Decisions you make about handling your money before and during college can have a huge impact on your future. Be sure to educate yourself about options and be consistent in making informed financial decisions.

Budgeting Tips

  • List sources of income such as scholarships, loans, money from jobs, cash from parents, etc. 
  • Determine expenses such as tuition, books, groceries, rent/utilities, entertainment, etc. 
  • Organize your expenses per month, per semester, and categorize them by flexible (entertainment, groceries) and fixed (tuition, rent). 
  • Prioritize your spending needs.
  • Check monthly bank statements and balance your accounts so you avoid spending when you don’t have the means, and stay away from those non-sufficient funds (NSF) fees.
  • Ask other students about unforeseen expenses so you can make adjustments accordingly. 
  • Budget carefully knowing how long your money needs to stretch i.e. a month, semester, year, etc.
  • Be willing to sacrifice that dinner out, new clothing, or that weekend road trip if you need funds for an area of higher priority. 
  • As money comes in allocate it to different areas such as spending, saving, investing, and/or giving.

Save Money!

  • Avoid carrying around too much spare cash. It has a habit of disappearing.
  • Buy used textbooks where possible and investigate resources before making your purchase.
  • If you can save by limiting your data usage, look into that.
  • Don’t pay dues to join an organization unless you plan to be active in it. 
  • Cut back on gas. Use the MTD buses, a bicycle, or some other form of transportation.
  • Stock up on snacks at the grocery store to avoid using vending machines. If you have a meal plan maximize it as best as you can. 
  • Take advantage of student discounts where possible. Some places may include restaurants, theaters, insurance, etc.
  • Clip coupons and check out daily deals. Wherever you can save, do it! 
  • Get organized so you can avoid late fees for credit cards, rentals, book returns, etc. 
  • Be careful with credit cards. Only charge what you can pay. Many cards come with annual fees so be sure to investigate hidden costs.


University of Illinois Extension Office – 217-333-7672
Trained professionals and peers are available to address any money management concerns or advice you may need to become more financially fit.

Office of Student Financial Aid – 217-333-0100