Now that summer is here, for most student’s that means summer break is here as well! While your summer is probably already packed with trips, concerts, work and catching up with friends and family, it’s also a great time to review your financial aid and college budget! While this may be at the bottom of your list, here are a few tips that may make you think otherwise.
Are your Documents Complete?
You turned in your final term paper and your all set on your housing request for next year; but have you completed your FAFSA? Remember, you have to complete a new FAFSA every year you are in school. If you haven’t done so, fill out the FAFSA now and contact your Financial Aid office to make sure you haven’t missed any deadlines.
While you’re checking in with your FA office, make sure you have all your other documents completed. Also, if you are moving over the summer; make sure they have your new contact information. If you have either Federal Loans and/or Private Loans for college, make sure you update your contact information with them as well.
Look for Scholarships
Even though your summer schedule may be full, it’s a great time to look for scholarships. Just because you are a current student, doesn’t mean there still aren’t scholarships out there for you. If you are interning or working over the summer, check with the company to see if they have any scholarships available. Freshen up your old scholarship essays with all the new info you have learned since you’ve been in college. Did you volunteer? Lead a team project in a class? Make the Dean’s list? All these things are great morsels that scholarship committee’s love to hear! Some scholarships are only available to students already in college so do some research and see what you can come up with!
Work for the…Next Semester!
A summer job or internship is a great way to get work experience and save up some cash. If you haven’t already, set a budget and portion out a chunk of your earnings to help pay for your tuition for next semester. Every dollar you can pay toward tuition, books or living expenses is one less dollar you have to borrow!
If you are one of the lucky students that have your college fully covered with grants or scholarships, it’s still a good idea to get that summer job! Work experience is great for resumes and the extra cash will come in handy when you want that new laptop or bike for next semester.
Review your Loan Amounts
If you are student or parent that is taking out loans to help pay for college, now is great time to review your loan amounts. Review how much you have taken out so far and estimate how much you think you will need for the remainder of your college career. We all know things change: tuition goes up, books were more expensive than you planned, you didn’t win the lottery like you thought you would! You may have had to take out more in student loans than you planned to last year, so now is a good time to review how much you have actually borrowed.
Not sure where to go to see this information? While you probably had award letters mailed or emailed to you earlier in the school year, most lenders have account pages on their website where you can log in and review your information. If you took out federal loans you can see this information on NSLDS.ed.gov. If you took out a private student loan through a bank, check the bank’s website or call them to get this info. Once you have the total amounts you borrowed so far, budget out how much you think you will need for the rest of your college career. Having a total amount can help you in estimating how much your monthly payment will be on your student loans. Most lenders have repayment calculators on their websites for you to play around with. They also can provide info on different repayment options they have.
Remember, you can make payments on your student loans even while you’re in school! If you find yourself with some extra summer cash, it might not be such a bad idea to work on paying off some of that loan debt!
We all know summer goes by faster than we like, so take care of your college budget and financial aid now before you find yourself back at school but not knowing how you are paying for it!