Facing Your Finances
By Kristina Delbridge, director of financial aid, Financial Aid Office
May 15, 2014
Perhaps one of the most avoided conversations students ever have with themselves is “the money talk.” It is so easy to try to ignore our finances but inevitably, we have no choice but to deal with our financial truths. It isn’t as though resources and information aren’t readily available. There are a plethora of free budget planning tools, such as those on our website, www.esc.edu/financialaid. Likewise, we are faced with news reports about student loan debt and have access to repayment calculators for student loans such as the one on www.studentloans.gov. But for whatever reason, creating a budget and sticking to it can be one of the most difficult challenges facing students.
Accept the challenge. Be realistic when you set out to implement a new budget plan; if you make it too strict, the odds are you will quickly stray from your plan. Find non-financial ways to treat yourself along the way so that you don’t get bored with your financial limitations—if you are trying to save money by not eating out then treat yourself to dinner by candlelight at home. Build rewards into your plan to help you stick to your budget, perhaps some extra time for doing an enjoyable activity. Non-financial rewards are encouraged.
For current students, one of the best gifts you can give to yourself now is to thoughtfully consider your student loan borrowing. Are you borrowing out of convenience? Can you reduce the amount you are borrowing so that you don’t receive such a large refund or perhaps even reduce it to the point where you pay for at least a portion of the term out of pocket? Student loan debt adds up quickly and is not the present you want to give yourself at graduation.
If you are getting ready for graduation and haven’t already begun to think about student loan repayment, take the time to review your options now. With all of the student loan repayment options available, it is important for you to review who your servicers are and what the best option for you is. You can view your student loan information online at www.nslds.ed.gov and information about the repayment plans available is found online at www.studentloans.gov.
Sometimes the hardest conversations we can ever have end up being the ones that make the biggest differences in our lives. By reading this article you’ve already taken the first step and I hope that this will spur you on to consider your finances and make your next move—hopefully to one of the websites listed in this article.