Mistakes and Money Management

What are some of the common mistakes college students make with money?

Michelle L. Ashcraft, director of Purdue Promise Student Success Programs, sees some common financial aid fouls among students:

  • Missing the institution’s and/or state’s FAFSA filing deadline.
  • Neglecting to sign up for direct deposit, if available. Financial aid checks can be mailed to wrong addresses if they are not updated, stolen from mailboxes, or deposited into family member’s accounts.
  • Spending financial aid refunds meant for housing, food, and books on furnishing apartments or decorating residence hall rooms.
  • Not having a budget to make sure their financial aid refunds can last the semester.
  • Eating out instead of using meal plans.
  • Buying pets without planning for extra costs (vet visits, vaccinations, food, pet deposits in apartments).
  • Not finding on-campus jobs to earn Federal Work Study funds (if awarded).
  • Accumulating parking tickets.

What do successful students do to manage money and financial aid?

  • Set a budget and track daily spending.
  • Get a personal bank account and sign up for direct deposit for financial aid refunds.
  • Pay rent in full for the semester after receiving your financial aid refund. What’s leftover then needs to be split between utilities, books, food, and miscellaneous expenses.
  • Use meal plans or shop at the grocery and cook rather than going out to eat; take advantage of free meal opportunities on campus (working in dining services may afford you free meals at work).
  • Brew coffee at home.
  • Live without a car, close enough to campus that you can walk; use public transportation as needed to shop off campus (save money you would spend on gas, parking, and car insurance).
  • Compare the cost of paying for a furnished apartment vs. furnishing your own apartment.
  • Work on campus, in jobs that don’t require transportation and are usually more flexible with your schedule. If you are earning Federal Work Study funds, they do not impact your FAFSA for the next year.
  • Take advantage of student discounts.
  • Limit or eliminate vices that cost money and impact healthcare costs (smoking or drinking, for example).