No matter what financial status you come from, it’s important that as a first-year student you know how to be smart about your money. Here are some tips to get you started.
First off, what is it? Financial aid is essentially any assistance you receive to pay for your higher education. It commonly comes in the forms of loans, grants, scholarships or student employment. Regardless of if you are in-state or out-of-state, you should feel encouraged to apply for financial aid. Your starting point: filling out the FAFSA.
The FAFSA stands for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, and it is completed annually online to assess your eligibility for student financial aid. You read that right; It is a free application that can give you money for your education. To fill out your FAFSA, start by giving yourself a 45-minute window to complete the application. You will be asked a series of questions regarding basic information about yourself, your parent or guardians and your and their income and tax return history. For further assistance with filling out the FAFSA, you can visit JMU’s tutorials.
Once you get to JMU, you can log onto JMU’s scholarship site to see available scholarship opportunities. There are also scholarships specific to your major at JMU, and you can explore those by visiting your department scholarship section on your major’s website, or by speaking directly to someone within the department. Free tuition money is out there for you! Finding it can be as easy as reading and answering your JMU emails.
Getting A Job
Whether you have to, want to, or desperately need to, plenty of jobs are available to students who want to work on campus. When beginning your job search at JMU, you have to create a profile on JMU’s JobLink. Then, you can immediately start applying for positions. To maximize your chances of getting a job, don’t be afraid to apply to more than one position. Also make sure that your resume, cover letter and list of references are all up to date. Popular on-campus positions include working at UREC and the libraries. There are also job opportunities within your major that can lead to internships and work experience within your field of study. Working on campus is a great way to be involved at JMU and network within the community around you.
General Money-Saving Tips
As a college student, it is important to take an interest in your expenses. Start by creating a weekly budget and looking for ways to save a buck. Instead of going out to see a movie, try seeing a discounted film at the Grafton theater. Or instead of eating off campus, cozy up at one of the dining halls for an all-you-can-eat (and take home for later) meal!
As the saying goes, a penny saved is a penny earned. By developing good spending habits now, you will be benefiting yourself and your wallet in the foreseeable future.