Veronica: Financial Planning

December 15, 2009

Financial aid and paying for studying abroad is a huge thing. Save your money. Work a lot. Remember to keep the exchange rate in mind. $3000 sounds like a lot, but when you get to Europe and it’s less than that… it’s not so great. I was extremely frugal the year leading up to now and it really helped.

Do your FAFSA. That’s the first step and it’s a given anyway so I’m not going to spend time on it.

This may be different if you aren’t from the University of Minnesota, so if you’re from another university keep in mind that the Financial Aid Checklist on the Learning Abroad Center site doesn’t really apply but you can still use it to help you at at your school to plan.

So, for U people: do a FinAid Preveiw Meeting. To be honest, I didn’t really get what went on in the meeting. To me, it didn’t make sense. It probably will if you get all that accounting, money stuff. But all I got from mine was that my aid wouldn’t be all that bad. All I can say, though, is thank god for work study. (I strongly recommend working full time the summer before you go so you get a lot more money.)

Then you have to do the SACE; the cost estimate form. There is a lot of hype about the SACE and it’s really not that exciting. All it does is tell you how much you have to pay, which can be found online anyway in the budget stuff. So it’s not that big of a deal. All you do is sign it basically. But this is the form OneStop uses to calculate your aid, so in that way it’s rather important. But I was expecting some big, detailed form and it wasn’t. Wait for your aid calculation. From here on it’s just like normal financial aid, so it works no differently and I know you know how that goes.

One thing on the Financial Aid Checklist that doesn’t actually have to do with financial aid, but with finances is the Power of Attorney. The Learning Abroad Center and the U pushes for this so you don’t have to worry about taking care of paying and the FAFSA and all that jazz. My appointment with the counselor in the Legal Services office (on West Bank) took an hour. My counselor was really nice and really helpful. She walked me through everything and all the fancy terms used on it. I’m not a numbers/economics kind of girl, so I can’t describe this to you either (like the preview meeting), but it was rather painless. I appointed my mom as my Attorney in Fact. Basically what that is, is someone who acts on your behalf. They can sign things for you, sign a lease for you, manage your money, do your FAFSA, etc etc. Now, I know that sounds scary. They can control your entire life. I chose my mom because I know that she wouldn’t do bad things in my name and also because she knows what I need. The person you appoint can only do these things, however, if you tell them to, and they need to provide you with documentation of everything. I don’t think the documentation thing will be an issue with my mom, but it was still nice to know. They act on your behalf, but also on your orders.

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