Here are three things you shouldn’t do to make the most of your financial aid refund.
1. Treating the refund check like it’s free money.
Get in the mindset that this is a loan instead of free money. The best way to do this is to sit down with a financial aid officer and discuss future student loan payments for the amount you borrowed so far and compare it a post graduation salary.
2. Not budgeting from the start
Student loan refund checks are supposed to be for basic college expenses such as textbooks. At the beginning of the semester, students should develop a budget. There are plenty of people on campus who can help students think about needs versus wants within their budget. Some colleges have peer counselors for budgeting in a student money management office. Others, will help students in the financial aid office. Credit unions on campus are also a great place to get help.
3. Skipping part-time work because the student loan refund check covers expenses
The main goal of college is for students to become employable post-graduation. Even if a student had no need for the money, a near impossibility, having some work experience is a big part of the employability equation. Career services counselors can help a student make sure the jobs they can take on will help them towards their post graduation careers. The other bonus to part-time work is college should also be a fun experience. If working part-time, set aside part of the money earned for trips home, going out with friends or new electronics. Missouri State offers many Work-Study options on campus. If your FAFSA award letter says you are eligible, you can begin searching for part time student employment on the Missouri State website.
The downside of part-time work should never be lower grades. Before taking on a part-time job, students should talk to their professors about how much time is expected to be spent studying and working on projects outside of class. Then students can work out how much of their time budget is available each semester.
And what do students do with the money left over from their student loan refund check if they end up not using part of it? Save it and then borrow less the following year. One year’s student loan refund check leftovers can also serve as a student’s emergency account in case of unexpected expenses. What way the money is spent or saved, the main goal is that students are aware that this money will have to paid back with interest.