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College Finance 101: How to make it to graduation without student debt


College Graduates

Congratulations! You have officially survived college and are ready to embark on your journey into the real world. Once you graduate and begin looking for –or starting–your career, you need a plan to manage your finances to lay the foundation for a healthy financial future.


Real World 301

  • Set A Budget. Create a budget, factoring in all bills and expenses. If your income isn’t enough to meet your needs, you can start identifying areas to cut back. In fact, Sean Moore, Certified Financial Planner for SMART College Funding, recommends that recent grads continue living like a college student for as long as they can. Buy generic products, eat cheaply, find inexpensive entertainment, etc. Put any extra money you have toward paying off debt and savings.
  • Monitor Your Debt. Don’t jump into a lease, mortgage or new car payment. Consider moving in with your parents or find inexpensive housing and drive your old vehicle until you’re established.
    Don’t open new credit cards or loan accounts to pay for things that aren’t an absolute necessity. This will only add to your financial obligations and make any outstanding debt that you’re already paying more burdensome.
  • Create a Plan to Pay Back Your Student Loans. Be sure you know when you have to start making payments on any student loans and what your monthly payments will be. You may want to consider consolidating loans to get a better rate and ease the repayment schedule. Paying off your debt should be a top priority.

I am sure to make payments on time and I make extra payments when I can. It is a heavy burden to be under more than $60,000 in debt, but it is possible to make strides, you just have to be smart about your spending.

Chenell Tull College Graduate, 2009


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