Sallie Mae Advises Students: Refund Checks –

With a tough economy and the all of the costs associated with college, it can be quite tempting for students to squander their refund checks on things other than what they are intended for, that being out-of-pocket educational expenses.

Sallie Mae encourages students to fight the urge to use the refunds from grants or loans unwisely by providing these tips:

  • Consider all options for receiving your money: Choose the refund method—check, automatic ACH deposit or debit card—that works for you and your banking habits and closely review all the details.
  • Avoid unnecessary fees: Be knowledgeable of any fees associated with your chosen refund method as well as steps you can take to avoid them. If opting for a check, be sure to have a free or low-cost way to cash it. Students without a bank account who choose to receive a check often pay high check cashing fees. If choosing ACH into an existing checking account, be mindful of possible fees to transfer your money and fees associated with the account, especially ATM, non-sufficient funds (NSF) and monthly fees. If you prefer the convenience of a debit card, research how to avoid unnecessary charges.
  • Choose the best debit card for you: If selecting a debit card, choose one that doesn’t allow overdrafts and has access to convenient ATMs, free of fees. You’ll avoid costly ATM charges as well as NSF and penalty fees if you select an account that doesn’t allow spending more than you have.
  • Use financial aid refunds only for college costs: Keep careful track of your budget and only use funds for the intended purpose. For example, if your money is for an off-campus apartment, put it aside so it’s available when the rent is due.
  • Follow a budget: Plan and allocate how much money you will need for housing, groceries, books and supplies for the semester.
  • Return extra funds: If you received more funding than you need, immediately return the extra to reduce the amount you borrow and avoid unnecessary interest. It may seem difficult to do, but you’ll thank yourself later.
  • Utilize on-the-go banking: Mobile banking apps can help you check your balance before making a purchase, find an ATM free of fees, and some even offer text alerts so you know when your refund has been deposited.

Follow Valerie Jones on Twitter @ValerieJonesCMN