Helena College School Code 007570


It really is possible to obtain your degree with little or no debt.

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Past Wise Wednesday Materials

September was Budgeting 101: Dave Ramsey Style

Creating a budget allows you to see where your money goes throughout the month giving you a better idea of how to prepare for the upcoming month's expenses. This presentation covered ways to develop a budget from the popular author Dave Ramsey. The envelope budgeting method is an easy way to learn how to budget. Put the amount you budget for each expense into individual envelops and do not take money out other than to pay that specific expense. Example: If you budget $500 a month for groceries. When you receive your first paycheck of the month, write yourself a check for $250, cash it and put it in the envelope marked "Groceries". As stated above, NO money comes out of teh envelope excpet to pay for food at the store. Use the envelope system for items that you tend to bust your budget on.

October was Using Credit to Your Advantage

Credit, credit scores and credit reports can be very confusing concepts. Improving these areas of your personal finances can be even more frustrating and baffling. This presentation provided information on the definitions of these concepts, what is included in generating a score or report as well as what lenders look at when you apply for a loan.

November was Holiday Budgeting: A Guide to Christmas Spending

Students needing help with budgeting for holiday gifts, dinners and other shopping can use the below printouts to get organized and reduce stress for a great holiday season.
Black Friday Shopping List
Christmas Gift List
Holiday Budget
Holiday Budget Worksheet
Holiday Card Planner
Holiday Party Planner




Creating a College Spending Plan video from the Montana University System.

Create a Budget

Step 1: Start by reviewing your past spending habits.
If you have a checking account, use your check register to analyze your income and expenses for the past couple of weeks. Otherwise, you can start by keeping track of everything you spend your money on over the next several weeks. This will allow you to see what you spend the most money on and determine whether it is a need or a want.

Step 2: Collect all sources of income.
Create a list of all the income you receive each month. This may include financial aid, money from family, anticipated job income, work study income, child support payments, food stamps and any other sources of money you receive.

Step 3: Collect all expense information.
Gather all expenses: receipts, bills and credit card statements. Using the list you created of your expenses you may notice some unnecessary spending in areas you can cut back on. You should use the net price calculator to assist you in creating a better list of expenses. It may be a good idea to add savings as a "bill" to ensure you are paying yourself first and setting money aside. If you have accepted any loans it would be very beneficial to make it a habit to pay on the principal or interest while you are in school. Even a small amount can make a big difference.

Step 4: Form a budget using the information you collected.
There are a wide variety of budgeting tools to assist you.


Types of Budgets

There are a number of websites and apps to help you manage your budget.
www.mint.com (also an app)

Budgets on Excel
You can find many different Excel budget templates online.
Excel Budget

Paper and Pencil Budgets
You can easily write down each form of income and expense and calculate a budget. There are also several different budgets you can print to use each month.
Monthly Budget



All About Credit video from the Montana University System.


What is Credit?

Credit is a contractual agreement in which a borrower received something of value now and agrees to repay the lender at a later date. It allows you to buy now with the promise of paying later. Two main types of credit include loans and credit cards.

Loans let you borrow money that must be repaid with interest. Loans may be obtained for a number of reasons: purchase of a car or house, paying for college tuition or renovating a house. Federal student loans are offered with lower interest rates to assist with paying for your tuition, fees and other educational expenses.

Credit Cards
Credit cards are the most common type of personal credit. They allow repeated transactions up to a maximum credit limit. Each time you charge something, you are borrowing the money until you pay it back. If you decide to pay the money back over time, the credit card company adds interest charges to your account. Each month, you will pay a calculated amount until the borrowed amount is paid in full.
Credit card interest rates are typically very high and may range from 12%-25%. The longer you take to pay the money back, the more interest you pay on the money you borrowed. Credit cards are not bad, but using them incorrectly can significantly impact your financial future.

What should you know before obtaining and using a credit card?
-What is the interest rate?
-What is the annual fee (APR)?
-What is the late fee?
-What is the over-the-limit fee?
-Do they offer a grace period?
-What is the credit limit?


What is a credit report?

A credit report is a detailed report of an individual's credit history prepared by a credit bureau and used by a lender in determining a loan applicant's creditworthiness. A credit bureau is a company that collects your payment history from creditors, lenders, utilities, debt collection agencies and courts. They report how much you have borrowed, how you have repaid and other details about your borrowing behavior.
A free credit report is available through www.annualcreditreport.com.

The three main credit reporting agencies include:

What is a credit score?

A credit score is a statistically derived numeric expression of a person's creditworthiness that is used by lenders to access the likelihood that a person will repay his or her debts. Below is a chart of the items that factor into the calculation. Understanding how credit scoring works can help you manage your credit health.

How can I maintain a good credit history?
-Always pay your bills on time.
-Never borrow money you can't comfortably pay back.
-Borrow only what you need and know how much you owe.
-Contact lenders immediately if you expect to have payment problems.
-Limit your applications for new credit.
-Check your credit at least once a year.
-Create a budget to manage your expenses and stick to it!



Ways to save in Helena

Helena is located in a prime outdoor recreational area. Go outside! There are plenty of free activities to participate in within the community. The Helena Outdoor Club meets to hike Mount Helena and other trails around town.


Make Saving a Habit

If you can't save 10% of your income, save 5%. If you can't save 5%, save 2%. If you can't save 2%, save $20 a month or whatever you can afford. But get into the habit and make it regular. When things improve, you can boost that percentage, you can boost that dollar figure and it won't feel so painful to you. You've already set it up and you're already in the habit of saving. You have to start, why not today!


Personal Matched Savings Accounts 

These enable individuals to save and build assets more quickly than they can on their own. These accounts allow you to save for assets you may need, including a new computer, a washer and dryer, or just to save for emergencies.

MT Money Magic by Student Assistance Foundation

Rural Dynamics See if you are eligible for a 3 to 1 savings match account

Deferred Payment Plans through Business Services. This plan will split your tuition and mandatory fees into 4 payments throughout the semester.




Filing Your FAFSA

You never have to pay to file your FAFSA, it's a FREE application. FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid and it is found at only one website. www.fafsa.ed.gov. Completing your FAFSA is the first step to receiving Financial Aid. The Helena College school code is 007570; add this to your FAFSA under School Information.

The FAFSA is available January 1st each year for the upcoming academic year. In order to get the most aid possible it is best to apply by February 15th. We encourage you to complete your FAFSA as early as possible, even if you have not yet completed your taxes. You may submit your FAFSA using estimates and then make corrections at a later date.

Dependent Students vs. Independent Students
For financial aid purposes you are considered a dependent student unless you meet one of the following:
-you are at least 24 years old;
-you are married;
-you have children;
-you are or were an orphan or ward of the court until you turned 18;
-you are a veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces.


Types of Aid You Could Receive

Once you have filed your FAFSA and have been admitted we will generate a Financial Aid award for you which may include:

  • Scholarships
  • Grants
  • Work Study
  • Tuition Waivers
  • Federal Student Loans

FREE MONEY!  There are a number of scholarships available to you as a Helena College Student.  These scholarships are due throughout the entire year so it is important to monitor our scholarship page monthly. This is money you do not have to pay back; it is worth your time to apply. You could benefit by applying for all scholarships because you don't know how many people will apply or if they will fulfill the requirements. Each year millions of scholarship dollars go un-awarded because no one applied. 

This are free money that you can apply for by completing your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Apply every January to see if you are eligible for Federal and State grants.

Work Study
This is campus based employment that is willing to work around your academic schedule.  Check our website for openings.

Tuition Waivers
Helena College offers a several tuition waivers that are available if you meet specific requirements.

Student Loans
There are a variety of federal loans available to college students. The loans are relatively easy to receive but unlike all of the options discussed above, they do have to be repaid...with interest! Student loans are designed to cover your college costs after all eligible scholarships, grants, work study and tuition waiver dollars have been awarded.


How to Keep Your Financial Aid

Is Financial Aid Free? a video from the Montana University System.


Student Loans

How to Blow Your Refund a video from the Montana University System.


Applying for Student Loans

What I Wish I Had Known: Financial Aid a video from the Montana University System 

After submitting your FAFSA, you will receive your financial aid award on your myHC account with a list of the types and amounts of federal student loans you are eligible for. You do NOT have to accept the entire loan amount you are awarded. Before you take out student loans be sure to accept any grants, scholarships, work study or tuition waivers first! These are free money that you do not have to repay.


Accepting Student Loans

Know you limits. Financial aid is not infinite; you have a limit of the amount of student aid you can receive. Know what you owe, a dependent undergraduate student cannot borrow more than $31,000 in federal loans and independent undergraduates cannot exceed $57,500. If you are planning to transfer and receive a bachelor's master's or professional degree try to avoid taking loans as long as possible to save for when you will really need them.

You can utilize repayment calculators at Youcandealwithit.com.


While You're in College

We strongly encourage you to start paying toward your student loans while you are still in school. Even $5 a month can make a difference. You are granted one 6 month grace period prior to starting repayment on your loans. If you are attending at least 6 credits your loans are considered to be in "in school deferment". If you attend less than half time (<6 credits) or you stop attending you go into repayment. If your servicer contacts you regarding your enrollment you can complete the following form to make your loans go back into the "in school deferment" status.

In School Deferrment Form
Benefits of paying interest on your Unsubsidized loan while in school and during your grace period.
Keep track of your student loan debt! To find out how much you owe visit www.nslds.ed.gov


Paying Off Student Loans

Repayment Options a video from the Montana University System.

If you drop below 6 credits or you graduate or stop attending your grace period begins. Subsidized and Unsubsidized loans have a grace period of 6 months. Once your grace period is over, you will be in repayment on your student loans. Prior to going into repayment you should contact your servicer to set up a payment plan. There are many different repayment options, some with $0 per month payments.


If you don't make your student loan payments....

A Federal student loan enters default when your last payment is over 270 days (that is 9 months) late.
The number one defense for default is communication. There are several payment plan options available to you, some with payments as little as ten dollars a month.

Your loan service providers are there to help you and if you stay in communication with them they will work with you! 

The penalties that accompany student loan default are sever:
-Collection costs are added at 24% on the principle and the interest of your loan.
-The Federal Government will take 15% of your paycheck as a wage garnishment.
-If you receive Social Security benefits, those will be garnished at 15% as well.
-You will not receive a Federal or State tax refund while your loans are in default.
-All of this information goes on your credit report.
-You could lose many state licenses, including driver's licenses and hunting and fishing licenses.

Don't panic if you have defaulted. There are ways to get out of default. Contact your servicer as soon as possible and you can rehabilitate your loans.


Tools and Resources for Money Management

  • For a great budget builder visit youcandealwithit.com. Do not forget once you get your budget built you need to keep it current.  Re-evaluate and make adjustments as necessary!
  • Manage your money better with www.mint.com 
  • Don't forget to show your student ID when you shop, you can receive student discounts! Ask about a list of local discounts in the Welcome Center.
  • www.cashcourse.org provides personal finance tips and other helpful resources.
  • www.practicalmoneyskills.com provides personal finance tips, games, apps, calculators and other helpful resources.
  • www.saltmoney.org provides articles, tools, apps, comics and videos to help you learn to better manager your money.


The Financial Aid office at Helena College is here to help. 
Please call 447-6900 with any questions.

Contact Fund Wiser at fundwiser@umhelena.edu.