Paying For College: Plan Now For Next Year

As we head into the second half of the school year, this is the perfect time to get started on planning your 2018-2019 budget.  There are ways to increase your available funds and decrease expenses as a student, but some require time (and applications!).  Below is a list of suggestions to help you get started:

  1. Draft Your Budget. The first step in the process is knowing how much money you’ll need, and how much money you can reasonably expect to receive from summer internships and other sources during the summer and next academic year.  Do you have the updated costs for tuition and fees for next year yet? Are your scholarships renewable? If a minimum GPA is required to keep your scholarships, what grades do you need this semester to meet the requirements?
  2. Submit Your FAFSA. Submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The 2018-2019 process is open! The website address is https://fafsa.ed.gov/.
  3. Apply to Become a Resident Assistant.  During the spring semester, applications should be opening up for students who want to become an RA (Resident Assistant) for the next academic year. One of the greatest benefits of these positions is that you usually get free room & board, which is a huge money saver while in school.
  4. Apply to Pitch Competitions and Case Competitions. There are competitions coming up across the country this semester, some of which come with hefty prize money.  But even if you win, it can take up to a few months to actually get the check.  Participating now would allow you to receive your prize money before your next tuition bill is due.
  5. Apply for Scholarships and Fellowships. Are there any scholarships or fellowships available that you can apply for? The spring is usually when applications are released. Start building a list now so that you can ask for recommendations (if necessary) and submit applications in time.
  6. Build a list of on-campus job opportunities. Start researching now to see what opportunities there are to work on campus.  Teaching Assistants, Graduate Assistants, and Research Assistants, as well as bookstore employment, are all great options. They typically aren’t advertised until much later in the semester, but it’s good to start building a list of opportunities and contacts now.
  7. Pull Your Credit Report. If you’re applying for private student loans, jobs, or (sometimes) even internships, you’ll want to pull your credit report early enough that you can have any errors corrected.  The higher your credit score, the better, and if there are mistakes that are negatively impacting it, you don’t want to wait until the last minute to find out.

Crowdfunding of course is an additional way to raise funds for school, but you want to show your family and friends that you’ve done your part. These are just a few suggestions to help you get started, but with a little creativity, the opportunities are limitless.