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Be Legit and Financially Fit

Our goal is to provide students with the tools necessary to formulate solid, basic money management skills promoting a life of financial wellness.

Here’s What You Can Do

Search for Grants and Scholarships!

To get the upper hand in financial aid, it is beneficial to get as much as you can in grants and scholarships. Make sure you file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before March 1 to receive priority consideration for federal and state grants. Also, take the opportunity to utilize scholarship search engines on the Internet as well as scholarship books available in the Office of Financial Aid.

Some scholarships are “merit based” which means they generally are based on academic achievement. Others are “need based” which means you will need to show financial need which can only be determined by completing a FAFSA.

Budget Your Money!

Developing a budget will keep you aware of your expenses and help you reach the ultimate goal of graduating with as little debt as possible. Little changes, like packing your own lunch, borrowing movies and books from the library, carpooling, participating in free campus activities, can make a big change in the amount of money you save.

Start building a budget by using this Budget Worksheet

Use Available Resources!

Don’t forget that there are many resources that are available to you both on and off campus.

Take the First-Year Experience (FYEX) class Be Financially Fit. This class will provide you with the tools necessary to formulate solid, basic money management skills, promoting a life of financial wellness.

Not a Freshman? Take the FYEX 199A Financial Wellness class to learn money management skills for life after graduation.

Visit Career Services, located  in Scarborough Library 104C, where you’ll find many resources to assist you in determining a major, finding an internship, building a resumé, and searching for a career.

Utilize online resources to research job trends and job opportunities and related salary by state such as National Association of Colleges and Employers or the U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Check out the campus events calendar to stay up to date on all events and seminars that are offered on campus—most of these will be free!

Remember to check your Shepherd email! The Office of Financial Aid and other offices send important notifications to your Shepherd email. These notifications will include things like scholarship opportunities, your bill, registration reminders, and announcements regarding changes in federal aid programs, etc.

Have a Game Plan!

When you are applying for financial aid it is easy to only focus on how much it costs to cover tuition and room/meals. It’s important, however, to remember the total amount of money you will borrow for your education and how that total loan amount will relate to your expected starting salary.

Do your research! Studentloans.gov experts suggest that your future loan payments should be no more than 8 to 12 percent of your monthly salary at the time you begin making payments. If you borrow more than this amount, it may be difficult for you to keep up with your monthly payments.

For example: Students with an expected average starting salary of $26,000 will want to borrow no more than $19,284 in student loans in order to keep future payments between 8 and 12 percent.

Keep Track of How Much You Borrow!

It is important to remember how much you borrow from year to year. You don’t want to be shocked at your total loan balance when it’s time to graduate! You can keep track of your loan information online with the National Student Loan Data System. This great website will show you how much you have borrowed in federal loans as well as your loan servicer’s contact information.

Don’t Forget About the Interest!

Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans (and most private student loans) start to accrue interest immediately at time of disbursement. This means that the amount you pay back is greater than what you received. You want to make sure that you know what your interest rates are and how much interest has accrued.

If you have a Federal Direct Unsubsidized loan which currently has a 6.8 percent interest rate, you have the option of making quarterly interest payments. This is recommended as it will reduce the amount you owe later! If you choose NOT to make the quarterly interest payments, then the amount of interest that accrues while you are in school will be added to the principle amount of your loan and you will end up paying interest on top of interest. This is referred to as capitalization.

What does this mean exactly? Take a look at the following example:

Matthew borrowed $15,000 in Federal Direct Unsubsidized loans and chose to make payments on the accumulating interest while he was enrolled. His total amount repaid will be $21,744.

If Matthew chose NOT to make the interest payments, he will repay a total amount of $23,462 due to the capitalized interest.

Thus, the total amount paid with the additional interest is $1,718 more than would have been paid if Matthew paid the interest while enrolled.

In short, if you have an unsubsidized loan, it will save you money if you make the interest payments while you are in school!

You can find out how capitalization will affect your future loan payments by using the Interest Capitalization Calculator.

Know Your Credit Score!

A credit score is an analysis of your creditworthiness based on your credit history and current credit accounts. Creditors use the credit scoring system to help determine whether to give you credit and how much to charge you for it. Credit scores range from about 350 to 850 points. The higher the score, the more likely you are to get credit. A score of 700 and above is considered excellent, while borrowers with scores below 620 may not get the best interest rates available and may experience complications when requesting credit (usa.gov, n.d.).

You can access your free credit report from nationwide consumer credit reporting companies—Equifax, Experian, or TransUnion at http://www.annualcreditreport.com.

Understand Repayment Options!

One way to ruin your credit score is to default on your student loans. If you find yourself unable to make your payments, don’t panic! There are repayment options that can lower your monthly payments, but that sometimes means you will be paying more in interest.

Make sure you contact your loan servicer if you find yourself unable to make your payments. They will assist you in determining a repayment plan that can fit your budget or determine if you qualify for a temporary forbearance or a deferment.

You can get more information on student loan repayment options by visiting the U.S. Department of Education website.