Smart Financial Moves for College Seniors

Take Steps Now Towards a Lifetime of Financial Intelligence

Repayment of student loans after graduation
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Becoming a college senior is a great achievement. It means that you have persevered through high school, the college application and financial aid process, and adjusted to life on campus with a certain degree of confidence and dexterity. As a college senior, though, you are again about to embark on a very exciting and challenging time in your life. Everything and maybe even everyone can be new to you, depending on your post-graduation plans.

While you have amassed a certain amount of academic knowledge during your college years, have you gained any “money smarts”? Before you get too engrossed in graduation plans and job searches, take a few moments now to learn these valuable lessons which will help you get a sounder financial foundation in life:

  • Learn About Your Student Loans: It may seem like there is a long time before you have to learn about repaying student loans, but that time can fly by so much faster than you realize. At the beginning of your senior year, you have over twelve months before repayment begins, but that quickly shrinks to only six by the end of the year. Talk to the financial aid office at your school before your graduate to determine exactly how many federal student loans you have, and who the servicer is for each loan. If you have private student loans, ask your parents to start gathering this information. Find out whether loan consolidation is a good idea for you. This could consolidate your federal student loans into one and make payments easier, but there are a few considerations. If you are entering a career field with a low initial starting salary, learn about income-based repayment plans now.
  • Continue Building Your Budgeting Skills: If your parents put you on a budget while you were in school, you have some knowledge about balancing income and expenses, but it is a lot easier when it’s your parents’ money you are spending. When you start earning money on your own, you will need to know more about living on a budget, including allocating money every month for your student loan payments.
  • Think About Your Bank Accounts: Some banks have special accounts for college students, but the fee structures can change if they are converted to regular accounts. If you have some money in a banking institution near your college, you may want to consider looking at options closer to where you will be after your graduation. Research a few options near the geographic location where you will be living, or search for an online banking option that can best meet your needs.
  • Save a Little: It can be very hard to think long-term at a young age, but you might be surprised at what saving a little now will be able to do for you down the road. Start learning to put aside a little bit of money on a regular basis - even if it’s as little as just a dollar a day or $50 a month, and let it grow so that you will have something to use for your car, wedding, house, and even your children’s college education!
  • Get Ready to Retire! What? You haven’t even started working yet! But that is exactly why this is the best time to think about retirement. When you are searching for a job, make sure you ask about any company-sponsored 401(k) retirement plans, and make plans to contribute as much as you can. If there is no pension plan offered by your employer, seriously consider trying to put money into your own IRA plan every year.

    If you will be going home for break this year, ask your parents to set aside some time so you can talk about money matters. Ask them about their expectations regarding repaying your student loans, and get their insights on financial money management. Any insights they can offer into how they managed to successfully take care of your home and family while sending you off to college could prove to be invaluable when you are beginning to make plans to manage your own financial resources.