Financial Tips for College Students in 2021

Two male college students looking at financial statements.

Let’s discuss a topic that not everyone likes to hear about: student loan debt. It’s a real challenge for millennials, now in their mid-to-late 30s, who are still paying off college loans they borrowed back in their early 20s.

According to a ​2020 report​ conducted by MeasureOne, an academic data firm under the U.S. Department of Education, the total number of federal student loan borrowers equaled $42.3 million, and the total outstanding federal student loan debt topped $1.54 trillion. And that’s only for federal loans. For private loans, the same report concluded that the total outstanding private student loan debt equaled $131.81 billion.

Whether you’re a parent with a teen in high school, or even a child headed to pre-K, the thought of your children starting out their careers with thousands of dollars’ worth of student loan debt weighing on their shoulders is a catastrophe you want them to avoid. And with professional financial planning, you can!

At ​Focus Financial​, we provide clients with ​independent financial planning services​ that help you:

  • Prioritize your goals
  • Understand how your financial and personal goals are related
  • Balance and manage competing financial priorities
  • Implement specific tactics and strategies that preserve your savings, assets, and investments

How does this help your soon-to-be college student? ​By teaching your children smart financial saving tips now, you can help them learn ​how to become financially smart in college​ and in their future careers.

When you hire one of our ​experienced financial advisors​, you and your child will get strategic support in addressing some of the most common financial questions about college expenses, including:

How Do You Survive College Financially​?

We’ll work with you and your child to discuss long-term goals for college, and which options make the most financial sense and may provide the best outcome. For instance, you and your child might decide that a 4-year university isn’t the right path forward and that trade school or an apprenticeship will offer a better outcome in terms of finances, on-the-job experience, and the type of industry your child wants to work in.

Interesting Fact:​ With less students completing their SAT scores in 2019-2020 (​down 77%​), both parents and teachers are wondering if this decrease is due to the pandemic or if students are looking to apply to trade schools vs. 4-year universities in order to get a quality education without accumulating debt. It’s an interesting trend that we’ll keep looking out for.

In contrast, if you and your child are interested in a private or state-funded university, we can look at your options, discuss scholarship opportunities, and strategies on how to manage finances without accumulating unwanted debt.

How Can College Students Handle Their Money Efficiently?

There are many expenses that can drastically increase how much your college student will need to pay each year, but there are many factors that will contribute to “how much” they pay. For instance, your child can save money if he or she lives at home vs. in a dorm room or apartment during the first 2 years. Will your child plan on getting a campus job? Many universities provide stipends that allow your child to work on campus and have some of his or her college tuition reduced.

What about food? Does your child know how to cook and prepare meals independently? Take out vs. cooking at home adds up quickly.

There is also transportation to consider, and let’s not forget about scheduling in a little fun and entertainment, such as going to the movies with friends or seeing a nearby concert.

Together, we’ll discuss and work through these considerations, so you and your child know the types of expenses you can expect to pay, and how much you need to budget for to avoid charging weekly groceries or gas on a credit card.

This will also help us address another commonly asked question:

What Is a Good Monthly Budget for a College Student?

We’ll help you and your college student learn how to plan a monthly budget report and use other ​financial tools​ to manage finances accordingly. These skills won’t just benefit your child in college, but they will also prepare your son or daughter for adulthood, too.

Making the Best Financial Decisions for Your Family’s Future

To learn more about our services for ​individuals and families​, you can find an experienced advisor near you​ for a consultation. We look forward to helping you and your college students become more knowledgeable in financial planning. Now, that’s a great education you both can benefit from!

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