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Your Financial Success

Strategies you can use as an IU student

Once you’re an IU student, the opportunities to save money don’t end. Follow these additional strategies to make sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.

Be sure to file a FAFSA before April 15 to be considered for financial aid for the following academic year. You can file as early as October 1.

File your FAFSA

Incoming freshmen aren’t the only ones who have scholarship opportunities. Keep looking for continuing student scholarships throughout your college education. Be sure to check for both IU scholarships and non-IU scholarships—organizations in your hometown or in the academic and career area you’ve chosen are excellent places to start.

Look for scholarships

One credit hour costs a few hundred dollars for in-state students and more than a thousand dollars for out-of-state students—so if you miss a class, it’s like throwing cash away. And if you miss too many classes, you may fail the class, which could delay your graduation and rack up even more costs.

Learn how much it costs to attend IU

With IU’s banded tuition rate, you can take up to 18 credit hours for the same price as 12. Two extra classes a semester can really make a difference if you want to graduate in four years (or less). Adding extra semesters will increase the overall amount you end up paying.

If you don’t pay attention to the total you’ve borrowed over the years, you may be surprised by how much you owe, how big your payments will be, and how long it’ll take you to pay your loans off. Pay attention to the loan letters you receive from us, and check the National Student Loan Data System to see how much you’ve borrowed.

Purchase a campus meal plan—and fully use it, buy snacks at the grocery store instead of a convenience store, and cook for yourself. Dinner out can get expensive quickly. And do you really need that bottled water or daily latte from Starbucks? Carry your own refillable container for water, and make your coffee at home. If you spend just $4 on coffee on your way to class each day, you’ll spend nearly $300 in a single semester. And that’s if you buy coffee only on days classes are in session!

And if you buy, make sure you sell them back at the end of the semester, rather than giving them away or hanging onto them. (Are you really going to look at that introductory biology text again?)

Sell or rent textbooks

You’ll save hundreds over what you’d pay for gas, maintenance, and parking on campus. And there’s no guarantee of a parking spot close to your classes. Remember, campus buses are free to all and Bloomington Transit buses are free to students with a valid IU student ID.

Never pay full price for your clothes. You can be stylish while still finding good deals at stores like Plato’s Closet and Goodwill or at sales in mall or department stores. Bloomington has several stores with interesting upscale and vintage clothing, such as Vintage Vogue by GW and Cactus Flower on Kirkwood.

Start paying interest on unsubsidized loans

Unlike a subsidized loan, the government begins charging interest on a federal direct unsubsidized loan as soon as the money is paid to you. You can start paying interest while you’re in school, or you can capitalize it (add it to the principal amount).

Capitalizing interest lets you defer interest payments while you’re in school. That means the interest gets added to your principal—so the next time interest is calculated, you’ll be paying interest on that interest.

See it in action

Ray is a freshman and needs to take out an unsubsidized loan, but he’s not sure how much deferring interest payments for four years will cost him. Here’s how he worked out the numbers:

Paying versus deferring interest
CategoryInterest paidInterest deferred
Loan amount$5,500$5,500
Interest charged (first 48 months)$944$1,024
Interest paid (first 48 months)$944$0
Principal to be repaid after 48 months$5,500$6,524
Interest paid during loan repayment$1,274$1,510

Total repayment cost

$6,774

$8,034

Monthly payment$57$67
Years to pay off1010

By paying interest while he was still in school, Ray saved $316 in interest charges.

Get a job

If you can, work part time while you’re in school and full time over the summer. Some employers may even let you work full-time during spring break or the winter holidays—those few extra weeks may make a big difference. Not only will the money you earn help you pay for your education, but balancing schoolwork and a job also helps you build time-management skills and good habits.

See it in action

Undergraduate student Pam decided to take out a Federal Direct Subsidized Loan with a 4.29 percent interest rate. She needed $3,500, and her plan was to take out $2,000 and get a part-time job to make up the difference. She planned to pay about $52 a month after graduation. Here’s what she found:

No job versus part-time job
CategoryNo jobPart-time job
Loan amount$3,500$2,000
Salary$0$1,500
Interest paid$517$157

Total repayment cost

$4,017

$2,157

Years to pay off6.53.5

By borrowing $1,500 less, Pam will save $360 in interest and pay off her loan three years sooner without increasing her planned monthly payment.

The number one strategy for after you leave school

Repay your loans quickly. It goes without saying that the faster you repay your loans, the less interest they’ll accrue. And there’s no penalty for paying most educational loans early, including federal direct loans.

Learn more about repaying loans