May is the month for college graduations, so congratulations to all students who have persevered to achieve your dream of a college education. Your academic accomplishments have given you the skills you need to succeed in life. Before you get too wrapped up in your job search or summer plans, there are some smart financial steps you can take now to get control over your post-college financial life:
1. Make sure everything is paid: Close out one phase of your financial life before moving on to another. Check with the college to make sure all your outstanding debts have been paid. You don’t want to be messing around with late fees and overdue payments when you’re getting started on your new life.
2. Remember budget living: Many students are able to live on a budget in college, but then forget those skills once they graduate. They have new access to a regular salary or higher-balance credit cards, and might be tired of deferring gratification on some of the purchases they want to make. Don’t get sucked into this money trap. Look at your total potential income for the next year, subtract all of your expenses, and then have a plan for any purchases you want to make.
3. Control your student loans: Get a complete list of the federal and private student loans you have borrowed during your college career. Contact all of your loan servicers now if you are going on for an advanced education, joining the military, or participating in some type of program where you might be eligible for a loan deferment. This allows you to put off repayment for a specific period of time, but sometimes the paperwork can get a little involved.
4. Learn your options: It might seem like you have a long time before you need to worry about repaying student loans, but six months can go by very quickly with everything else you have to do. Use your research skills to find out about repayment plans and learn about loan consolidation, and then talk to your parents about what the plan is for post-college payment.
5. Start saving money: Don’t put off the job search until the last minute. Get a job now, even if it is not your dream job, so you can start bringing in some money. This will give you a little cushion for what is coming down the road. Learn how to put money aside for student loans and other debts. Don’t get behind on repayment before it even begins.
Learn about student loan payments and college financial aid in my book, Secrets of a Financial Aid Pro! You’ll find information on completing the FAFSA, saving and paying for college, comparing financial aid offers, and making plans to repay student loans. Order it now, and get all the information you need to be fully prepared for post-college life.