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I wish I had known...

Posted on July 2, 2013

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Hello, Buck The Normers! I’m Lesley, a new BTN correspondent – excited to start talking to you guys about how I try to “buck the norm” in my finances and share tips and ideas that we, at BTN, think may help you along your way to becoming financially empowered.

Like many of you, I am working on paying back my student loans. Luckily, I don’t have mounds of debt from attending a private college (though sometimes I still wish I had, at least I got accepted, right?), but I am still in the five-figure range of what I owe. Since graduat ing and meeting other friends in my same debt-laden boat, I have learned some things I wish I had known going into college about paying for school. Had I really understood the system, I definitely would have done things differently.

The main tip I wish I had known was… you don’t have to use all of the loan money they offer you and wait to pay your bursar bill. Seems pretty simple right, and like something I should have known from the get-go. I knew I didn’t have to accept the full amount that was offered, but I was trying to work, go to school and still have time and resources to experience college (my way was through Greek life). I thought it would just be easier to get the loan money up front and use it for as much as I could (books, sorority functions, gas money, extras) so I could still have a life.

In reality, I should have worked more hours in my part-time job and just used the loans for my bursar bills and housing. I’m not saying don’t have a life, but I ignorantly didn’t know I could wait until the end of the semester to accept the loan offer and look at what bills I needed to pay to the university, after any grants or scholarships have been applied (which I suggest highly to apply for as many as possible), and just accept that amount. You never know, if you are going to add or drop a class, your bill could change throughout the semester.

Just be sure to do it before enrollment time for the next semester, so you can enroll as soon as possible and get good classes (that don’t start at 8:00 a.m.).

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