Back To School – Get Your Educational Finances In Order

by Mike Holman

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This post is part of a project by the Personal Finance Network – see the other posts in this series at the bottom of the page.

If you are heading off to some sort of post-secondary education this fall such as college or university and you have funds available to draw upon then it is important to get your educational finances organized.

How much money will you need?

At this point you should have a pretty good idea of the main costs you will have to pay. Expenses like tuition, rent, food, books, booze can either be researched or estimated.

Scholarships, Grants, Student loans

Do some research to find out if there is any free money available for your studies.

How much money do you have?

Add up all your funding sources: bank accounts, scholarships, gifts from relatives, educational accounts and figure out how much money you have. Do you have enough? I hope so because it’s probably too late to do anything about it now if you don’t! :)

Specified Educational Plans such as RESP, 529, ESA and TSP accounts

If you have money in an RESP, 529 plan, ESA or TSP account which are investment accounts designated for educational uses then you need to do the following:

  • Check your documentation and verify how much money is in the accounts.
  • Make sure you know how to get money out of the accounts when needed. Do you need receipts?
  • Find out if there are any restrictions on the withdrawals from these accounts.
  • If someone else owns the account then work out how you can get the money from them when needed.
  • If you are making withdrawals then these accounts should already be in short term fixed income investments such as high interest savings account or short term CDs or GICs. If not then switch them over today! You can’t afford to weather a big market drop right now.

Regular investment or savings account.

  • Verify amounts of money in these accounts.
  • Make sure you can access these funds.
  • Should not own any equities in this account at this point in time.

Check out the other posts in this series:

Blunt Money wrote “An empty wallet isn’t required for back to school“.

Moneyning did “Frugally and Happily Back To School 9 Different Ways“.

Cleverdude wrote about “Work, Life and School for Graduate Students“.

Squawkfox tells us about “Dorm Room Essentials Checklist“.

Canadian Capitalist has some ideas on “Saving on Textbooks“.

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Want to learn more about RESPs? Buy The Book:

Resp-Book

The RESP Book: The Simple Guide to Registered Education Savings Plans

Everything you need to know about RESPs.

See it on Amazon now

Welcome to Money Smarts! If you're new here, please read the "About" page to find out more about this site. If you would like to receive updates by email then sign up here or you can subscribe to the RSS feed. Thanks for visiting!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Jerry

This may not apply to Canadian readers, but it is an example… I am a US military veteran, and the month of September will lead me into medical school. I have been looking for ways to pay for tuition, because I was not eligible for the traditional GI Bill benefits. I did some research online and discovered that there is a NEW GI Bill for veterans who served post-9/11, and it looks like I am eligible for college money through that program starting next August. This makes a big difference for my family, and it just goes to show that is can pay to look around for additional funds and scholarships!
Jerry

2 Four Pillars

Jerry – congrats on getting into med school!

Mike

3 Adam

Let’s not forget to compare insurance policies and ask for discounts. Even if you don’t have a car and instead drive a moped around campus, you can get quotes from your local insurance agents to find the best deals.

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