Student Registration & Financial Services

Financing an Education

Financial Literacy and Money Management

Financial literacy is about making good financial decisions to manage your personal finances – from budgeting to credit scores. Many people think of budgeting with dread – that it is restrictive and impossible unless you have an accounting degree or love math. It’s neither. It's a way to give you financial freedom so you can enjoy spending your money on the things that you want, without putting yourself into debt. For more information, see "Financial Literacy Guidance" (PDF) from Federal Student Aid, an office of the U.S. Department of Education. 

At St. Cloud State University, we have partnered with Great Lakes & Affiliates to provide students with GradReady, a financial literacy tool designed for college students to learn more about managing their tuition, budget, and bills.

GradReady: Paying for College > Money Management > Student Loan Repayment


We encourage all students to determine their four-year graduation plan as soon as they enroll or transfer to St. Cloud State University to help them keep educational costs down and work toward degree completion.


A budget, or spending plan, is your first step in managing your money. Before you can create your budget and effectively direct your income, you need to know where your money is going.

  • Financial Awareness Counseling: Financial Awareness Counseling, a program of the U.S. Department of Education, provides tools and information to help you understand your financial aid and assist you in managing your finances in five key areas: understand your loans, manage your spending, plan to repay, avoid default, make finances a priority. NOTE: This does not meet the loan entrance counseling requirement for new borrowers of the federal Direct Loan.
  • GradReady for SCSU: This free, interactive site helps you make financially sound decisions during and after college, especially when it comes to student loan management and avoiding default. Create your account and get started!
  • An interactive, online community that provides videos, articles, iTV, and other information on financial literacy, responsible borrowing, career planning and more.
  • 12-Step Guide to Financial Success: Sponsored by, this guide provides practical ways to manage your finances to put you on a success path to financial health.
  • Sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE), this site provides you tools to make good financial decisions and to manage your money now and in your future.
  • Financial Literacy- Federal Student Aid: Information to help you plan and pay for your post-secondary education. A variety of resources on college preparation, financing your education, and consumer protection rights. Some resources also available in Spanish.


While loans may be a part of financing your education, consider two things before you borrow:

  1. how much you need to cover your educational costs, and
  2. how much your monthly payments will be after you leave school.

Determine what you actually need to borrow before you sign for that loan.

  • Only borrow what you need. To calculate what you need, use one of the budgeting websites listed above or our Budget Worksheet.
  • Notify your lender or servicer if any of your contact information changes. Don't know who your servicer is? Find out at (requires your FSA ID to login).
  • Top 6 Ways to Reduce What you Owe: (Great Lakes) Learn how to understand interest, capitalization, and possible interest rate reductions.
  • Student Loan Repayment Estimator: (Federal Student Aid - U.S. Department of Education) Use this when you start repaying your loans or to estimate what payments might be before you borrow.
  • Debt to Salary Calculator (Mapping Your Future)

When you borrow under the federal loan program, your loan is automatically assigned to a federal loan servicer. Work with the servicer to make payments on interest while you're in school (maybe even a little on the principal) to keep your debt load down. 

If you've borrowed and are having trouble repaying the loan or feeling overwhelmed by the process, be sure to contact your federal loan servicer or the LSS Financial Counseling Center for free assistance. The LSS Financial Counseling Center has partnered with Minnesota State schools to help students with loan counseling. In-person appointments are available at many locations across the state, by phone, or via Skype. You'll work with a Financial Counselor with National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) who will pull your credit report, and review NSLDS with you to get a full picture of all your student loans and personal financial situation. Your loan servicer or the LSS Financial Counselor will walk through your repayment options, help you understand pros and cons of each option, and work with you to develop a plan that best meets your personal situation to help you avoid default or get back on track if you're already in default. Financial counselors will also work with you to develop a budget and spending plan for your financial success. 

Financing an Education Abroad Experience

When financing your education abroad experience, preparation and planning are essential. We recommend that you begin planning your finances at least one year in advance of your trip. The Financial Aid Office is available to help you begin and navigate this process.

When you go abroad, you will have similar types of costs that you would during your time on campus (tuition, fees, housing, food/meals, health insurance, transportation). There are additional costs to consider such as the $75 application fee, airfare, passport/visa, immunizations and personal spending money. This Study Abroad Budget Worksheet may help you with your budgeting and planning efforts.

Once you have been accepted into your study abroad program, the Center for International (CIS) will submit an official budget to the Financial Aid Office prior to your term abroad. If you applied for financial aid, the program budget and cost sheet (PDF) supplied by CIS will be used to estimate your financial aid eligibility and award for the term(s) that you are studying abroad.

Many students will borrow additional loans to cover education abroad program costs. Try to keep your debt load down by budgeting closely, borrowing only what you need, and paying for as much as you can out of pocket with savings or earnings from work.

Before you leave the country:

  • Consider Power of Attorney for a family member to assist you with your funds and other legal needs in the event of an emergency. Give a trusted relative or friend access to your account so they can help you if there is a problem.
  • Sign up for direct deposit so that any financial aid overage goes directly to your bank account. If you do not sign up for direct deposit, overage funds will be mailed via paper check to the local address that you've designated in your e-Services under the "Account Management" link. 
  • Contact your bank and credit card companies and let them know that charges will be coming from overseas.
    • Be sure you know whether the country you are visiting needs a “chip” in the card to be able to use it and to verify that your credit card has a chip.
    • Ask your bank and credit card company if there are any surcharges to withdraw money overseas.
    • Ask about and daily limit you can withdraw or any other security holds that might cause problems.
    • Be careful of what type of cash machines you choose to use and be aware of your surroundings when you are withdrawing cash.
  • Traveler’s checks are rarely used these days. Have a safe place on you to carry cash and cards — NOT in a purse or backpack that may be taken!