Student Finances Without Family

Student Finances Without Family

by Alicia Natividad
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A lot of people are fortunate enough to say that family is something that they can rely on. Family can be and often is a huge part of a student’s financial support. Student loan and financial aid services look at family income when determining how much a student receives. Often times, any other expenses that aren’t covered by financial aid services are most likely taken care of by a student’s parents or guardians.

It’s safe to say that when you’re young, and especially when you’re young and pursuing a post-secondary education, it’s almost a given that you’ll be relying on family to help out with your finances. But what if you have no support from family? What can you do if you’re in the unfortunate situation in which you cannot financially depend on your family?

Take Stock

Before making any important decisions, first consider your situation and what might be the best option. If you want to pursue a post-secondary education, there are a lot of factors to consider. Should you go to college or university? Maybe an online education would be better? Should you study nearby or farther away? Should you go to school now or should you work and save up money? Or should you go to school and work at the same time? Should you study full-time or part-time? Every situation is different so what’s the right choice for someone else may not be the right choice for you. Try to choose the most realistic and viable option that does not completely compromise what you want.

Some Obvious Difficulties

It can be challenging to convince financial aid services that you’re not receiving any financial support from your family. Unfortunately, it’s common to be unable to get the exact amount of financial aid that you need. Sometimes, applying for scholarships, bursaries and loans is all you can do to get some extra outside help. There are plenty of scholarships and bursaries that are based on merit alone and not your family’s income. Doing research on what rewards and scholarships you could qualify for will be extremely beneficial in this situation. Afterwards, a day-to-day challenge will be minimizing spending outside of necessary expenses like food, transportation or rent.

Some Tips

If it’s possible, walk more to reduce the amount spent on transportation. There are often food banks and religious clubs and groups near college and university campuses that provide free meals to those who need it, no questions asked. Not to mention, school events that give away free toiletries, snacks or even groceries. It’s hard to save money on necessities like rent but other expenses can be decreased as long as you’re willing.

Regardless, keeping up with your studies on top of having to worry about your own financial situation is a lot to have on your plate. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by it all. Thus, it’s important to focus on one thing at a time. If you have friends who understand your situation, it’s never a bad idea to ask for help when you need it. This doesn’t necessarily mean borrowing money from friends. But, getting emotional support and socializing is important. It’s a difficult situation to be in but it does not always have to be.

Really, the best way to improve your financial situation is to survive it until better options become available to you, whether that is a better paying job or a substantial amount of financial aid. Ultimately, not depending on family for money is the one of the first steps towards independence as an adult. It’s a responsibility that most of us will have to take on. Eventually, it becomes easier to manage.

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