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

  • Start a Budget. Remember, budgets and coupons aren’t just for parents. At this point you probably have a small budget, but also have a relatively small number of bills to pay each month. You should calculate monthly expenses versus how much money you have available from work and/or loans.

Quick Tips:

  • Take Advantage of Free High-Tech Financial Tools. There are tons of great tools, apps, and programs that can be helpful in managing your budget and saving money, and many of them are free. Websites like and, for example, can help you create and manage your budget like a pro, while also including expert information about how to be a wise saver and investor.
  • Track Your Bank Account and Pay Your Bills on Time. Most major banks have free apps you can download to enable you to keep track of your accounts or pay bills from a smart phone or other Wi-Fi device. Online banking options usually offer lower rates and fees than traditional brick and mortar banks. You can also set your account preferences to take advantage of text and email alerts when your payment is due or when you are hitting your spending limit.
  • Get Rewarded. There are even some banks that reward students for doing things like paying their bills on time, so be sure to shop around and find a bank that matches your goals, while helping to save you money.
  • Check Your Credit Score. To prepare yourself for post-college life, the most important things you can do are graduate from college with as little debt as possible and have good credit.

    The Fair Credit Reporting Act requires each credit reporting company (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion) to provide consumers with a free credit report once a year. These reports will provide details about your credit history, outstanding debt, credit inquiries, and more.

    Credit monitoring services such as Credit Concierge can help you understand your credit report and make sense of what is positively and negatively impacting your credit. This free credit monitoring service allows users to track and monitor their credit profile.

    There are a number of ways that you can establish good credit. Having credit cards, utilities, or loans in your name and always paying bills on time is the first step in building good credit.

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