How Can Families Manage College Expenditures?
For starters, families and students can benefit from having a better understanding of financial aid and budgeting.
You're Not Alone
Feel like you are lost in a financial aid maze at times? BW's Financial Aid staff can answer questions and help you assess various financing options. Contact them if your family's household income or status changes (e.g., income-related losses, a health issue that severely impacts finances).
Financial Aid Packages Change
Changes to family income, family size and the number of students in college can affect an aid package, as well as your student's housing status. Don't assume award amounts will remain the same each year.
BW merit-based scholarships are renewable each year (for up to four years or eight semesters) if a student maintains good academic (cumulative GPA of 2.0) and social standing. A student who does not maintain this standing can lose scholarship funding. Likewise, other sources of BW financial aid, such as grants, can be lost or reduced because of low academic achievement.
Take Federal Loans First
If you need to borrow, always choose to take Federal Direct Student Loans first. Private Education Loans have a higher interest rate and can require repayment while in school.
Changing Status Affects Loan Repayment
When a student leaves college (even if he/she plans to return) or drops below half-time enrollment (six credits for undergrads), the six-month grace period for student loan repayment begins. Before making any enrollment changes, a student should contact BW's Financial Aid Office.
Graduate on Time
Extra semesters can add up. Unless circumstances warrant otherwise, strive to graduate in four years to avoid additional debt. Talk to your student about his or her Grad Plan, a program that requires students to plan their courses each semester to ensure timely graduation.
Use a Jacket Express Card Wisely
It's easy to get carried away. Spending too much too fast can result in end-of-the-semester depletion. Encourage your student to try to stay in line with the spending chart that is outside Buzzy's Deli in the Union. This chart shows students approximately where their Jacket Express funds should be at a given point in the semester.
Budget Book Expenditures
Some books are keepers, others are not. Plan accordingly when buying, renting or borrowing books.
Seek Student Discounts
Students should carry a Jacket Express card at all times and ask if student discounts apply at stores and restaurants.
Bike or Hike
When weather allows, walking or biking on campus can be a healthy and financially smart alternative to driving.
Have a Plan
Before each semester, set up a budget. Be sure to include tuition, food, insurance, social activities, ongoing monthly bills and miscelleneous expenses. Track income and expenditures along the way.
Utilize Federal Work-Study
A component of most financial aid awards, Federal Work-Study is a shared institutional and federally funded program that provides students with part-time jobs in order to help them pay college expenses. While money earned from Federal Work-Study is part of a student's Adjusted Gross Income (AGI), the Federal FAFSA application for the next academic year allows Federal Work-Study wages earned to be excluded from the student's portion of the EFC.
Resist habitual spending
The convenience of vending machines and fast food venues makes it easy for students to fall victim to habitual spending. Plan ahead and shop wisely.