September #AskFAFSA Office Hours: What I wish I knew…

When you’re learning to manage your money on your own, there’s a lot of trial and error involved. But at the end of the day, it’s one of the most important lessons you’ll learn while in college. Trust us, as recent college graduates who now work at the Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid, we’ve been through it.

We are firm believers that there is a lot of learning that takes place in college that doesn’t come from a book, a professor or a class. Some of the greatest lessons we learned in college came in the form of life skills.

For many of you, it’s probably the first time you’re truly on your own. No one to do your laundry, cook for you, or check to make sure your homework is done. In college, YOU are responsible for getting yourself to class, maintaining good grades and dare we say it… managing your own finances.

While we don’t claim to be financial experts, there is probably something you can learn about becoming financially independent from our diverse experiences and the mistakes we’ve made along the way. For this month’s #AskFAFSA Office Hours we’re taking your questions & sharing some of the things we wish we knew about managing money when we were in college.

Name: Christal Simms

School: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University ’10

Major: Journalism and Mass Communications

Financial Tip: Research used bookstores and online sites where you can buy your books cheaper or even rent them. Also, consider selling your books back when the class is done. You can get some of your money back and you can avoid having a pile of books you will never read again.

Name: Kevin Suyo

School: Georgetown University ’11

Major: International Economics

Financial Tip: Learn to cook. It’s a good skill to have, it can be easy and fun, and it’s much cheaper than eating out every night. And you’ll get tired of dining hall chicken fingers sooner than you expect.

Name: Nicole Callahan

School: The George Washington University ‘11

Major: Business Administration

Financial Tip: Get a part-time job in college. I had a work-study job throughout my time at GW. Not only are you able to gain professional experience, but it’s always good to have a little extra cash. There are plenty of jobs that only require a few hours a week so it won’t interfere with your school work.

But enough about us! We want to know what your questions are. Maybe you’re trying to figure out whether or not to get a credit card? Or maybe you want tips on how to study abroad on a budget? We’re here to help. On Thursday, September 27th at 6pm ET, the three of us will join @FAFSA on Twitter to help answer your questions and offer tips and advice about smart financial decisions. So start sending in your questions!

Here’s how it works:

  • Have questions for us? You can start submitting your questions on Twitter and Facebook today. Be sure to include the #AskFAFSA  hashtag in your tweets. We will be monitoring for questions on Facebook and Twitter from now through Thursday.
  • On Thursday, September 23, at 6pm ET, follow @FAFSA or the #AskFAFSA hashtag on Twitter to join the conversation. We‘ll be answering your questions live. Don’t use Twitter? You can also follow along using the Twitter app on our Facebook page.
  • Can’t make the live session? A summary of #AskFAFSA Office Hours, including the full Q&A, will be posted on Storify  following the event.

Kevin, Christal, and Nicole are former Federal Student Aid (FSA) interns who now work full-time at FSA.