Making Waves Education Foundation » Wave-Maker Success Framework » Navigating College Life » Navigating College Life: Scholarship and Finances
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Creating a college budget

Going to college is a big step. Not only are you embarking on a new phase of your education, but you’re also likely living on your own for the first time. This means that you’ll need to start taking care of yourself financially. Creating a budget is a great way to keep track of your expenses and make sure that you’re not spending more money than you have.

Here are some tips for creating a college budget: 

1. Know your expenses 

The first step in creating a budget is to figure out what your expenses are. This includes things like tuition, rent, food, textbooks, and transportation. Make sure to include both fixed and variable expenses in your budget. Fixed expenses are those that stay the same each month, like tuition or rent. Variable expenses are those that can fluctuate, like food or transportation costs.

2. Track your spending 

Once you know what your expenses are, it’s time to start tracking your spending. This means keeping track of every penny you spend in a month. You can do this by using cash envelopes or a budgeting app like Mint or YNAB. Tracking your spending will help you get an idea of where your money goes each month and where you can cut back if necessary. 

3. Make adjustments as seeded 

Your budget is not set in stone! As your financial situation changes, so too will your budget. Make sure to revisit your budget regularly and make adjustments as needed. For example, if you get a raise at work or win the lottery (hey, it could happen!), you may want to increase your savings goals or add some wiggle room into your monthly spending.  

A college budget is a great way to keep track of your expenses and make sure that you’re not spending more money than you have. By knowing your expenses, tracking your spending, and making adjustments as needed, you can create a budget that works for you and helps you stay on top of your finances.

Managing scholarships and loans 

If you’re like most college students, you’re probably relying on some combination of scholarships, grants, loans, and personal savings to finance your education. While it’s great to have all of these resources available to you, it’s important to remember that each one comes with its own set of rules and regulations.

In this article, we’ll give you a crash course in managing scholarships, grants, and loans so that you can make the most of your financial aid.


Scholarships are a great way to finance your education because they don’t have to be repaid. However, there are usually strings attached in the form of GPA requirements or community service commitments. Be sure to read the fine print before accepting any scholarships so that you understand all of the requirements. First, remember that scholarships are not always guaranteed. You may need to reapply for them each year, or they may only cover a portion of your expenses. Make sure you understand the terms of your scholarship before counting on the money. 


Much like scholarships, grants do not have to be repaid. They are typically need-based, which means that your family’s financial situation will be taken into account when you apply. Grants are usually awarded by the federal government or your state government. 


Loans have to be repaid, with interest. There are two main types of loans: federal loans and private loans.

Federal loans usually have lower interest rates and more flexible repayment terms than private loans. However, private loans may be an option if you don’t qualify for federal aid. Be sure to compare interest rates and repayment terms before deciding which loan is right for you. It is important to budget for these payments so that you don’t find yourself in financial trouble later on. 

There are a lot of different ways to finance your college education, but it’s important to remember that each one comes with its own set of rules and regulations. 

Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you need it. There are plenty of resources available to help you manage your money. If you’re having trouble keeping track of everything, or if you just want someone to talk to about your finances, reach out to a trusted friend or family member, or even a financial advisor. 

Managing day-to-day scholarship payments

Scholarships are a great way to help pay for college, but they can also come with a lot of strings attached. Most scholarships have stipulations that you must maintain a certain GPA, enroll in a certain number of credit hours, or participate in extracurricular activities. If you don’t meet the requirements of your scholarship, you could lose the money. That’s why it’s so important to keep on top of your scholarship payments and make sure you’re meeting all the requirements. 

Here are a few tips for managing your scholarship payments: 

1. Know the requirements of your scholarship

Each scholarship is different, so it’s important to know what the requirements are for yours. Make sure you understand what you need to do to maintain your eligibility. 

2. Stay organized

Keep track of all the paperwork associated with your scholarship in one place. This includes any forms you need to fill out to renew your scholarship or report your GPA. 

3. Stay on top of your grades

One of the most common requirements of scholarships is that you maintain a certain GPA. Make sure you know what your GPA needs to be and check in with yourself regularly to make sure you’re on track. 

4. Pay attention to deadlines

Many scholarships have deadlines for renewing or reporting information like your GPA. Make sure you know when these deadlines are and plan ahead so you don’t miss them.  

Scholarships can be a great way to finance your education, but they come with responsibility. You need to make sure you understand the requirements of your scholarship and stay on top of things like paperwork and deadlines. Additionally, it’s important to monitor your grades carefully so that you maintain eligibility for the money.

By following these tips, you can make sure you get the most out of your scholarship and avoid any unwanted surprises down the road.

Co-authored with AI
Making Waves Education Foundation generated this text in part with artificial intelligence. Content has been reviewed, edited, and revised to our organization’s liking and we take ultimate responsibility for the content of this publication.

About Making Waves Education Foundation

At Making Waves, we are committed to educational equity. Making Waves Education Foundation is a Bay Area nonprofit that supports Making Waves Academy – a public charter school with more than 1,100 5th through 12th grade students – and leads college and career programming with more than 430 college students.​

Knowing the opportunities that come with a college degree, we partner with historically underrepresented and underserved students to help make college affordable and graduation attainable. Centering the journeys of our students, our personalized approach includes college and career coaching, scholarships, and financial planning.​

Our alumni network includes more than 730 college graduates, who earn their degrees and land jobs at more than twice the rate of their first-generation, low-income peers, with 85% graduating debt-free.

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