Budget Planning: Tips on managing money for the school year.
Aid and educational resources are intended to cover allowable educational costs. Students who carefully plan and monitor their budgets and resources are able to focus on school rather than worry about finances.
The basics – determining the bottom line
Review the award package, cost of attendance and expected family contribution (EFC); for dependent students the EFC will be a combination of parent and student contribution, for an independent student it is their own contribution. Does the award cover the cost of attendance, or is there unmet need?
Consider how your EFC or unmet will be funded, options are: Student or family’s savings, Direct PLUS Loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students—dependent students); part-time work; student unsubsidized Direct Loan; private/alternative loan (as a last resort). Note that unmet need may be funded by subsequently awarded gift aid (scholarships & grants), but the EFC cannot.
Can costs be trimmed? For instance, costs such as registration fees, tuition, and Housing or monthly rent are fixed and generally not negotiable. Other costs such as food, miscellaneous, transportation, even books and supplies, may be pared down if the situation allows it. Look for lower cost housing solutions such as shared housing (dorm rooms or apartments). If living on or close to campus, and if a car is not needed for school or work, consider attending car-free; the cost to run and maintain a vehicle can be a budget-buster. Even those living farther from campus can consider the Jack Pass, a local transit bus pass program that provides unlimited access for students presenting a valid student ID card—an environmentally friendly way of saving money on transportation costs.
Things to know for the aid recipient
Aid is generally issued at the beginning of each term. University charges such as registration fees, tuition, and Housing and Dining charges (dorm residents) are generally deducted from the aid check. The remaining amount, if any, must be budgeted to last until the next term’s aid check is available—approximately 4 ½ months later, at the beginning of spring semester for students attending the full year.
If the aid award includes a Federal Work-Study allocation, we suggest every effort be made to locate a job early in the year; monitor monthly earnings & hours to ensure a steady income throughout the academic year. The HSU Career Center has job information for Federal Work-Study, other campus employment, and employment in the community.
For students living in the Residence Halls, we recommend working with the Housing Office Cashier to arrange a payment plan for Housing and Dining charges should awarded aid not cover all Housing charges.
Independent students, particularly those with dependents, may find resources and services available through Humboldt County Social Services (in the Humboldt County phone book under County Health and Human Services). Low income dependent students may have eligibility for services, based on parent eligibility, generally through the county in which the parent resides.
Bringing it all together
Once costs and resources (educational resources and family contributions) have been reviewed, budget planning may now begin.
The Financial Planning Worksheet (PDF) will help formulate a budget plan.
Periodically review the budget to help stay on track and monitor income and expenses.
If available resources appear insufficient to meet the cost of attendance we suggest you contact us to discuss your concerns with a Financial Aid Counselor.These money management sites provide information on finances, including budgeting: StudentDebtHelp.org and Consumer Credit Counseling.