Student Budget Tips for Half-Timers
Here's what you'll need to know about half-time student loans
For many students, graduate school or other professional programs means attending school fulltime. But for millions of other students, especially in a challenging economic climate, it may mean attending school half-time while simultaneously holding down a job or attending to family responsibilities. Student loans are generally awarded only to those who are enrolled at least half-time (in many accredited degree programs, that equates to at least six hours of coursework a week). If your enrollment drops below that level, you'll need to notify your lender immediately.
It helps to plan now
Now that you've taken on student loan commitments, it's important to remember that you'll need to plan now for how you'll repay those loans over the lifetime of the obligation. That means coming up with a plan for comfortably meeting that monthly payment, perhaps even before you've landed a fulltime job again. That means you'll have to get serious about budgeting.
Here are a few things to keep in mind about living on a student budget:
- It pays to keep close track, in writing, of every expense, so you can see where your money is going, and which areas you can most comfortably cut back on.
- If you live alone, it pays to consider having roommates to split the rent and other living expenses.
- If you have both a cell phone and a land line, you should consider cancelling one of them.
- If you're returning to school after several years of working at a fulltime job, you'll need to reorient yourself to reality on the expense side. That doesn't mean you have to force yourself to live exclusively on Ramen noodles while you're in school, but it does mean that all expenses, small and large, must be evaluated under a microscope.
- Take care of your car with frequent service checks, because it may have to last you longer than you originally expected.
Luckily, other sources of budgeting advice and counsel are available to you. Under federal student loan regulations, all first-time borrowers must be offered “entrance” counseling, in which the terms and conditions of their loan packages are explained in detail. That counseling includes the use of budgeting worksheets that will help you keep track of your financial commitments, including the requirements of your loan repayment.
Even if you've already had that entrance counseling as an undergraduate borrower, it pays to brush up on the topic. Your institution's financial aid office would probably be only too happy to permit you to attend another session—either electronically or in person—to brush up on your student budgeting skills.
Learn more about half-time student loans from Citizens Bank
You can find helpful information about our affordable Citizens Bank TruFit Student Loan® which is available to students attending an eligible school at least half-time enrolled in a degree granting program. If you have questions about financing your education, call a student loan specialist at 1-800-708-6684, and we'll help walk you through the process.