According to one survey, at least 81% of college students are facing financial difficulties due to COVID-19 and at least one in four students have recently lost their job due to the pandemic. Couple that along with the growing rate of unemployment or many of students’ parents and it’s easy to see why people might be worried about budgeting for college expenses for the coming 2020-21 school year.
Budgeting for college is always a bit of a stressful situation, from applying for student loans and purchasing the necessary study materials to figuring out a way to make money while you study. And, while the coronavirus crisis might seem a little scary in terms of the future economic stability of our country, there are a few things you can start to do now in order to ensure you’re able to pay for the coming school year.
Apply Early for Financial Aid
Who’s going to pay for your college? That’s the first question you need to answer in order to start budgeting for your university expenses. Are your parents going to pay for all of your housing and tuition? Or, if you need to take out loans and apply for grants, how much do you need?
As of right now, nearly every fall 2020 college freshman should have received their admission letter. So, you should have a good idea of the costs associated with attending your university. Now, be sure to apply for financial aid via the FAFSA website or speak directly with a financial aid counselor at your college to learn more about your options.
Calculate Your Student Income
Now it’s time to start actually crafting your student budget for 2020-21. As soon as you know how much you’ll be receiving in loans and grants, you can start creating a student income.
Treat this as a real income you might expect to earn after graduation, factoring in everything from loans and grants to work-study income, parental support and even a part-time job you might feel you can handle based on your course load.
Make sure you decide if you’re going to eventually budget per month, per semester, or even per school year. This will help you divide your income accordingly.
Be Realistic About Expenses
Now, it’s time to take a look at all of the expenses you can expect to have during your college career. College Board recently released 2020-21 living expenses for various different regions of the United States. This is a good place to start, and you’ll also find that your school likely has a sample list of expected expenses specific to that university.
When looking at UCLA tuition, for example, the California university provides incoming students with a comprehensive list of an estimated undergraduate budget using things like fees, housing, and other factors. The website for USC tuition is the same, so be sure to check with your university. Then, add on other expenses you know you’ll have to pay for. This can include the cost of car insurance while at school, the cost of buying a new laptop, and even the realistic cost of spending on things like entertainment and off-campus food.
Track Your Spending and Saving
If you’ve been realistic about your expenses and know exactly how much money you’ll be receiving in the form of financial aid or help from your parents then it’s easy to figure out how much you need to save in order to make up for the difference (if there is any).
Once you have that number in mind, it’s a good idea to start to track your spending and saving now in order to get into the habit before the school year starts in the fall. Download a budgeting app that caters to your specific savings goals and begin to track all of your spendings in order to see where you can save more and what you’re spending too much on.
Start Saving for College Now
You shouldn’t have to struggle just to pay for higher education. And, with the uncertainty we are all facing amidst the coronavirus crisis, it’s easy to get bogged down in all of the negativity surrounding the economy and personal finances.
That doesn’t have to be the case, and you can start saving for college now in order to help alleviate a bit of the stress that comes with paying for college. In fact, we don’t even believe that you should have to work that hard in order to try and make financial tips and tricks work for you in order to save money. Your debit card should do it for you!
The Cheese Debit Card provides saving bonuses and cashback. Without any fee charged, you can save more by doing, well, pretty much nothing. It’s an easy way to start saving for college now while still working to implement the tips and tricks above.
Interested? Learn more and join our growing community of super savers using the Cheese Debit Card.