CommonBond is committed to helping college students save money in any way they can. To that end, we've teamed up with UNiDAYS to offer some advice on how incoming freshman can avoid making the financial pitfalls that often accompany the college experience.
College students, welcome to adulthood! You'll be kicking it off with a bang—your college years have the potential to become the absolute best time of your life. For many students, this time is filled with a sense of independence, studying, parties, love, and friendship.
While you're experiencing these exciting life changes, it's important to learn lessons about financial responsibility that will serve you well in school. After all, you don't want monetary mishaps to be a part of your college years, or any point afterward. Thankfully, a little knowledge can go a long way when it comes to ensuring that you're prepared for this new journey.
To make sure that you maintain financial security through your college career, avoid making any of these six common money mistakes:
1. Choosing a school that doesn't suit your needs
Deciding what school you're going to attend is one of the most exciting choices you'll make in your young life. There are many different factors that go into choosing the college for you, but the most important is what you want after school. Pick a university and a program that will support your career goals, which is more important than worrying about a price tag. If you do go to a more expensive school, just make sure you explore student loans and other financial aid options and come up with a plan to pay off your debt. Remember, you're only wasting money if you aren't getting what you need out of the experience.
2. Not filling out the FAFSA
The FAFSA is a crucial tool when it comes to figuring out how you'll be paying for college. It'll tell you exactly how much you are expected to pay for college/grad school and how much financial aid you qualify for. If you don't fill it out, you're missing out on a ton of opportunities that could ultimately help you finance your education.
3. Missing out on scholarships
No matter how many scholarships you've got on your radar, there are more out there, which means there are more opportunities to save money. Applying for scholarships takes work, there's no doubt about it, but even the smallest scholarships mean that you're saving money. For more information, check out CommonBond's guide to finding and applying for scholarships.
4. Not utilizing student discounts
At any given moment there are hundreds of brands cutting students a break. Redeem what is rightfully yours with a little help from UNiDAYS, the student affinity network that partners with brands in fashion, tech, food, and anything else you need to save a buck. It's free to use, the discounts are always on, and they're working hard to bring you best-in-class offers from all of your favorites.
5. Not meeting with academic advisors
You're paying a lot of money to be at your school, which means you should be taking advantage of all of the perks that come along with it. Your advisors are there for you to make sure you get the most out of your education. They can find and share financial opportunities, keep you on track to graduate on schedule, and offer other assistance that will help your academic career and your wallet. Everybody has an advisor and everybody should visit them.
6. Not using credit cards wisely
Beware of those little booths set up all over campus that give away free t-shirts—They're tempting you with a line of credit you may not be able to afford. If you do decide to get a credit card, keep your balance at zero by paying off the entire amount every month. That's the best way to minimize your debt and build your credit score.
College marks a new step in your journey toward independence, but that doesn't mean you need to worry. Avoid these common mistakes and you'll be ahead of the financial game early on. Good luck!