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College Planning Series: Budgeting In College

Unfortunately, debt management might become one of your top priorities after college. Between credit card debt and student loans, debt can build up easily. Creating and adhering to a realistic budget while you are attending college can help enormously. Let’s look at some basics when it comes to budgeting in college.

Follow our credit counseling advice for budgeting in college.

Follow our credit counseling advice for budgeting in college.

Tips to Budgeting in College

Don’t Underestimate the Power and Peril of Credit

Using credit responsibly is important to building and maintaining credit. Car loans, mortgages, renting cars and more all depend partially on good credit. Your future self will thank you for being responsible now!

However, credit cards should not be used for everyday expenses. Too much credit card debt can easily throw you off the money management game. Even if you think you can pay off the balance each month, college often comes with unexpected expenses. Don’t carry a balance that seems safe but becomes too difficult to pay off without much notice.

The Importance of Budgeting in College

When budgeting in college, there are several factors to consider. First, it is important to include your parents and family to be sure everyone is on the same page about who will pay for what. How much of your tuition are your responsible for paying yourself? Will your family give you money to supplement living expenses? Do they expect you to pay for books and school supplies yourself? Next, it is important to define a time-frame for your budget. Will you create a budget each week, month, semester, or year?

How to Create a Budget in College

Start by listing all of your income. This can include financial aid, scholarships, student loans, savings, funds from parents or family, and of course any income from part-time or work study jobs.

Then, list all of your expenses. Typical expenses for college students include:

  • Books, school supplies
  • Rent or room and board
  • Groceries or a meal plan
  • Transportation
  • Clothes,
  • Entertainment, etc.

By comparing and contrasting your total income and expenses, you will have a realistic view of your spending and a feasible budget plan. If you do not know exactly what your expenses or income are, carefully track them for a week or a month each semester to get a realistic idea.

Your budget should also include expenses outside of the everyday necessities. Be sure to plan for emergencies. You never know when your car may break down or you may need a costly root canal.

If you’re struggling to pay off debt, ACCC may be able to help. Schedule a free credit counseling session with us today! 


Dilini is a Marketing Communications & Programs Associate at ACCC. To anyone, managing finances can be a real challenge! Any tips and tricks to help get through this are great! Dilini will share her experiences, tips, and tricks along the way through the Talking Cents blog. Stay tuned!

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