Beginning Your Financial Journey

You've got questions, we've got answers

At Illinois Extension, we know that paying for college is a daunting task. That is why we are here to help. Illinois Extension educators want to give you all the information you need because we know you most likely have a ton of questions. From "when do I start saving" to "who should pay for college," we will walk you through the process step by step. Applying for colleges should be an exciting time which is we want to alleviate as much stress as possible.

Is college worth it?

It is true that, while going to college, an individual can miss out on some short-term income. However, having a college degree can also open many more doors to different and higher-paying work opportunities. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the more education you have, the higher your average pay is likely to be. For example, in 2018, a high school graduate made on average $36,000 a year. Someone with a bachelor’s degree would have made around $60,000 a year, and master’s degree graduates making $72,000 a year. Read more in our blog: Is college really worth it?

What are my options for repaying student loans?

After graduating college, there are a ton of things to think about. Where am I going to live? Where am I going to work? While these are important questions, deciding how you are going to repay your student loans is also something that you need to think about. The first step in deciding how to repay student loans is to recognize which types of loans you have. From there, you must decide on a repayment strategy that works best for you. For federal loans, the  Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Department of Education’s calculator are great resources for you to use. For private loans, it can be helpful to contact your bank or servicer.  Read more in our blog: What are my options for repaying student loans?

How can I prepare for graduation?

The end of senior year can be an exciting yet stressful time for seniors. After graduation, many people feel lost and are unsure of how to move forward. Many people struggle to find a job, repay student loans, and live on their own. To avoid these problems, start preparing for graduation as early as possible. Creating a plan to repay student loans, setting up an emergency fund, and beginning your job search early are all things you can do to prepare for life post-grad. Read more in our blog: How can I prepare for graduation?

What are the pros and cons of living in university housing versus on-campus apartments?

One of the most important decisions when it comes to attending college is deciding where to live. Living in University housing is great because it is often lower cost and has a plethora of amenities like the dining hall, front desk, and package center. University housing also puts on a ton of special events for students. However, living in an apartment or house can offer you more freedom and space than University housing. Before you make this decision it is important to look into all the pros and cons of each. Read more in our blog: What are the pros and cons of living in university housing versus on-campus apartments?

What are the benefits of taking out student loans?

The words "student loans" strike fear into the hearts of students and parents. However, there are actually many benefits of taking out student loans that many people are unaware of. For example, taking out student loans is a great way to build credit. According to Hannah Rose Budzynski, Financial Wellness for College Students Peer Educator, "Credit scores are used to calculate your creditworthiness and can impact whether you can get an apartment, your credit card terms, and even your employment opportunities." Therefore, taking out student loans can be beneficial for you even after graduation. Read more in our blog: What are the benefits of taking out student loans?

Learn more

Visit our site on financial wellness for college students and learn how you can prepare for college.