Dealing with your financial life can seem overwhelming at times—even if you’re not borrowing student loans. While we can’t change tuition or the cost of living, information is available to assist you in managing your finances.

Hopefully, some of the information in this section will reduce some of the stresses that result from common frustrations and problems, or spark an idea to help keep on top of your finances.

A good portion of the stress that people feel about money (apart from not having enough) is the feeling of not knowing how to manage your money or not knowing where the money is going.

Budgeting 101

If you’re not using a budget to help monitor your spending, you could be establishing some dangerous financial habits without realizing it. Budgeting does not need to be hard or scary—this section contains advice you can use to help you keep your spending on track.

Credit Information

By now, most students who have borrowed student loans understand the importance of good credit history. Most people understand that their credit can affect their ability to rent an apartment, buy a car or a house, and—in some cases even get a job. What many people fail to do is monitor their credit history on a regular basis. Fortunately, it just takes a little planning and is not difficult to do.

At a time when identity theft is growing at alarming rates, annually checking your credit is no longer an optional exercise.

Adjusting the Student Budget

The student budget provides an allowance for living expenses that should help the majority of students pays their basic costs. We appreciate that this will not apply to every student, so there are certain types of expenses that may be adjusted.

Smart Money 101

Additional information may be found on Smart Money 101, a BU Financial Assistance initiative established to provide the Boston University community with online tools, information, and other resources to promote effective money management. Note: Some information may be specific to undergraduate students.

Financial Literacy Presentations

The Law Financial Aid Office has been fortunate to host Jeffrey Hanson, PhD; who has provided financial literacy, borrower education, and debt management programs to BU Law Students. Dr. Hanson is a nationally recognized expert on student loan repayment and the options that are available to student borrowers in managing their loans and other consumer debts.

Strategies for Smart Borrowers: Learn ways to stay on track, maintain a budget, and prepare for your future. Presented by Jeffrey Hanson, PhD. (August 2016)

Take Charge of Loan Repayment: Thorough presentation that reviews loan terms and conditions, repayment plans, as well as how to develop a strategy for managing your debt. Presented by Jeffrey Hanson, PhD. (October 2017)

Dr. Hanson also created a comprehensive Loan Repayment Worksheet to assist in planning.

Additionally, Dr. Hanson has taped a series of modules regarding federal student loans and repayment plans that can be viewed at your own pace:

Understanding the Unique Nature of Federal Student Loans (20 minutes)
Will help you understand how federal student loans represent your “educational mortgage” and are different from other forms of credit (including private student loans) and how the choice, flexibility, and safety associated with federal student loans need not box you into a corner financially.

Planning for Student Loan Repayment (39 minutes)
Will help you understand the need for planning for repayment and making informed decisions about the choices/decisions you will need to make in repaying federal student loan debt—highlighting how “opportunity cost” may impact your decisions and, for example, why paying off the debt as fast as possible may not be in your best interest financially.

Exploring the Federal Student Loan Payment Plans (18 minutes)
Will help you understand the choices and flexibility you have in repaying your federal student loans by providing an overview of the payment plans that currently are available to borrowers of federal student loans.

Understanding the Income-Driven Repayment (IDR) Plans (52 minutes)
Will help you understand the income-driven repayment (IDR) plans by providing a detailed look at how the plans work, the eligibility requirements for each plan, and factors to consider when deciding what plan that would best meet your needs if you are choosing to repay your loans based on income.

Revised Pay As You Earn (REPAYE) (26 minutes)
Will help you understand how the newest of the income-driven repayment (IDR) plans — “Revised Pay As You Earn” (REPAYE) — differs from the other IDR plans and when it might be appropriate to choose REPAYE over one of the other payment plans.

Estimating Your Monthly Student Loan Payments (21 minutes)
Will help you understand how to estimate your monthly federal student loan payments under each of the available payment plans using the “Repayment Estimator” that is provided by the U.S. Department of Education at StudentLoans.gov.

Taking Stock of your Student Loan Portfolio (20 minutes)
Will help you understand how to review your portfolio of federal student loans using the “National Student Loan Data System” (NSLDS) that is provided by the U.S. Department of Education at NSLDS.ed.gov so that you can make more informed decisions as you plan for repaying your federal student loans.

Developing Your Student Loan Repayment Timeline (18 minutes)
Will help you understand when you will need to start (or resume) repaying federal student loans and the need to create a timeline so you are prepared to take the appropriate action(s) as you plan for repaying your federal student loans.

Choosing Your Federal Student Loan Payment Plan (25 minutes)
Will help you understand the factors to consider when choosing the payment plan you want to use to repay your federal student, how to evaluate if repaying federal student loans as fast as possible is in your best interest financially from an opportunity cost perspective, and the role of budget planning as you prepare for repaying federal student loans.

Understanding Student Loan Consolidation (22 minutes)
Will help you understand the role of consolidation (refinancing of the debt) — i.e., the “what, why, when and how” of consolidation — so that you can make more informed decisions as you plan for and manage repayment of your federal student loans.

Public Student Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) (30 minutes)
Will help you understand the options for managing repayment of your federal student loans when employed in public service with emphasis on the “Public Service Loan Forgiveness” (PSLF) program including the requirements that you must satisfy to qualify for this loan repayment benefit.