consider a secured card. These require you to put down a cash deposit as collateral, but if the issuer reports your account activity to the credit bureaus, they can help you start building credit.

Develop good credit card habits now. Think of your card as another debit card and charge only an amount you can pay off with what’s in your bank account. And don’t carry a balance from month to month — paying in full will keep your credit score high.

Save money where you can

The outside world tries to make up for your sky-high tuition costs with a little something called  student discounts. Big retail chains such as Apple, Banana Republic and J. Crew, as well as movie theaters and museums, offer discounted prices for students. If you don’t see one advertised, just ask.

Avoid paying full price for your textbooks by searching for used copies on websites such as Chegg and Abebooks. Amazon offers a 50% student discount for Amazon Prime accounts.

Build your resume

True, college is expensive, but it’s also an investment. College graduates earned about 63% more than those with only high school diplomas in 2013, according to a study by the Pew Research Center.

Make sure you get that degree — but improve yourself in other ways, too. Learn a foreign language and volunteer for leadership positions. These skills will set you apart in a competitive job market.

The costs of being in college might keep your wallet thin now, but in the long run, it could turn out to be the best financial decision you ever made.

Source: NerdWallet, Inc.


For more tips on planning for college and information about Members 1st’s student loan program, visit members1st.studentchoice.org.

%d bloggers like this: