Money Management

The HSU Financial Aid Office would like to ensure that all prospective and current HSU students understand the Financial Aid process at our institution and are well informed about the resources available in order to assist you in making financially responsible decisions for you and your student’s educational career. 

How To Make College More Affordable

Many believe a college education is out of their reach. Please be assured that a great number of financial resources can help make the dream of a college degree a reality. The key is planning ahead and learning about the financial aid process. Here are a few things that you, as a student, can do to bring college costs within reach:

General Tips

General Tips

  • Plan Ahead. The FAFSA4caster is a Financial Aid calculator that gives an early estimate of eligibility for federal aid and helps students understand their options for paying for college. It is recommended that students or parents use FAFSA4caster as early as middle school to make them aware of what is available and compare possible aid to the cost of colleges in which they are interested. The College Preparation Checklist helps students (elementary, middle, and high school), as well as adults and parents prepare financially and academically for college.
  • Saving Early = Saving Smart! State-sponsored college savings plans and prepaid tuition plans (529 plans) are available and are more effective the earlier parents start saving. There are also traditional savings accounts for student, parents, and family members. The Watch Your Money Grow With Your Child is a fact sheet for parents with tips on saving money for college or career school.
  • Apply for aid early & every year! Students should apply for aid even if they and/or their parents do not think they will be eligible. Even if the assistance you receive is nothing more than an unsubsidized loan, the interest rate on the loan may be less than what you would pay on a private loan.
  • Sources of Funding: Visit and review our Types of Aid section for more information.
  • Get Free Money To Help Pay. Encourage students to look for scholarships early—ideally, between 11th and 12th grades. The more scholarships a student gets (even if each one is small), the more affordable college can be. Visit and review our Scholarships section for more information.
  • Loans: Various loans are available for students and/or their parents such as Federal Direct Loans, Parent PLUS Loans, and Private Loans. Whether a student is starting at a community college to later transfer to a four-year school, the cost of school can be daunting, but most families do qualify for some form of aid. Visit and review our Loans section for more information.
  • Borrow Wisely: Be an informed consumer and a prudent borrower for the sake of your financial future. As much as you can, try to Avoid Unnecessary Debt, you can decline loans you do not currently need (you can always request them later). You can borrow as you go and request as little as $500 per term. LOANS MUST BE REPAID! Prior to you accepting any loan to cover school related expenses, you should consider the cost of the loan over its lifetime versus the advantages of borrowing to finance your education. For instance, Unsubsidized Direct Loans incur interest charges by the student from the time of disbursement, including the interest that accumulates during periods of deferment; the student may opt to pay the interest during periods of enrollment or deferment, but is not required to do so.
  • Stick to a 4-year graduation plan: See details in the HSU Catalog & the Major Academic Plan (MAP). Not only will the student graduate in a timely manner but you and your student may also be able to save money in the long run as costs for higher education continue to increase.
  • Student Employment: Part-time employment helps pay for expenses and provides valuable skills for future professional employment. Search for jobs and internships on Springboard.

Budgeting

Budgeting

  • Budget Every Month: This may be the first time you are on your own so we encourage you to “live within (or below) your means.” One benefit of budgeting is that it helps you determine if you have the resources to spend on items that you want versus those you need. We have included a Monthly Budgeting Tool just for you, now all you need is a little practice.
  • Budgeting makes it easier to plan, to save, and to control your expenses. Do your expenses exceed your income? If so, then you can identify expenses that can be reduced. Once you pay attention to your income and spending, you can make informed decisions that will help you meet your financial goals. A budget will help you manage your spending. Following a budget can help you free up money for the things that really matter to you.
  • Budgeting can help you avoid debt and improve your credit. When you stick to a budget, you avoid spending more than you earn and you can avoid or reduce your credit card debt. If you have received student loans to help with the cost of college or career school, then a budget will help you make the most of the money you have borrowed and can help you determine how long it will take to repay your debt and how much it will cost.
  • Budgeting is not just a one-time event. You’ll need to track your spending over time and update your budget as needed. Learn more about creating and balancing your budget by checking out this video:

Budgeting Tips

Budgeting Tips

  • Overestimate your expenses. It’s better to overestimate your expenses and then underspend and end up with a surplus.
  • Underestimate your income. It’s better to end up with an unexpected cash surplus rather than a budget shortfall.
  • Involve your family in the budget planning process. Determine how much income will be available from family sources such as parents or your spouse. Discuss how financial decisions will be made.
  • Prepare for the unexpected by setting saving goals to build your emergency fund. Budgeting will help you cover unusual expenses and plan for changes that may happen while you’re in school.
  • Planning to move off campus? Short-term budgeting goals for the year can include saving for the rent deposit and furniture for your new apartment.
  • Finishing school in the next year? Budget to include job search expenses such as résumé preparation, travel to interviews and job fairs, and professional exam fees. Also, you may need to think about how you will manage your money between leaving school and finding a job—this is a time when an emergency fund can really help out.

Manage Your Budget

Manage Your Budget

Keeping track of all of your spending may seem like a lot of work. But if you are organized, keep good records, and use some of the following tips, you will find it is easier than you may think. And try not to be too hard on yourself if you slip up. 

  • Record your actual expenses. Have you noticed how fast your cash disappears? To get a handle on where you cash is going, carry a small notebook or use a phone app to record even the smallest expenditures such as coffee, movie tickets, snacks, and parking. Some expenses that are often ignored include music downloads, charges for extra cell phone usage, and entertainment expenses. Search for an online tool to assist you—many are free!
  • Organize your records. Decide what system you are going to use to track and organize your financial information. There are mobile apps and computer-based programs that work well, but you can also track your spending using a pencil and paper. Be sure to be consistent and organized, and designate a space to store all your financial information. Good record-keeping saves money and time!
  • Create a routine. Manage your money on a regular basis, and record your expenses and income regularly. If you find that you cannot record your expenses every day, then record them weekly.
  • Review your spending for little items that add up to big monthly expenditures. The daily cup of coffee and soda will add up. Consider packing your lunch rather than eating out every day. Spending $10 a day eating out during the week translates to $50 a week and $200 a month. A $5 packed lunch translates into a savings of $1,200 a year. Save even more by looking for ways to manage and reduce your transportation and entertainment expenses.
  • Make your financial aid refund last. If your school applies your financial aid to your tuition and fees and there is money left over, the school will refund that money to you so you can use it for other education-related expenses (textbooks, transportation, food, etc.). Remember that your financial aid is supposed to help you cover your cost of attendance for the whole semester or term, so be sure to make that refund stretch over time rather than spending it all as soon as you get it.
  • Comparison shop. Comparison shopping is simply using common sense to compare products in an attempt to get the best prices and best value. This means doing a little research before running out to buy something, especially when it comes to more expensive items. Make the most of tools like phone apps for comparing prices and value.
  • Use credit cards wisely. Think very carefully before you decide to get your first credit card. Is a credit card really necessary, or would another payment option work just as well? If you receive a credit card offer in the mail, do not feel obligated to accept it. Limit the number of cards you get. Do not spend more on your credit card than you can afford to pay in full on a monthly basis. Responsible use of credit cards can be a shopping convenience and help you establish a solid credit rating and avoid financial problems. Consider signing up for electronic payment reminders, balance notices, and billing statement notifications from your credit card provider.