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5 Great Financial Resources for College Students

How to manage your money isn’t something most high schools teach. While formal courses on financial literacy are now available at some colleges and universities, they can be hard to fit into one’s schedule and enrollment is limited.

Should you or your college student have questions about saving, managing your loans, and how to manage income, this post will direct you to a few (free) resources that are readily available.

When you’re a student, whether you’re on a work-study scholarship or holding down a part or full-time job, managing your money may not feel as urgent as earning it. As you consider avenues for future employment, it’s important to understand how you’re financing your education and how this may impact your monthly budget after you receive your diploma.

While there are a number of things you can do to save money day-to-day, it’s important to take a broad view of your finances when you look at your education as a whole.

5 places to turn to learn about managing your money

  1. Financial Literacy for College Students: this website is aptly titled and the budgeting resources it provides are free as advertised. There’s a movement to help college students make their way through one of the biggest investments of their life without absorbing a huge load of debt. FLCS is at the forefront of this effort, and we admire its readability and practical advice. It may not sound like fun to download a budgeting spreadsheet, but it’s one of the best tools available to help you stay on track and live within your means.
  2. Check out your college or university’s financial aid website. For example, the University of Wisconsin Madison’s financial aid page features a pretty standard look at  the resources these sites have to offer. On this page, you’ll find a calendar with information sessions, counselor contact information, and instructions for financial aid paperwork. You’ll also see links to scholarship application information, including those specific to your college or university.
  3. Scholarship America is a great place to start if you’re looking for help financing your education or next steps. This site is organized and practical: you won’t find any fluff or think pieces here. Scholarship America walks you through the financial aid process and directs you to resources for applying to graduate school or entering the job market. There a plenty of fellowships available to graduates of a bachelors or a masters program, and as they say, those who apply are more likely to win funding than those who don’t.
  4. Hands on Banking is not just for college students. This is another site that champions financial literacy for folks of all ages, and it doesn’t condescend. Whether you’re curious about how to apply for your first loan to buy textbooks or you’ve got enough money for a down payment on your first house, this is a great site.
  5. Your bank or credit union: One of the best resources out there is one you probably already have. Most student checking accounts include at least one annual consultation with a real live banker. These experts know what products and services your bank or credit union provides better than anyone, and they can help direct you to the financial education materials and resources that are available to you as a customer. It’s hard to imagine walking into a bank and feeling totally at ease, but don’t let the lines and velvet ropes intimidate you. Talk to a banker about your financial goals and get the support you need to reach them. If you have yet to set up a student checking account, that’s a great first step to planning your financial future.

Bonus suggestion: the blogosphere. We’re tacking this onto the end of the list a caveat. The blogosphere is not always the most reliable resource for financial advice, but it’s full of great suggestions for frugal living. Lifestyle bloggers are often candid about how they make life work on very little. One of our favorite personal finance blogs for students is Money Under 30 for their candid interviews: they’re a good source for ideas and frankly, solidarity.

Final word: Don’t worry. You’ve got this.

We’re not kidding. While learning about how to manage your money, you’ll learn about yourself. The psychology of spending money is deeply related to how we save. You may find that making a financial plan for the next semester or school year will help you focus your studies.

Outlining your goals is a great way to uncover your motivations, and those may be linked to a salary goal or a lifestyle change. If that’s the case, it’s especially important to have the right attitude and the financial savvy to get there.