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Making ‘cents’ of the new year

Second semester is both exciting and stressful for all college students. We are just getting back from Christmas break where we spent money on gifts for family and friends and now have to purchase textbooks, all while awaiting the second semester tuition statement. As we move through our college years, we often weigh priorities: going to parties on the weekends or taking on that second part-time job to help pay for student loans. In the end, it is all about how you decide to budget your savings, and what to do with the savings you have.

Evan Eide, a sophomore going into medicine, does not like to worry too much about future school expenses.

“Sometimes I do think about it, but I realize [education] will pay off in the end” Eide said.
Eide said he does take out loans to pay tuition, and his parents have helped pay some interest.

“[Paying for] med school in the future makes me nervous,” Eide said, “but with scholarships it’ll turn out alright.”

If Eide goes out with friends, he tries to spend moderately. For the most part, Eide said, Concordia provides moderate housing and dining.

“There is not much to need,” Eide said.

Rachel Webster, a junior, is a Cobber slowly paying off student loans. She had to take out a large loan over Christmas break to pay for a study abroad session.

“My parents don’t have money,” Webster said, “but I’m looking for jobs to pay for trips. Any money I get from jobs will be spending money on trips.”

When Webster goes grocery shopping, she hits all of the sales and tries to find food items that will last a long time. To save money when shopping for textbooks, Webster bargain hunts online or borrows from friends who have taken the class previously.
Webster also tries to be smart with spending in other ways, taking advantage of deals at restaurants.

“When my friends and I go out, we spend as little as possible,” Webster said.
Webster believes it would be helpful for paying the next semester’s tuition if the tuition statement from the Business Office came out earlier.

“I get done with finals, and then the tuition statement is out,” she said. “People go on vacations, and they don’t have time to apply for loans, and then they cannot pay for school,” Webster said.

Mark Lillehaugen, controller of the Business Office, said students may have the money to spend, but should be wise when deciding whether to spend it.

“Can you?” Lillehaugen asked. “You can, but should you?”

Lillehaugen said it is beneficial for students to work on-campus jobs, because the state does not take out money for social security.

“You have the ability as a student to get the full amount for work study,” Lillehaugen said. “If you have a job on campus versus off campus, you will really see the difference” Lillehaugen said.

He said students can save money by purchasing textbooks, used textbooks, from other students or online.

Students should keep aware of all their budget expenses, he said, and be aware of how much you are budgeting for room and board.

“Set a budget,” Lillehaugen said. “How much do you have, and how much do you want to be able to spend. Can you afford it, and try not to go over it? Do [you] have that much money for playing?”

In an e-mail interview, Jane Williams, director of Financial Aid, said the parents of some students have lost their jobs recently, or are earning less because of the economy. In those situations, they are sometimes able to process an appeal with the college, which may result in additional gift assistance. In other cases, loans with a credit-worthy co-signer are likely the options the college will offer.

In addition to garnering extra income for students, Williams said past research shows students who are working a reasonable number of hours tend to have a higher grade point average.

“This is because students must manage their time more carefully when they are working and they actually study better,” Williams said. “Other advantages of working, other than the obvious of getting paid, include resume building, making new friends, getting to know faculty and staff, and learning new skills.”

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