Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education

Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education | USAA Member Community

Time spent in higher education is a time that is equally thrilling, draining, and above all life changing.  Keeping your personal finances in order is critical when you are a higher education student whether in a full time or a part time program.  Financial management is critical because completing higher education with your finances in order will help propel your career to new heights, challenges, and opportunities.  Follow these tips to help keep your schoolbooks and your checkbook in order.


Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education #1 – Find a Part-Time Internship.  For graduate students and undergraduate students alike, finding a paid, convenient, challenging, and enjoyable internship is a challenge.  This is a challenge that is worth the time and expense because it is a way to give a higher education student three thing they desperately need: (1) An income; (2) Experience in the field; and (3) a personal network.  Going back and forth to an internship day-after-day and in the summer can seem like a hassle, but part-time internships frequently lead to full time jobs or to connections that have full time jobs.


Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education #2 – Limit All Types of Debt.  The use of the GI Bill, grants, scholarships, and other types of financial aid sometimes only goes so far.  The best way to think of student loans is as a last and final resort and not as a first resort.  With the cost of higher education today and the ease of obtaining student loans, student loan debt can accumulate fast and then compound even with low interest rates at a startling rate.  If you have to use student loans, shop the loan and find the lowest rate that you can.  When you complete your degree, pay off the student loans as fast as possible.  Finally, do not use credit cards and other high interest debt instruments to finance your education.  Credit cards have high rates and often-inflexible terms to pay off education debt.


Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education #3 – Live A Very Reduced Lifestyle.  You can do everything right: have an internship and use very little student loans.  If you have expensive personal habits, like to entertain, and like to go out to eat, then these expenses will generate credit card and other debt that will quickly create financial jeopardy that will live on long past graduation.  Your watchwords for personal spending should be reasonable and minimal.  If you minimize personal spending and then only spend on reasonable purchases, you should be just fine.


Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education #4 – Watch The Electronics.  Electronics such as cell phone, cell phone plans, tablets, tablet network use, laptops, flat screen TV’s, and computer software can create a staggering load of personal financial obligations.  The best bet again is reasonable and minimal for electronic items just like lifestyle expenses.  Refurbished laptops, refurbished cell phones, and the use of educational discounts for computer software all offer excellent value with electronic capabilities.  A higher education student that buys the best, the newest, and the most capable electronic devices and then uses educational debt to finance the purchases is doing their future a significant disservice.


Personal Finance Tips for Students in Higher Education #5 – Complete Your Degree.  This seems like incredibly simple advice, but a great many students bring themselves to financial jeopardy when they take out large amounts of educational debt and then do not complete their degree and receive the career advancement and additional income their educational degree brings them.  The best advice is to start a degree at an educational institution that will deliver a great educational outcome , and then complete the degree as quickly as possible.


Higher education is a great time to jump-start your intellect, your curiosity, and your career.  The best way to get the most from your determination and self-sacrifice to improve your education and to get a degree is to finish your education in a better financial situation than when you started. 


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About the blogger:
Chad is the author of two books: (1) Combat Leader to Corporate Leader and (2) Battlefield to Business Success.  Chad’s brand message is that organizations & individuals need to translate and apply military skills to business because they immediately produce results and are cost effective.  Chad is a retired US Army Special Forces Lieutenant Colonel with 20+ years of Active and Reserve service in infantry, Special Forces, and joint headquarters units.  He served in Iraq, Bosnia, Korea, and throughout the United States.  He was awarded the Bronze Star, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Special Forces Tab, and the Ranger Tab.   Chad is an adjunct Lecturer of Marketing at Creighton University in Omaha, NE.  In addition to teaching, he is a mid-level marketing executive and has worked in marketing and sales roles for various companies, including General Electric, Comcast, and Manugistics.  He has been published in over 110 different articles in over 85 separate publications including The Harvard Business Review blog, Business Week Online, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor, and USA Today.  He has a BA from Northwestern University and an MBA from Georgetown University.

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