While it may feel like you have plenty of time before you need to start focusing on your financial future, it's never too early to plan. The financial counselors at VCU's Student Financial Management Center are here to help.
At SFMC, our financial counselors have numerous resources to help guide you through financial planning.
Whether you need help creating a budget to manage your expenses or want to discuss saving and planning for the future, reach out to us. We can help you get what you need to build a foundation of financial success.
The SFMC team is readily available to assist VCU students and families with understanding their options for financing college, reviewing bills and payments, and planning for current and future expenses.
Students have many opportunities to apply for and receive financial assistance toward tuition and fees. By connecting students and their families with programs and resources, we help make college affordable. While financial aid eligibility varies, the only way to know if you are eligible is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), learn about the different types of aid, and research and apply for scholarships.
Have questions about your student bill or tuition payments? Need help setting up the Installment Payment Plan? The SFMC staff is here to help. Our staff also processes third-party tuition assistance and scholarships that you may from outside VCU and issue refunds to eligible students.
Aside from tuition, fees and housing costs, students and families should plan for these additional expenses:
The SFMC financial counselors can work with you to create a budget that will help you avoid overspending and accumulating unnecessary debt. By starting off with a plan to manage your college expenses, you will be laying a foundation for future financial success.
Loans are designed to cover the remaining balance after all other financial aid has been applied toward your student bill. If you are planning to take out a student loan, or getting ready to pay one back, it is important to understand the differences between federal and private loans, interest rates and how long you have to pay it back.
Within six months of graduating, dropping below half-time enrollment or leaving the university, you must begin student loan repayment. Most federal loans have a fixed interest rate and must be repaid in 10 years; repayment for private loans can range from 5-20 years.
You can also visit the Federal Student Aid website for more information on loan repayment and student loan forgiveness opportunities.
Creating a budget and tracking your expenses will allow you to prioritize your spending habits. Determine which category your expenses fall under: bills, needs or wants. After covering your bills and needs, you can then determine which, if any, wants you can cover or better yet, set that money aside in a savings account for another time.
If you are receiving a financial aid refund, working or selling back textbooks, set aside money to cover unplanned emergency expenses that may otherwise derail your academic progress. Your emergency fund doesn't need to have a lot of money, but should be enough to help cover unplanned expenses, such as medical care, transportation, technical difficulties and travel expenses between campus and home.
While retirement may be a long way away, there are things that you can be doing as a growing professional to plan for that phase of life. Start by automating your savings so that a portion of each paycheck goes directly into a savings account. You also can check to see if your employer offers a 401(k) and will match your contributions.
The Money Spot can help you achieve your financial goals with free advice from peer money coaches — VCU students like you!