What is financial literacy?
Financial literacy is defined as:
- The ability to read, analyze, manage and communicate about the personal financial conditions affecting material well being.
- The term is used to describe financial education programs on college campuses and within high schools. The objective of financial literacy programs is to help students better manage their finances,budget effectively, and borrow wisely.
Smart financial management includes a few basic good habits. If you are a student, you may already have a checking account, a credit card, or maybe even a car loan. When heading off to college, you may also need to borrow student loans to help finance your education. But have you determined your financial goals and established good financial habits? Here are a few tips to get you started.
Steps you can take now to get on the right financial path
- Take charge of your spending. Establish a budgetPDF Document; set limits and prioritize; determine the difference between needs and wants; speak with a professional, nonprofit credit counselor if needed.
- Start saving. The earlier you save, the more you’ll have.
- Understand the costs of credit. Compare at least three offers before you choose a credit card; look for low interest rates and no annual fees; always pay more than the minimum payment.
- Understand how credit use affects your future. Know the difference between good and bad debt; check your credit report annually.
- Protect your credit and your financial future. Beware of identity theft; review statements and notify creditors immediately of errors; know what’s in your wallet/purse.
Planning for Financial Success
Minimize your student loan debt by following these Top 10 ways to graduate debt free.
- Complete the FAFSA annually.
- Qualify for federal grants.
- Research state scholarship and grant programs.
- Apply for institutional scholarships.
- Explore private scholarships.
- Inquire about work programs available on your campus.
- Set up a payment plan for your tuition.
- Secure summer employment.
- Invest in MOST, Missouri’s 529 college savings plan.
- Live like a student now, so you don’t have to later.
Scholarship Search Tips
In these tough economic times, many families may need additional money to help pay for college. Federal and state financial aid programs may not be enough. Seeking and applying for private scholarships from non-profit foundations and other organizations may provide the extra help needed. Here are some suggestions about how to find legitimate scholarships.
- “Like” the MDHE’s Facebook page, Journey to College. The MDHE is often notified when new private scholarships are available or when a scholarships’ application period opens, and this information is added immediately to Journey to College.
- Follow the MDHE’s tweets via Twitter, and have these communications sent to your cell phone. The MDHE communicates scholarship information as well as other resources for students and their families.
- Ask businesses, community groups, schools, and religious and civic organizations in your local community or state about scholarship opportunities.
- Check your local library for scholarship books.
- Keep looking! The more you search, the greater your chances of finding additional programs.
Keep the following tips in mind when using the Internet or a scholarship search organization:
- Be cautious of scholarship scams. Contact the Federal Trade Commission for more information.
- Do not provide credit card information to use a free scholarship search.
- Read the fine print carefully. Many online financial assistance search services request information about you so they can find financial assistance programs for which you may be eligible. Some of these companies may send you information about other services that they provide or sell your information to another company.