|By David Pilley on December 21, 2011
Most college students decide to pay their bills after graduation. It’s absolutely okay to do this, but wouldn’t you like to get a head start? At some four-year private colleges, you may be potentially strapped with over $100,000 in debt after you get your degree. A successful college education hinges on the notion that you will have a reliable source of income after graduation, and if you don’t you may be in just as much financial trouble as someone running up a credit card tab. Paying a portion of your bills while in college is something you should consider.
Remember that, while you’re in college, you will have bills for everyday things outside of school. Car payments, apartment rental, and utilities affect college students at varying rates, but every college student will, at some point, be responsible for at least one of these bills on a monthly basis. If possible, consider paying these bills ahead of time. If your car dealer or insurance company allows you to make a one-time payment that covers a few months, take this option so you can focus more on your schoolwork. Grade point average matters, and if you have a lot of financial issues, your GPA will also suffer.
If housing, food, and utilities are not covered by your financial aid, then these bills are essentials. The life of a successful college student is usually a frugal one, and you need to cut back on unnecessary spending. Now, I’m not saying to devote one hundred percent of your college life to studying. Part of the college experience is the social aspect, which includes athletic events, fundraisers, and even parties. College is about trying new things, about finding a balance between your social life and your academic life. If you party every night, you are sure to destroy your GPA; in contrast, if you don’t make any new social connections while you’re in college, you may also hurt your academic success. Therefore, focus primarily on your studies, but also go out to a restaurant or a basketball game every once in a while.
Having an income while in college may be the best way to pay your bills. Again, college is about finding a balance to see if you can manage yourself, so a 40-hour a week job may hurt your academic success. Utilizing a work-study program may be beneficial to you, as you can work a part-time job on campus. You may be able to work in numerous places, like your dorm, in the science lab, in the university library, or as an assistant to a professor or coach. You may also consider something near the university, like a restaurant or gift shop. When I was in college, I participated in studies funded by the psychology department in order to earn a few dollars. Any legal way to make money (and I can’t stress enough the legal part) is worth a shot.
Having financial aid is a key component to a successful college experience. Always make sure you fill out a FAFSA form before every new school year. If you get student loans, you might not be able to pay on the principal until after graduation. However, you may be able to pay on the interest that accrues on the unsubsidized portion of the loans while in school. College is about planning, as well as interacting with new people. Make sure you have a budget, and don’t be afraid to ask about potential opportunities.