If you are feeling intimidated by your college finances, you are not alone. We’ve got some good financial tips to help you navigate money during college and beyond.

  1. Leverage financial aid: Take some time to learn the types of financial aid available to students. They include scholarships, grants, and federal student loans.
    • Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early to maximize your eligibility for aid.
    • Grants and scholarships are free money, so prioritize them over loans.
    • Find out what scholarships you qualify for. Get started with myredkite.com, they sift through $20 billion in scholarships to find money you may qualify for.
  2. What to know about Private Student Loans (PSL): We encourage all students to exhaust federal loan options, grants, and scholarships before considering private loans. It is very important to only borrow what you need — so if you need to bridge the gap in your college financing options, consider a PSL from CEFCU.
    • Have questions about PSL? Talk to one of our knowledgeable Student Loan reps today to learn more, 1.800.633.7077, ext. 33474.
    • We also offer Consolidated Student Loans — so when you graduate and begin paying back your loans, you have fewer individual payments to keep track of.
  3. Create and stick to a budget: Develop a monthly budget that outlines your income, then use budgeting apps or spreadsheets to track your spending to ensure you're living within your means.
    • Consider the 50|30|20 budget rule: 50% of your income for needs (things like food, transportation, housing); 30% of your income for wants (like dining out or entertainment); 20% for savings or additional debt repayment.
    • We make it easy to manage your budget, cash flow, and spending with our Online Budgeting Tools when you enroll in CEFCU On-Line® and Mobile Banking
  4. Prioritize saving: Even when you are on a tight budget, saving money is still essential. Plan to save a portion of any income you earn, just remember to start small and gradually increase the amount over time as your income grows (if you can’t start with 20%, find out what you can start with, and make a goal for yourself to slowly increase the amount you’re saving).
    • Consider opening a Savings account, My Use Account, or My Save Certificate® to earn interest on your money.
  5. Minimize unnecessary expenses: Track your current spending habits and then identify areas where you can cut back. Here are a few popular ways people reduce spending: cook meals at home instead of dining out, use public transportation or carpool instead of owning a car, and look for free or low-cost entertainment options on campus or the surrounding community.
  6. Plan for emergencies: Have a plan for emergencies, like unexpected medical expenses or car repairs. Having an emergency only credit card can be a good way to have immediate funds available to you when you need it. You can also set aside a portion of your regular savings for an emergency fund. Just be sure the money is in an account you can easily withdrawal from. It’s best to have an emergency fund that can cover three to six months' worth of living expenses.
  7. Invest early in your future: Consider opening a retirement account, such as a Roth IRA, even if you can only contribute a small amount each month. The earlier you start investing, the more time your money has to grow.

Let us help take the stress out of finances today, so you can focus on your tomorrow — give us a call with any questions, 1.800.633.7077, ext. 33474.