3 Common Money Mistakes College Students Can Avoid

Graduating from high school and beginning college signifies the first step into adulthood and independence. With that comes more financial responsibility. Learning the ins and outs of finances may seem daunting, but the earlier you learn, the more prepared you will be for adult life.

As you are preparing (or helping your child prepare) for the next life stage, remember to avoid these simple mistakes for a lifetime of financial fitness.

Treating Credit Cards like Free Money

It seems like from the moment you walk on campus, credit card companies try to lure college students to take their credit card. While having a credit card is a good idea to help you build your credit and help out with emergency expenses, it’s not a good idea to think of a credit card as ‘free money’ that you’ll have to pay back later. Charge only what you can pay-off each month and be as diligent with credit spending as you are with cash.

Eating Out a Lot

Eating out offers convenience and instant gratification, but also can cost a lot more than other options. Many times, meal plans are required for those who live on campus. Cost of meals not eaten is not refunded in any way so be sure to take advantage of what’s already being paid for. If you live off campus, experiment with cooking at home. Learning to cook with your friends can be a fun way to socialize and learn a life skill at the same time! Save eating out for special occasions.

Not Taking Advantage of Various Financial Aid Options

Many students take out far more loans than they have to because they search for other options. Instead of taking the time to research and apply for scholarships, they take the easy route and apply for easy student loans. FAFSA¹ applications can be started as early as October 1 for the upcoming school year. Many scholarship applications have deadlines that vary from the fall to the spring. Applications for our Mel Hughes Scholarship² typically open in November and are due early March! Taking the time now to research scholarship and grant options could save you money and stress down the road.

Being aware of these simple mistakes is the first step to avoiding them. Developing this mindset early and creating a lifestyle of saving will not only help you in the short run, but can also really pay off in the long run.

¹Federal Student Aid is financial aid from the federal government to help pay for education expenses at an eligible college or career school. Federal Student Loans are funded by the government which must be repaid with interest. For more information on Federal Student Aid and Federal Student Loans visit: https://studentaid.ed.gov/ or to complete an application visit: https://fafsa.ed.gov/ FASFA is a registered trademark of the US Department of Education.
²The Mel Hughes Scholarship is provided by the Carolinas Credit Union Foundation Scholarship Program. You must meet all eligibility requirements to be considered for scholarship.
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