Make Your Refund Last!

Your Financial Aid refund is your lifeline for out-of-pocket school expenses such as books, transportation and rent. A good portion of these dollars may come from your student loans, which you will have to repay when your graduate or leave school, so spend them wisely.


The first step is to make sure this money lasts for the entire semester.

This “Make it Last” Calculator can help make it a little easier by giving you an idea of how much you can afford to spend each week. Simply enter the total amount of your refund (or the amount left over after you have purchased your books) and the number of weeks in your semester. If you have $900 left and the semester lasts 15 weeks, for example, you can afford to spend about $60 per week on living expenses such as gas and food.


Not sure how to curb your spending?

Start by looking at how much you spend dining out instead of cooking at home. Spending $7 on lunch out four times per week, for example, adds up to more than $1,450 per year. Cutting back to just two days per week will save you over $725! Another way students save money is by shopping at thrift or consignment stores. They are a smart way to get fun, stylish clothes without breaking the bank. If you commute to school, try setting up a carpool with other students that live in your area.

If you receive more refund dollars than you think you need to make ends meet, consider returning any unused funds. This will reduce the amount of student loans you will eventually have to pay back, including interest expenses.

One other important note – keep your refund safe! If you have your refunds deposited into a bank account, such as a checking account serviced by Higher One, Inc., never share your PIN with anyone. Also, avoid withdrawing or carrying around large amounts of cash, as it might get lost or stolen.

Have your own strategy for making your money last? Post a comment on $tart with Change to let us know!

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