Back to School


Graduating from college in May of 2006 was a bitter sweet day in my life. No more finals. No more moving in and moving out of college dorms. No more loading everything into my car and driving hours just to unload it later that day. College is awesome and stressful all at the same time.

Whether you are going to college for the first time or heading back to college for the fourth time it’s always good to have a plan for when you get there. Most students have a plan to get to college, unload, and find where their classes are. And maybe, more importantly, find the closest dining hall. But sadly, few college students have a financial plan for when they get to college. Consider these four topics when heading back to college:

1. Track your spending

It is easy to spend more than you make when you’re away from home. Remember when you spend more than you make you are borrowing someone else’s money to satisfy your needs and wants. 80% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck and this is not fun. Stick to a budget! My wife and I use It’s free, fast, and has a pretty easy to use app.

2. Keep your personal info safe

So often it easier to leave your room unlocked when running from class, to lunch, and to intramural soccer. Identity theft is a big deal. It can take up to 7 years and 700 hours to repair your identity. Keep your personal info safe and your financial future secure.

3. Find ways to save money

A great way to save money is by spending less. Look into a more realistic meal plan. Borrow books for your classes and don’t pay full price for anything. Many times just asking for a discount will get you one. Look for reward programs at the places you shop often. Lastly, actually save! Start by putting 5% into a savings account and you will thank yourself when you graduate and need a reserve to begin life.

4. Be smart about what you borrow

Many college students get in trouble borrowing too much for school. A good rule of thumb is to not borrow more than you will make the first year in your career of choice. For example, if you plan to teach science and anticipate making $40,000 per year, do not borrow more than $40,000 total for college. Work part-time and as much as you can during the summer and you will thank yourself later. Student debt is crippling college graduates from pursuing their dreams and it’s because of student loan repayment ignorance. Plan for your payments and you will be ready and equipped. Check out Return on College Investment and see what your starting salary will look like.

By: TS Institute

This is Contributed Content. Any opinions, advice, statements, services, offers, or other information contained in Contributed Content are solely those of the respective author(s) or contributor(s) and do not necessarily state or reflect the opinion of Iowa Student Loan and/or this blog. See the “About” page for additional important information about Contributed Content.