College Planning

There are a lot of financial considerations when you’re planning for college, when you’re attending college and as you leave college. We’ve compiled some tips and resources to help you during this time of your life.

Before College


Saving for college early on can be very beneficial in the long run. You can avoid the hassle of applying for student aid and paying back loans, if you already have money saved to cover the costs.

Financial Aid

When it comes to paying for college, begin by looking in to federal financial aid.

  • Federal Student Aid – The U.S. Department of Education provides information about what types of federal aid could be available to you, eligibility requirements and how to apply
  • FAFSA – Already familiar with your federal student aid options? FAFSA’s website can help you fast track application process or re-filing if you are a returning student.
  • FinAid – Free for all users and offers comprehensive and objective information, advice, and tools about financial aid.

If you need additional assistance, start by checking out the scholarships and grants for which you might qualify. Often, local organizations that you or your family members are involved with offer scholarships – don’t be afraid to ask. Also, be sure to check with your school advisers and teachers. Here are a couple of additional resources for finding scholarships.

  • Fastweb – run a free search to find scholarships for which you are qualified, based on your personal profile
  • – a widely recognized and trusted resource that will help you easily find and apply for scholarships and grants


Developing a proper budget before attending college is crucial for many students. Sometimes your funds seem to run out very quickly, and you are left making sacrifices that may have been avoidable.

Sitting down and creating a budget can help prioritize expenses. This way, you can identify what’s most important to your particular situation and ensure that you provide enough money for those critical items. Try to determine your “needs” compared to your “wants,” and focus more on the list of things you absolutely need. It is also a good idea to prepare for any unexpected costs you may encounter, and set a little aside for those if you are able to.

Keep your budget organized and update it as your college career progresses. After all, there is no point in creating a budget if you are not going to stick with it!

There are many budgeting tools and apps out there, many of which are free to use and don’t require any registration or fees. Check out our calculators page for our Student Budget Calculator and other calculators that will help you in your financial life.

During College

There is a lot to focus on while attending college. Studying and getting good grades are important. College life can be full of stress and hard work, but also can be very rewarding and provide opportunities as well. There are many other things to consider or do to ensure your continued success as you move forward.

Establishing Credit

Credit is needed to get the most favorable terms when purchasing a vehicle or home or even to get a personal loan. It is usually a good idea to look into getting a credit card or two to help establish or build credit. There are many low credit limit options out there for first-time card holders and students. Many of them also offer rewards for using the card to make everyday purchases. It is often recommended that you get a credit card before or during college, so make sure to educate yourself on what to look for before choosing the right one for you. As you begin to establish your credit, it’s also a good idea to check your credit report annually to ensure that there are no errors or issues that could be affecting your credit score in the future.

GCU has a variety of credit card options available to help start building your credit footprint.

Getting Involved

Think about joining a club or student organization if your college offers them. There are several benefits to doing this, and it can provide you with good team working and leadership skills. This article provides some details about the possible extra benefits you can receive by getting involved on your campus.

Student Aid

Remember to update and re-submit your FAFSA forms if you are using federal student aid. There are federal and state deadlines and your college may also have deadlines as well.


There a lot of reasons to get a job while you are attending college. Sometimes, student aid does not quite cover all of your expenses depending on your situation, and you need some extra funds to get by more comfortably. Finding a part-time or full-time job can help put some cash in your pocket now and relieve a little financial stress.

Be sure to check out any employment opportunities your school may offer or with nearby businesses that you can easily commute to.

After College

Just graduated? All of that hard work and dedication have finally paid off, and you are ready to take the next steps. There may be a lot of choices ahead as you move forward with life, and many of them could be more important than you realize.

  • Looking to purchase your first vehicle or home? GCU’s competitive consumer and mortgage loan rates can help you get one step closer.
  • We also offer insurance coverage for your home or auto. Accidents can happen at any time; make sure you are properly covered and don’t get stuck paying the costs of repairs or replacements.
  • As you start down your chosen career path or your first job after graduation, you may want to consider saving for your retirement. GCU offers Traditional and Roth IRAs as well as other investment services and accounts which are provided through our financial adviser. Contact us or stop in a branch today to learn more and start planning for your future!
  • Is your student loan deferment over? Be sure to check with your financial aid borrower to see what options are available for loan consolidation. Consolidating your student loans can lower interest costs and make things easier to keep track of.
  • Interested in starting a career at Guardian Credit Union? Learn more about GCU’s available employment opportunities on our careers page.
  • Education Discounts

    Education Discounts

    Education Discounts

    We partnered with some local colleges and universities to help make tuition more affordable for our members.

  • Student Checking

    Student Checking

    Student Checking

    You can earn $25 cash rewards up to two times per year, with a 3.50 GPA or higher.

  • Credit Cards

    Credit Cards

    Credit Cards

    From low rates to earning rewards, we have the right card to establish, or improve, your credit responsibility.

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