The start of a new year might seem like a weird time to make resolutions for a college student. You’re not at the beginning of the school year; you’re at the midway point, continuing the momentum you started in the fall semester.
But think about how that makes this — the present — the perfect time to make some New Year’s resolutions.
It’s a time to look back on where you’ve been, where you’d like to be, and what you’d like to accomplish. Here are some ideas to get you started, from freshmen to seniors, undergrad to graduate students.
1. Go to class more
There’s always that one class where your professor never takes attendance, the notes are posted online, and the exams are open-book. But the whole point of going to college is to be present at your classes and be part of the learning experience, not to take shortcuts.
Think about your tuition and student loans — that’s a lot of money to pay just to show up in class infrequently. Regular attendance will show in your mastery of the subject matter compared to attending class passively.
2. Ramp up your scholarship search
You may know that scholarships can help you save money on college costs and minimize student loan debt.
While it’s the rare student who gets that full-ride scholarship without owing any lenders a dime, it’s also commonplace to apply to and be granted several smaller scholarships that can together lessen your financial burden.
So why aren’t you applying for more awards? One of many scholarship myths might be holding you back. My grades aren’t good enough, you might say to yourself, the student pool is too competitive or saturated with applicants, or it’s just too time consuming.
But if you don’t apply, you’ll never know if you could get free money. Do away with those self-defeating thoughts. Resolve this year to devote more time for scholarship hunting and applying.
3. Fill out your FAFSA as early as possible
After scholarships, make another financial aid resolution by promising to fill out and submit your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) as soon as you can.
The FAFSA deadline varies by state, so don’t wait until the last minute to get started. Begin now and get a head start without needing to scramble for the necessary documentation. You’ll need your previous year’s tax returns, your Social Security number, plus other information.
Apply regardless of your financial situation, and make sure to confirm the amount you’ve been granted before taking out any student loans. Taking care of your FAFSA, a critical step in saving money on college, is like studying for a major exam. The earlier you start, the more prepared you’ll be.
4. Keep your body and mind fit and well-rested
Late-night cramming can keep you from getting enough shuteye, and eating too much takeout during said cramming sessions won’t make you feel any better.
Make it a resolution this year to make some healthier choices. Schedule your time to fit in a few workout sessions at your campus gym. If pressed for time during finals or busy periods, even a quick lap around campus is enough to raise your endorphins and get your blood flowing. Skip the takeout and make healthier choices at the dining hall.
Treat getting more sleep like you would making a budget or scheduling your classes: Plan specific hours in the evening when you must hit the hay. Even if you don’t manage exactly eight hours of sleep each night, that’s OK.
Being well-rested, well-fed, and fit will help your mood, energy, and concentration, all important qualities every college student needs to face the day ahead.
5. Get a side hustle
A 15- or 18-credit semester course load leaves little room for much of anything outside of class, much less a part-time job or opportunity to earn money. The best part about picking up a side hustle as a way to earn some extra cash is that you can squeeze a few hours into your schedule at just about any time.
The choices are limitless. There are side gigs for extroverts, jobs for introverts, and opportunities that almost anyone can take advantage of — everything from being an Uber driver to selling your unwanted stuff or tutoring.
You don’t need to pick just one. Your side hustles may vary from week to week or month to month as your schedule permits. Resolving to take on a side hustle is the smart way to make some money, network, and diversify your skills.
6. Save with a goal in mind
Saving money for a college student can be a difficult New Year’s resolution to make when you’re short on finances and pressed for time to earn more. Rather than saving a few dollars here and there without keeping track, make a realistic goal of how much you’d like to save and find a way to get there.
Will you need to spend less on discretionary purchases, like eating out? Can you limit other spending choices, like finding a more affordable cell phone plan? What about saving your earnings in a high-yield deposit account? Using your credit card less?
Clearly define what it will take to reach your financial goals and make them identity-based. For instance, if you’re in debt, your financial resolution may be to work towards paying down your student loans as efficiently as possible, like freeing up money to make larger repayments to your lenders.
Like all your resolutions, committing yourself to the above ideas — and coming up with new ones unique and important to you — can make this the year you make a big change in your life for 2017 and beyond.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 6 lenders of 2019!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
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1 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.50% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.89% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 2.49% APR (with Auto Pay) to 7.27% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of April 17, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 04/17/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
3 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the fixed rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular fixed interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
However, if the borrower chooses to make monthly payments automatically by electronic funds transfer (EFT) from a bank account, the variable rate will decrease by 0.25%, and will increase back up to the regular variable interest rate described in the preceding paragraph if the borrower stops making (or we stop accepting) monthly payments automatically by EFT from the designated borrower’s bank account.
All credit products are subject to credit approval.
Laurel Road began originating student loans in 2013 and has since helped thousands of professionals with undergraduate and postgraduate degrees consolidate and refinance more than $4 billion in federal and private school loans. Laurel Road also offers a suite of online graduate school loan products and personal loans that help simplify lending through customized technology and personalized service. In April 2019, Laurel Road was acquired by KeyBank, one of the nation’s largest bank-based financial services companies. Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association, a nationally chartered bank. Member FDIC. For more information, visit www.laurelroad.com.
4 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
5 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 2.48% effective April 10, 2019.
6 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|2.49% – 7.27%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.41%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.50% – 6.65%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.49% – 7.11%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.98% – 9.72%6||Undergrad & Graduate|