15 Money Lessons People Learned The Hard Way In College
PSA: You don't have to accept every loan offered to you.
When it comes to spending and saving, your college years often bring a unique set of opportunities and obstacles. On the one hand, you want to indulge in the on-campus experience and enjoy the (sometimes expensive) experiences of being an ~adult~.
1. "STUDENT LOANS ARE NOT FREE MONEY."
2. "Live at home and hang out on campus to meet people! The cost of living is stupidly high on campus."
3. "Your overdraft is not free money. Your credit card is not free money."
4. "Take a gap year before college to rack up savings to use while in college rather than relying on loan remittances."
5. "It never hurts to ask for more money. I emailed financial aid toward the end of my freshman year asking if they could increase my aid. A few months later, they upped my scholarships by a few thousand."
6. "Apply for external scholarships!!! It takes time to apply for scholarships, but the outcome in the long run is so helpful."
"There are so many scholarships out there for higher education but some of them might not be listed on your institution's website (even though you can use them at your institution). Any aspect of your identity might have a scholarship. For example, scholarships for left-handed people? Check! Scholarships for students who are vegan? Check! Scholarships for people who love Campbell's Soup? Check! There are too many myths surrounding the scholarship world that are detrimental to a student’s success (my parents make too much; there are merit-based scholarships; I am a white male; think about your unique identity; my grades aren’t great; there are scholarships that don’t ask for your transcript)."
7. "I saved a lot of money by commuting and living at home, but things still added up with parking, gas, and food."
8. "When moving into an apartment with a security deposit, take pictures of the condition of the place before you move in and after you’ve moved out."
"They will try their hardest to screw you out of every penny of your security deposit. I once got charged for 'light dusting.'"
9. "If you have to take out loans, don't take out the maximum allowed. I did for undergrad and graduate school, and I will be paying them off after I die."
10. "For the love of God, STUDY! It is so expensive to take a class again because you failed it the first time!"
11. "GO TO COMMUNITY COLLEGE FIRST. It makes so much sense to spend less money your first couple of years as you take general ed classes."
12. "Be financially prepared to continue school to get your master's degree."
"Nowadays, your bachelor's degree is the equivalent of your high school diploma. Most places want you to have your master's. That will affect your pay rate as well. I am in the social services field (a drug and alcohol counselor to be precise) and I’ve been in the field for 12 years with my bachelor’s and CADC (Certified Alcohol/Drug Counselor). A lot of avenues have been closed to me because I don't have my master’s. Do what you think you’d love to do."
Continuing your education is a huge milestone and an equally large financial and mental commitment. Just make sure that it's the right option for you! It also helps to consider your field of work. A bachelor's degree is generally accepted over a high school diploma in many fields — and can even be sufficient enough to help you climb the ladder in your industry. And for other fields, not having anything beyond a bachelor's degree could prevent you from moving past entry- or mid-level positions.
13. "I wish I knew how much my friends want to go out."
14. "Even if your paycheck is tiny, put $10 into your savings each time you get a check. It adds up and will help foster good habits for after you graduate."
15. "My biggest piece of advice is to take care of the necessary stuff first, then save some money. THEN have fun."
Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.