Money Tips for Students

Differentiate needs and wants
One step to financial security is learning the difference between a need and a want, according to the Kentucky Higher Education Assistance Authority (KHEAA). Students who learn that difference find their bank accounts grow more quickly.

Needs include clothes, food and, for many students, transportation. A want may mean wearing designer items that cost more than clothes that last just as long and look just as good. Students might want to eat a deluxe cheeseburger every day, even though they can save money by making their own sandwich. If a student needs a car, a want would be a new sports convertible instead of a reliable, used car with good gas mileage.

Before making a purchase, students should ask themselves if they can get by with a less expensive item — or without that item completely. They should save the money they don’t spend so it’s there when they really need something. 

Watch out for cyber thieves
Students must be careful about protecting their personal information. The following tips can help. 

  • Never provide Social Security, bank account or credit card numbers in response to a phone call, text or email. Links in a text or email from a bank or company may lead to a fake site run by thieves hoping people will enter personal information. Unknown links may install spyware or malware on smartphones or computers. Instead, sign in through the firm’s official website normally to do business.
  • Never provide bank, credit card or other sensitive data on a website that doesn’t explain how personal information will be protected, including encryption to safely transmit and store data.
  • When using an ATM or debit card, make sure no one can see your PIN. Check ATMs for obvious signs of tampering or for a skimming device.
  • Install a free or low-cost firewall to stop intruders from gaining remote access to personal devices. Download and update security patches offered by operating systems and software vendors to correct weaknesses that could be exploited.

Take FAFSA seriously
The federal government requires many students who submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to verify the information included on the FAFSA. 

Used to apply for most federal and many state student aid programs, FAFSA asks detailed questions about the income and financial resources of students. The parents of dependent students must also provide that information. Students are considered dependent if they are undergraduates under 24 years old, not married, have no dependents, are not veterans, or were not orphans or wards of the court until age 19.

The college or an agency working with the school will let students know if their information is being verified. Students and parents need to take this process seriously, according to KHEAA. Students chosen for verification cannot receive their financial aid until they complete the verification process. Don’t put it off.

KHEAA is a public, non-profit agency established in 1966 to improve students’ access to college. It provides information about financial aid and financial literacy at no cost to students and parents. For more information see