USC Credit Union Blog

USC Credit Union Blog

How to Graduate From College Debt-Free (and Regret-Free)

Posted by Pierce Conway on Sep 15, 2016 11:00:00 AM

Tips from an author who's been there, done that.

Heeding the classic advice to write what you know, Kristina Ellis wrote her first book, 2013’s Confessions of a Scholarship Winner, about how she raked in a reported $500,000 in scholarships to put herself through Vanderbilt University and then graduate school. In a just-released sequel, How to Graduate Debt Free, she shares her advice on borrowing (or better yet, not borrowing) to pay for college. MONEY asked Ellis about how students and parents can make the right decisions now—and maybe avoid some big regrets down the road.

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21 Tips To Save Money at USC

Posted by Pierce on Feb 23, 2016 11:09:02 AM

Living in Los Angeles and being a student at USC can get very expensive. A budget is necessary for students to avoid getting themselves into a cycle of debt.

The most important step a student can take in being financially responsible is becoming aware of how they spend their money. Make your money go further with these money-saving tips custom for SC students!

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Smart ways to save money at school without ruining your college fun — or going hungry

Posted by Cal on Oct 17, 2014 3:27:00 PM


Don’t worry – this isn’t going to be one of those posts that tell you you’re a big boy/girl now, and have to stop being irresponsible with money.

I won’t tell you to stop buying overpriced lattes, $11 nachos at midnight, or comfy college sweatshirts because those things are largely what college is all about.

What I will tell you is that the post-college years can really stink when you’re broke. Actually, worse than broke — so far in debt that you feel like you’re working for nothing but your bills.

So here’s how to give your future finances a fighting chance, and get through college without making those clichéd money mistakes of running up credit card debt and blowing through all the summer job money you earned folding shirts at The Gap…

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24 Ways to Save Money in College

Posted by Alexa on Aug 18, 2014 10:22:00 AM

Ever hear the phrase "starving student?" Well, it didn't come from nowhere (and certainly not a fat-cat). College students are notoriously broke, but it doesn't have to be that way. These 25 tips will put more (er, some) money in your pocket.

1. Make a Budget, Check It Twice

This is number one on our list for a reason. It's easy to let money fritter away. Thou Shalt Not Fritter. A nightclub cover charge here, a dinner out with friends there, a book you didn't know you had to buy for class thrown in the mix and suddenly all the money you have for the month vanishes in a cloud of shame.

Getting a basic idea of how much you're spending each month and where you can cut back is one of the most fundamental financial lessons you'll learn while in college. This worksheet will help you brainstorm your expenses while Mint.com can track your spending.

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When Should You Start Saving for College?

Posted by Alexa on Aug 13, 2014 10:40:00 AM

Congratulations! You’re starting a family. In addition to managing midnight feedings and figuring out how to get baby slobber off your work clothes, you’ve got some serious financial considerations to work through. That little bundle of joy in the bassinet is going to be headed off to college before you know it, so it’s never too soon to start thinking about how to pay for it.

So when should you start saving for your kid’s college? The short answer is, as soon as possible. The long answer? Well…

What to do before you start saving

Yes, it’s important to start saving for college early, but many experts say you need to place equal if not greater importance on your own retirement plans. After all, there are other options for paying for college, but your only option without any retirement savings is to a) keep working or b) get by on meager social security payments.  College can be paid for with loan programs, scholarships and grants. Retirement cannot.

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A Crash Course in College Moving: 12 Tips To Get You on Your Way

Posted by Alexa on Aug 11, 2014 9:31:00 AM

Just when you thought the trickiest parts of making the transition from high school to college were over (testing, applications, interviews) the reality of packing up your life and moving to college is quickly sinking in. While moving might seem fun and exciting at first, you’ll soon realize that the preparation for college dorm life can be a challenge. With these helpful tips, moving to college might be the easiest thing you’ll do all year.

1. Sort it out

Before you start packing, organize all your belongings and separate the items you want to leave home. Remember that college dorm rooms are usually cramped, so only pack essentials. If you find a bunch of items you want to get rid of, relegate them to donation boxes or have a yard sale.

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The New Freshman 15: Financial Tips for College Students

Posted by Alexa on Jul 23, 2014 9:34:00 AM

Forget the "freshman 15," the dreaded additional pounds freshmen frequently pack on when they settle into life on their own. More important are the 15 smart financial moves you need to know to get through freshman year and beyond without racking up unnecessary debt. 

"Waiting until after college to take control of your finances could cost you," says Nick Certo, senior vice president in University Banking at PNC Bank. "And like any good fitness regimen, getting started is half the battle."

Here's how to pass finance 101.

1. Be careful with credit

Free T-shirts are the late-night burritos of finances, Certo says. "They look good now, but you'll pay later. Think twice before signing up just to score some cool swag," he says.

It's not worth it to saddle yourself with a high-interest, annual-fee credit card that you don't need. Buy a T-shirt instead, and your bank account will thank you later, says Jackie Warrick, the chief savings officer at CouponCabin.com.

Remember that a credit card doesn't equal free money. If you can handle a credit card, start with a $1,000-limit card that offers points or other rewards and pay your balance monthly. "Don't look at your credit limit as a goal for spending," says Steve Weisman, a senior lecturer at Bentley University. "Carrying too high a balance on your card can hurt your credit and cost you more." Late fees can add up quickly. 

Research which card makes the most sense given your spending habits and paying ability. Look at the annual percentage rate, annual fee, grace period and penalty fees, says Todd Mark, vice president of education for Consumer Credit Counseling Service of Greater Dallas.

Also, keep track of your credit score and your credit report

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