No matter if you decide to go to school at a college campus or online, or whether you are fresh from high school or are already in the workforce and heading back to school to continue your education, having a budget can be pertinent to your academic success.  You might be wondering how a budget could influence how well you do in school.

building a college budget

Well, by making efficient use of your money and knowing and understanding your income streams and expenses, you can allow yourself to focus more on your school work rather than making money, and ensure that you have enough money to continue your education.

It will likely take some time to get a grasp upon what your incomes and expenses will be.  While the creation and better understanding of your financial picture might not come together exactly as you’d hoped right from the start, it can be important to keep at your budgeting until you get a better feel for your college finances and how you can best put them to use.

Making the Transition

Making the transition from high school to college can pose numerous challenges.  One of those challenges might be the fact that many high school students may never have had a need for a budget, and therefore have little or no experience with developing one.

However, knowing that this financial tool can have a significant impact upon your education can be an important first step in your financial transition from high school to college.

Transitioning from the work place to school can be equally difficult, but often for very different reasons.  One of the shared aspects of making a transition from high school to college or work to college often remains the need for a budget.  It may have been some time since you relied upon a budget, as you may have found that your work income provides you with all the money you need to get by in your personal life.

However, even though you may have more budgeting experience coming from life in the working world and might not feel a budget is necessary to get you through your educational experience, this doesn’t necessarily excuse you from creating a budget that is associated with your schooling.

Getting a Grasp on Expenses

No matter what your personal, financial or educational situation, it will likely take you a little while to get a good feel for the expenses that come along with your education.

Writing down and tracking these expenses month-to-month can help you build a list of expense categories and amounts to provide a better idea of where your money is going and in what amounts.

Some of the expenses you’re likely to encounter during your educational career may include, but aren’t necessarily limited to:

  • Rent/housing
  • Tuition/fees
  • Books
  • School supplies
  • Miscellaneous educational expenses
  • Transportation (i.e. parking pass, bus pass, train pass, car maintenance, fuel, insurance, etc.)
  • Food
  • Clothing
  • Entertainment
  • Health insurance/medical costs
  • Utilities

By utilizing such categories to track your expenses, you may be able to put an estimated monthly expenditure total upon each, helping to guide you as to what your expenses will be month-to-month and maybe even year-to-year.

Understanding Your Income

Having an idea of what your expenses will be during school may only be half the battle when it comes to your college budgeting.  While your expense total is certainly an important aspect of your finances, it may do you little good without an idea of your income to compare it to.

Knowing where your income is coming from as well as in what amounts can allow you to compare these totals to your expenses, helping you to better determine if these amounts match up, and if not, where you could possibly cut expenses or increase income.

Here are a few of the areas that you might take into consideration when determining various sources of incomes:

  • Savings
  • Student loans
  • Personal loans
  • Work study
  • Part-time job(s)
  • Family support

Don’t Give Up

Among all the other duties required of a college education and just living your life in general, the act of building and keeping up with a budget can be frustrating, but don’t give up on the process.  Having a budget during college can be a healthy way to begin building financial responsibility for the future, and if you are already accustomed to budgeting, then it can be a great way to continue the habit.

Even after school, a budget can be useful in your everyday life, and if student loans are involved, a budget can help keep you on track for repayment and keep you from falling further into debt.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only.  The author is not an educational professional or academic advisor.  Any action taken by the reader due to the information provided in this article is solely at the reader’s discretion.