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February is Financial Aid Month: Understanding your Award Notification

16 Feb

 

If you — as a newly accepted student — applied for financial aid and submitted all verification information that was requested you should expect to receive an award notice from the Purdue Division of Financial Aid (DFA) any time after February 16th.

Understanding Award Notice

A message will be sent to your Purdue.edu email address, which you gain access to by activating your career account. The email notification directs students to view their financial aid offer online in their myPurdue system under the Financial tab. Notifications will also be sent to parents who supplied a parent email address on the FAFSA.

While the first place that your eyes will look is undoubtedly the Free Money section (grants/scholarship), a better place to start is by looking at the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA is not your bill! Rather, it is an estimate of the costs of being a full-time student and living in West Lafayette for the school year. It also shows the maximum amount of aid you are allowed to receive for the year, not what you ought to be taking. Your actual bill will come from the Bursar Office later in the summer after you’ve signed up for courses. The only costs you will owe Purdue directly are for tuition/ fees, a meal plan (if you have one), and housing costs if you live on campus.

Now that you know that maximum amount of aid you can receive, the free money awaits. If you have any grants or scholarships, they will appear here. If you have an outside scholarship and have not reported it yet, you can do that via your myPurdue. Grants and scholarships are the ideal form of aid since you do not have to pay them back!

If you subtract your gift aid from the Cost of Attendance, you are left with your remaining “Net Cost”. You can look to cover this amount with the “self-help aid”, using money you already have, or a combination of the two. This is the amount you must cover with money you either have now or expect in the future.

The self-help aid section is where any offered educational loans and Federal Work Study (FWS) will show up. While these options aren’t as preferable as free money, they may be a better option for many students/families than trying to pay out of pocket.

It’s important to know that while FWS is a form of financial aid, it does not credit your account like the other forms of aid do! Having FWS may help open up more employer doors on and around campus who will only hire FWS eligible students. The student still needs to find a job and earn the money which is paid via a bi-weekly paycheck. If you don’t work enough hours to receive your entire work study amount, you don’t receive it. Working is a good way to be able to supply yourself with spending money throughout the year, but it is not a reliable way to pay your Purdue bill since you receive FWS wages after the bill is already due.

 

The other type of self-help aid is the educational loan. Every loan is slightly different, both in interest and in the steps you need to take to receive it. Federal loans typically are preferable to private loans and often offer more flexible repayment options as well.

As you review the award notice and look up different Financial Aid Terms, keep in mind that grants and scholarships are types of gift aid that do not need to be repaid. Loans and work-study are types of self-help financial aid that must be repaid either in money or labor.

COA - EFC = Need

One question that often comes up is where the FAFSA fits into all of this? The FAFSA’s primary job is to create the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which reflects a family’s anticipated financial strength. The formula for financial need is made by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance. The remaining amount is the maximum amount of need-based aid a student is eligible for. This can be scholarships/ grants with a need requirement, subsidized loans, or Federal Work- Study. It is not guaranteed that your financial need will be filled with need-based aid.

Remember that even if you don’t think you will be eligible for need-based aid, you should still file the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov as some scholarships have it as one of their requirements!

Helping Students Find Scholarships

2 Feb

When many students hear the word “scholarship,” they mistakenly think it’s something reserved only for a select few. Here’s how you can discover the billions of dollars in scholarships available for individuals just like you.

  1. Complete the FAFSA

Like many other types of aid, a lot of scholarships require a completed FAFSA as part of their application requirements. Students are encouraged to visit fafsa.gov to get the process started.

  1. Secure Letters of Recommendation

A good word from the right source can go a long way in helping students stand out from the crowd when applying for scholarships. Approach teachers, coaches, employers, and advisors for a letter of recommendation at least a month before the application deadline—and be sure to include clear instructions on what’s required.

  1. Write a Unique Essay

A traditional part of the scholarship application, a written essay is a chance to shine a spotlight on an applicant’s unique situation. Take something interesting from your background and make it stand out. For example, have you had to overcome adversity in your life? Were you motivated by an awesome occurrence? It is recommended to have any drafts edited by a teacher or parent before submitting.

  1. Have All Documents Handy

Be aware of the documents you may need to complete any applications, such as high school transcripts, and keep both hard and electronic copies on hand. If not readily available, these documents may take some time to get, so it’s a good idea to get them in order early in the process.

  1. Look Locally

Check for any local scholarship opportunities in your High School guidance office or College financial aid office. Check with area civic organizations, churches, and other philanthropic groups to see what’s available.

  1. Utilize Online Scholarship Searches

There are a variety of websites available featuring extensive lists of scholarships. Here are some examples you can check out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Apply to Many, Focus on Few

As you dig into your searches, you may notice dozens of “no essay” or sweepstakes-type scholarships. While casting a wide net is good, narrowing the focus to the opportunities that match you best increases your chances of scholarship success.

Source: Help Your Students Find Scholarships, January 5, 2018. In Great Lakes Bulletin, January 9, 2018.  Great Lakes https://schools.mygreatlakes.org/web/FAP/index.html

 

Answering the Who, How & Why of FAFSA

25 Jan


Getting you through FAFSA, one question at a time.

  • Who
  • Who Should File a FAFSA?
    If you are interested in getting any Federal Financial Aid, including federal direct loans, you need to file the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov/to become eligible. Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans.  In addition, many colleges’ need-based scholarships rely on FAFSA information to verify that you are eligible. In short, everyone should file the FAFSA – even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any federal aid

 

  • Whose Information is used to File a FAFSA?
    This answer depends on if you are a dependent student or not. Unsure if you’re Dependent or Independent? Check here. (Note: this is not the same as being independent for tax filing)
    Dependent students:You need tax information for both you AND your parents. If your parents are divorced, you need the information on whoever you receive the most support (51%) from. Independent students: You only need your own information unless you are married. If so, you will need your spouse’s information as well.

 

 

 

  • What If Things Change After I File The FAFSA?
    If your family situation has a significant change after you’ve filed your FAFSA, and any time while you’re in school, stop by your Financial Aid office to see if you qualify for a “special circumstance”.  These could include job loss, divorce, and death of a parent, child birth or other unexpected situations that impact your financial status.

 

  • What Types of Federal Financial Aid are there?
    There are three main types of financial aid:
    Grants — Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid and are sometimes referred to as “gift aid”.  Grants are similar to scholarships, except that they are often for those who demonstrate financial need, where scholarships can be either merit-based or need-based.
    2. Educational Loans —The type you hear about most often.  Filling out the FAFSA is required to be eligible for Federal Direct loans.  Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans from lending institutions, because they have fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options.
    3. Federal Work Study (FWS) — Work-Study may provide you with more opportunities to find on-campus jobs. Rather than being given the funds in the beginning of the semester like loans and grants, FWS earnings are distributed to you as part of your paycheck.

 

 

  • Where Do I Get the School Code and FSA ID?
    You’ll need the school code for whatever schools you are interested in applying to. They are available here. Your Federal Student Aid FSA ID is used to login and electronically sign your FAFSA.  Set it up at here.

 

  • Where Do I Get Help?
    College Goal Sunday is a program held in Indiana and it provides FREE FAFSA filing assistance to students/families.  Find a location near you in some of the other participating states by going to http://formyourfuture.org/ and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  You can always call the Financial Aid office of your prospective school to ask questions as well.

 

  • When
  • When Can I start the FAFSA?
    You can begin the FAFSA any time after October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college. The FAFSA uses the student/parent tax information from two years ago.  This allows most families to use the IRS-DRT capabilities built into the FAFSA.

 

  • When is the FAFSA Due?
    If you are a Purdue student, the FAFSA priority filing date is March 1st, so be sure to have it done by then! Other colleges (and states) have their own priority dates. Check for deadlines here.

 

  • How
  • How Do I Get my Financial Aid?
    Your financial aid is sent directly to your school and they will apply it directly toward your billing and send any excess aid to you to be used for books and other education related expenses. The exception is Federal Work-Study which needs to be earned by working, and is paid via a paycheck.

 

  • How much is the Maximum That Can be Borrowed?
    Most students don’t know this, but there is a maximum amount of Federal Loans you can take out each year. There is also a maximum amount you can take throughout your college career! If you take the maximum amount for four years, there won’t be as much left for a fifth year if needed. Plan ahead! Remember: Everything you borrow you will have to pay back with interest for the next 10 (or more) years so become a responsible borrower.

 

  • Why
  • Why Should I Submit a FAFSA?
    Other than qualifying for grants and Federal Loans? Many state grants and institutional scholarships require FAFSA information being submitted. Your family may also experience one of the special circumstances discussed earlier. Even if you aren’t sure, it is always worth submitting a FAFSA!

Have more questions? Ask them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Understanding Your Financial Aid

4 Jan

Whether you are an incoming freshman or a returning senior, financial aid can be confusing. As financial aid counselors, there are things we really want all students to know. Here are the top five things this financial aid counselor wants you to know.

There is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive.

Every school will give you something along the lines of an “Estimated Cost of Attendance” or “Budget.” This is your limit on financial aid at your university and students cannot have financial aid over this amount. This amount will vary at different universities because it takes into account your tuition, room and board, and other estimated expenses that are specific to each university.5 Fin Aid things.jpg

There is a difference between your Estimated Cost of Attendance and your bill.

Your Cost of Attendance is a term that is interchangeable with ‘budget.’ It will include estimated costs for expenses like books and supplies, transportation, housing and food, miscellaneous costs, etc. . (Consider either using all double quotations or single quotations. Double quotations are used above for “Estimated Cost of Attendance” and “Budget” – which is also capitalized – but single quotations are used here for ‘budget’ – which is also lowercase in this instance.)

The university is not going to bill you for estimated miscellaneous costs. If you’re not living on campus, you will not be billed the amount for ‘room and board’ (quotes) on your Estimated Cost of Attendance. Your budget is a list of estimated expenses you may have for the year. Your bill is what you will actually owe. Your budget doubles as your financial aid limit, as mentioned previously, but it’s also a way for you to “budget” (quotes) for expenses that may pop up during the year.  In actuality, your bill will only be tuition and fees (and housing and food if you stay in a dormitory).

Financial aid counselors want you to understand this difference because we often see students taking out loans to cover their entire budget. In reality, these students could have saved themselves thousands of dollars had they known they wouldn’t be billed for their entire Cost of Attendance.

You can get a refund.

So why does your Cost of Attendance/budget even bother to include expenses you won’t be directly billed for? The answer is simple. It’s so you can get financial aid to help cover extra expenses, and this is done with a refund.

Since your budget includes costs like miscellaneous expenses, you may find that you have a budget of $20,000 when you only have a bill of $17,000. This means you potentially have financial aid $3,000 in excess of what you need to cover your bill. In a situation like this, the Bursar’s Office will issue you a refund check.

This refund can be used to help cover any of your academic expenses that you won’t be automatically billed for such as: books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. If you are staying off campus in an apartment, fraternity, or sorority, instead of living in a dormitory, this refund can also be used to help cover your off-campus rent.

Your grades really matter.

Believe it or not, grades actually matter when it comes to financial aid. Students must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible for financial aid. SAP is measured at the end of every semester, even if you didn’t take classes, and Purdue notifies you by email of your new SAP status. Purdue’s SAP Policy can be found online on the Division of Financial Aid website.

Withdrawing can impact your aid.

Another component of SAP is the component called “Pace” which dictates you must receive a passing grade in 2/3 of your attempted credits. Students often run afoul of this if they drop a couple courses for a W in one of their first semesters, pick up a couple F’s early on or have to withdraw from an entire semester. In upperclassmen years, this typically isn’t an issue to drop courses and take the W, however early on these credits make up a larger percent of your attempted credits. Unless it’s absolutely dire, we generally recommend to finish out the courses you start. After all, you’ll have to take care of them eventually.

There are no dumb questions.

We are here to help! We understand that financial aid is very confusing, especially if you are brand new student. It’s our job to answer any financial aid questions or help explain things that may seem confusing. Above all, we hate seeing a little issue turn into a big issue just because a student was scared or embarrassed to ask us a question. We’ll be excited that you are seeking more information, and you’ll never know unless you ask.

Are you a student at Purdue who has questions about financial aid? Please feel free to contact the Division of Financial Aid via email or phone.

6 Easy Money Saving Tips For All Students

2 Jan

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

 

Save Time and Money: Take 15 Credits!

28 Dec

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

One of the best things you can do for yourself in college is keeping yourself on track to graduate on time. Only 3 in 10 students in Indiana finishing their Bachelor’s degree within 4 years and that creates financial challenges for students who fall behind on graduation. Not averaging 15 credits per semester puts you off of a 4 year graduation plan which comes with a host of potential issues.

15 to finish Purdue.jpg

First and foremost is the cost of attending one extra year of college. An extra year at Purdue costs an extra $10,002 for in-state tuition ($28,804 for nonresident). Not to mention the costs of housing, food, books and other school supplies, and the cost of travelling home a few times per year. All in all, the estimated cost to be a Purdue student is $23,032 each year ($41,994 for nonresidents). That’s a lot of extra money to spend for the same degree that can be obtained in four years.

Remember: tuition at Purdue is at a flat rate for anyone taking 8 or more credits hours, so whether you’re attending part-time with 8 credits or are registered for 18 credits, the cost is the same!

If the extra tuition expenses isn’t enough of a downside for taking more than 4 years, the extra year lost also gives a couple other undesirable effects:

More time for student loan interest to accrue:
If you had borrowed all the $27,000 available to you in Federal Direct Loans for your first four years your balance on those loans would increase from $1,080 with an extra year of interest to accrue (assuming a 4% interest rate). This isn’t even considering any extra borrowing for the additional time or the interest that accrues during the repayment portion of the loan.

Lost wages and retirement: NerdWallet recently did a study into the impact of taking extra years to graduate. One extra year would result in approximately $46,355 in lost income and $82,074 in lost lifetime retirement savings!

Adding up the tuition paid, lost wages and retirement savings equals an incredible $138,431 for the extra year to get the degree ($157,233 for nonresident). Obviously this is not an ideal situation, so here are some tips to help keep you on track for graduating in four years!

So what can you do?

Take 15 credits every semester! Almost all degree require 120 credits which smoothly divides into eight semesters of 15 credits. While it might be tempting to take less credits your first semester or two, you’ll have to make those up another semester which you may regret when you’re taking those extra credits along with upper-level courses. Plus, students who start out at 15 credits per semester are more likely to graduate.

It may be obvious, but it’s important to pass your classes and earn grades that allow them to count for requirements. Many courses in your major or that you need for pre-reqs require you to earn Cs or higher to count. So contrary to what people may say, Ds do not really get degrees.

If you’ve fallen off the 15 credits per semester average, you can make either make it up during the summer or by taking extra credits in a fall/ spring semester. If the idea of taking 18 credits is a turn off, plan on taking summer courses! You can receive scholarships through both the financial aid office and the Think Summer office if you qualify.

Smart Money Moves for Your Intership Paycheck

21 Dec

Nathan Carmany, a Purdue Alumnus, is a Certified Financial Planner for Watermark Wealth Management

The spring semester is coming up quick. Companies are recruiting and having conversations with your professors about ideal candidates. You attend networking events, purchase new interview clothes, and hopefully land the perfect position for the summer. To stay ahead of your finances, you need to make a conscious plan for your earnings.internship txt crop.jpg

  1. PAY HIGH INTEREST RATE CREDIT CARDS 

The average balance for a college student in 2013 was $499. The average interest for student credit card interest is 13.42% stated as an APR, however, the effective rate after compounding daily is actually 14.34%. What better way to cut expenses than eliminating high interest obligations?

  1. CREATE A SPENDING PLAN

Consider creating a spending plan for the summer and school year to stretch the duration of the funds. Paul Arden stated, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” Think about what opportunities you may put into your own hand with a well thought out spending plan.

  1. PAY FOR YOUR SUMMER CLASSES

Don’t overlook that your credits for the summer internship can cost money. Why not use some of the funds to possibly pay for those? Reduction of your total amount borrowed before interest is capitalized and recommended for faster loan payoff.

  1. PREFUND YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

Seniors, set aside as much as you can. When you find your first apartment or home, somewhere the move will create an unplanned expense. Inevitably it happens, an extra day rental on the moving truck, needing kitchen utensils, towels, or boxes. The money will help cushion for the unplanned expense. Do not forget about the extra cost of hooking up utilities, cable, or the internet.

  1. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUNDgraph spending plan final.jpg

Traditional financial planning calls for 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for an emergency fund. Most people will experience at least one significant financial emergency in a three to five year period. It can be difficult for college students to save a full 6 months of living expenses, but setting aside a modest amount may prevent you from making a call to your parents when something comes up. Like my grandmother taught me, place the money in a zip lock bag and freeze it in a container of water, then see how easy it is to impulse spend!

  1. CONTRIBUTE TO A ROTH

The sooner retirement savings start; the less you have to save over the rest of your life. The compounding of gains and interest early on are difficult to make up if you delay contributing until later in life. By saving it in a Roth IRA, the earnings are tax free after age 59.5, as long a Roth account was opened 5 years ago or longer. That 5 year clock begins with the first contribution to your Roth. If you need access to the money, contributions are removed first without any penalty.

  1. PAY DOWN STUDENT LOANS

Hopefully, you have been informed about the inability for most borrowers to ever declare this type of debt in bankruptcy and that prolonged periods of missed payments will lead to wage garnishment, a much larger loan balance, and the destruction of your credit score. The grace period on most student loans expires 6 months after graduation. Interest is capitalized (meaning that it is added to the loan balance) at that point unless you qualify under a different exemption. Paying down unsubsidized loans (make sure your loan servicer allocate it properly) with your earnings before the end of the grace period is a great way to cut the overall cost of the loan.

Wrap Up

Think about your upcoming needs for the summer, school year, or beyond graduation. Pick one of the ideas to best suit your needs and work on an implementation plan. No matter which idea you execute, a well thought out plan will serve you well.

4 Financial Goals You Can Actually Achieve in 2018

19 Dec

Did you know that January 17th is known as “Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day?” Most people start the new year with big, lofty goals and they quickly come to realize they bit off more than they can chew. According to the University of Scranton, around 40% of Americans usually make new year’s resolutions. Of that 40%, only 8% say they actually meet their goals.

The key to having successful resolutions is to make sure they are simple and achievable. Rather than setting a goal, such as “lose 10 pounds”, try to set a smaller resolution that you can control like, “go to the gym at least 3 days a week”.

In 2016, over 30% of Americans had a resolution to save more and spend less. In order to move closer to that goal, it’s important to set simple, achievable resolutions that will improve your finances. If you’re unsure where to start, try making any of these attainable goals your resolutions for 2017.

Saving Your Coffee Money
Coffee is a morning staple for so many people. However, those daily visits to your favorite shop can add up quickly. An average transaction at Starbucks this past year was nearly $9, that adds up to a whopping $2,340 a year! In 2018, set a goal to make your coffee at home. A new automatic coffee maker can be a great investment to ensure you get your coffee without having to spend the extra time and money every morning. Coffee isn’t usually what busts most people’s budgets, but it’s an easy place to start if you want to watch your spending.

Cut One Service You Don’t Use
That $20 charge for a music-streaming service may not seem that expensive, but if you’re not using it, then you’re just wasting money you could actually be saving. Try laying out all of the expenses you have for services like these, in order of most used to least. For next year, cancel the service you least used this past year. Even if it’s only $20, it can lead up to $240 per year in savings! With technology improving more and more for streaming TV shows and movies, it may be time to finally cancel that cable subscription.

Understand Your Debt
Nearly every American will deal with debt at some point in their lives. From student loan debt to mortgages, it’s important to understand not only how much debt you have, but where it is and how it’s affecting your life. With the rising student loan debt each year, it’s important for graduates to understand each loan and how much their payments will be. To get ready for 2017, make a spreadsheet with all of the loan payments you have (education, car, home, etc.) and how much you can contribute each month to pay them off as quickly as possible. The sooner you pay them off, the more money you will save over the life of the loan. Also, the faster those loans are paid off, the quicker you can spend that money on something like retirement or that vacation you’ve always wanted. There are now even more services for graduates that allow to you refinance your loans, for a lower rate and even the ability to adjust or skip your monthly payment.

Brown Bag It
Grabbing that delicious salad from your favorite cafe may seem like a great idea in the moment, but doing that throughout the week can lead to a big chunk taken out of your bank account. The average lunch in the United States is around $10, so if you eat out every day of the week, excluding weekends, you will be spending around $2,600 a year just on lunch. For 2017, start bringing your lunch to work or school, rather than eating out, and watch just how much you save. Also, by making your lunch at home, you have the ability to control the portions and health benefits of your food.

Ultimately, whatever goals you hope to meet in 2017, just be sure that you make simple resolutions that you can actually achieve. Just like the fable The Tortoise and the Hare says, “slow and steady wins the race!”

Congratulations Graduates!

15 Dec

Congratulations and well wishes to all those graduating this weekend! 

graduation cap.png

The Cost of Having a Pet In College

12 Dec

I have always had pets in my life. And I didn’t realize how much having a pet in the house meant to me until I moved out and didn’t have a pet of my own. Two weeks into living away from my parents and all of their pets (none of them could be separated to come with me) I started craving a furry companion.

I started thinking I wanted a dog, but then after considering (some) of the financial costs, I opted for a cat. Now, my cat turned to be an expensive little guy because of unexpected health issues (just my luck!) and I’ll be honest, I wasn’t financially savvy when picking out a pet.

But, I’m going to share with you expenses you should take into consideration before impulsively getting a pet that will hopefully help you make the wisest financial choice.

dog laying on pink quilt

Initial Start-up Costs

Chances are you don’t have a spare kennel, litter box, litter, food, food bowls, toys, nail clippers, etc. just lying around. But, good for you if you do! Depending on what type of pet you get and what its living conditions will be (can it just roam freely or does it need to be kenneled/in a cage because it’s a rat or amphibian), your immediate expenses will vary drastically.

Also, some apartment complexes and landlords have you put down an extra pet deposit (typically anywhere from $150-$300) and add additional charges to your rent each month per pet in your house. And you do have to report any pets you have since not doing so would be a violation of your lease and could potentially get you evicted.

Getting Your Pet

If you decide to a purebred Pomeranian, you’re going to be spending a LOT of money. It may be your dream doggie, but is that really how you should be spending your money during college? There are a few local shelters in our area and they have adorable, adoptable dogs. Other shelters have both cats and dogs that are available for adoption.

There are many benefits to adopting a pet rather than buying a pet, but for the sake of this article we are going to talk about expense. Adopting a dog from Natalie’s Second Chance costs $125 for adult dogs and $150 for puppies, this fee includes spaying/neutering, up-to-date vaccines (except rabies), and a microchip.

Getting all of these things done on your own (like I did) can cost upwards of $200 and that’s not even including an adoption fee! Almost Home Humane Society did not have prices for their adoptions listed on their website, but they also have an “adoption package” that provides things like spaying/neutering and up-to-date vaccines.

cat hiding under chair

Medical Expenses

Kittens and puppies are baby animals; and like baby humans they require vaccines. All pets need to be vaccinated young and then have yearly booster shots, this is essential to them staying healthy.

Sometimes pets get sick, and unfortunately that comes with expenses as well. Emergency trips to the vet aren’t cheap, and you should remember that when deciding if you’re really going to be able to care for that adorable kitten at Pet Smart. And don’t forget treating them for fleas!

It may seem expensive to buy their flea treatment every month, but flea prevention is much less expensive than flea extermination.

Time

No matter what type of pet you choose, taking care of that pet will require a lot of time and patience. Dogs need to be walked, potty trained, bathed, taken to the vet, crate trained, fed, and played with. Cats need trips to the vet, cleaned, litter boxes cleaned, and lots of attention.

You can’t simply get an animal and expect it to take care of itself. And in college, do you really have the time you need to take care of a pet? To cover the expenses of a pet, you may need to pick up additional hours at work, but then when will you walk Fido? Getting a pet means you will have to work your schedule to include both your needs and theirs, while also having the funds to take care of both.

Maybe you have a roommate or significant other who would be willing to lend a hand in more stressful or urgent situations; but, the pet will become your responsibility, so you should make sure you have the proper time to care for it. (And if you’re going in with a friend or significant other for the pet, make sure you understand what’s expected from each of you before you bring your new friend home.)

2 cats sitting on stairs

These are just a few tips to get you thinking about your choice in getting a pet. Having a pet is great and it teaches responsibility… But, it also costs money and you have to think about if you’ll be able to afford giving this pet the home it really deserves.

If you’ve decided you really can’t afford a pet while you’re in college, one thing you can do is volunteer at either of the shelters listed above. This is a really good way to get the furry friend experience and you’ll be giving back to the community. Be sure and visit their websites for more information!

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