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Published:April 21st, 2007 14:00 EST
Students Learn How to Finance Their College Education

Students Learn How to Finance Their College Education

By Tristan Mack

Summer is fast approaching, which means for many, going home, relaxing and putting schoolwork and worries behind them for at least a few more months.  However, there are certain woes that can creep upon unprepared student: how to finance a college education. According to the Postsecondary Student Aid Study, 72 percent of full-time students receive aid of some sort, ranging from grants and scholarships and student loans.  Of these numbers, only 45 percent receive aid through loans. 

"The bulk of my college expenses are paid for with loans," says Lauren Grove, a junior music education major at WVU.  Like many other students, she cannot afford a college education on her own, so she uses loans, and the refunds to stay financially afloat during the semester.

"I do have trouble not spending money," she explains, shaking her head at the thought of this.  "But I just tell myself that I don't need whatever it is I want to buy."

Lauren uses the bulk of her refunds for the necessities such as text books and supplies.  The system seems to be working for her.  She hasn't gone broke yet, and unlike others, she manages to keep a majority of her refund in the bank.

For most college students, finding the means to afford their education is a necessary evil, and one that does not always prepare them for the college experience.

"I came to school with a lot of money saved up from working at home over the summer," said Bryan Oleasz, a junior wildlife and fisheries resources major.  Like many others, he kept a summer job, preparing for such inevitabilities.

He also receives student loans, as well as grants and scholarships.  The money he earns over the summer, working for a zoo, is used as spending money for the year.

"I try not to burn a lot of money either," Oleasz says.  He tries not to spend compulsively, buys on sale, and doesn't use his credit card unless it's necessary. 

"It can be difficult to keep money, especially closer to the end of the semester," says Kerri Wood, a junior business management major. 

Wood uses loans as well, but also keeps a job at school as back up.  "I watched paint dry six dollars an hour," she jokes of her previous job at an art gallery.  Back home in Virginia, she works at the local YMCA.

The money helps give her extra cash on hand, but she still tries to leave it in the bank.  "I don't go near an ATM machine," she says of the prospect of spending all of her money on clothes, booze, and other "unnecessary" as she calls them.  She also chose West Virginia University because of its affordability.

According to, a site for Sallie Mae, one of the nation's largest loan providers, students should look at all of the costs associated with a school before making a decision.  These expenses include the direct costs of school such as tuition, room and board and other fees associated with attending school.  However, there are also other indirect expenses that students should also be aware of, such as books, buying a computer, transportation and lab fees.

"I use most of my money for needs not wants," Groves says of her spending habits.  If she goes to the mall on a free Saturday afternoon, she window shops and may splurge on a meal at McDonalds so she doesn't have to cook later on.

By being aware of these costs and the possibility of having to better manage money, students can be better prepared for their future.  Sallie Mae advises students to understand how much of the money they have is actual expenses such as books and fees, and how much can be used as spending money.  By doing so, students are less likely to run the risk of over purchasing and overspending.

"It can be hard for student," groves say of the financial problems.  "But it's just something we have to be aware of and ready for when we get there."