October is here and you have settled into the fall semester at college. Everything is going great except you have already gone over budget and money is tight. What to do?
This is very common, especially for first year students. Trying to estimate the cost of books, supplies, etc. is tough, and when you are on a tight budget it’s not hard to go over it quickly. Here are some quick tips for those of you who may be in search of more funds:
- The first and probably the best tip anyone can give you is ASK FOR HELP! Believe it or not, nobody wants to see you fail, and worrying about expenses distracts you from studying. Usually there are several offices on campus that might be able to help, but they can’t help if they don’t know you need it.
- Talk to a financial aid counselor! This should be your first stop because they should have the most options. If you are currently on financial aid, it could be that you are eligible for additional grant or loan money. Also, maybe your financial situation has changed since you completed the FAFSA. If so, a financial aid counselor can make adjustments to your package based on your current situation and the availability of funds. There are several possibilities here, but you won’t know if you don’t ask.
- Do you have a relative or family friend who could borrow the money to help you out? A few organizations offer “sponsor” loans where a person can borrow money to pay for a student’s education. Unlike a traditional student or parent loan, this person does not have to be related to the student, but they do have to be credit worthy. Remember, they are borrowing this money and are ultimately responsible for paying it back, not the student.
- Many schools offer emergency loan programs to students. These are usually short-term, low cost loans that can range from $100 to $3500 or more. They normally do not require a credit check and can be funded on the spot in a day or so. Since you are borrowing directly from the school failure to pay the loan back will put a block on your account which could prevent you from registering, receiving a transcript, or other functions they control.
- Career or job placement center. Assuming you do not already have job, exploring part-time opportunities is an option too. Using your school’s placement center can point you to jobs that work better with your schedule. Universities usually have many opportunities for on campus employment as well as relationships with local businesses for off campus opportunities. Trying to find work in your field of study, even part-time, could offer you valuable experience that could help you find a better job after college. While, at the same time, putting some money in your pocket.
The main point to remember here is, if you are running low on funds this semester there are options. The quicker you ask for help, the more options you will have—so be proactive! I have listed a few but I am sure there are others; does anyone have any good options they would like to share?