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7 Hard Money Lessons Your College Student Needs to Know


The end of one school year is ending and for most high schoolers, college is right on the horizon. College applications have gone out and acceptance letters will be arriving in the mail. I remember when my daughter started college 2 years ago, the applications, the numerous campus visits until she found the college that she wanted to attend. Of course you want your kids to go to college, be successful, and make a good life for themselves, but it is important that they know what they are getting into. Attending college is expensive, and there are several lessons you can teach them before they learn them the hard way.



1. Tuition:  First and foremost, it is important that college students learn how much tuition actually costs per year. It may not look like they are racking a lot up when they only see how much it is per semester. College students need to know if the cost of tuition is financially feasible. Community colleges tend to be a lot cheaper but may only offer a 2 year degree but you can almost always transfer credits when you're ready to finish your 4yr degree.

2. Stafford Loans: Stafford loans seem so great. The government offers you these loans with low interest rates or no interest rate depending on their parent’s income. What your college student need to know however is this is not free money. They will be responsible to pay this money pack 6 months after they graduate or withdraw from school. If they don’t pay these loans, the government can come after their tax checks and can also take it out of their payroll checks.

3. Personal Loans: Personal loans for school are almost too good to be true. Yes, they are fairly easy to get, but it is important that college students know these interest rates are excessively high. For a low $600 loan, they could pay back up to $1200 dollars for it. They need to learn to look at interest rates and see how much they are actually going to pay back because, again, these loans are nearly impossible to get out of. They won’t get canceled on bankruptcy and very few qualify to get their loans forgiven.

4. Book Fees: College is not just tuition. You have to pay for your own books.  Many books can cost several hundred a piece. They could end up quite easily spending $1000 a semester just on books. It’s important to teach college students how to shop frugally for books online. You can also rent most of your school text books, unless a specific book is required by the professor, that can only be obtained from the college. We decided to rent quite a few of her books and saved a lot of money in the long run.


5. Scholarships: Push scholarships. College students need to learn that this money actually is free money. However, nothing comes free. If they want to get scholarships, they are going to have to put in the work before college to get them. Whether this is getting good grades in high school, applying for online grants, essay writing, or volunteer services, there are several grants that can help them pay for college without all the debt.

6. Grants: Grants are, also, free money from the government when college students fill out their FAFSA. It is important for college students to learn that these grants do not cover everything. They are very minimal and depend on their parent’s income as well as how much the tuition costs at the school they are attending.

7. Annual Salary: College students need to know what their annual salary could be when they graduate. If their tuition is more than their annual salary will be for the degree they are going for, it may be better to go to a college with a lower tuition rate. College students need to know that their college tuition total (4 years) should be no more than 1 year salary for the degree they are going for.


Now there is college housing to also consider. Dorm rooms can work out to be as much as tuition in some cases and most colleges require that you include a meal plan if you're a freshman driving up the cost even more. College students don’t know what they are getting into financially when they start out, therefore, it is important to break it down for them and explain each situation ahead of time so they get the most out of their college experience.

Let's discuss: What other ways can you think of that can save your college student money?

Annmarie John
34 Comments
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34 comments:

  1. These are all great tips for kids starting college. Book fees are ridiculous! Thankfully, mine are are done with college and I tried to explain all of these things before they started. I really like tip #7.

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    1. We do try and tell our children these things but as you know with kids, they think they know more than we do. Its however ridiculous at the prices for college and I wish it was cheaper or free.

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  2. My stepson just finished up his freshman year and the GI bill paid for all of this. He literally didn't spend a dime :)

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    1. That's great Robin but not everyone has the GI bill since it's for military and their family only. What tips do you have for those who don't have the GI bill. When you went to college, I'm sure you didn't have it so there must be a tip that you can share.

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  3. These are all great tips and advice for the college students. Although I did not go to college, I did not realize that books were a major expense! I believe that kids getting ready to head off to college, needs to know exactly what all is involved and the cost of college.

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    1. Oh yes those books are a killer and I have no idea why they cost that much. They're just made of paper just like regular books but it's a way to make money I guess.

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  4. All great tips. I definitely learned these lessons during my undergrad years. I like that last tip about salary vs tuition and possibly switching colleges. That is an excellent thing to consider.

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    1. With the cost of college tuition why pay more than you have to. At the end of the day it's all about that certificate and most places don't really care where you got it from.

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  5. Great tips, they should have mandatory financial management classes in college.

    They also need to beware of those credit card offers.

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    1. I agree with you, I think that they should but in high school and not necessarily college because by then it might be too late. And as for those credit card offers, don't get me started. I got bad credit from those while in college and it took me a few years to clean it up. Horrors!

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  6. Book fees can be outrageous. Especially when it's for an uncommon course. I was surprised by them when my kids got sent off to school.

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    1. Oh tell me about it, my daughter just recently had to buy a book that was almost $300. It's just ridiculous if you ask me!

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  7. Even though it has been quite a few years since I attended college, absolutely great advice from my recollection and will have to bookmark this for my girls in the future now, too. Thanks 😉

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    1. You're very welcome Janine. It's been a few years for me too and I still have 3 more kids to get through college.

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  8. YES! The personal loans and book costs are crazy!! I had no idea about how much books actually cost when I started college.....I was floored!

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    1. I sometimes think that the books cost almost as much as the tuition. It's just simply ludicrous to me.

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  9. These are definitely some good things to consider. College is so expensive now and student loans seem like the only option.

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    1. Sometimes it seems like the only option but it's really not. Scholarships are free money.

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  10. I just finished my first year of college and paid for all by tuition, books and living from my saved money from working two summer jobs. I am hoping that I don't have to get too much in debt.

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    1. I hope you won't and congrats on paying for college on your own without any help. You're going to have to keep working however and saving because you have a few more years to go.

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  11. These are all great hard money lessons your college student needs to know for sure. It is so important to make sure that your college student research everything before heading to the college of their choice. Thanks for sharing these important things every college student should know about.

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    1. They really should and not just go to a college because it sounds great or their boyfriend or girlfriend is attending. There is so much to consider.

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  12. I think college students needs to know the cost of education for them to appreciate the opportunity. They also need to look forward to demands for their respective course so they'll know their options.

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    1. Most of them unfortunately don't appreciate it because their parents pay for it. If they had to pay for some of it they'll appreciate it a lot more.

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  13. These are all great tips. I'm a 41 year old who has gone back to school. I know all too well the incredible cost.

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    1. Oh you're never too old to go back to school. Congratulations!! I just turned 40 and I need to go back and finish a degree that I started and never finished myself.

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  14. These are definitely important lessons which I wish I had know 5 years ago when I went to university. Though I have now paid off my debt from university it's important students are taught about money management and loans are not free money

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    1. Oh you couldn't have said it better. A lot of college student think that it is and that's why so many of our college grads are now in debt.

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  15. I wish I would have known about all of this when I first when to College. These are great lessons.

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    1. Oh you're not alone because I wish I had known about them too. When I got my BA almost 14yrs ago I didn't pay attention to most of the things I talked about and had student loans that I had to pay back. Luckily I learned from my mistake and was able to share them with my daughter who's now going into her 3rd year.

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  16. Great tips! My daughter is a freshmen and I am still learning about all these money lessons.

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    1. My daughter is now a junior and I learned them the hard way myself. Better to learn them early.

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  17. Great lessons and tips! I need to remember these for when my kids get to be collage age!

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    1. Maybe by then your kids might be able to go to college for free. Fingers crossed.

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