Financial stress is defined as a common strain that involves money. Financial stress can affect everyone, especially college students.

  • College students experience financial stress from college tuition, book costs, housing fees/rent, gas prices, and many other things.
  • In this following section we will provide resources and how-to’s to combat financial stress in college students and lead a well balanced life.

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11 Ways to Reduce Your Financial Stress in College

These tips will help you ease any stresses about being financially stable as a college student.

1. Find a job that pays you well without stressing you out.

If your job responsibilities are stressing you out or inhibiting you from achieving academic success, it may be time to find another job. Look for an on-campus job or one near campus that offers a relaxed work environment that is supportive and understanding of your responsibilities as a college student.

  • Tru-Postions is located on your Tru-view under the student tab which shows updated position openings on campus for Scholarship, Institution, and Work study positions.

2. Make a budget.

SONY DSCSet aside 30 minutes at the start of every semester to list what your expenses will be. Figure out how much you’ll need each month to cover these expenses and what sources of income you’ll have (on-campus job, money from your parents, scholarship money, etc.). Knowing what your expenses will be ahead of time can help you figure out how much money you’ll need and when. Having a budget and sticking to it will allow you to not only manage your money month to month, but also create opportunities to start saving and allocating spending to what you really need or want.

Do you have enough in your account to still meet the expenses you’ll have for the rest of the semester? Is your spending on track? If not, what do you need to cut down on, and where can you find some extra funds during your time in school?

3. Understand the difference between want and needs when it comes to spending money.

Do you need a winter jacket while in college? Of course. Do you need to have a brand-new, expensive winter jacket every year while in college? Most likely not. When it comes to looking at how you spend your money, make sure you differentiate between wants and needs.

For example: Need coffee? Fair enough! Need coffee at $4 a cup at the coffee shop on campus? Nope! Consider brewing some at home and bringing it to campus in a travel mug that will keep it warm throughout your first class of the day.

Deciding what is important to spend your money on is tough, but a needed skill to learn during college. If you can, add into your budge some extra spending money to give yourself an opportunity to afford a couple “just for fun” purchases.

4. Use an online tracking program to keep track of where your money goes.


Your bank may offer something online or you can choose to use a website, like, that helps you see where your money goes each month. Even if you think you know where and how you spend your money, actually seeing it graphed out can be an eye-opening experience — and key for you to reduce your financial stress during your time in school.

Most credit cards will track your spending and give a report each month on where your money is going. Be sure to check each month and make changes to your budget when needed.

5. Be responsible when using your credit card. 

If you think things are tight and stressful now, imagine what they’d be like if you racked up a lot of credit card debt, couldn’t make your minimum payments, and had creditors calling to harass you all day long.

Having a credit card is a useful tool to building credit and learning to manage your money, when used correctly. Paying off your card in full each is crucial to keeping up on your bills and finances. Doing so ensures you do not over spend, as well as avoid racking up extra charges in interest.

Many companies offer student cards with extra rewards and services specially for college students. Before getting a credit card research the rates and rewards that each offers.

5 tips for College and Credit Cards

6. Talk to the financial aid office if you’re really stressed.

If your financial situation in college is causing you significant stress, it may be because you’re in a situation that is financial unsustainable. While most students experience tight budgets, they shouldn’t be so tight that the stress they cause is overwhelming. Make an appointment to talk to a financial aid officer to discuss your financial aid package. Even if your school can’t make any changes to your package, they might be able to suggest some external resources that can help you with your finances — and, consequently, with your stress levels.

7. Know where to get money if you’re in a real emergency.

Some of your financial stress may be coming from not having an answer to the “What will I do if something major happens?” question. For example, you might know you don’t have the money to fly home if there’s a family emergency, or you might not have the money to fix your car, which you need to get to school, if you were in an accident or needed a major repair. Spending a little time now to figure out where to get money in an emergency can help alleviate the stress that comes from feeling like you’re walking on thin financial ice all of the time.

8. Be honest with your parents and other sources of financial support.

Your parents may think they’re sending you enough money or that you’re taking an on-campus job will distract you from your academics, but the reality can sometimes be a little different. If you need to change something in your financial situation, be honest with those who are contributing to (or depending on) your college finances. Asking for help might be intimidating but it might also be a great way to ease up on the factors causing you stress day in and day out.

9. Make the time to apply for more scholarships.


Every year, it’s impossible to miss the news headlines that report just how much money in scholarships remains unclaimed. No matter how tight your time is, you can always find a few minutes here and there to search for and apply to more scholarships. Think about it: If that $10,000 scholarship only took 4 hours to research and apply for, wasn’t that a good way to spend your time? That’s like earning $2,500 an hour! Spending half an hour here and there to find scholarships can be one of the best ways to spend your time and reduce, over the long-term, the financial stress in college. After all, aren’t there more exciting things you’d like to be focusing on?

Truman Resources

Put your mind at ease with these campus resources about financial aid and student employment!

  • Office of Financial Aid: The Financial Aid Office supports the University Mission by providing information and assistance in a variety of financial aid areas.  We process the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) results to determine federal, state, and some University eligibility.  We also answer questions about grants, loans, *scholarships, and work programs.  Other areas we cover include private scholarship check processing, financial literacy, budgeting, study abroad funding, loan counseling, and scholarship service and renewal.
  • Student Employment: Types of student employment.
  • Truman Student Position Listings: Find positions around campus
  • Truman Foundation scholarships open each semester and are applicable through Truview.

External Resources

Student story: Overcoming financial obstacles to college

Student story: Overcoming the financial aid process as an obstacle to college:

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