Preparing for adulthood while in the midst of your college years

By Mackenzie Bath

As I approach the middle of my senior year, I muse on what I might do once Lewis & Clark kicks me out and I have to become more of an adult than I have been the past four years. Adulting is hard, and it requires thinking about lots of things we never want to think about, like taxes, loans, budgets and jobs. Below is a guide to adulting in two main categories: Finance and Living.

Finance: Going to college is not cheap, and the majority of students get loans to help cover expenses. A lot of those students do not know what that actually entails. The two main types of loans are federal and private. Let’s focus on federal, which can be subsidized or unsubsidized. Subsidized loans do not accrue interest while you are in college, meaning that the amount of money you owe will be the same as what they gave you once you graduate. Unsubsidized loans will be more money, as interest has been building. Stafford loans are the most common of federal loans, and can be subsidized or unsubsidized. They don’t require the student to start paying them back until six months after they graduate. Stafford loans also have a fixed interest rate. Perkins loans are subsidized loans which funded more that 500,000 students, but were cancelled this year because Congress did not renew them at the end of 2017. Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS) are still available, but they have many requirements. This loan has no maximum amount, a fixed interest rate, and an application. Stafford loans will be granted to those who demonstrate need in their FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). Private loans can be taken out from a bank. It’s important to ask about student options, because they might be able to delay repayment until graduation or give a fixed interest rate. You can find out more about loans at studentaid.ed.gov or from your bank.

Living: Some students deal with this during college, but it’s an important aspect of adult life that is forgone in education. Signing a lease is signing a contract, and it’s important to know what you’re getting into and what you should expect. Sometimes people will rent to younger people and take advantage of the fact that they forgot to get renter’s insurance or don’t know what the landlord is supposed to be doing for them. It’s important to read your lease carefully and wait to sign it until you are clear and satisfied with each point. Make sure it details the responsibilities of the landlord and renter. The landlord is responsible for ensuring the unit is habitable, which is a little ambiguous. This includes working appliances, usually a sink, refrigerator, stove/oven and washer/dryer. Plumbing, electricity and heating also fall under the landlord’s domain. In the event of something breaking, the landlord usually has thirty days after a written notice to get it fixed. These are all things you want to talk about before you sign the lease. Renters insurance is something people often forget about. This insures your belongings in case of a fire, flood or theft. Any other home insurance does not extend to the renters or their belongings. This also gives you coverage in case of any injuries on the premises. Landlord duties, lease requirements and renters insurance are slightly different in each state, so it’s important to look up specifics before you agree to anything.

It’s hard to be a semi-adult, but we can muddle through if we remember to keep asking questions. It is our choice to sign any of these contracts or loans. Being an adult means our signatures have power, and we need to learn how to use it to our advantage.

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