It’s easy to wax nostalgic at this time of year. Most colleges are holding their graduation ceremonies, and the high school celebrations aren’t far behind. For these classes of seniors it can be both a time of looking back fondly on what has been accomplished so far, and looking forward with eager anticipation to the next steps in your life. Once the celebrating is over, here are a few things high school seniors can do this summer to prepare for college:
• Get Serious About Money: Up until now, you probably haven’t had to worry too much about money. Your parents covered all of the expenses at home, and you might have gotten a job to earn a little spending money. In just a few short months, though, you are going to be more responsible than ever for managing your own money, so it’s best to get a start on learning how to do that now. Find out how your parents budget for household income and expenses, and ask if they can help you prepare a budget for yourself. Try to think about all the extraneous expenses that will come along with being on your own, like gasoline, snacks, laundry, late-night lattes, books, and entertainment, and try to figure out if you will have enough money to cover it all.
• Learn About Student Loans: Have a frank discussion with your parents to find out how much of your education is being financed with student loans, then find out the details regarding who will be responsible for their repayment. If federal student and parent loans are not enough to cover all of your college expenses, help your parents investigate private student loan options like Discover Student Loans. You’ll want to find a company that is easy to work with, and that also has competitive interest rates and payment terms. This is good experience you can use later on when you are thinking about taking out a mortgage to purchase a home or condominium.
• Keep Looking for Scholarships: One way to extend your finances and reduce your debt burden is to find “free” money that is available through college scholarships. You might think you are done with this process, but there are many additional scholarships you can apply for once you have completed your freshman year or decided on a major. Keep doing research to find out about these opportunities, and put any deadlines in your calendar so you won’t miss out on a potential source of revenue.
For many students, it also helps to find a job during the summer. Of course, you do want to leave yourself some time for having fun with your high school friends, but if you can save some money now you might not have to borrow as much as you thought once you start classes. It’s an exciting time – be sure your financial priorities are in order before moving on to the next phase.