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Financial Literacy

″Financial literacy is the ability to understand how money works in the world: how someone manages to earn or make it, how that person manages it, how he/she invests it (turns it into more) and how that person donates it to help others. More specifically, it refers to the set of skills and knowledge that allows an individual to make informed and effective decisions with all of their financial resources." - Wikipedia

Literally thousands of topics under the heading of financial literacy may be explored. Student borrowing is one, and several topics about determining your existing loan amount and budgeting to decrease borrowing is below. For MORE financial literacy information and resources, click HERE.

Your Federal Loan History
Students interested in reviewing their federal student loan account balances can look at their records in the National Student Loan Database System (NSLDS) , the Department of Education's central database for student aid. It provides a centralized, integrated view of federal student loans and grants tracked through their entire cycle.

  2013 Special Debt Management and Public Service Loan Forgiveness Presentations: CLICK HERE

Limit Your Level of Borrowing: Choices and Adjustments
Whether you've been in school recently, or away from school for awhile, it is critical that you review your particular lifestyle and financial resources. Going to school may require an adjustment to your pending habits. A more frugal lifestyle may seem like a difficult sacrifice, but it should be viewed as a temporary measure that will be well worth the short- term inconvenience. For every dollar you can reduce your current borrowing, you'll experience substantial savings in loan repayments. Consider the following suggestions for reducing expenses.

Housing:
Share the cost of rent with a roommate(s), as it is less expensive than living alone. Consider campus housing, if available. Get a sublet clause in your lease if you plan to leave for the summer.

Transportation:
Do not buy a car: financial aid cannot cover the costs of car payments. Car-pool or use university/public transportation. Bicycle or walk whenever possible. Take a higher deductible on your auto insurance. Consider dropping collision insurance coverage on older cars that are paid in full.

Shopping:
Watch for sales. Never buy on impulse, even if it is a good buy. Buy non-perishable items in bulk. Avoid vending machines, fast food, and convenience stores. Store brands or generic products may be cheaper than the name brand with a coupon. Acquire inexpensive clothing at local second hand clothing stores and discount stores.

Entertainment:
Planning for recreational activities should be done within the limits of your budget. As part of a university community, you may be able to use your student status and ID for discounts at movies, plays, museums, and other cultural activities in the New Orleans area. When eating out, see if the restaurant has early bird or all-you-can-eat specials.

Banking:
Comparison shop for bank services. Look for free checking, free checks, and no-fee ATM usage. Use ATMs owned by your bank to avoid surcharges. If you cannot get a no-fee ATM at your bank, withdraw $100 instead of $50 when you need cash. Sign up with a credit union to possibly minimize your banking costs.

Planning Ahead - If your resources are limited, you must plan your budget carefully.  Planning your budget wisely will reduce your debt burden in the future; the less you spend while in school, the less you will need to borrow, and the lower your loan repayments will be.  Determine the total amount you might borrow while attending Tulane and then estimate what your monthly payment would be after graduation. Compare your monthly student loan payment with the anticipated salary you expect to receive in the future so you can decide what level of student loan debt is affordable.  Making wise spending choices may determine whether or not you will be able to afford to attend school and will influence your future financial goals.  Pay off credit card debt before school begins as your budget should only include current living expenses and financial aid resources should NOT be used to pay prior credit card balances.

Page last modified on September 24, 2013.

University Financial Aid, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5723 finaid@tulane.edu