Tuesday, August 20, 2013

What to do with your financial aid refund

On August 16th, the financial aid award packages were added to our tuition bills. Everyone that was expecting financial aid was anxious.

If you haven't checked and made sure your myUTTyler account shows all the awards you have accepted on your account, you should do that and follow up if you think there's been an error.
Aw yiss! Payments made!

It is a wonderful sight
Beginning August 30th, any remaining aid money that didn't pay for your tuition will be refunded to you. Once you see you have extra money, a million things you could do with it will cross your mind. So what shall you do with this gift?

1. Buy a car.
If you haven't bought a car and don't live within walking distance of campus, this is your opportunity to buy a car. If you have a decent income from your part-time job, the amount from your financial aid package will be a good sum for a down payment. Shop around to make sure you have a good deal.

Take a parent or a friend you completely trust with cars and test drive different models. Ask around to find out where the best deal on car insurance is.  Remember that you're going to pay for more than just the car itself: title, inspection, registration and insurance will be an added cost. Also, gas, oil changes, tires and any kind of repairs should be expected.

If you already have a car, but are constantly having issues with it, trade it in and give an extra payment with your refund. Get something more fuel efficient, with more seats (carpool and ask your friends to help you out with gas every so often) and safer (your insurance is cheaper with a more safe vehicle than, say, a sports car) to save some money.

2. Give to a charity
Find out what it is that you want to change and find the (reputable) charity that does that. Once you donate, you get a feeling of goodwill (those warm fuzzies) and if you have a job and have to report your taxes, the donation is tax-deductible!

3. Buy a bicycle
If you live on campus or you just want to cut the time it takes you to walk between your classes and get a good workout out of it, then buy a bike.

There's tons of bikes on campus and almost every single building has a bike rack at the entrance. It improves your health, takes less time, and you won't be tempted to drive from one building to another (and waste gas in the process).

4. Save!
If you want to put your money away for a rainy day, put it into a savings account. Shop around both online and at local branches. Compare the advantages and benefits each give you.

Look at the fine print and make sure you won't be charged for things you weren't aware of. Make sure there aren't any penalties for withdrawing money because you're saving for an emergency or when your own funds fall short during the semester.

If you want to put that money away for a long time, think about putting it into a Roth IRA. It'll eventually grow (with some help from your income) into a good sum for your retirement. It's something to think about if you want your money to be put to good use and you're sure you won't need it anytime soon. We aren't going to be young forever, you know.

5. Buy an ice cream truck

If you want to be the cool kid on the block and always have a stash of ice cream, this is for you. It will be summer year-round! It's a great ice breaker and you'll be the most well known person for miles.

Okay, don't do this. I'm not telling you what to do; if you really want an ice cream truck, I can't stop you. But, seriously, don't do this. 

Christmas comes early for those of us that receive financial aid refunds and the endless opportunities that come with that refund are always a cause for celebration. Be smart with your money and remember that later in the semester, you might need it (but don't just stash it in your sock drawer).

What are you going to do with your financial aid refund? 


Anonymous said...

Very Good Blog. Keep it up!

Anonymous said...

How can I buy a ice cream truck when my refund is exactly $6? Sigh, the trials of an independent student. But yes, if I were to receive more, I'd probably do one of these immediately :D

Great article as always!!!!!

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