Bank Accounts

Bank accounts are a great way to exercise effective cash management. But with so many options out there, identifying the best type of account can be difficult and sometimes overwhelming. It is important that you research and find the best type of account for you.

Here are some things to think about as you research various types of banking accounts:

  • Interest rates
  • Online banking features
  • ATM fees
  • Deposit options
  • Fees and requirements
  • Convenience of locations
  • Overdraft protection
  • Reward points for card use

For help determining the best type of account for you, download the Basics to Banking worksheet.

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A budget is one of the most important financial documents you can have. Not only do budgets prevent you from spending beyond your means, but they serve as the greatest tool when it comes to knowing how much money you can save. When budgets are used properly, they help you identify where you are spending too much and draw your attention to where you can make changes.

Budgets can come in a number of forms. It is important to figure out what is a good fit for you so that it becomes something that is easy for you to do!

Ready to start budgeting?

  • Download the excel budget that already has the formulas ready to go. Keep it on your computer desktop and save a different version for each month. For step by step instructions on how to fill out your excel budget, click here.
  • Consider using a paper budget to log the different types of expenses and income that you have. This budget is flexible to allow you to create weekly, monthly, or a semester budget. If you would rather have a paper budget you can download the paper budget form and to keep in a safe place, like a folder in your desk at home.
  • Want to keep your budget by your side? You can download the iPhone budget for your Smartphone.
  • Are you a visual person? Consider using, which is an online program (also available for your phone) that will track and display your income and expenses in a graph.  The best part is that it’s free!

If you need more help identifying what qualifies as an income or an expense, start by using the income worksheet or the expense log to get into the habit of tracking every source of money and every purchase you make.

Because any money you receive qualifies as income, it is important to acknowledge and track where all of your income sources can be. Use the Income Worksheet to help you identify all of your sources of income so that you know what needs to be included in your budget.

Use the Expense Log so that you know what you need to keep track of as you begin to prepare for your budget.

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When used correctly, credit can be a great tool in financial planning when it comes to reaching financial goals.  When used incorrectly, poor credit can be devastating to your finances and your financial well-being.  Credit is a contractual agreement whereby a borrower receives something of value in agreement to pay the lender at a future date.  Once credit has been accepted it becomes debt.  People acquire credit by making promises to pay in the future for something they receive in the present.

Strings Attached?  You bet!  It’s going to cost you something in return…ALL of what you borrow and usually some interest (a certain percentage of the total amount borrowed).
With maintaining a good credit score, the objective is simple…to show prospective creditors, employers, or anybody else who might look at your credit that you are responsible when it comes to your spending.
Ways to start building credit include…
  1. Open a savings and checking account so that you can demonstrate a history of deposits, withdrawals, and transfers.
  2. Have a utility bill put in your name.  This can include a phone bill, an electric bill, or even your cable bill.
  3. Apply for a gasoline card.  They are fairly easy to get and it is fairly easy to plan for how much you will need to pay each month.
How are credit cards different from debit cards?  Read about the basics, including how to avoid card fraud, recognizing counterfeit cards, and new technology.   You can also read about debit and credit card blocking, which occurs when companies place a “hold” on your account in certain situations.

Additional Resources

Want to test your credit knowledge?  Download the student credit activity worksheet  from Practical Money Skills for Life.
Trying to decide which credit card to get?  Download this credit card worksheet  to help you decide on the best card for you.
Shop for and compare the costs and features of credit cards using the credit cards worksheet from Practical Money

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Financial Aid & Scholarships

News from Financial Aid & Scholarships

For the latest news and updates from the Office of Student Financial Aid and Scholarships, click here.

Effective beginning with the 2012-2013 year:

  • Direct Loans for graduate and professional students will now be solely unsubsidized. This does not affect the total amount that can be borrowed.
  • Subsidized Loans for undergraduate students will now accrue interest during the six month “grace period” after graduation.

For more information, visit the Office of Student Financial Aid & Scholarships.

It is important that undergraduate students understand the responsibilities that come with taking on student loan debt, especially when it comes to repayment.  Managing this debt, along with any other debt accrued throughout college, can be a daunting process.  For information on loan repayment, including repayment plans, consolidation programs, and loan forgiveness, read through the Debt Management Guide created by The Office of Studnet Financial Aid & Scholarships at the University of South Carolina.

Click here: Debt Management Guide- University of South Carolina

When research financial aid and scholarship opportunities outside of the university, be careful not to fall prey to financial aid scams.  Read more about Scholarship Scams from the Federal Trade Commission and what you can do to stay out of trouble.

To learn more about Financial Student Aid, including grants and loans… click here!

Click here to complete your Free Application for Federal Student Aid


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Identity Protection

Think you might be a victim of identity theft? Read our step by step guide to learn what steps to start taking to help you recover from identity theft.

Identity theft is a term which refers to the illegal use of an individual’s personal data. This can mean anything from the use of another person’s credit card number to the creation of a new account in another person’s name. Some things to remember when it comes to releasing your information to others:

  • Don’t ever give any personal identification to strangers. NEVER give anybody your social security number. Only carry your social security card when it is absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t respond to emails that ask you for any financial information.
  • Keep track of your wallet, credit cards, and card numbers. Don’t ever leave them in a place where their safety can be compromised.
  • Sometimes credit card companies will send you a pre-approved card in the mail. Don’t just throw this away- make sure you cut it up or shred it! Somebody can fill out the information in your name. Make sure you also shred any documents that contain financial information.

Potential warning signs for identity theft include:

  • Bills not arriving on time.
  • Credit card information (such as statements or bills) for cards that you don’t use.
  • Credit being denied for no apparent reason.
  • Information (such as bills or receipts) for things that you did not purchase.

– Learn more about Identity Theft & Protection from the Federal Trade Commission.

– Federal Trade Commission’s website for consumers on tips to prevent identity theft: Fighting Back Against Identity Theft

– Play online identity theft simulation games like Identity Theft Face Off to learn more about how to bounce back from identity theft.

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Study Abroad
Other Resources

The Financial Literacy Program has recently partnered with the Cross Campus Advising Program to produce the “Financial Implications of Common Academic Decisions” worksheet.  Take a look to read about how you can possibly avoid some of those financial fallbacks as your progress through your academics.

Worried about how you should prepare financially for the transition to college? Use the First-year Transition Checklist (pdf) to help you prepare for your new life as an undergraduate college student.

For financial information, tutorials, worksheets, calculators, and much more, visit the Cash Course website.

Want to take control of your money? Apple has developed a new suite of 29 financial calculators that can assist you with reworking your budget, calculating car payments, or preparing for mortgage payments. Download the free app features from iTunes by clicking here!

Give your financial knowledge a workout by playing Drew Brees’ NFL Financial Football. Click here to download!

Local Financial Assistance

For financial help in the local area, try these resources:

USC Financial Aid
Department of Consumer Affairs
SC Dept of Revenue
SC Department of Labor
Employment Security Commission
Family Service Center for serious Financial problems

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For more information, contact:
Student Success Center
803-777-1000 or