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College freshman myths that can cost you money

Pay attention to conventional wisdom about college spending

Pay attention to conventional wisdom about college spending or you could end up in a bind later, experts say. Credit: Getty Images/Chip Somodevilla

Unfortunately for some folks, the college "freshmen 15" is a reality, not a myth. Students pack on the pounds and then wonder why they have to loosen their belts a notch.

On the other hand, some college financial "truisms" are myths, and can be costly for college freshmen who believe them.

Once you’re the captain of your financial ship, all sorts of things can throw off your navigation. Here is some of the conventional wisdom that can send you off course.

Don’t worry about student loans until you graduate

Payments may be deferred until after graduation, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore them until then. “Freshman year is a great time to estimate what your student loan payments will be when you graduate and start to plan,” says Ash Exantus, director of financial education at BankMobile in Atlanta.  Think of ways to save money to help pay down those loans.

Only geniuses get scholarships

Explore the types of scholarships available. Grades aren’t always a factor. “There are scholarships based on your major, your income, your ethnicity, your religion or being lefthanded,” points out Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax & Consulting in Rockville Centre.

You can have as much fun as you want and still graduate in four years

“If you don’t focus on your classwork and do well each semester, you might need to add an extra year or two to your time in school, which can get pretty expensive,” says Zimmelman.

My financial aid "refund" is free money

Financial aid is first applied to tuition and fees, then room and board, if applicable.  Any remaining balance must be refunded. Says Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of, “It’s for college costs. Some students splurge and run out of money before year-end.”

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