Master money management to maneuver tuition, credit, budgeting

Gwen Henry | Cartoonist

By The Editorial Board

Though Baylor provides more than 90% of students with financial aid, tuition prices continue to rise, and managing finances as a student is not getting any easier.

Average tuition at Baylor is $54,844, plus $15,126 for the average living and meal plan. And on top of the sticker price, a low recommended budget for a college student in Texas is around $24,000 per year, according to College Board.

Long story short, there are a lot of expenses when it comes to college, and students might not be well-equipped to handle them. Baylor has resources for financial aid and counseling; however, it’s still vital to understand what costs you or your family are paying and how they can impact you in the long run.

According to a LinkedIn article, “Recent statistics reveal that the total outstanding student loan debt in the U.S. exceeds $1.7 trillion,” and a lot of students aren’t aware they have it.

There are resources available to get a better grasp on student loans and what they might mean for you. According to Baylor’s One Stop Student Financial Services, loans can be borrowed from the federal government, the state or private lenders. Its website recommends comparing loan options and making sure your loan payments post-graduation are only a small portion of your salary. One Stop is available for questions about financial aid via phone or online.

Visit for information on how to see which types of loans you have and what you’ve paid so far. There’s also a loan simulator to predict your future payments if you have a federal loan.

Even after drinking from the student loan firehose, you have more aspects of finance to tackle, like credit, as 40% of college students have credit card debt.

If you’re using a credit card, it’s important to understand your monthly limit, when you need to pay it off and what you use it to pay for. There are also ways for different banks to set up an automatic monthly payment. If possible for your financial situation, paying for gas or manageable subscriptions on your credit card during college can help build your credit score for the long term. Remember to use a reliable and well-researched website to check your credit score.

If you don’t have a credit card, don’t panic. You aren’t a lost cause or far behind everyone else. Calling your bank and talking to your family can be a good first step. However, if you’re stressed out about understanding loans, credit cards and budgeting, you’re not alone. According to a 2015 report from Ohio State University, about 70% of college students are worried about finances.

With a mountain of expenses and college life, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that financial stressors can have a big impact. Financial worries can take a toll on someone’s mental health, and one study showed those who experience financial stress are more likely to go as far as to attempt suicide.

As scary as these numbers and statistics may sound, there are free resources on campus to help guide students toward becoming more financially literate. One good initial step is taking advantage of Student Financial Wellness at Baylor, which offers free education, coaching and workshops. Students can meet with a current student and money management coach who has “been highly trained in personal finance and coaching skills to serve their peers.”

Though the stress of money has numerous negative influences on us all, there are many resources available to students who are concerned about finances. Thinking about financial literacy in college can help set you up for success when you’re out of school.