My name is Alex Elliott, and I graduated from the University of Missouri in Columbia in May 2021 with a Bachelor’s degree in Mediated Communications and a minor in Digital Storytelling. I am very thankful to have had the opportunity to attend college because it allowed me to further my education and grow as an individual. While I knew those four years would open plenty of doors for me in the future, I was also aware of how costly those four years would be.
Between tuition, room and board, books and supplies, and personal expenses, it proved more than necessary to take out loans to help pay for all my expenses. Throughout college, I struggled to pay rent each month using money from my part-time, low-wage job. Most, if not all of the student loans I acquired went to monthly rent payments. While the scholarships I received helped pay for tuition, the loans helped pay for my housing.
At the end of my college career, the student loan assistance I obtained added up to a little over $14,000. While in college, I was unaware of the difference between federal and private student loans and subsidized and unsubsidized loans. My parents advised me to take out federal subsidized loans because they wanted me to avoid paying interest on the loans while I was still in school, which was excellent advice.
Once I graduated, I became informed by the student loan servicer that I was on a 6-month grace period for all three accounts I had with them. The grace period means that I do not have to pay my debt for six months, giving me time to get a job and get my finances on track.
The ability to manage finances is the biggest challenge most graduates face after college. Most graduates have to juggle housing, food, and transportation expenses, and when the 6-month grace period ends, they have to add student loan debt to the list. I, along with others, have reached the point of financial independence. I needed to get a hold of resources that would assist me in handling my student loan debt when that time comes.
I was employed recently by FinLocker, a company that offers consumers financial management tools to help them achieve their homeownership goals and improve their financial well-being. As a twenty-two-year-old who just graduated, this was the perfect company to learn how to manage my finances effectively. Among the many personalized recommendations that the FinLocker app offers, the ability to manage student loan debt stood out to me the most.
FinLocker enables users to enroll their financial accounts in their Locker, providing a consolidated real-time view of all their transactions. As soon as I downloaded the FinLocker app to my phone, I created my profile and began to add my financial accounts. I wasn’t hesitant to expose my personal information because FinLocker uses AES to protect everyone’s information. FinLocker has a list of bank institutions and student loan servicers from which to choose. I found my loan servicer, and within a couple of minutes, my account was linked and ready to view in my Locker. When the time comes for me to start making payments towards my student loans, I will use my Locker to view all of my transactions. Not only does FinLocker provide me with a consolidated view of my student loan debt, but the platform also provides a budget and goals widget.
The budgets and goals feature in the FinLocker platform are what recent graduates like me can utilize to manage our finances successfully. To prepare me for the future, I created a custom goal to pay off my student loan debt. Having a specific goal will let me track my progress and ensure I make payments on time. Referencing the educational resources in FinLocker, I learned that making on-time payments is a good way for me to build my credit history, too.
I have also created a budget to organize my money efficiently. Budgeting lets me plan where my money is going by dividing my income into different categories. I can set aside a certain amount of money for student loan debt only, which, if I follow the budget correctly, should guarantee that my student loan debt gets paid down.
Student loan debt was something I was afraid of while attending college, and I tried to avoid it at all costs. As hard as I tried, I couldn’t afford everything on my own. It’s crucial not just for myself but for everyone with student loan debt to develop a strategy for paying down your debt. It might seem as if you have to figure out everything on your own, but using FinLocker can not only benefit me now, it can also help me plan how to achieve future financial milestones, such as getting my own place to live. The financial resources available to me in my Locker have enabled me to understand my options for paying down debt and avoid wasting time worrying about all the debt I have acquired. The simple effort it takes to set up a FinLocker account is definitely worth the results I have received.