Financial Literacy & Life Skills

Wherever you are in life, developing strong money management skills is important for your future. As a college student, you will be making major borrowing decisions, but you may not have much experience managing debt. Whether or not you borrow money, you’ll need to manage the funds you have available to meet your expenses.

Even if you are fortunate enough to have people you can turn to for help or advice as you start handling money on your own, it’s really up to you to take charge of your finances. Doing so can be intimidating for anyone. It’s easy to become overwhelmed or frustrated. And everyone makes mistakes. The important thing is to take action.

  • From Credit Cards to Credit Scores

    Research shows that people who are not “debt literate” use high-cost credit and are over-indebted. For young people, financial mistakes can quickly snowball, marking them as subprime borrowers. Low credit scores can drive up their costs of borrowing, making it difficult to borrow, and can even affect insurance rates and job prospects.

    Realize that as you pay bills and debts on your own, you are building a “credit record” that could be important when you apply for a loan or a job in the future. Pay your bills on time…and borrow only what you can repay.

    If you decide to get your own credit card, use your Credit Card Smarts, and choose carefully. Take your time, understand the risks as well as the rewards and do some comparison shopping. Don’t apply for a credit card just because you received an invitation in the mail or a sales person was offering a free gift.

    Consider a paying job or even an unpaid internship at a workplace related to a career you’re considering.

    If possible, set aside money into savings and investments.

    Try to take a class in personal finance. Read money-related magazines and newspaper articles.

    Identity Theft The Federal Trade Commission calls identity theft one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States and estimates that 9 million Americans become identity theft victims each year. Don’t be one of them!

  • Budgets & Financing

    Budgeting and Financial Planning – Personal spending plans (budgets) can lend structure to your money management. It’s a way of organizing the way you use your money by thinking in terms of spending categories and setting priorities. A spending plan establishes boundaries to pace your spending–and it helps you recognize spending limits before you exceed them. Distinguishing between “wants” and “needs” helps in disciplining yourself when you are tempted.

    Overspending – There are lots of reasons for overspending, but no good reasons. Overspending hurts us now and in the future. That’s why it’s important to consider why we overspend, the dangers of overspending, and ways to stretch the money we have.

  • Building Skills for Success

    Boost Your Skills Improve your skills through good work habits, writing skills and academics.

    Time Management is an important element of success – especially if you’re a student. If you set priorities that fit your needs and lifestyle, you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals (including financial literacy!). If you manage your time better, you’re more than likely going to manage your money better.

    Strategies for Succeeding Beginning your college education means you’ll be exploring a new place, making new friends, learning new things and setting your own priorities. You are going to face a lot of big changes in a short time. That’s exciting – and challenging. The more prepared you are for college when you get there, the more ready you’ll be to address these new challenges. Here are some realities to consider, and a few common-sense ways to help you handle them.

  • Get to Know Yourself

    There’s always room to learn more! Get to know yourself at the following links that reveal you’re in great shape, or let you know there’s room for improvement.

    Mapping Your Future – Decide how much you can borrow. Are your plans for the future possible?

    Money Fitness Quiz – Determine if you are financially fit.

    Financial Danger Quiz – If any of these warning signs apply to you, it’s time for you to stop and seriously think about your financial situation.

    If at First You Don’t Succeed – Common mistakes young adults make with money and how to avoid them.

    Teaching Your College-Age Child About Money – 360° of Financial Literacy.

    Gambling – It’s estimated that 80% of college students have engaged in gambling in the past year. Close to 20% report gambling on a weekly basis and 5% have a true gambling problem. Do you?

    Eating Healthy on a Budget – Even with all the new choices in front of you, you can stay in control and within your budget when it comes to eating at college. Don’t miss “Eating Healthy Snacks” and “Quick Recipes Beyond Ramen.”

    Good Eats – Quick & easy foods for busy college students.

  • Financial Aid Start to Finish

    An FSA ID now replaces the PIN and is comprised of a username and password and can be used to login to certain Federal Student Aid websites, such as the FAFSA. Your FSA ID can be used to electronically sign Federal Student Aid documents, access your personal records, and make binding legal obligations. Create one and link it to your PIN at If you are a parent and need to electronically sign your child’s FAFSA, you need your own FSA ID. If you have more than one child attending college, you can use the same FSA ID to sign their applications. Your FSA ID serves as your electronic signature and provides access to your personal records, so you should never give your FSA ID to anyone, including commercial services that offer to help you complete your FAFSA. Be sure to keep your FSA ID in a safe place. – Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) – Retrieve your loan information by doing a financial review

    “Before You Go” – Know who your servicers are and their contact information by filling out this worksheet. – Sign your MPN, do your entrance counseling, learn more about student aid programs, tools and resources, and manage repayment (repayment plans and calculators, trouble making payments.)

    Financial Literacy Quiz – Make sure you know the basics!

  • Life Skills Program

    What is Life Skills?
    The Life Skills program is a web based, self-directed financial literacy program that provides students with financial information, tips, and skills necessary to be financially successful. The interactive format helps students connect with realistic content that relates to their everyday experiences to help them understand and take control of their debt.

    Life Skills lessons are required for any student currently on financial aid probation as part of their probationary contract. Students currently on financial aid warning or financial aid suspension are highly encouraged to complete the Life Skills lessons as well. Any student is welcome to complete any lesson.

    Before beginning the Life Skills session, write down the following codes:

    • School Code: 00248900
    • Student Access Code: 00248900-01

    For detailed instructions on how to access Life Skills, click here.

    1. Visit to access the Life Skills web site.
    2. Create a Life Skills username and password by clicking on ‘Request a new account’. We suggest using your email as your username.
    3. Access the lessons by clicking on ‘My Catalog’.
    4. Click on the lesson you want to complete and select the ‘Enroll’ button. If you are completing mandatory lessons, make sure you select the correct modules. The required lessons were indicated in the email you received and are also listed below.Lessons can be completed in any order. If you are unable to complete a lesson in one visit, you can return to it at any time and continue where you left off. Click the name of the lesson under “My Learning” on your Home page to return to the in-progress lesson.
    5. Click “Next” to advance through the lesson.
    6. Complete the Lesson Challenge quiz at the end of the lesson. A score of 70% or higher is required to pass the lesson and have the lesson recorded as completed.

    Students on Financial Aid Probation:

    You must complete (with a grade of 70% or higher) at least 3 of the 6 lessons listed.

    • 104 What If I Have Trouble Repaying My Student Loans?
    • 105 How Do I Manage My Student Loans While I’m in School?
    • 201 How Do I Achieve My Goals?
    • 202 What Do I Need to Know Before I Select a Program of Study?
    • 204 How Do I Manage My School Life?
    • 205 How Do I Manage My Personal Life While I Am in School?

    Students on Financial Aid Warning or Suspension

    It is highly encouraged that you complete (with a grade of 70% of higher) at least 3 of the 6 lessons listed.

    • 104 What If I Have Trouble Repaying My Student Loans?
    • 105 How Do I Manage My Student Loans While I’m in School?
    • 201 How Do I Achieve My Goals?
    • 202 What Do I Need to Know Before I Select a Program of Study?
    • 204 How Do I Manage My School Life?
    • 205 How Do I Manage My Personal Life While I Am in School?

    *Life Skills is supported in partnership with USA Funds. To view complete instructions on how to log on to USA Funds Life Skills click here.