Advice for students

Plan for life after graduation. Use the DU Career Center, faculty advisers and information you find on the Internet (Juju Jobs, Monster, Careers.com, etc.) to calculate what you’re likely to earn in your first few years after graduation. Build a forward-looking budget. If you can’t afford to pay back your student loans and other debts on what you expect to earn, change your spending or increase your earning now.

Prioritize spending. Determine what you really need to succeed in school (room, board, books, classes) and fund that first. Pay for luxuries (meals out, entertainment, etc.) with cash, not credit. If you can’t afford the optional items, save until you can.

Pick one card. If you choose to begin building a credit history in college, do that with one card. Establish the practice of paying the card balance off each month and ignore solicitations to increase your credit limit beyond what you can afford.

Start an emergency account. Use your forward-looking budget to determine what you’ll need to live for six months after graduation, and start putting a portion of any money you earn into an emergency account. If things don’t go exactly as planned after graduation, use this account rather than credit cards to get you through.

Read before you sign. Read everything you receive from a bank, credit card provider, loan company or financial aid office before you sign a contract. If you don’t understand something, ask a company representative for an explanation, then double check what you’re told with a trusted resource not affiliated with the institution. The importance of verbiage is usually in reverse proportion to the size of its type. Always read the small print. If you’re pressured to sign without reading or sign before you fully understand a contract, walk away.

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