Balancing the college budget

The line between the broke college student and posh pampered student has become blurred by the comprehensive term: budget. Throughout one’s collegiate years, school smarts and alcohol tolerance are not the only necessary lessons; maintaining and preserving funds are difficult skills to master in the process of becoming a productive member of society. At USF, there is a wide spectrum of social status among students, yet everyone is faced with the same dilemma concerning needs and how they are provided.

The cost of tuition and housing is the utmost expense; scholarships, loans, grants and parental provision can ease the burden, but past these aides, living expense area a difficult burden to bear. Students, such as sophomore Felicia Blais, are blessed with the benefit of parental aid. “That’s their parental responsibility. I plan on paying for my children,” says Blais. “I am fortunate compared to most college students.”

Other students are required to make ends meet with their own economic accountability. Junior John Fontan finds additional employment mandatory. Working a combined 60 hours a week at his two jobs, Fontan pays for school himself by the collaboration of loans and personal income.

USF also supports students through various opportunities via on-campus employment including working in the cafeteria, life guarding, maintenance, being a tour guide, helping with SAFE Team and many more. Justin Bragan works as a resident assistant for his fraternity and combines his wages as a swim instructor to not only pay for school, but also give support for his parents.

However, source of income is irrelevant in evaluating its utilization. How students spend money, whether it is an affluent amount or paycheck-to-paycheck, will determine their material sensibility.

Prioritizing is crucial. First synopsis is the assessment of necessities like food and gas costs. The next constituent for consideration is preservation and replenishment of supplies including pencils, notebooks, toiletries, vehicle upkeep and a myriad of miscellaneous items that are imperative for everyday life. Paying bills is another responsibility that becomes more demanding with each passing year. After these fees are figured, the surplus is available for saving and spending.

The art of saving versus spending is the ultimate knowledge that students must strive to ascertain.

“Buying on an impulse is what gets you,” said Bragan. He advises to “think before you spend – I designate how much money I am going to spend before I even go out.” These precautions can help to control squandering of funds.

As several students fall victim to credit card debt, knowledge of economics is another attribute needed for success.

“I didn’t even know what APR was when I got my first card,” said senior Beatrice Pohl. With promises of spending now, paying later, many are lured into debt prematurely. “Initially, I just thought it was great. I didn’t have money, and [credit cards] allowed me to get stuff, and I thought as soon as I get my paycheck, I’ll pay it off, but it catches up.” Now after over three years, Pohl only has one more year of negative finances by consolidating to one fee with lower interest and minimizing spending.

“A coffee at Starbucks or a smoothie at Smoothie King just isn’t that important,” said Pohl.

Expenditures are expected. Frivolity is fickle. Accumulation is aspired. These caveats are binding in the balance of debt and dividends that can create the essential equilibrium of a student’s economics.