It’s now August, and many families are seeking the total price tag for this upcoming year’s college education. Here at UW-Whitewater, the Cost of Attending Calculator allows students to select personalized options to obtain an estimated total cost of attending dollar amount. Variable choices include student status, type of housing requested, meal plan purchase, and parking. Although just an estimate, this information can be used by families when making financial plans.
Whether you’re starting your last or first year of college, what are your options when financial aid doesn’t stretch far enough?
- Seek Scholarships. Apply for additional state, local, and private scholarships. Use these tools from the NASFAA, the US Department of Labor, and UW-Whitewater to apply for additional gift aid.
- Appeal Award. An appeal to the UWW Financial Aid Department is an option; however, your appeal will be more successful if there was an error on your FAFSA application or there has been a change in family circumstances.
- Part-Time Work. During the school year and summer, work a job. Many students work to offset the cost of their education. Be sure to balance your job with your academics. Check out the UWW Handshake job board for employment opportunities both on campus and around the Whitewater community.
- Live at home. If you are within commuting distance, consider saving on room and board fees by living at home.
- Take Out Student Loans. Generally, federal student loan interest rates are lower and have more flexible repayment options compared to private student loans. However, when federal aid isn’t enough, private loans through financial institutions may be obtained.
College is expensive, and paying your bills is a part of the process. Decide on a plan of action, and follow through.
Whether this is your first year of college, last year, or somewhere in between, summer is a great time for you (and your parents) to get your financial planning in order. College students often find themselves living within tight budgets, but pre-planning during the summer months may help with daily financial decisions when away at school.
- Figure out and identify how you’re going to pay for tuition and other college expenses. There are billing and payment dates each semester that need to be taken seriously.
- Create and stick to a budget. List each income source (scholarships, grants, work study, job, savings, parents, federal loans, private loans, etc.) and estimated expenses. Common expenses often overlooked are course/lab fees, daily toiletries and supplies, extracurricular activities, traveling home during breaks and holidays, and gift-giving. Any amount leftover at the end of the month should be place into savings for future emergencies.
- Open a checking account. Consider opening a checking account and using a debit card. Cash is convenient, but easy to spend. Checking accounts keep your money safe, and they help track where your money is going.
- Apply for a credit card (when ready). It’s a great way to start building credit as long as you use the card wisely and pay off the balance each month.
- Obtain appropriate insurance. Every family and household is unique. Contact your insurance provider for information on specific policies that work for you.
- Personal article policies for items like student electronics, musical instruments, sports equipment, and jewelry are offered by insurance companies.
- If living off-campus, renters insurance can be obtained to protect against property loss and liability.
- If living on-campus, verify parent homeowners policy coverage for extension to your dorm room.
- Auto insurance rates may vary depending if you drive while at school or leave your vehicle at home. In addition, check for student discounts (resident student, good student, anti-theft).
- Become financially organized. Determine how you are going to keep track of financial records, bills, and bank statements in order to maintain records and pay bills on time. Consider an accordian file, envelopes, or manilla folders in a secure location. Being organized will help avoid late fees and damage to credit scores.
- Be vigilant of identity theft dangers. Password protect your computers and phones. Store important documents (birth certificate, social security card, etc.) in a safe and locked location. Be cautious with information posted on social media sites.
While the first day of classes is just over a month away, the days of summer are starting to fade. Consider this checklist when readying yourself to come/return this fall. Visit the Financial Literacy Center‘s website and like our Facebook page for more information and resources on financial topics.
With the rising cost of higher education, you might wonder if college is worth the time and money. Does additional education really make a difference in earning potential?
In a May 2018 article, using information obtained from the U.S. Census Bureau, Amelia Josephson, of SmartAsset, identified the average U.S. salary by education level.
Average Salary by Education Level:
- Average Salary with Less Than a High School Diploma – $25,256
- Average Salary with a High School Diploma – $35,256
- Average Salary with Some College, No Degree – $38,376
- Average Salary with an Associate’s Degree – $41,496
- Average Salary with a Bachelor’s Degree – $59,124
- Average Salary with a Master’s Degree – $69,732
- Average Salary with a Professional Degree – $89,960
- Average Salary with a Doctorate – $84,396
Although you may become a high wage earner without a diploma or degree, the statistics emphasize the overall benefit of higher education in relation to earning potential. Remember, salary isn’t everything; therefore, only you can determine if college will truly be worth it.