Back to School: Get Smart About Managing School Costs

Back to School: Get Smart About Managing School Costs

Back-to-school is about more than class assignments and bus routes. For many, it’s a huge financial challenge involving new clothes, school supplies, lunch money, after-school care, and transportation costs. 

And that’s just for free primary education! Post-high-school education—be it at a university, community college, or trade school—means tuition and books. 

As always, planning helps. And, as with all things money, Brightside is here to help you navigate all the fees, assistance, and strategies for managing education costs for you and any member of your household.

  • The non-starving college student – You’ve got options and Brightside has already researched how to get the highest value for your educational dollar and how to pay for your education, including accessing educational savings plans and where to shop for financial aid. Reach out to your Brightside Financial Assistant to explore your opportunities.
    • Tip: Some employers provide education benefits, so be sure to check what options are available to you.
  • The school supplier – If you’re a parent or guardian of school-age kids, write down everything you think they may need for a successful school year. Teachers may send home a supply list. Use it as a guide and add related expenses for the whole school year. Some things to consider are clothing, sports, after-school activities, lunch money, and school pictures.
    • Tip: Some schools and universities may arrange discounts with local retailers so be sure to check and see if your school has any special arrangements.
  • Review each item on the list with your kids and start a conversation about wants and needs. Talk about whether something is a must-have or a nice-to-have, then decide together how to budget accordingly.
    • Tip: Play a game where kids draw each item out of a hat and assign it as a “want” or a “need.” 
    • Tip: Contact your Brightside FA for help with building a budget. Invite your kids to be part of the conversation and start teaching good money management habits at a young age.
  • Start early – The sooner you start, the easier it will be to avoid rushed, last-minute shopping, and dealing with crowds that can steal those remaining precious minutes of summer vacation.
    • Tip: Do your homework, scout out the best deals and see if your state offers a sales tax holiday, which allows you to save sales tax on your school supplies.

Financial stress impacts our ability to learn. The more you can do to reduce the financial stress of educational costs, the better the outcomes will be for everyone involved. And there’s no better way to reduce financial stress than working with your Brightside FA. 

Contact your Brightside Financial Assistant or call 855-940-1507 to help get you started.

Brightside Client Story 

Emily came to Brightside for assistance in managing her finances to be able to attend school and graduate on time while working. After Emily had enrolled in classes, she was informed of a defaulted student loan, creating a barrier to additional financial aid and possibly delaying graduation. She was a year away from graduating with a degree in business administration, and she wanted to get promoted to manager at work. A recent death in her family caused emotional distress and financial strain on her. Emily called her Brightside Financial Assistant for assistance.

How Brightside Helped 

  • Emily’s FA helped her navigate the student loan system at the Department of Education to address her concerns.
  • Emily and her FA worked together to cut back expenses to allow her to afford a $2,000 loan to cover the cost for her last semester. 
  • They contacted the student loan company for an affordable repayment plan of $115/month so she could apply for more financial aid.
  • Emily was able to finish her business administration degree and earn a promotion at work thanks to help from Brightside. 

“I love how my FA showed her compassion to help me with my issues and had phone calls with me to help resolve my issue with my student loans. Very insightful and helpful.” – Brightside user 

Back-to-college spending is projected to reach a record $71 billion this year, an increase from the $67.7 billion spent in 2020*.