How to survive college on a budget

Budgeting: students either love or hate it.

We’ve all got that one friend, let’s call him Mike. The first thing Mike did was he didn’t take out enough financial aid to cover his tuition and mandatory fees.

Mike had grants that covered part of his costs, but since he didn’t take out any loans, he now has late fees sitting on his account because his tuition and fees weren’t paid on time.

Mike could have avoided all this if he had borrowed a little bit in student loans to pay his balance before the late fees began accruing.

But Mike’s troubles didn’t end there.

Mike tends to enjoy the finer things in life. He can’t start his day without a venti London fog latte from Starbucks at about $4.50 a pop. When he goes to class, he stays fresh with all the new gear from his most recent online shopping bender. Oh, and did we mention his social life? Without a doubt, every Thursday you can count on Mikey to run the party.

But, now it’s February. Punxsutawney Phil has told the world that there will be six more weeks of winter.

And guess what? Mike’s broke.

A financial aid adviser told Mike about the Loan Action Request Form on under “forms,” which means that Mike can request loans that he originally declined or were canceled.

Without a plan or a steady income, his refund check baller status has been revoked. Now maybe Mike will be OK. Maybe his friends will help him through, and maybe he’s got a meal plan that he can use to put a few hot meals together. But just know that with a little foresight and proper guidance Mike could have been living like a prince all semester instead of like a king for two months.

Now, if you’re reading this and you recognize Mike, please take a few minutes to read on and see how you can help. But if Mike doesn’t sound familiar at all, that probably means that in your group of friends, even if your name is Mya, you are our metaphorical Mike. Please, for your own good, keep reading.

The purpose of this manifesto is really twofold. Have you heard of CougLink? WSU and Pullman alike have plenty of part-time jobs. The great majority of which are flexible and can offer you great experience.

Mike is looking into applying for work-study for the 2015-16 year. He already meets two of the requirements: filling out the FAFSA by Feb. 15 and choosing “yes” on the FAFSA question where it asks if you want to participate in work-study.

Now for the budget.

The advisers at Student Financial Services on campus can help Mike make a budget based on what he received in financial aid. This means that Mike can now budget monthly, weekly and even daily with his refund check.

The U.S. Department of Education also offers Financial Awareness Counseling, which has helpful tips and tricks too that can be found at

Mike should cut some corners because he has to re-budget each semester based on what he receives in financial aid.

This is the advice we would probably give your boy “Big Mike.” Even $5 a day on those scrumptious sugary delights from Starbucks comes out to $35 a week and a whopping $1,820 a year. Just brew on your own.

Even a bulk package of K-Cups would save you money here. Up next, just because you have a card number, doesn’t mean you have to spread it all over Amazon. And please know that free shipping isn’t a good reason to buy something that you don’t need in the first place. Start from there and keep on moving. Finally, even if you achieve legendary status only one Thursday out of the month, people will still like you. We promise.

These are just a few of our general tips to help you and your friend Mike manage your finances. You’ll see more from the Student Financial Services office throughout the year. We want you to know that it is OK to be a “broke” college student. If you don’t have it just say you don’t have it. Use what you have and leave the rest.

For more insiders advice on making your dollars last, money management, financial tools and help finding scholarships, internships and jobs, visit