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During & beyond college

Whether you're still in school or just landed your first job, you can navigate the ins and outs of managing your money for a bright financial future.

Stick to a budget

It's never too early to create a budget and start managing your money. Get in control of your finances by setting goals and creating a plan to pursue them. Monitor your monthly spending by building a personal worksheet to track your expenses. Adjust your budget as life changes and prepare for the unexpected by starting an emergency fund.

Explore student banking

While you're still in college, you can find a range of banking options to suit your needs. Consider opening a credit card, a checking or savings account or a Bank of America CD to earn even more interest. It's a good idea to get familiar with the basics of borrowing and interest so you can head off any student debt before it piles up. Start learning how to keep your finances in check now—and at every stage of life.

Tip: Build good credit

Establishing good credit during and after college can make your financial life a lot easier. That's because your credit score determines whether you'll get a house, credit card, insurance—or even a job. Plus, it can effect what your interest rates will be on a loan for any major purchase, like a house or car.

Work during college

Earning a paycheck? Working while in school can add up. Open a savings account and start chipping away at debt while you're still in school. That way, you won't be saddled with as much debt when you graduate. Consider federal work-study programs, paid internships, on-campus positions and summer jobs to help save money along the way.

Plan for career success

Fresh out of college or switching careers? Start building your credentials by taking an inventory of your skills and interests, exploring different career paths, talking with experts in your field and gaining practical experience—even if it's volunteer work. Learn how to craft a professional resume and brush up on interviewing to launch your job hunt. Use your alumni office to make connections and consider creating a LinkedIn profile to develop your professional network.

Tackle debt and pay off student loans

You're done with college—now what? Life in the real world usually means getting a job and paying bills. Repaying your debt on top of new financial obligations like renting an apartment, buying a car or saving for a house can be overwhelming. That's why it's a good idea to find the right balance between paying down debt and investing for the future. Explore options for repaying your debt by setting up a scheduled payment plan or deferring payment on your loan at Federal Student Aid.

Tip: Learn how to invest

Have extra money you want to invest? Raise your investing IQ by exploring different types of investment options to pursue your goals, including building a nest egg for retirement.

Fund a return to school

Thinking about getting an advanced degree or finishing an education? Get the know-how you need to reduce the cost of going back to school—no matter your age or interest.

Grants and scholarships:

Federal and state governments are the largest providers of gift aid, but many colleges also offer grants and scholarships based on need or merit.

Employer-sponsored programs:

Many employers offer tuition reimbursement for career-related courses. Check to see if your benefits cover financial assistance for advanced learning.

Working while in school:

Taking a few classes a semester to finish a degree? You can scale back your hours at work and attend school part-time to qualify for government financial aid.
Life events
Prepare for common events related to this stage of your life, like:
Ready to get started?
Please remember there's always the potential of losing money when you invest in securities. Before you invest in a Section 529 plan, request the plan's official statement from your Financial Solutions Advisor and read it carefully. The official statement contains more complete information, including investment objectives, charges, expenses and risks of investing in the 529 plan, which you should consider carefully before investing. You should also consider whether your home state or your beneficiary's home state offers any state tax or other state benefits such as financial aid, scholarship funds and protection against creditors that are only available for investments in such state's 529 plan. Section 529 plans are not guaranteed by any state or federal agency.

Merrill, its affiliates, and financial advisors do not provide legal, tax, or accounting advice. You should consult your legal and/or tax advisors before making any financial decisions.