Budget for College Graduates That Actually Works

Author
Grace Lemire
Grace Lemire
author

Grace Lemire is a freelance writer and editor with over five years of experience in the personal finance industry. She has been featured on a variety of publications, including NPR, CNN, FinanceBuzz, Dollar Geek, Pangea, and True Finance. Her work focuses on the intersection of personal finance and technology. In 2023, Grace was nominated for the Best Personal Finance Advice award in Debt.com’s FinTok Awards.

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Updated
September 14, 2023

Graduating college is the beginning of a new chapter in your life. You may be moving out of your parents’ house, landing an exciting new job, or heading to graduate school. Regardless, managing your finances post-graduation is crucial in navigating your new adult life. To help keep your finances in order, consider making a college graduate budget.

A budget is a financial tool designed to help you manage your income and expenses so you can stay on track to reaching your financial goals. Here’s how to create a budget as a college graduate.

How to Create a Budget After Graduating College

Step 1: Get Real About Your Income

Life post-graduation will likely come with a full-time job, often earning you more than the standard part-time college gig. While exciting to have more income to work with, it’s important to understand how much you’ll actually have to spend on a regular basis.

Remember that your salary is the amount you earn before taxes, or your gross income. Your salary also doesn’t factor in other potential deductions, such as your 401k contribution or employer-sponsored health insurance.

For example, let’s say you make $60,000 per year. You decide to contribute 10% of your gross income to your 401k, or around $500 per month. If you live in Missouri, for example, you’d take home $39,911.93 after contributing to your 401k and after tax. This averages out to around $3,325 per month.

Step 2: Determine Your Fixed Expenses

There are a variety of fixed expenses you may incur post-graduation, such as:

  1. Living Expenses/Rent
  2. Utilities
  3. Groceries
  4. Student Loan Payments
  5. Insurance
  6. Transportation/Car Payment
  7. Phone Bill
  8. Pet Expenses

Fixed expenses are those that remain the same each month. Oftentimes, but not always, they are necessary expenses, as well.

Depending on your lifestyle, your fixed expenses may differ from the list above. For example, if you are living at home rent-free with your parents, your fixed expenses may be:

  1. Student Loan Payments: $250
  2. Transportation Costs: $100
  3. Therapy Appointments: $200
  4. Gym Membership: $40

Your fixed expenses will create the baseline for your budget, coming before factoring in any “wants.”

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Minimum credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

8B PSL Terms & Conditions

8B loans are made available by 8B Finance, Inc. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

APR or “annual percentage rate” is a calculation of what the loan will cost, taking into consideration interest, fees and length of loan.

8B offers two separate interest rate reductions. You can earn a 0.75% interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawals of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. In addition, you can earn a 0.50% interest rate reduction upon graduation. The interest rate reduction for graduation will be available upon verification from the National Student Clearinghouse.

Information advertised is valid as of 05/03/2023. Approved interest rate will depend on the creditworthiness of the applicant(s), while lowest advertised rates are only available to the most creditworthy applicants. 8B has no affiliation with the school you are attending.

9.20 - 13.00%

Variable APR

N/A

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Minimum credit score

670

Fixed APR

Loans are made available by the Arkansas Student Loan Authority (ASLA), a division of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, which is an Arkansas state government agency.

Loan terms are subject to change. All loans are subject to approval based upon underwriting guidelines determined by ASLA and its advisors. Interest rates for approved loans will be based upon the borrower’s credit history as reported under the FICO credit scoring system.

Non-Arkansas residents must attend an eligible institution of higher education within the state of Arkansas to be eligible for an ASLA loan. Arkansas residents may attend an eligible institution of higher education within or outside of the state of Arkansas to be eligible for an ASLA loan.

For more information related to the Arkansas Student Loan Authority and its loan products, visit www.asla.info.

3.20 - 6.34%

Variable APR

Loans are made available by the Arkansas Student Loan Authority (ASLA), a division of the Arkansas Development Finance Authority, which is an Arkansas state government agency.

Loan terms are subject to change. All loans are subject to approval based upon underwriting guidelines determined by ASLA and its advisors. Interest rates for approved loans will be based upon the borrower’s credit history as reported under the FICO credit scoring system.

Non-Arkansas residents must attend an eligible institution of higher education within the state of Arkansas to be eligible for an ASLA loan. Arkansas residents may attend an eligible institution of higher education within or outside of the state of Arkansas to be eligible for an ASLA loan.

For more information related to the Arkansas Student Loan Authority and its loan products, visit www.asla.info.

6.06 - 10.61%

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Minimum credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 9/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.

4.48 - 15.66%

Variable APR

Ascent’s undergraduate and graduate student loans are funded by Bank of Lake Mills, or DR Bank, each Member FDIC. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions. Certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. For Ascent Terms and Conditions please visit: www.AscentFunding.com/Ts&Cs. Rates are effective as of 9/1/2023 and reflect an automatic payment discount of either 0.25% (for credit-based loans) OR 1.00% (for undergraduate outcomes-based loans). Automatic Payment Discount is available if the borrower is enrolled in automatic payments from their personal checking account and the amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. For Ascent rates and repayment examples please visit: AscentFunding.com/Rates. 1% Cash Back Graduation Reward subject to terms and conditions. Cosigned Credit-Based Loan student must meet certain minimum credit criteria. The minimum score required is subject to change and may depend on the credit score of your cosigner. Lowest APRs require interest-only payments, the shortest loan term, and a cosigner, and are only available to our most creditworthy applicants and cosigners with the highest average credit scores.

6.03 - 15.94%

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Minimum credit score

680

Fixed APR

It is recommended that you utilize scholarships, grants and other federal student loans, such as the Federal Direct Student Loans, available to you before you use a Brazos Student Loan.

By providing your email, you are consenting to receive periodic emails from Brazos regarding the Brazos Student Loan, as well as general student loan information, information on other Brazos loan products or services, and other information we believe you will find informative and helpful.

Rates and terms provided as a result of a soft credit check do not mean you have been approved for the Brazos Student Loan but will give you an indicator of if, and on what terms, you may qualify. In order to qualify and be approved for the loan, you must apply, have a hard credit pull performed, and provide all necessary documents and information. A hard credit inquiry may impact your credit score.

Credit Review and Approval. If you choose to apply for a Brazos Student Loan, Brazos Parent Loan, or Brazos Refinance Loan and continue your application past the pre-credit eligibility stage, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for Brazos to be able to issue you a Brazos loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. The initial credit review is based on review of all the information you and your cosigner (if applicable) provide during the application process and the information obtained from your credit report(s). If you pass the initial credit review, you will need to provide acceptable documentation such as your income verification before the final loan approval.

Brazos Education Lending Corporation (Brazos) is a part of a group of several non-affiliated nonprofit companies that are all managed by The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc. and are commonly referred to as the Brazos Managed Companies. The first of the Brazos Managed Companies was organized in 1975 in Waco, Texas, as a secondary market for student loans. Since that time, the Brazos Managed Companies have, on a combined basis, served an estimated 2 million student borrowers and have helped fund an estimated $30 billion in student loans.

2.71 - 6.85%

Variable APR

It is recommended that you utilize scholarships, grants and other federal student loans, such as the Federal Direct Student Loans, available to you before you use a Brazos Student Loan.

By providing your email, you are consenting to receive periodic emails from Brazos regarding the Brazos Student Loan, as well as general student loan information, information on other Brazos loan products or services, and other information we believe you will find informative and helpful.

Rates and terms provided as a result of a soft credit check do not mean you have been approved for the Brazos Student Loan but will give you an indicator of if, and on what terms, you may qualify. In order to qualify and be approved for the loan, you must apply, have a hard credit pull performed, and provide all necessary documents and information. A hard credit inquiry may impact your credit score.

Credit Review and Approval. If you choose to apply for a Brazos Student Loan, Brazos Parent Loan, or Brazos Refinance Loan and continue your application past the pre-credit eligibility stage, we will request your full credit report from one or more consumer reporting agencies, which is considered a hard credit inquiry. Hard credit inquiries (or hard credit pulls) are required for Brazos to be able to issue you a Brazos loan. In addition to requiring your explicit permission, these credit pulls may impact your credit score. The initial credit review is based on review of all the information you and your cosigner (if applicable) provide during the application process and the information obtained from your credit report(s). If you pass the initial credit review, you will need to provide acceptable documentation such as your income verification before the final loan approval.

Brazos Education Lending Corporation (Brazos) is a part of a group of several non-affiliated nonprofit companies that are all managed by The Brazos Higher Education Service Corporation, Inc. and are commonly referred to as the Brazos Managed Companies. The first of the Brazos Managed Companies was organized in 1975 in Waco, Texas, as a secondary market for student loans. Since that time, the Brazos Managed Companies have, on a combined basis, served an estimated 2 million student borrowers and have helped fund an estimated $30 billion in student loans.

5.32 - 9.26%

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Minimum credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

*The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. $5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 08/25/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 09/13/2023. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

4.41 - 16.99%

Variable APR

College Ave Student Loans products are made available through Firstrust Bank, member FDIC, First Citizens Community Bank, member FDIC, or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.

*The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as the borrower or cosigner, if applicable, enrolls in auto-pay and authorizes our loan servicer to automatically deduct your monthly payments from a valid bank account via Automated Clearing House (“ACH”). The rate reduction applies for as long as the monthly payment amount is successfully deducted from the designated bank account and is suspended during periods of forbearance and certain deferments. Variable rates may increase after consummation. $5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees. Information advertised valid as of 08/25/2022. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.

This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a freshman borrower who selects the Deferred Repayment Option with a 10-year repayment term, has a $10,000 loan that is disbursed in one disbursement and a 8.35% fixed Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $179.18 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $21,501.54. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.

Information advertised valid as of 09/13/2023. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation. Approved interest rate will depend on creditworthiness of the applicant(s), lowest advertised rates only available to the most creditworthy applicants and require selection of full principal and interest payments with the shortest available loan term.

5.49 - 16.99%

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Minimum credit score

625

Fixed APR

Custom Choice Student Loan Disclosures

Before applying for a private student loan, Citizens and Monogram recommend comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans.

 

The Custom Choice Loan® is made by Citizens (“Lender”). All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to Lender’s underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions and other terms and conditions apply. LENDER AND MONOGRAM LLC EACH RESERVE THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

 

Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the expected number of years in deferment, (4) the requested loan amount and (5) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective as of 10/01/2023. The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding 30-Day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, or a replacement index if the SOFR index is no longer available, plus a fixed margin assigned to each loan. The SOFR index is published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The current SOFR index is 5.31% as of 10/01/2023. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the SOFR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.

APRs displayed as a range in the rate table assume a $10,000 loan with one disbursement. The high APRs assume a 7-year term with the Flat Payment Repayment option, a 2 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The low APRs assume a 7-year term, and the Immediate Repayment option with payments beginning 30-60 days after the disbursement via auto pay.

Auto pay discount is a 0.25% interest rate reduction for making automatic payments of principal and interest from a bank account (“auto pay discount”) by completing the direct debit form provided by the Servicer. The auto pay discount is in addition to other discounts. The auto pay discount will be applied after the Servicer validates your bank account information and will continue until (1) three automatic deductions are returned for insufficient funds during the life of the loan (after which the discount cannot be reinstated) or (2) automatic deduction of payments is canceled. The auto pay discount is not available when reduced payments are being made or when the loan is in a deferment or forbearance, even if payments are being made.

Certain repayment terms may not be available depending on the applicant’s enrollment status and/or debt-to-income ratio. The 15-year repayment term is only available for loan amounts of $5,000 or more. Making interest only or flat interest payments during deferment will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. Payment examples (all assume a 14-month deferment period, a six-month grace period before entering repayment, no auto pay discount, and the Interest Only Repayment option): 7-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 7-year repayment term (84 months), and a 8.91% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $160.43. 10-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 10-year repayment term (120 months) and 8.59% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $124.47. 15-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 15-year repayment term (180 months) and a 8.54% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $98.71.

Custom Choice Loan® is a registered trademark of Monogram LLC.

4.43 - 14.66%

Variable APR

Custom Choice Student Loan Disclosures

Before applying for a private student loan, Citizens and Monogram recommend comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans.

 

The Custom Choice Loan® is made by Citizens (“Lender”). All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to Lender’s underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions and other terms and conditions apply. LENDER AND MONOGRAM LLC EACH RESERVE THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE. TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND RATES ARE SUBJECT TO CHANGE AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.

 

Interest rates and APRs (Annual Percentage Rates) depend upon (1) the student’s and cosigner’s (if applicable) credit histories, (2) the repayment option and repayment term selected, (3) the expected number of years in deferment, (4) the requested loan amount and (5) other information provided on the online loan application. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate applicable to your loan. Rates and terms are effective as of 10/01/2023. The variable interest rate for each calendar month is calculated by adding 30-Day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (“SOFR”) index, or a replacement index if the SOFR index is no longer available, plus a fixed margin assigned to each loan. The SOFR index is published on the website of the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The current SOFR index is 5.31% as of 10/01/2023. The variable interest rate will increase or decrease if the SOFR index changes or if a new index is chosen. The applicable index or margin for variable rate loans may change over time and result in a different APR than shown. The fixed rate assigned to a loan will never change except as required by law or if you request and qualify for the auto pay discount.

APRs displayed as a range in the rate table assume a $10,000 loan with one disbursement. The high APRs assume a 7-year term with the Flat Payment Repayment option, a 2 month deferment period, and a six-month grace period before entering repayment. The low APRs assume a 7-year term, and the Immediate Repayment option with payments beginning 30-60 days after the disbursement via auto pay.

Auto pay discount is a 0.25% interest rate reduction for making automatic payments of principal and interest from a bank account (“auto pay discount”) by completing the direct debit form provided by the Servicer. The auto pay discount is in addition to other discounts. The auto pay discount will be applied after the Servicer validates your bank account information and will continue until (1) three automatic deductions are returned for insufficient funds during the life of the loan (after which the discount cannot be reinstated) or (2) automatic deduction of payments is canceled. The auto pay discount is not available when reduced payments are being made or when the loan is in a deferment or forbearance, even if payments are being made.

Certain repayment terms may not be available depending on the applicant’s enrollment status and/or debt-to-income ratio. The 15-year repayment term is only available for loan amounts of $5,000 or more. Making interest only or flat interest payments during deferment will not reduce the principal balance of the loan. Payment examples (all assume a 14-month deferment period, a six-month grace period before entering repayment, no auto pay discount, and the Interest Only Repayment option): 7-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 7-year repayment term (84 months), and a 8.91% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $160.43. 10-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 10-year repayment term (120 months) and 8.59% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $124.47. 15-year term: $10,000 loan, one disbursement, with a 15-year repayment term (180 months) and a 8.54% APR would result in a monthly principal and interest payment of $98.71.

Custom Choice Loan® is a registered trademark of Monogram LLC.

5.37 - 15.19%

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Minimum credit score

650

Fixed APR

Auto Pay Discount Disclosure

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

Student Loan Origination Interest Rate Disclosure

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.67% APR to 16.15% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.64% APR to 16.45% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan origination loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred. Sparrow receives compensation from Earnest on a per-funded loan basis.

Student Loan Origination Loan Cost Examples

These examples provide estimates based on the Deferred Repayment option, meaning you make no payments while enrolled in school and during the separation period of 9 billing periods thereafter. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 15-year term (180 monthly payments of $157.12) and an 11.69% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $21,290.40. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 15-year term (180 monthly payments of $173.51) and an 13.03% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $22,827.79. Your actual repayment terms may vary.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit Lending Licenses – Earnest for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2023 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.

4.42 - 15.90%

Variable APR

Auto Pay Discount Disclosure

You can take advantage of the Auto Pay interest rate reduction by setting up and maintaining active and automatic ACH withdrawal of your loan payment. The interest rate reduction for Auto Pay will be available only while your loan is enrolled in Auto Pay. Interest rate incentives for utilizing Auto Pay may not be combined with certain private student loan repayment programs that also offer an interest rate reduction. For multi-party loans, only one party may enroll in Auto Pay.

Student Loan Origination Interest Rate Disclosure

Actual rate and available repayment terms will vary based on your income. Fixed rates range from 4.67% APR to 16.15% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Variable rates range from 5.64% APR to 16.45% APR (excludes 0.25% Auto Pay discount). Earnest variable interest rate student loan origination loans are based on a publicly available index, the 30-day Average Secured Overnight Financing Rate (SOFR) published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. The variable rate is based on the rate published on the 25th day, or the next business day, of the preceding calendar month, rounded to the nearest hundredth of a percent. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Although the rate will vary after you are approved, it will never exceed 36% (the maximum allowable for this loan). Please note, Earnest Private Student Loans are not available in Nevada. Our lowest rates are only available for our most credit qualified borrowers and contain our .25% auto pay discount from a checking or savings account. It is important to note that the 0.25% Auto Pay discount is not available while loan payments are deferred. Sparrow receives compensation from Earnest on a per-funded loan basis.

Student Loan Origination Loan Cost Examples

These examples provide estimates based on the Deferred Repayment option, meaning you make no payments while enrolled in school and during the separation period of 9 billing periods thereafter. Variable APR: A $10,000 loan with a 15-year term (180 monthly payments of $157.12) and an 11.69% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $21,290.40. For a variable loan, after your starting rate is set, your rate will then vary with the market. Fixed APR: A $10,000 loan with a 15-year term (180 monthly payments of $173.51) and an 13.03% APR would result in a total estimated payment amount of $22,827.79. Your actual repayment terms may vary.

Earnest Loans are made by Earnest Operations LLC or One American Bank, Member FDIC. Earnest Operations LLC, NMLS #1204917. 535 Mission St., Suite 1663, San Francisco, CA 94105. California Financing Law License 6054788. Visit Lending Licenses – Earnest for a full list of licensed states. For California residents (Student Loan Refinance Only): Loans will be arranged or made pursuant to a California Financing Law License.

One American Bank, 515 S. Minnesota Ave, Sioux Falls, SD 57104. Earnest loans are serviced by Earnest Operations LLC with support from Navient Solutions LLC (NMLS #212430). One American Bank and Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.

© 2023 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved.

5.39 - 16.20%

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Minimum credit score

Varies

Fixed APR

Edly Student IBR Loans are unsecured personal student loans issued by FinWise Bank, a Utah chartered commercial bank, member FDIC. All loans are subject to eligibility criteria and review of creditworthiness and history. Terms and conditions apply.

* According to a study by LendEDU (https://lendedu.com/blog/state-of-private-student-loans-report), the approval rate for students without a cosigner was 8.84%. Historical Edly application data shows more than 24% of applicants, who apply without a cosigner, meet our eligibility requirements.

** To defer payments, students must provide qualifying documentation, which may include historical or current paystubs or proof of job search.

© Copyright 2023 Edly Inc. Edly is a Registered Investment Advisor in NY State Loans issued by Finwise Bank

0.25 - 23%

Variable APR

N/A

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Minimum credit score

750

Fixed APR

4.52 – 9.04%

Variable APR

7.88 - 10.82%

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Minimum credit score

680
4.48 - 12.29%
4.98 - 12.79%

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Minimum credit score

None

Fixed APR

LOAN ELIGIBILITY: Must be a US citizen or permanent resident, age 18 or over. Must be enrolled as a full-time undergraduate student in a bachelor’s degree program at a Title IV-eligible four year college (for-profit schools not eligible).

LOAN AVAILABILITY – Residents of the following states are eligible for 2021-2022 loans: Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia, and Wisconsin. Terms and conditions vary by state.

DISCLAIMER: Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are made by Funding University which is a for-profit enterprise. Funding University is not affiliated with the school you are attending or any other learning institution. None of the information contained in Funding University’s website constitutes a recommendation, solicitation or offer by Funding University or its affiliates to buy or sell any securities or other financial instruments or other assets or provide any investment advice or service.

NMLS #1819881 | www.nmlsconsumeraccess.org | Funding University, Inc.

7.49 - 12.99%

Variable APR

N/A

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Minimum credit score

670

Fixed APR

4.62 - 8.08%

Variable APR

7.88 - 12.34%

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Minimum credit score

660

Fixed APR

1 – Terms and Conditions Apply

Loan products, terms, and benefits may be modified or discontinued by participating lenders at any time without notice. Rates displayed are reserved for the most creditworthy consumers who enroll to make automatic monthly payments. Your initial rate will be determined after a review of your application and credit profile. Variable rates may increase after consummation. You must be either a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident in an eligible state and from an eligible school, and meet the lender’s credit and income requirements to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account, a minimum share account deposit, and the payment of any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to apply with, and accept a loan offered from, a credit union lender. If you are not a member of the credit union lender, you may apply and become a member during the loan application process if you meet the lender’s eligibility criteria. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may result in a better chance of loan approval and/or lower interest rate. Loans for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not available via LendKey.com.

2 – Cosigner Release

Some lenders participating on LendKey.com may offer the benefit of cosigner release. Cosigner release is subject to lender approval. In order to qualify, the borrower, alone, must meet the following requirements: (1) Make the required number of consecutive, on-time full principal and interest payments as indicated in the borrower’s credit agreement during the repayment period (excluding interest-only payments) immediately prior to the request. Any period of forbearance will reset the repayment clock; (2) The account cannot be in delinquent status; (3) The borrower must provide proof of income indicating that he/she meets the income requirements and pass a credit review demonstrating that he/she has a satisfactory credit history and the ability to assume full responsibility of loan repayment; (4) No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the last sixty months; and (5) No loan defaults.

3 – Autopay Rate Reduction

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments.

4 – AutoPay Discount & Lowest Interest Rate

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised APR is only available for loan terms of 10 years and is reserved for the highest qualified applicants, taking into consideration the applicant’s credit and other factors.

4.39 - 11.11%

Variable APR

1 – Terms and Conditions Apply

Loan products, terms, and benefits may be modified or discontinued by participating lenders at any time without notice. Rates displayed are reserved for the most creditworthy consumers who enroll to make automatic monthly payments. Your initial rate will be determined after a review of your application and credit profile. Variable rates may increase after consummation. You must be either a U.S. citizen or Permanent Resident in an eligible state and from an eligible school, and meet the lender’s credit and income requirements to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account, a minimum share account deposit, and the payment of any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to apply with, and accept a loan offered from, a credit union lender. If you are not a member of the credit union lender, you may apply and become a member during the loan application process if you meet the lender’s eligibility criteria. Applying with a creditworthy cosigner may result in a better chance of loan approval and/or lower interest rate. Loans for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not available via LendKey.com.

2 – Cosigner Release

Some lenders participating on LendKey.com may offer the benefit of cosigner release. Cosigner release is subject to lender approval. In order to qualify, the borrower, alone, must meet the following requirements: (1) Make the required number of consecutive, on-time full principal and interest payments as indicated in the borrower’s credit agreement during the repayment period (excluding interest-only payments) immediately prior to the request. Any period of forbearance will reset the repayment clock; (2) The account cannot be in delinquent status; (3) The borrower must provide proof of income indicating that he/she meets the income requirements and pass a credit review demonstrating that he/she has a satisfactory credit history and the ability to assume full responsibility of loan repayment; (4) No bankruptcies or foreclosures in the last sixty months; and (5) No loan defaults.

3 – Autopay Rate Reduction

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments.

4 – AutoPay Discount & Lowest Interest Rate

Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised APR is only available for loan terms of 10 years and is reserved for the highest qualified applicants, taking into consideration the applicant’s credit and other factors.

5.84 - 11.11%

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Minimum credit score

None
14.75 - 15.01%

Variable APR

N/A

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Minimum credit score

High 600s

Fixed APR

Interest Rates

Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% APR (with auto debit discount) to 15.07% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan. Variable interest rates range from 6.28% APR (with auto debit discount) to 15.50% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates for Nelnet Bank Student Loans are calculated using either (a) the One-Month SOFR; (b) the 30-day Average SOFR; or (c) the forward-looking term rate based on SOFR as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and/or The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth day (or the next business day) of the immediately preceding calendar month. The variable rate may reprice and change on the first day of each month if the SOFR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month SOFR index is 5.31% as of October 1, 2023.

The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments. The lowest rate is available only to the most creditworthy applicants. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate., The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, and (3) the loan type selected. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.

Auto Debit (Auto Pay)

Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.

Cosigner Release

A request for the cosigner to be released can be made by either the borrower or cosigner when each of the following conditions has been met:

  • The account must have been in full principal and interest repayment for at least 24 months.
  • Twenty-four consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments, or lump sum equivalent, must have been made.NOTE: A lump sum payment does not replace the requirement to have been in full principal and interest repayment for at least 24 months. Interest-only or fixed-pay payments while enrolled in school do not qualify towards the 24 consecutive on-time payments.
  • The loan must be current at the time of request.
  • The loan must not have been in deferment, hardship forbearance, or other alternative payment assistance plan within the past 24 months.
  • The loan must not have been permanently modified from its original terms in the credit agreement.
  • The primary borrower must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency in the United States.
  • The primary borrower must meet the age of majority requirement in their permanent state of residency.
  • Requirements are subject to change.

If all of these conditions have been met, then an application for cosigner release may be submitted. The primary borrower is required to demonstrate they have the ability to assume sole responsibility for the loan(s) by providing proof of income, meeting debt-to-income requirements, and having a satisfactory credit history. (A credit report will be obtained during the review process).

If you have questions on cosigner release, or would like to apply, contact us via email or phone at Loans@NelnetBank.com or 800.446.4190

Flexible Repayment

Nelnet Bank offers various payment assistance programs to assist you if you are currently struggling to make payments. Contact Nelnet Bank at Loans@NelnetBank.com or 800.446.4190 to get more information.

4.49 - 15.07%

Variable APR

Interest Rates

Fixed interest rates range from 4.49% APR (with auto debit discount) to 15.07% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. The fixed interest rate will remain the same for the life of the loan. Variable interest rates range from 6.28% APR (with auto debit discount) to 15.50% APR (without auto debit discount). Your interest rate will depend on your (and if applicable, your cosigner’s) credit qualifications. Variable rates for Nelnet Bank Student Loans are calculated using either (a) the One-Month SOFR; (b) the 30-day Average SOFR; or (c) the forward-looking term rate based on SOFR as published by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York and/or The Wall Street Journal “Money Rates” table on the twenty-fifth day (or the next business day) of the immediately preceding calendar month. The variable rate may reprice and change on the first day of each month if the SOFR index changes. This may result in higher monthly payments. The current One-Month SOFR index is 5.31% as of October 1, 2023.

The lowest interest rate for each loan type requires automatically withdrawn (“auto debit”) payments. The lowest rate is available only to the most creditworthy applicants. Not all borrowers will receive the lowest rate., The interest rate and Annual Percentage Rate (APR) may be higher depending upon (1) the credit history of the borrower and, if applicable, the cosigner, (2) the repayment option and loan term selected, and (3) the loan type selected. If approved, applicants will be notified of the rate qualified for within the stated range.

Auto Debit (Auto Pay)

Interest rate reduction of .25% for automatically withdrawn payments from any designated bank account (“auto debit discount”). Auto debit discount applies when full payments (including both principal and interest) are automatically drafted from a bank account. The auto debit discount will continue to apply during periods of approved forbearance or deferment if the auto debit discount was in effect at the time of receiving the forbearance or deferment. Auto debit discount will remain on the account unless (1) the automatic deduction of payments is canceled or (2) there are three consecutive automatic deductions returned for insufficient funds at any time during the term of the loan.

Cosigner Release

A request for the cosigner to be released can be made by either the borrower or cosigner when each of the following conditions has been met:

  • The account must have been in full principal and interest repayment for at least 24 months.
  • Twenty-four consecutive, on-time principal and interest payments, or lump sum equivalent, must have been made.NOTE: A lump sum payment does not replace the requirement to have been in full principal and interest repayment for at least 24 months. Interest-only or fixed-pay payments while enrolled in school do not qualify towards the 24 consecutive on-time payments.
  • The loan must be current at the time of request.
  • The loan must not have been in deferment, hardship forbearance, or other alternative payment assistance plan within the past 24 months.
  • The loan must not have been permanently modified from its original terms in the credit agreement.
  • The primary borrower must be a U.S. citizen or have permanent residency in the United States.
  • The primary borrower must meet the age of majority requirement in their permanent state of residency.
  • Requirements are subject to change.

If all of these conditions have been met, then an application for cosigner release may be submitted. The primary borrower is required to demonstrate they have the ability to assume sole responsibility for the loan(s) by providing proof of income, meeting debt-to-income requirements, and having a satisfactory credit history. (A credit report will be obtained during the review process).

If you have questions on cosigner release, or would like to apply, contact us via email or phone at Loans@NelnetBank.com or 800.446.4190

Flexible Repayment

Nelnet Bank offers various payment assistance programs to assist you if you are currently struggling to make payments. Contact Nelnet Bank at Loans@NelnetBank.com or 800.446.4190 to get more information.

6.28 - 15.50%

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Minimum credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

Repayment Options: Deferred, $25 Fixed, or Interest Repayment during school

Lowest rates shown include auto debit discount. Advertised rates are for the Smart Option Student Loan for undergraduate students and are valid as of 04/25/2023.

Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/ separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

Examples of typical transactions for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan With the most common variable rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year In-school period, it works out to a 6.88% APR, 51 payments of $25 00, 119 payments of $136.17 and one payment of $112.58, for a Total Loan Cost of $17,591.81. For a borrower with $20,000 In prior loans and a 2-year In-school period, it works out to a 7.06% APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $98.17 and one payment of $66.85 for a total loan cost of $18,314.28. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 year. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.

Sparrow is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Sallie Mae loan customers. Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their representative owners.

4.50 - 14.83%

Variable APR

Repayment Options: Deferred, $25 Fixed, or Interest Repayment during school

Lowest rates shown include auto debit discount. Advertised rates are for the Smart Option Student Loan for undergraduate students and are valid as of 04/25/2023.

Interest is charged starting when funds are sent to the school. With the Fixed and Deferred Repayment Options, the interest rate is higher than with the Interest Repayment Option and Unpaid Interest is added to the loan’s Current Principal at the end of the grace/separation period. Payments may be required during the grace/ separation period depending on the repayment option selected. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan. Advertised variable rates reflect the starting range of rates and may vary outside of that range over the life of the loan. Advertised APRs assume a $10,000 loan to a borrower who attends school for 4 years and has no prior Sallie Mae loans. The borrower or cosigner must enroll in auto debit through Sallie Mae to receive a 0.25 percentage point interest rate reduction benefit. This benefit applies only during active repayment for as long as the Current Amount Due or Designated Amount is successfully withdrawn from the authorized bank account each month. It may be suspended during forbearance or deferment, if available for the loan.

Examples of typical transactions for a $10,000 Smart Option Student Loan With the most common variable rate, fixed repayment option, 6-month separation period, and two disbursements: For a borrower with no prior loans and a 4-year In-school period, it works out to a 6.88% APR, 51 payments of $25 00, 119 payments of $136.17 and one payment of $112.58, for a Total Loan Cost of $17,591.81. For a borrower with $20,000 In prior loans and a 2-year In-school period, it works out to a 7.06% APR, 27 payments of $25.00, 179 payments of $98.17 and one payment of $66.85 for a total loan cost of $18,314.28. Loans that are subject to a $50 minimum principal and interest payment amount may receive a loan term that is less than 10 year. Variable rates may increase over the life of the loan.

Sparrow is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Sallie Mae loan customers. Sallie Mae, the Sallie Mae logo, and other Sallie Mae names and logos are service marks or registered service marks of Sallie Mae Bank. All other names and logos used are the trademarks or service marks of their representative owners.

5.87 - 16.20%

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Minimum credit score

Mid-600s

Fixed APR

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.44% to 14.70% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 5.99% to 14.03% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.99% to 14.48% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.99% to 13.97% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.50% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 6.32% to 14.03% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 08/31/2023.

4.44 - 14.70%

Variable APR

UNDERGRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.44% to 14.70% annual percentage rate (“APR”) (with autopay), variable rates from 5.99% to 14.03% APR (with autopay). GRADUATE LOANS: Fixed rates from 4.99% to 14.48% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 5.99% to 13.97% APR (with autopay). PARENT LOANS: Fixed rates from 6.50% to 14.83% APR (with autopay), variable rates from 6.32% to 14.03% APR (with autopay). For the SoFi variable-rate product, the variable interest rate for a given month is derived by adding a margin to the 30-day average SOFR index, published two business days preceding such calendar month, rounded up to the nearest one hundredth of one percent (0.01% or 0.0001). APRs for variable-rate loans may increase after origination if the SOFR index increases. Interest rates for variable rate loans are capped at 13.95%, unless required to be lower to comply with applicable law. Lowest rates are reserved for the most creditworthy borrowers. If approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your creditworthiness, the repayment option you select, the term and amount of the loan and other factors, and will be within the ranges of rates listed above. The SoFi 0.25% autopay interest rate reduction requires you to agree to make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic monthly deduction from a savings or checking account. The benefit will discontinue and be lost for periods in which you do not pay by automatic deduction from a savings or checking account. Information current as of 08/31/2023.

5.99 - 13.97%

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Step 3: Calculate What You Have Left

Now, subtract your fixed monthly expenses from your monthly income. What you have left over will be what you can contribute to your savings goals and nonessential spending.

For example, if you earn $3,325 per month, and have fixed monthly expenses totaling $590, you’d be left with $2,375 for discretionary spending.

Step 4: Determine Your Savings Goals

Before spending your remaining income, map out your savings goals and prioritize contributing toward them. Remember, you may have larger expenses coming up in this phase of life, such as:

  1. A down payment on a home
  2. Moving out/moving to a new city
  3. Furnishing a new home
  4. Buying a car
  5. A wedding
  6. Having children

Set a realistic timeline for each financial goal you have. Then, figure out how much you need to contribute toward each savings goal per month to achieve it. Subtract those figures from your remaining income after factoring in fixed expenses.

>> MORE: How to buy a house with $100K+ student loan debt

Step 5: Think: After Graduating College, What Does a Full Life Look Like to Me?

As a college graduate, for a budget to be successful, it has to support a life you truly enjoy living. While you’ll likely have several necessary expenses to put in your budget, such as rent or student loan payments, it’s important to prioritize “wants” as well.

Think to yourself: What does a full life look like to me? What do I really value that is worth spending money on?

Getting clear on what you enjoy spending on allows you to budget appropriately so you can effectively balance both “needs” and “wants.” It can also help you dodge the pressure to keep up with those around you, or spend on items or experiences you don’t value. For example, if you don’t value spending money on happy hour after work, but your coworkers do, it’s okay to order a less expensive beverage or skip out on the excursion altogether. 

Step 6: Look at Your Spending from Previous Months

To determine how much wiggle room you have to spend on “wants,” look at your spending habits in previous months. Find the average of what you’ve spent in different categories, and use that information to set guidelines for your budget after graduating college.

For example, let’s say you spent $200 on eating out in March, $300 in April, and $150 in May. On average, then, you spend around $216 per month on eating out. If that amount feels reasonable to you, use it to set your limit for that budget category.

This is also a great time to see where you can cut back. If you find yourself overspending in certain categories, be realistic about what that means for your overall budget. For example, if spending $500 per month on entertainment means delaying reaching your financial goals, it may be worthwhile to scale back your spending in that category.

Step 7: Map Out All Your Budget Categories

Once you know what your fixed expenses are, how much you need to contribute to your savings goals, and what you’d like to spend the remainder on, you can set your budget categories.

As a college graduate, some common budget categories are:

  1. Rent
  2. Gas
  3. Insurance
  4. Public Transportation
  5. Student Loan Payments
  6. Car Payment
  7. Entertainment
  8. Groceries
  9. Restaurants
  10. Shopping
  11. Subscriptions
  12. Gym Membership
  13. Self Care
  14. Medical Expenses
  15. Donations/Charity

Pick whichever categories are relevant to you and your lifestyle. Then, assign a spending limit to each category, ensuring that all expenses, including savings goals, add up to your total monthly income.

>> MORE: Student loan refinancing: how to pay off your student debt faster

College Graduate Budget Example

With an income of $3,235 per month, your budget may look something like:

Budget CategoryAmount AllottedSpentLeft Over
Rent$1,500
Transportation$100
Student Loan Payments$250
Therapy Appointments$200
Gym Membership$40
Emergency Savings$500
Restaurants$220
Entertainment$300
Groceries$125
Credit Card Payment$90
Total$3,325

As the month goes, periodically examine your spending. For example, if after one week into the month, you’ve spent $100 of what you budgeted for groceries, you may need to cut back in other categories for the remainder of the month to ensure you can cover grocery expenses going forward.

Likewise, total up your overall spending at the end of the month. This will allow you to see where you may have underspent, allowing you to direct the remaining amount to another expense such as your savings goals.

Bonus Step: Automate Your Budget

If managing your budget manually sounds tedious, consider using a budgeting platform such as YNAB or Mint. Both platforms will allow you to set budget categories, then sync your account with your bank. Then, your expenses will automatically be tracked and categorized, simplifying the process quite a bit.

Managing your finances can be complicated, especially if it’s your first time giving it a go. So, as you begin utilizing your budget, remember to be gentle with yourself. 

Sparrow aims to give you the tools and confidence you need to improve your finances. Many or all of the products featured here are from our partners who compensate us. This may influence which products we write about and where and how the product appears on a page. However, this does not influence our evaluations. Our opinions are our own. While we make an effort to include the best deals available to the general public, we make no warranty that such information represents all available products.

The content displayed on this page is intended for educational purposes only and should not be taken as financial advice. Please consult a professional for personalized financial advice.

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