Four words wrapped in a big white envelope initiate the start of your next chapter: Congratulations, you’ve been accepted! College is an opportunity to further your educational career, explore new adventures and determine your path. However, the cost to do so can be surprising.

A 2021 survey found 38% of high school students and 25% of parents believe the total cost of one year of tuition is $5,000 at most. This is significantly lower than the actual price of many four-year schools for the 2021-2022 year, with public colleges averaging $10,388 in-state and $22,698 out-of-state, and private colleges averaging $38,185.1 In addition to tuition fees, other expenses are tacked onto your payment, including housing, transportation, books and meal plans.

To make the most of your college experience while keeping costs in perspective, use our checklist below of six financial steps to take once you’re accepted.

  • Buckle Down and Budget
  • From school supplies to dorm room essentials and social activities, college students have a seemingly endless list of costs. It is important to understand the funds you are working with at the start of the academic year to plan how you will use them. Start by making a list of all of your expenses (groceries, entertainment, gas, etc.) compared to any income you are receiving. If the expenses outweigh your income, you may need to scale back on spending.
  • Need a little help covering college costs? An APGFCU Education Loan could help you finance tuition, fees, books and supplies, and room and board with competitive rates as low as 2.99% APR.2 And if you need more help, you can add on to your loan each semester or year. Learn more.
  • Study up on Credit
  • Preparing for the future is what college is all about, and what better way to gear up for a bright tomorrow than establishing credit today? Your credit score is 35% dependent on your credit history,3 so applying for a beginner credit card, using it for routine fees such as gas or groceries, and paying the bill off immediately can be a great way to build your score.
  • The APGFCU® Visa® Platinum Preferred Student or Starter Credit Card offers students new to credit a simplified way to cover costs, earn and redeem points for valuable rewards, and build credit with competitive rates and fees. Visit our website to learn more. 
  • Keep Financial Aid on Course
  • Receiving financial aid through loans, scholarships, grants or work-study jobs can help lower the cost of tuition and fees. It is important to remain in communication with the financial aid office before you head to campus and throughout your time at college to understand the terms of your offer, any required academic criteria to maintain your standing and repayment terms.
  • APGFCU has partnered with Sallie Mae® to help you get the money you need for higher education. Whether you’re an undergrad or graduate student, Sallie Mae education loans are designed to help you earn your degree with competitive interest rates, multiple repayment options and no origination or prepayment fee. Discover our 1-2-3 step approach to paying for college and learn how we can help you finance your next step.
  • Avoid Scams
  • As college is a new environment, scammers may target seemingly impressionable students with various ploys, including scholarship and financial aid, employment, credit card, apartment, textbook and social media scams. To avoid falling for a scam:
    • Never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know
    • Don’t access personal accounts on public Wi-Fi
    • Make sure all of your accounts are private and secure
    • Do your research before providing sensitive information, applying for jobs or creating accounts
  • Get Involved on Campus
  • Exploring jobs around campus can help you cover certain costs and lighten the load of your degree. Plus, it can be a great way to meet new peers and make connections! Seek out your college’s student employment office to determine which positions you are eligible to apply for. Or, network with other students to find new opportunities.
  • Cut Down on Costs
  • Textbooks are a necessity – new textbooks may not be. Purchasing used textbooks can be a great way to save money without sacrificing your education. Likewise, you may be able to get great dorm essentials and furnishings at second-hand stores, rather than buying new.

College can be expensive, but there are several ways you can reduce excessive costs and save big. Visit our website for more information on financing your next step.

All loans subject to credit approval.

2APR = Annual Percentage Rate. The rates stated are available on approved credit. Rates may be different as determined by the individual creditworthiness of each applicant. Not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate.