What should I do with my student refund?

woman holding $100 bills

Who doesn’t love that feeling when a big chunk of change hits your bank account? You think, “What can I buy with that?” and start fantasizing about all the goodies you’ve had your eye on. But, hold on, before you burn through that cash, let’s think for a minute about what else you can do with your student refund.

Many college students are receiving more money back from their schools this semester due to more courses being held online instead of in-person. With getting more money back in refunds, we have more choices on where that money will go.

Let’s quickly think through your semester’s budget.

Is your housing cost included in your award letter? If so, you likely need to use a lot of your refund to pay rent and utilities. One of the current Financial Wellness Peer Educators said she pays her semester’s rent in full after she receives her refund. That way, you don’t have to think about it each month and the money goes towards what it’s meant for.

Do you have enough to cover groceries and other basic necessities for the semester? Make sure your basic needs are met for the whole semester. If you need to use some of your refund to cover food or transportation costs, make sure you budget so you have enough to last you over the several months you’ll need it.

How much do you have in an emergency fund? Consider putting some of your refund away just in case something comes up. You never know when your laptop will break or your hours at work will get cut back.

These are just a few of the many things to consider before you use up your refund on something you may want, but not really need. Be wise with how you use that money, especially while things are so uncertain.

Written by Brooke Shrewsbury, University of Illinois Extension.