In partnership with FAME, iGrad helps college students and graduates succeed through free online financial literacy tools that offer an interactive experience. This financial education resource helps students sharpen their knowledge about borrowing and repaying student loans, affording a home, paying credit card bills, investing, and budgeting. Sign up today at igrad.com.
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- Know your goals, or what is most important to you, when you think about the cost of borrowing; and then compare loan options to find the right fit to achieve those goals:
- Having the smallest monthly payment
- Having the lowest interest rate
- No or low origination/loan fees
- Tax benefits
- If your school has tuition payment plans that can be paid monthly, you may be able to make payments throughout the year instead of borrowing.
- Understand the difference between a fixed rate and a variable rate loan and which type is right for you.
- Calculate how much you will pay back overall for the money you are borrowing.
- Know what is in your and your co-signer’s credit reports and know your credit score.
- At annualcreditreport.com, you can obtain your and your co-signer’s credit reports, for free, once per year per credit reporting agency. You can also get your credit scores at annualcreditreport.com for a small fee.
Use this helpful Spending Plan worksheet for students or anyone who wants to create a budget.
A Few Financial Rules of Thumb
Keep three months of living expenses in a safe, easily accessed account to protect you from harm due to unexpected life occurrences or expenses.
Automate your savings habit and increase amount of savings if your income increases, consider setting 10% of earnings as a target.
Weigh every purchase against your longer-term financial goals. Will a purchase today prevent me from reaching a future goal?
Spend less than you earn each month. If you are living paycheck to paycheck, find ways to increase income or reduce expenses.
Contribute at least enough to your employer-based savings or retirement plan to get the full company match.
When you borrow for higher education…
- Only borrow what you can reasonably afford to repay.
- If something takes longer to pay for than it lasts, don’t borrow money to buy it.
- Watch out for the minimum payment trap, as it could take years to pay off your credit card balance and you’ll end up spending a lot more than the original amount you charged.
- Only charge to your credit card what you can pay off at the end of the month. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will pay it off next month.
- When purchasing a vehicle, be sure to shop wisely to ensure you get the best deal.
- Take a few days to think about a purchase before you follow through with it. This will give you time to decide if you really need the item.
- To reduce the total amount of interest you pay over time, pay off your higher interest rate loans and credit cards first. Then pay off debt with lower interest rates.
- Get help if you need it: reach out to a reputable debt counseling agency or talk to your bank or credit union.
- (the above may have links to learn more, video or use calculators)