Survey from Edvisors Shows Nearly Two-Thirds of Students Have Run Out of Money Mid-Semester

LAS VEGAS, March 9, 2016 — There’s an urban myth about the college student who runs out of money before the end of the semester and ends up sleeping in the van that’s parked in the dormitory parking lot and showering at the gym. But this may be more fact than fiction. According to the Edvisors 2016 Running on Empty — Mid-Term Finance Survey, 64% of college students reported they had run out of money before the end of the semester at some point in their college career.

A publisher of free websites that help students and families plan and pay for college, Edvisors commissioned the survey to better understand the very real-world financial problems faced by students after they get to college. More than 350 self-selected respondents from Edvisors’ ScholarshipPoints.com site pointed to a couple of significant culprits: Unanticipated expenses (51%), not enough financial aid (49%), high college costs (high textbook costs, 49%; college costs too much, 48%), and changes in financial circumstances (self, 42%; parents, 31%).

According to David Levy, editor at Edvisors, there are several steps students can take to prevent running out of funds mid-semester.

“Unanticipated expenses and changes in financial circumstances can happen for a variety of reasons,” Levy said, “so students should adjust their budget to include the unanticipated to minimize impact when problems arise.” Levy advised students to consider:

  • Paying large recurring expenses at the beginning of the term. That way, everyday expenses, like rent/housing, utilities, cell phone, etc. are already covered.
  • Establishing auto debit payments for on-going expenses to ensure they are paid on-time.
  • Setting aside a small “emergency fund” to help cover unanticipated costs or loss of income.

High college costs along with not quite enough financial aid can be challenging, Levy said. Students should consider:

  • Filing the FAFSA (fafsa.ed.gov) each year — by the Priority Filing Deadline set by your school(s). Many students miss out on funds because they don’t file on time (or at all). While some aid may be gone, it’s never too late to file — even if it’s the middle of the term. Students who file the FAFSA in January, February, and March tend to receive twice as much grant aid.
  • Checking if the school has an institutional scholarship application. Mid-year scholarships are sometimes available, and it never hurts to check in with the financial aid office.
  • Consulting with the campus Financial Aid Office to see if it offers an emergency loan program. If students need to borrow loan funds, they should always consider federal student loans first. Private loans may also be available (but often require a credit check and a co-signer — and can come with pricey fees or interest rates, so read the fine print).
  • Treating loan funds as the loan it is — and not free money.

“Edvisors advocates for pro-active planning and creative solutions to help alleviate financial stress,” Levy added.

  • Create a spending plan for the term. Try to plan for all of those big (and little) expenses upfront.
  • Look into work-study jobs or other part-time employment to help cover expenses.
  • Consider options to buy used textbooks or to rent textbooks instead of paying full price. (And check the campus library, too.) 

About Edvisors

Edvisors publishes free websites to help students and families plan and pay for college. Every year, millions of students and their families turn to the company’s flagship site, Edvisors.com, for timely, accurate information, advice, and tools that help them confidently make the best decisions about paying for college. At ScholarshipPoints.com, students earn points and enter scholarship drawings (the site has awarded more than $750,000 to date). StudentScholarshipSearch.com is a large, free online database of scholarships with an easy-to-use scholarship matching tool. Founded in 1998, Edvisors is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. More information can be found at www.edvisors.com.

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