As you wrap up your final high school years and fantasize about the wild parties you’re going to partake in in college, as well as contemplate on the majors and classes you would like to study, and clubs they would like to join, it is important for you to pay close attention to your finances before you end up waking out of your drunken stupor and into a pool of debt. The College Juice created a list of important terms for all college students to be aware of.
Cost of attendance, which consists of tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation, is at the top of the list. Towson, Morgan State University and Coppin State University are your cheapest options as Baltimore City Students. Coppin’s in-state tuition is about $7,800 per year. The out-of-state tuition is about $10,000 more than that amount. Because you live in Baltimore, you won’t have to pay the $10,000 per year in room and board. The books and supplies cost $2,000, but you can pay only half that amount if you rent books. The last time I bought a book was in the first semester of my freshman year. The naïve 18-year-old me thought that I could sell the book for around the same amount that I paid. However, I ended up spending $80 on one book, but only getting $15 back when I sold it to BookHolders. Never again. Since then I rented my books and paid half the price I would pay if I had bought the books. You only need the books for a three-month class, so it doesn’t make sense to buy it.
As for transportation, monthly bus tickets are $72, which translates to $504 a school year. Riding the bus would be cheaper than driving a car to campus because you can avoid paying the garage permit and gas.
Another important term to know is the acronym, FAFSA, which stands for Free Financial Application for Federal Student Aid. Here are Instructions for how to apply for FAFSA. This application provides financial aid for students depending on their income. It is important for college students to fill out this form online starting in their senior year of high school. It is due by January 1st of every year, however while in college, I was able to turn in the form in October of every year.
Direct Subsidized loans are borrowed money given to students of low income families, and you do not have to pay interest. Direct Unsubsidized loans are borrowed money that is not only for students from low income families and you must pay interest. Grants and scholarships are “free money” meaning that it’s money given to you that you do no have to pay back. CollegeBound offers grants and scholarships for Baltimore City students. It has a program called Last Dollar Grant, which offers grants up to $3,000 a year for five years. The applications are due by June 1st. I was notified of my award from Collegebound by email in July after I applied.
Another term to know is the minimum monthly payment, which is the minimum amount you are allowed to pay for your student loans per month. However only paying the minimum amount can cause you to ultimately have to pay extra in interest. I suggest that you apply for as many scholarships as you can to receive more free money than borrowed money. Credit cards are used to pay for anything, but it is important to pay the credit card payment on time to maintain a high credit score. High credit scores can increase you chances of getting loans with better interest rates and getting approved for housing.
When filling out the FAFSA form, be sure to apply for federal work study. Work study jobs are jobs you can be hired for on your college’s campus. You can earn up to $1,800 per year.