As a college student you face many opportunities and challenges. Among them is personal financial management. You can learn how to budget, whether your funds come from financial aid, parents, or employment. Observing what you spend each week can be quite an enlightening experience. It is also helpful to make yourself aware of billing cycles. For instance, tuition and fees are usually charged once per semester. Rent and utility bills are due monthly. Breaking down costs can go a long way toward helping you formulate a plan, stay on budget, and be less preoccupied with finances than might otherwise be necessary.
The federal government provides a on-line tool to help you budget your funds here.
If you are receiving financial aid we urge you to learn about what you have been awarded. It is important to know if there are conditions you must meet to maintain your award. For example, it is important to know how the money is disbursed, if you will receive a refund, and how soon you will get it. At the Office of Financial Aid website you will find descriptions of the awards available and answers to your questions.
Challenges can include the temptation to borrow excessively or to use credit cards. Federal student loans tend to have better interest rates than private educational loans, but both will need to be repaid at some point. Before accepting a loan from either source, you should ask yourself what the loan will be used for and whether you really need it. Perhaps you only need a portion of what is offered. Talking it over with a trusted source, including your financial aid counselor, is an option UT Dallas offers all its students. If you want to know what your estimated payments will be you can visit the federal government's repayment calculator at studentaid.ed.gov.
College students are prime targets for credit card offers. Low- or no-interest introductory offers and free gifts are ploys lenders use to entice you to sign up. When interest starts to accrue, however, it can become quite expensive. For example, late fees assessed on past due balances are extremely high. Ideally, no one would rely on credit cards as a means of income but if it is necessary, learning how to manage your debt becomes even more important. Management of such debt, whether generated by loans or credit cards, begins with always knowing what your interest rate is and how it is calculated.
In spite of planning, there may be times when funding becomes an issue. The Office of Financial Aid is available to help you explore options that will best meet your particular circumstances. The U.S. government also offers a Website, MyMoney.gov, dedicated to assisting you in learning the basics of financial education. Topics at the site range from savings to paying for education to retirement planning.