How to Make the Most of Your Financial Aid in College

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Many students cannot hope to attend college without some form of assistance. Even students that are able to work part-time or full-time may need some extra help to pay for tuition, fees, books, living expenses, and other costs associated with higher education.

In some cases, this assistance comes from parents, grandparents, and other family members, but even this help may not be enough to cover all the costs. Luckily, most students are eligible for some form of financial aid.

By filling out the FAFSA form and turning it in on time, you’ll discover if you qualify for grants, work-study opportunities, and/or low-income student loans. All can help you to pay for your schooling.

However, it is imperative that you use your financial aid wisely. You want to make sure you’re able to stretch these funds to cover all necessary expenses. Here are a few guidelines to help you make the most of your financial aid in college.

Budget

When it comes to managing money, the best option is to budget. This means accounting for all known income and expenses, as well as estimating unknown or fluctuating costs.

Ultimately, you can’t spend more than you have coming in, so you have to make every dollar count. You not only have to budget properly, but you also need to reevaluate your budget monthly to assess where you’re at, see if you’ve overspent or you have extra money left over, and adjust accordingly.

Don’t Spend Frivolously

When you first receive your student aid, you’ll obviously want to pay tuition, purchase your books, and set aside money for living expenses for the semester if you have any left. It can be tempting to spend remaining funds frivolously though, when you have cash sitting in your bank account.

Before you start blowing your dough on dining out, entertainment, and clothing, though, think about the necessary expenses that are likely to arise in the next few weeks and months. Your financial aid is designed to help you cope with such costs and you must behave responsibly so that the money is available when you need it.

Save Whenever Possible

Just because you’re awarded financial aid doesn’t mean you need to spend it all. Whether you can find ways to cut costs, you bring in income through a job, or you receive an unexpected windfall, you may not end up needing all of your financial aid.

If this is the case, put the extra money into savings. You may be able to use it later on for unanticipated costs or you could use it to start repayment of student loans down the road.

What you should not do is spend unnecessarily. This is true whether you end up needing all of your financial aid or not. There are many ways to save while earning Villanova’s master of taxation and all can help you to make the most of your financial aid.

Dining in, purchasing second-hand items (clothing, furniture, etc.), and seeking out student discounts can also help you to cut costs and stretch every dollar. If you’re trying to avoid as much student loan debt as possible and make the most of your financial aid, trying to save at every turn is a must.

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