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EXPERT AVAILABLE: College Financial Expert Offers Money-Saving Tips for Students

MU Office of Financial Success provides free financial counseling for all MU students

Sept. 05, 2012

Story Contact(s):
Nathan Hurst, hurstn@missouri.edu, 573-882-6217

The views and opinions expressed in this “for expert comment” release are based on research and/or opinions of the researcher(s) and/or faculty member(s) and do not reflect the University’s official stance.

COLUMBIA, Mo. ­— Around the country, college students are beginning a new school year in the midst of rising tuition and living expenses. Ryan Law, director of the University of Missouri’s Office for Financial Success (OFS) and the MU Council on Economic Education, says college students’ need for solid financial planning is at an all-time high.

“Many college students are on their own for the first time and, for many of them, that includes being on their own financially,” Law said. “They are expected to earn money and manage their own finances along with their busy college schedules and social lives. College financial plans don’t have to be complicated, but they are necessary. Taking a few simple steps now to manage personal finances will lead to much more positive outcomes down the road.”

Law and MU Extension specialists offer the following financial tips for college students beginning the new school year:

  • Buy used textbooks or e-books when possible and compare textbook prices online.
  • Don’t be tricked by credit card offers that come with a bag of candy, free shirt or free pizza.
  • Before signing a lease, be sure you understand the entire contract.
  • Educate yourself about student loans – know what types of loans you have, how much you owe, your interest rate, and what your monthly payment is will be. For information on your federal loans, visit:  http://www.nslds.ed.gov
  • Before turning to private loans to help pay for your education, visit your financial aid adviser to be sure you have exhausted all federal loan opportunities.
  • Stay away from payday loans.  They carry very high interest rates and can trap you in debt for years.
  • Shop around for a bank account.  Different banks and credit unions offer a wide variety of products – from free checking to low rates on loans. You also want to consider convenience – it is helpful if there is an ATM or branch on campus or close to where you live.
  • Every time you are about to spend money, ask yourself if it would be better spent on something else or saved for a rainy day.
  • Don’t carry your social security card in your wallet, and don’t give your Social Security number to people that don’t need it. The only thing thieves need to steal your identity is your Social Security number.
  • Watch your eating out, entertainment and clothes spending carefully.
  • Track spending to help avoid buying more than you can afford.
  • Time is your best friend when it comes to saving for retirement – start saving now if you have a job and can invest a little for retirement.

The OFS is staffed with student volunteers who are studying personal financial planning at MU and provides free financial counseling for all MU students. The knowledgeable student advisers provide student loan advice, credit card debt counseling, and other important financial services. In addition to providing free financial services for MU students, the OFS provides discounted financial counseling for the community. For more information about the OFS, visit: http://pfp.missouri.edu/financial/index.html.

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