Ready, Set, Stre-e-e-e-tch that Refund

You received your financial aid, you paid your tuition and fees for the semester, and you have funds left over. Though it may seem like found money, remember these two important things:

  • Any refund or credit balance you receive is meant to help you pay for other school-related expenses such as books, transportation or rent
  • It’s likely still part of your student loan, which means you’ll have to pay it back after graduation—with interest

Here are some tips for making your refund last for the full semester.

  • Use the “Make it Last” Calculator to calculate 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.
  • Avoid the temptation of spending these funds on extras like entertainment, new clothes or travel.
  • If you are living on campus, make sure to make the most of your meal plan rather than dining out. 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!
  • If you do plan to spend some money on dining out, clothes or entertainment, be sure to take advantage of student discounts.
  • Use the tools built into your bank account to budget and track your spending. If you have a checking account sponsored by Higher One, for example, you can set up a budget and monitor your spending using the “Money Meter” feature.
  • If you receive more refund dollars than you think you need to make ends meet, consider using the unused funds to reduce the amount of student loans you will eventually have to pay back.

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



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  • Huyen t nguyen

    Hi, I used my money from financial aid to pay my son’s preschool tuition. Because he need to go to preschool while I go to college. But, my account is freeze. Pls help me