Disclaimer: Nothing in this site should be considered authoritative financial advice. Your circumstances are unique and you may want to consult a financial advisor.
A. What is Financial Literacy?
Personal Financial Literacy is the ability to understand and analyze your finances and your financial opportunities enabling you to participate more fully in the decisions and make informed choices. To be financially literate, you should be able to comprehend:
- General Economy
- Money Management and Budgeting and
- Investment and Risks
The United States Financial Literacy and Education Commission was established by the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003. Their mission is to help Americans understand more about their money - how to save it, invest it, and manage it to meet their personal goals.
B. Why is it important?
According to Lundquist Consulting, an industry group that tracks bankruptcy statistics, nearly 1 in every 53 households file for bankruptcy. While financial literacy may not prevent bankruptcy, it will give you better tools to make wiser financial decisions. The American Institute of Certified Public Accountants developed a site www.360financialliteracy.org, with articles and tools appropriate for different stages in life, from childhood through retirement and estate planning.
II. Funding Your College Education
Money should not hinder one from achieving an education. Parents and students have several options for funding their education:
- Scholarships and Grants
- Student and Parent Loans
Scholarships are available from the Federal and State government, your college, and even local companies or your parent's workplace. For additional information, see the Office of Student Financial Aid website.
Here are a few tips to consider when going through the process:
- Apply for Financial Aid - Even if you think you may not be eligible to receive financial aid, you may be
surprised to find out that you are eligible.
- Submit Your FAFSA Early - For a better chance of being awarded several types of financial aid, submit the
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as possible after January 1 of each year. Submitting it early improves your chances of getting a better financial aid
package from your school while funds are
- Pay Attention to Deadlines - It's a good idea to check your school’s financial aid Web site for deadlines that
are earlier than the federal or state deadlines.
SU's deadline is March 1st for priority funding.
- Provide Proper Documentation - Some schools and universities require additional paperwork for school-sponsored
aid. Be sure to ask which documents are required to ensure you remain eligible for these funds.
- Confirm Your Financial Aid for Future Years - If your financial aid package includes scholarships or grants that
you're depending on in the future to make tuition affordable ask the
your school if whether you can expect to continue
at the same level in future years.*
- Take Advanced Placement Courses - Take as many Advanced Placement (AP) courses as you can in high school. While you may
pay a fee for each course, it generally represents a substantial savings over the cost of the same course at a college
- Get Scholarships - There are many scholarships available in addition to those included in your financial aid package. To
find them, search online and look for services that are free of charge. When conducting your online research, read the
academic advisors. They may know of special organizations or corporations that offer scholarships.
- Live at Home - Students who live at home and commute to college can save up to $6,000 per year.*
- Buy Used Books - New college text books are expensive.
- Use Credit Cards Wisely - Use a credit card only when necessary or for emergency purposes only. Among other tips for
managing credit wisely, make sure you pay them off in full every month to avoid interest charges.
- Get a Part-Time Job on Campus - Working on campus, work-study or not, has many benefits. Not only do you earn some
extra cash, but it can complement your class schedule.
- Apply for Financial Aid - Even if you think you may not be eligible to receive financial aid, you may be surprised to find out that you are eligible.
B. Investing in Your Future
It is best to consider student loans as an investment in your future. A college degree in any subject will usually pay for itself, many times over during your career life- some types of degrees more than others. Click here to see some figures regarding the economic, health and other benefits experienced by those who participate in higher education. The value of borrowing for any purpose should be carefully evaluated. Educational loans, especially those which are federally subsidized, have low or subsidized interest and the repayment duration of 10 years usually allows ample time to settle into a good career.
Once you are firmly settled into a good career, with educational loans repaid, the strategy changes. At this point in life the advantage of investing changes from wise borrowing to wise lending. What is wise lending? Saving and investing to put your money to work to increase wealth is wise lending.
C. Getting Started: Applying for Financial Aid
The first step to apply for financial aid is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly referred to as the FAFSA. (please see Financial Aid website for more information on how to apply online)