Creating a Budget Plan for Your First Year

Creating a Budget Plan for Your First Year

Even though you haven’t started school yet, it’s never too early to start thinking through your expenses and how you will manage your finances while in school.
 
A good way to start your soon-to-be in-school budget is to review the cost of attendance (COA) for your school. The COA will be determined by your school and provides a total cost for tuition and fees, books and supplies, as well as living expenses. One thing to remember when planning your budget: you will not be able to borrow more than the COA less any other aid you receive.
 
As you begin your planning, you will need to be more detailed than the COA with your categories of expenses. Include items such as:
  • Tuition and fees
  • Books and supplies
  • Housing (rent, mortgage)
  • Utilities (electricity, phone, etc.)
  • Food (groceries, eating out)
  • Transportation
  • Clothing (purchases, cleaning)
  • Entertainment
  • Personal care (haircuts, etc.)
COA is a good guide, but remember, you still need to estimate what it will cost YOU to attend school.
 
Unless your program of study runs 12 months, your school’s COA may only include expenses for 9 months. If you’ll be working during the remaining three months of the year, you may have enough funds to manage your expenses during that time – be sure to align your budget with that income and those expenses.  If you will not be in a paid situation for those three months, be sure to adjust your budget to include those additional expenses and consider reducing your expenses.