Jan 262005
Authors: Lindsay Reiter


Phone Numbers to call for help:

Consumer Credit Counseling Service 229-0695

Student Financial Services 491-6321

Alex Nelson came to CSU last fall and found out how hard it can be to budget money.

"I didn't have a job for awhile and I was still spending a lot of money. I didn't think about what I was spending my money on as much as I did before I came to college," said Nelson, a freshman business major.

Soon after realizing that his funds were quickly depleting, Nelson stopped spending so much money and found a job.

Many students, though, continue to spend money and end up broke and in debt with nowhere to turn for help. Tuition, rent and medical bills are among the top causes of student debt.

For people in this situation, there are many places to go. The Consumer Credit Counseling Service, 1247 Riverside Ave., offers advice and counseling to anyone who needs help managing their debt.

"We see a lot of students struggling with their monthly income. More students come at the end of the semester when their student loan money runs out," said Sara Allen, executive director of The Consumer Counseling Service.

Allen has found many college students accumulate the majority of their debt from using credit cards.

"It is so easy to get credit cards as a student. It sounds like a good idea to have one for emergencies. But all of a sudden late night pizza becomes an emergency," Allen said.

Allen advises students to "look for ways to pay more than the minimum payment. You'll basically never pay it off because when you do that you are barely paying off the interest."

Jennifer Tolson, a sophomore business major, keeps things simple by only carrying one credit card.

"I don't like to have lots of credit cards. I'm pretty good with my money and I watch what I spend. I know my limit," Tolson said.

Allen said students need to pay extra attention to their credit card bills and their due dates to avoid having to pay late fees.

"Lots of students get tripped up on late fees and it is easy to mess up your credit rating if you get late fees," Allen said.

There are ways for students to spend less money while going to school. Many forms of financial aid, such as loans, grants and scholarships are available.

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) must be filled out for students to be considered for financial aid from the government, and the Colorado State University Scholarship Application (CSUSA) needs to be completed before students will be considered for scholarships from the university. Links to both applications can be found on RAMweb (www.ramweb.colostate.edu).

"If you want to maximize your chances of getting good financial aid complete the applications by March 1. We start awarding financial aid in March," said Christie Leighton, associate director of Student Financial Services.

Leighton also stressed the fact that they never run out of Pell Grants and student loans. She explained the process they use to determine how much money is given to each student.

"To reward financial aid we figure out how much it costs each student to go to school and live. We figure out what their budget is and take into consideration information we get from FAFSA and give financial awards based on that information," Leighton said.

A student's parents' income is also a factor in determining what type of financial aid is given. If parents have a higher income they are offered more loans. If they have a lower income they are offered grants, which is money given to students that does not have to be paid back. They can also be granted work-study, a program in which students work to earn the amount awarded.

"It is important to make the deadlines. Don't decide you're not eligible for financial aid. Maximize your chances and fill out all of the applications," Leighton said.

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