So you just graduated college.  Congratulations.  Now you have the task of managing your finances ahead of you.  The great thing about college is that it sets you up for success, but things can differ from your collegiate experience once you graduate.

Some of the things you lose after graduating include: a meal plan, work study, financial aid, a reasonable expectation of expenses, and student housing.  Lets break each of these concepts down.

Having a meal plan means that you are guaranteed to eat a certain number of times a day.  That number could be two or three, it really depends on what you decide.  Most colleges also have other onsite restaurants where you get a dollar amount to be used there as well.  Having to buy groceries really makes you appreciate how much food you can get with a meal plan.

Work study is really advantageous to college students.  It allows you the ability to earn money, have a flexible schedule, and a modest work commute.  You know upfront how much you have been granted for work study so it helps you to decide how to allocate the funds.  As long as you show up to work, you get paid.

Financial aid is the total of the scholarships, grants, loans and other aid that you receive as a student.  Hopefully you receive lots of grants, and scholarships so that you have to take little or no loans out.  Essentially what financial aid does for lots of students is allow them to focus on school, without having to worry immediately about the cost.  

The reasonable expectation of costs comes from the fact that typically the school will publish an expected cost of attendance.  So you are able to calculate how much you will pay during the time you are in school, based on your course load.  If you are already in school then you have an idea of what the additional fees are that you incur.

Student housing is a great benefit to students because of the interaction you get on campus.  You are close to your classes, activities, and your peers.  Depending on the school housing can be a few thousand a semester upwards.  Ideally student housing is much cheaper that being housed off campus in the surrounding areas.

So what does this mean for you as a new graduate.  It means that your activities are not likely to be so centralized.  Also that you must make plans for all the things you once received under the umbrella of tuition and fees as a student.  Now you will not only have to budget your money, but your time as well.  

As a working professional you need to know exactly where your money is going.  Something you will soon come to realize is that all those costs add up fast.  For instance, if you eat in a workplace cafeteria you will see hundreds of dollars a month going toward that expense.  Which may mean it will be cheaper to pack a lunch.  Essentially what you will have to determine is what expenses to keep and which ones to minimize.



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