One of the most challenging aspects of university life is managing your finances. Whether you are an incoming freshman trying to learn the ropes, or an outgoing senior sprinting towards graduation day, the following resources should be of help.
If you are simply looking for the best way to view your financial aid and other tuition-based finances, visit the Financial Aid and Scholarships website to access information about financial aid, scholarships and deadlines. To view your financial aid award, login to MyAwards.
Managing Your Money
Managing money can be especially difficult for students on a tight budget. Establish a reasonable budget using the Monthly Budget Planning Worksheet available through CashCourse. If it seems as though you spend more time worrying about money than you do studying, take time out to examine your budget and develop a plan that works for you. Keep reading for a few basic tips on student finances.
Planning Your Budget
Develop your own personal budget to avoid the stress and inconvenience brought on by money problems. Use the Budget Worksheet included on this Web Page to plan your spending ahead of time.
Money Saving Tips
Your budget plan will succeed only if it reflects your personal needs and priorities. Make sure the money you spend provides the things that are most important for your education.
Housing, food, health care, books, and registration fees are the basic expenses that you will need to continue your education. You should use your income to cover these expenses before you consider luxury purchases such as compact discs or expensive clothing. For some ideas about how to reduce your spending to meet your budget plan, read the money-saving tips that follow.
Credit and Banking
- Say "NO" to credit cards. Not only do you pay a finance charge, but you may be tempted to buy more than you can really afford. If you feel you must have a credit card, don't purchase more than you can afford, and pay the balance each month. Better yet, save it for emergencies!
- Open a savings account and make regular deposits. When choosing a bank, compare monthly service charges and ask about any additional costs, such as buying checks, costs for overdrafts, and stop-payment orders.
- Avoid the Automated Teller Machine (ATM) fast-money trap. Try to limit the number of visits to the ATM. Some banks charge a service fee for each transaction, which can add up quickly. If you use the ATM, withdraw small amounts and don't forget to record the transactions in your checkbook.
- Balance your checkbook each month, your bank statement provides step-by-step instructions. If you need help, ask for customer assistance at your bank.
- Student Housing on campus generally provides the least expensive housing for single students. Housing fees cover the cost of rent, meals, utilities, computer labs, furniture, and programs and activities. Student family housing is also very reasonably priced.
- If you plan to live off campus, Community Housing Listing Service, ASUCD Student Services Office, 347 Memorial Union, provides listings of housing in the community along with descriptions of apartments and facilities.
- Make sure that you understand all the terms of your rental agreement. Rental arrangements should be in writing and you should read them carefully before signing. Ask your landlord for the Model Lease or the Month-to-Month Rental Agreement approved by the ASUCD Fair Housing Committee.
- Find a roommate! Sharing your apartment with one or more roommates will substantially reduce your monthly expenses. You may also want to consider a room in a private home, these are available with or without kitchen privileges.
- Develop a weekly meal plan and shop with your plan to guide you.
- Pack your lunch and avoid fast food places. If you do eat out, use coupons and look for the best food at the most reasonable cost.
- Invest in a cookbook (thrift stores carry used ones) and prepare meals at home.
- Compare prices at different stores and use coupons.
- Buy house brands and generic products, they are generally less expensive.
- Buy bulk amounts of dry goods such as rice and flour.
- Buy fresh fruits and vegetables that are in season. Check out the various Farmers Markets in the surrounding communities.
- Go food shopping with friends and roommates.
- Eat something before you go shopping, never shop for food on an empty stomach!
Financial Aid Tips
- File the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) or Dream Act Application by the March 2 priority deadline each year. Applying for financial aid on time is important to ensure you receive maximum financial aid eligibility based on your individual circumstances.
- Don't overwork. Working while attending UC Davis is an option, but working more than 12-15 hours week can adversely impact your academic performance. UC Davis is geared for full-time study.
- Live frugally. The reality of affording a university education these days is that students increasingly need to focus on budgeting and living within their means.
- Break down your costs. Take the total cost of attending UC Davis and break it down to a monthly cost, deduct what you'll receive in aid--65% of UC Davis students receive financial aid--then calculate what your monthly costs will be and figure out how to best meet those costs.
- Research UC's Blue and Gold Opportunity Plan.
- Make bank loans a last resort. The university has to certify a bank loan application, and if a student has received enough financial aid to meet the cost of attendance, UC Davis cannot legally certify a bank loan. (Total cost of attendance is calculated according to whether the student is living on or off campus, commuting or living at home.)