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Financial Tips for Students

Use the tips below to avoid excessive debt by meeting important deadlines, setting financial goals, and exploring available resources.

File your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application (if AB540 eligible) each year by the March 2 deadline.

Don't miss any assistance opportunities. When you file your FAFSA or California Dream Act Application on time each year, you'll be considered for the best types of financial aid.

Submit any requested documents and information to the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office by the May 1 deadline.

May 1 is the deadline to provide additional required documents such as verification worksheets and income tax returns, or to resolve processing holds.

If verification information is submitted or holds are resolved after May 1, funding is limited to loans, Federal Pell Grant, and Cal Grants only, based on eligibility.

  • Review your UCSD e-mail account often, so you won't miss important requests for additional information and documents to complete your application.
  • Access your financial aid status using the Financial Aid tool to see what additional information and documents are requested.

Develop and keep to a budget.

Think about what you earn now and what you may earn in the future.

  • Develop a budget of estimated and actual expenses for the school year. Try the Financial Aid and Scholarships Office's Budget Worksheet (PDF) designed for this purpose.
  • Review UCSD's Budgets and Costs of Attendance to estimate your educational costs.

Pursue scholarships.

Scholarships don't require payback and are available to all students.

Keep borrowing to a minimum.

Loans can help cover your educational costs, but loans aren't always the best option. Try part-time employment or cutting your personal expenses to graduate with the least amount of debt.

  • Before you borrow, consider your future earning potential. Use the Repayment Estimator to explore repayment options based on your potential income. Also contact your loan servicer to explore the best repayment option for you after graduation.
  • Borrow only what you need for school and living expenses.

Consider a job.

If your schedule permits, part-time employment can help cover costs and help keep borrowing to a minimum.

  • Visit the Career Services Center for a list of available on- and off-campus jobs.
  • Find a balance that works for you; most undergraduates can work 10-20 hours per week during the school year.
  • Work and save money during the summer to reduce your need to work during the school year.
  • Read more about the benefits of student employment.
  • Find out more about jobs and internships.

Take advantage of UCSD's deferred payment plan, TRIP.

TRIP lets you make installment payments on your student account so you don't have to pay large amounts all at once.

Receive tax deductions or credits for educational expenses.

You or your parents might be eligible to recover some of your out-of-pocket college expenses (typically tuition and fees) if grants and scholarships don't fully cover them.


For more information, see these resources: