Another year is about to begin, so it is time to think about making some resolutions. For high school and college students, and their parents, resolutions often revolve around issues of money. Since there are many participants in the college financial aid process, here are some suggested resolutions for each group:
• High School Students: Resolve to help your parents in all aspects of the college financial aid and payment process, so that you can get a better idea of what your college education really costs and start learning how to manage money on your own. Promise to help pay for your education in every possible way by applying for scholarships, participating in a college work-study program, and learning to budget.
• Parents of High School Students: Resolve to spend time with your student to explain the financial aid process, and help your child learn how to budget. Help guide your student through the college application process, and be prepared to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible in January.
• College Freshmen: Resolve to spend some time over your first holiday break thinking about money and talking about it with your parents. Talk about the budget your parents gave you for your first semester and discuss any difficulties you are having in managing your own money. Let them know if you are having any problems learning how to use the money you have available through student loans or credit cards. Try to earn a little money for out-of-pocket expenses while you are home, and continue looking for college scholarships that can help lighten the load. Be prepared to sit down with your parents in January and help them complete the FAFSA for the 2015-16 academic year.
• College Students: Resolve to find out now how much money you currently owe in student loans, and start thinking about a plan for paying them back after you graduate. As you get closer to your degree, start to learn about job application and interview skills so you will be able to find a good-paying job that will help you get a great financial start in life.
• Recent College Graduates: If you have not already started making payments on your college student loans, resolve to make a plan to do so immediately. The loans you received played a big role in helping you achieve your dream of a college degree, and it is time to start paying them back so that other students can have the same opportunity as you did. If you believe there has been some type of error in the amount you owe, take the steps necessary to resolve your student loan dispute.
A new year is a great time to make a fresh start, especially when it comes to money matters. Think about the resolutions you want to make regarding college financial aid, and then take the steps necessary to stick to those plans. You’ll come out way ahead in 2015 and beyond!