Financing Your Education

Financing your education can prove to be more stressful than any school assignment you’ll receive in your undergraduate career. While most students want to leave school debt free, in today’s economy it’s becoming even tougher to do so. But don’t worry! There are ways to reduce the financial stress and make going to college an investment in your future. Take a look at some of your options and discuss them with family and/or your school of choice to decide what’s best for you.

Student Loans- One of your first steps in the admissions process is to fill out a free application for Federal Student Aid (FASFA). Your school’s financial aid department will have a hardcopy form you can fill out or you can visit and complete an electronic application. By filling out the FASFA you will find out if you are eligible for any subsidized or unsubsidized loans, a Federal Pell Grant or other aid from your state. Based on your Expected Family Contribution (EFC), you may be responsible for most, some or very little of the costs associated with attending your college or university of choice. Be sure to understand your financial aid package before signing and accepting any loans. Once you have approved your package, you will have to repay any money borrowed beginning six months after graduation. Make sure you understand the terms before committing and get answers to any questions you have before signing the paperwork. 

Scholarships and Grants- Most students begin and end their financial assistance plan with the FASFA. Don’t make that mistake! Take some extra time and do your research on scholarships and grants that may be available to you. Contrary to what most students think, you don’t have to be a straight A student to be eligible for local scholarships and grants. Many scholarship opportunities are based on volunteerism, community service or financial need. You may have to submit an essay to be considered, but it could be the difference between taking out an extra loan or not having any out of pocket expenses at all. 

Government Loans- If you’re still in need of financial assistance, investigate government loans. Stafford loans and GI Bills are examples of government assistance. Typically, these loans have a much lower interest rate causing any repayment terms to be a little more manageable when it comes time to start paying back the funds. Similar to most other loans you may receive, repayment will begin six months after graduation. 

Before taking out any loans, be sure to ask your parents and/or guardians whether any type of savings accounts, such as a 529 Plan, has been established for your education. This may help save you some money and keep your loan amount at a minimum. Also, keep in mind that if at any time you decide to stop going to school, you will be responsible to pay for any loans or government assistance you receive during the time of your enrollment. It’s important not to take out more money than you need. Some students love to see a large refund check during the semester, but it may come back to haunt you later.

Real-Life Accounting Student

Angel Jiminez
Junior | University of Alabama
Discipline, responsibility, organization and hard-work are values that have helped me out a lot in becoming a successful student.

So let me guess, you think I’m a math whiz? Not at all!  I became interested in accounting for many different reasons. First and foremost, I enjoy accounting because of the interaction and involvement in people’s everyday lives.  In multiple cases, accounting allows you to form long term relationships with the clients you help.  And what I appreciate most about the accounting profession is the constant opportunity of intellectual growth.  This profession is very broad, yet essential to business you can never learn enough. 

I’ve always been big on family, which is exactly where I’ve developed my core values over the years. In my personal life, responsibility has an umbrella effect causing both organization and hard-work to prevail. Being able to organize assignments, projects and personal leisure time is very important in college. Also, without hard-work and determination while aspiring to achieve a goal makes things really difficult.

All in all, I consider myself to be a real “go-getter.” I love to challenge myself academically and physically during this pursuit to become a successful accountant. This summer I am interning at a local tax firm which has presented a few obstacles along the way, however the personal growth through hands-on experience doesn’t compare. I believe that great things come to people who work hard to reach their goals, and the rewards are priceless. If you can identify a few morals that have direct inspiration in your life, then success is only a matter of time.  


Favorite Sport:


More About Me:

Person I Would Most Like to Meet:

I would love to meet Leonardo Da Vinci because of the influences in the arts, sciences, and math fields.  An outstanding analyzer and true "renaissance man."

If I Won a Million Dollars:

Buy a small house and new car. The rest I would send back to my native town in Mexico to improve the schools, roads, and build a hospital.

Dream Vacation:

Travel around the world. I would like to go to Italy, France, Spain, Japan, South Africa, and many other places around the world. I am always interested in learning about different cultures and the best way to do that is to travel around the world.

The Best Advice I Ever Received:

Definitely from my parents and grandparents. They always told me that "hard work is the key to success." You must work hard to obtain your goals.My favorite class: In high school I was in the Finance Academy program. It helped me decide on accounting.