College students have all the necessary expenses accrued by any non-student: Food, clothing, housing, utilities, transportation, fuel, medical expenses, and a little allowance for recreation. But, they also must consider tuition, expensive text books, basic supplies, lab fees, student union fees, fraternity or sorority dues, and other costs associated with campus life.
A laptop computer, connectivity fees or equipment (air cards or cable hookups if the student is living off campus), special calculators, and a cell phone are more and more becoming requirements in daily life, and especially so for the college or university student. Students and their parents, or other benefactors, should sit down and draw up a monthly budget considering all the expenses and circumstances mentioned above as well as any considerations particular to a specific student. A handicapped student, for instance, will have a number of different issues to deal with.
Starting the School Year Right
Along with deciding which school they might like to attend, students should be heavily weighing how to finance the four years (or maybe even beyond) they will be probably be spending away from home. High school guidance counselors are well-equipped to steer students to the college or university that will best support their life and career ambitions. They are also well-equipped to help students figure out where the money will come from to help them afford their time at a particular institution of higher learning. Costs vary widely and wildly from institution to institution. The student should also recognize that taking a part-time job during the school year, and a full-time job during the summer, could or should be a part of their school life.
Show Me the Money
In an ideal world, the student will have been tucking away money from jobs held in high school to put toward their education. Smart parents will have been squirreling away money to help offset higher education costs. Many banks offer certain savings programs with special conditions to assist students. These types of accounts are available to both parents and children to set up. Any student should exhaust all avenues to get any money, no matter how small. These can be in the form of scholarships, federal student loans, grants, government agency programs, and the list goes on. Even churches or local charities sometimes gather funds to help get their senior high schoolers off to a good start on the road to a higher education.
Private Student Loans
In spite of all this help, a school budget can still turn up wanting. A private student loan may be the answer to supplement the accrual of cash from other sources. First, much shopping should be done to find a lender who will offer the best rates and terms. These can vary widely from lender to lender so a little prudence in shopping can save a lot of money. The student will have to undergo a credit check, as will the co-signers, if any, for the loan. And the student should understand that these loans can be quite overwhelming after they graduate and start out in life. Especially nowadays, many graduates find themselves unemployed or under-employed yet still facing monthly student loan payments. Money should never be an obstacle to a young person bent of achieving their educational goals.