Building a Budget

Now that college has consumed much of our money, how are we supposed to know how much ‘extra’ money we have? To spend or save? That is the real question; you may never have the opportunity to travel about the world, but also, you want money saved for retirement.

The answer? Saving money! You always need to keep in mind your needs, wants, and priorities, but along with that comes mental strength, the ability to say no. You need to have the ability to say no to that new shirt – the money is for the future. But, maybe you NEED that shirt because you have never seen anything like it. Walk away… do you want the shirt, or to have a little extra spending money for that summer vacation? When you create a budget, you are able to estimate your income, subtract your expenses, include what goes to savings, and you are left with, hopefully, a little money! Yesterday, I found a budget online and according to the website, if I keep spending like I do, I am going to be $55 in the hole by the end of the month. You should always overestimate your expenses, so I probably have roughly $100 extra to spend on ‘fun’ activities this month.

My ‘fun’ activities include seeing Billy Joel at Lambeau Field this past weekend, and leaving for New York City tomorrow morning! $100 ahead is going to be more like $100 below in just a few days. It is amazing how quickly money can “disappear”. That is why it is beneficial for everyone to create a budget so they are aware of how much they are truly spending.

So, to build a budget, you must first determine a financial goal: a trip, college, house, car, retirement, etc.? Of course, every month, you can put money aside for each savings goal you have – some being more important than others. Next, you need to find a budgeting tool that works best for you. There are hundreds of them on the internet, or you can visit your bank and I am sure they would love to help you out. UWL also has a resource center, It Make$ Cents! where they will walk you through the steps on how to make a realistic budget. They also have budgeting calculators available to you, along with some budgeting tips. Although the It Make$ Cents! Office is closed throughout the month of July, their website is still available to you and is very useful to first time budgeters.

Tonight, I have a list of items I need to buy (maybe more of a girly want) before I leave tomorrow. Maybe I can talk myself into taking a few things off that list – will power (or maybe won’t power)! After creating my budget yesterday, I should be living in a hole and giving someone else my plane tickets, but life is meant to be enjoyed, therefore, I am going on the trip and will probably spend a few too many dollars.

Budgeting is a very important factor to being financially successful, and it can take many, many years to reach the point of ‘happiness’ with money, that is, if money is your happiness. Or, maybe it’s the satisfying feeling of saving money to enjoy that goal you have been working hard to reach. Everyone has goals that need to be set, followed, and obtained in life to be happy, and creating a budget is the first step towards that goal.


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Welcome! Welcome! Welcome!

I would like to welcome the incoming freshmen to the university and also to the Scholarship Research Center (SRC), where I hope you spend lots of time because it can benefit you in many, many ways.

I, too, am an incoming freshman – exciting! In fact, today is my first day working in the Financial Aid Office located in Graff. I have been hired to work on the SRC to help you save money throughout your years here! Our mission is to encourage you to focus on alternative funding options that match up with your personal achievements and unique personalities. We also work to help students locate scholarships that fit their unique qualifications, educate them regarding submitting high quality applications and ultimately, see students further their education by receiving scholarships to fund their future goals through education.

Originally, my goal was to work three jobs this summer to save money to provide for my college education, life, and career, but mainly, my college education, because current costs are unlikely to leave me debt free after I graduate. After several months of preparing for a summer low on fun and high on work hours, I decided to look into scholarships offered in my local community. After applying for nearly fifteen different local scholarships, I can say I am a proud recipient of four scholarships totaling close to $3,000.00. I worked very hard to earn these scholarships, but the work paid off!

Now, I am on the other side of the computer, encouraging you to take the time to apply for the multitude of scholarships available to you. I have been working for a total of four hours at this job and I am overwhelmed with the abundance of opportunities this campus provides as an option for you to receive financial assistance. Once you are on the welcoming SRC website, the different scholarships available are laid out to best fit your interests. You can search by department or do an external database search to find the different scholarships available to you which are organized by the deadline date. You can also take part in the “Get Scholarific!” Survey on the home page of the SRC website and you will receive an email back from us with specific scholarship options for you!

If you have any questions, stop into the Financial Aid Office or call (608)-785-8604. I hope you will join me in my search on the Scholarship Research Center website to find a scholarship that suits you best, in hopes of saving your hard earned money for the future.

Carlie Burkhardt

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June Staff Member of the Month!

It’s that time again! Meet our June Financial Aid Person of the Month! Karen DeSchepper is part of our Support Staff and if you’ve ever called in or stopped by the Financial Aid Office, it’s not uncommon for her to be one of the first people you talk to! Karen has been a part of UWL staff since 2004, although initially her work was in the Office of Continuing Education and Extension. In 2015 she joined the Financial Aid Office, and has been a major player here ever since! In 1991, Karen earned her Office Computer Specialist Degree from Western Tech, but she also has what she describes as a degree in “Life” thanks to all the things she’s learned up to now. When asked what her favorite part of her job is, she’ll tell you she loves working with and helping students directly. Being able to provide encouragement and multiple financial options to concerned students warms her heart. When she’s not helping students with college funds, you can find her singing karaoke, or playing with her two dachshunds, whom she is obsessed with! An interesting fact is, every single day she works, she goes to Global Grounds just across the street from the Financial Aid Office and gets an Iced Americano. (Shout out to Alina and Demi!) When asked for a piece of Financial Aid advice she would give to readers, Karen said, “Don’t be afraid to ask questions yourself (vs. having your parent ask us and then hearing the answers secondhand).  We’re here and want to help….really!” She also wants students to know how helpful and driven our staff is in helping students: “The people in our office really care about our students and want them to be successful here at UWL!” I couldn’t agree more, Karen! If you’re someone struggling with Financial Aid issues, stop by our office and talk to Karen. You’ll not only learn a lot, but chances are, you’ll also come away feeling much better about any issues you may be facing.


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Transfer Troubles?

As the year winds down, some students may have plans to transfer to other Universities. I am no exception. In June, I’m moving halfway across the country. So what’s next? If you’re like me, moving to a whole new university next fall, there are some important steps to follow to ensure that you’ve got everything ready!

First off, double check with your new school’s Admissions Office that your UWL credits transfer, as this can set you a bit behind. Some schools are especially picky with what does and doesn’t apply. There are also schools that require you to finish your general education credits before you can qualify for transferal to their school. Others require you to have a certain amount of general education credits left so you can specifically take them there. It can all seem a bit confusing, but the Admissions Office of a college is there to help you.

Next, you need to get your Financial Aid information handled. If you, for whatever reason, haven’t filled out your FAFSA for next year, do so now! And while doing so, make sure to change your school code from UWL to whatever the code is for the school you will be transferring to. If you’ve already filled out your FAFSA, make sure to go back and change the school code as well!

After you finish fixing up your FAFSA, you need to send an email to the UWL Financial Aid office, telling them you are transferring, as this is important for our files. Our email is If you have a Perkins loan, you will also need to send an email to the Cashier’s office, letting them know you plan on transferring. This should help assure that your Financial Aid is all set for transferring!

The final step to remember is to finish Exit Loan Counseling. This is a federally required process for anyone who borrowed loans while at UWL. You may remember doing a similar process when you first applied for loans with the Entrance Loan Counseling. The process is simple enough, and you can get started here.

Transferring may seem a bit daunting, but it’s a process thousands of students go through every year. Follow these steps, and you’ll be on the right track to successful transferal in no time!

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May Staff Person of the Month!

Terry Micks. Photo by University Communications

Terry Micks. Photo by University Communications

Meet our first Financial Aid Staff Person of the Month! Terry Micks is the UWL Loan Programs Coordinator. She first came to UWL in 1972 for school, but when she got married took a break, caring for her two children, who have since grown. In fall of 2001 she came back and finished getting her Bachelors degree in Political Science in Spring 2002. She has one grandchild, and has worked in Financial Aid for almost 20 years! Interested in genealogy, she studies her family history, and otherwise loves to pass the time reading and cooking. In her time at UWL in the 1970’s, she was involved in student government, and was part of a committee of three who wrote the original UWLSA constitution! What a fun fact! Her Financial Aid advice is simple: “Only borrow what you need! You wouldn’t take out a bank loan to buy a pizza, so why would you take out extra student loans for spending money?” Come stop by our office if you have any issues with loans, and she is ready and able to help you out!

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So Long, Farewell, Auf Wiedersehen

As the school year comes to an end in a few months, we all must face a bittersweet reality: many students are nearing their final days here as UWL students. While we will miss their faces and their contributions to the campus environment, we feel excited for them. They are taking the next step in their lives, accepting the diplomas they’ve worked so hard for, and stepping into the careers they’ve been dreaming of. But before they can continue on, we have some important reminders for soon-to-be graduates…

First, all graduating students who have borrowed federal loans must go through Exit Loan Counseling. This process takes about 30 minutes and must be done in one sitting. Be sure to have contact information prepared not only for yourself, but for your parents/next of kin, and two references who live separately from your next of kin. This process is a federal requirement, so finishing it is of the utmost importance. To start your Exit Loan Counseling, head to the Federal Student Loan website here.

Another highly important aspect of graduating is registering with your loan servicer. They are going to be invaluable when paying off your loans as they can help you plan your payments each month. Make sure that they have your most up-to-date information so that they can contact you whenever necessary. Still a little lost on all that a loan servicer does? That’s ok! The Federal Student Aid site has an entire page dedicated to their importance right here.

A bit unsure about how much money you still owe? The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) allows you to track your federal loans and how much you owe at any given time. In order to gain access, you will need your social security number, as well as your FSA ID, so be sure to have both on hand. The site will keep you informed on your loan or grant amounts, outline the remaining balances and statuses of your loans, and will make financial planning for the future far easier. Check out the NSLDS site here. This information should also be available on you federal loan service’s website.

Our final piece of advice to graduates is simply, stay on top of your loans. Bad credit can follow you longer than you think, and can affect your ability to buy everything from a car to a house. Work with your servicer to determine what you can afford each month, and talk with them if you have any issues. They are there to help.

As you finish out your final days as a college student, enjoy them. A chapter in your life is closing. It may be difficult, but your future is bright.



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Weird Science! Er… Scholarships!

Have you ever seen a scholarship and thought “How is that a scholarship?” Today I decided to dive in and investigate some of the scholarships that can leave you scratching your head in confusion, but can earn you lots of money for college too!

First off is from a company you’ve probably heard of! The Taco Bell Live Más Scholarship offers awards from $5,000 to $25,000. You can earn this scholarship by submitting a two-minute video of your passion, no matter what it is! They also stress that they’re not looking for experts in film, so your video doesn’t have to be a piece of art. The focus is on your passion. If you or a family member already works at Taco Bell, there is a separate application for you available.

The next scholarship asks a serious question: What would you do during the zombie apocalypse? Unigo, a site dedicated to finding the perfect college for you, also creates scholarships, this being one of their more popular ones. Fans of ‘The Walking Dead’ no doubt will love delving into the haunting idea in this 250-word essay. If you’re like me, you know the smartest place to take shelter would be in a Wal-Mart. (They have everything you need!)

Have you ever seen a greeting card that makes you think…What would anyone use that for? Well, it’s your turn to confuse the world! This scholarship asks you to create a greeting card to be eligible for their $1,000 scholarship. So if you’ve been sitting on an idea for a card that would blow all others out of the water, this is your chance to unleash the brilliance onto the world! (And potentially earn yourself some money for school at the same time).

Our final unique scholarship is all about RC toys! Almost everyone can remember opening up a brand new RC car or helicopter on their birthday and making it zip across the house the rest of the day. While some of them lasted longer than others (my brother set a record one year by breaking a helicopter 5 minutes after taking it out of the packaging) the memories they provided will never fade. This scholarship asks you to write about how RC toys may change in the future. Perhaps for example they could become more durable, or have an extended battery life. The winner will receive a $1,000 scholarship!

To conclude, there is a scholarship for seemingly everything! If you don’t know where to start when it comes to scholarship searches, consider some of these, or if you want, search based on your interests and major! You will no doubt find dozens of scholarships available to you.

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Student Loan Regrets

Students, this is your warning: use your student loan money wisely. Statistics show too many students end up using their leftover student loan funds for unnecessary things, ranging from eating out at restaurants to even going on vacations. When you get student loans, especially ones you realize you don’t need, it can be easy to think they’re good for anything. But the long-term effects of doing this are going to be felt for an extremely long time.

It should be noted: there are some things it’s ok to spend your loan payments on besides tuition, especially if you’re going through a financially difficult time. Sometimes rent money isn’t available, and maybe the meal plans are a bit too expensive for you. That’s understandable. Just remember: if you can use other things to pay for your current needs, do so. The long term effects will be far less damaging.

Students often assume that the effects of student loans won’t hit them. Perhaps they believe they’re going into a successful field where they’ll make enough that they won’t have to worry about it. However, according to Accenture, a company that studies college students and their predictions and outcomes after finishing school, 40% of recent college students make less than $25,000 annually. Only 65% are in fields relating to their majors. Even STEM students are often recorded not going into their intended field. These statistics make for a bad time when students are trying to claw their way out of debt.

If you borrowed more than you need, you can return them. Save yourself money in the long term. Obviously, sometimes you need all the loans you can get, but if you’re using them for trivial things like a trip to PINK or at the local GameStop, it’s time to stop. Instead, get a part time job. Working will give you money to spend on the less important things or activities you want. It will also earn you experience you’ll need when you step into the workplace after college.

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Scholarship Stress?

Scholarships can be… stressful. They’re not always clear, and some may feel incredibly repetitive after filling out dozens upon dozens of applications. So what can you do? At the Scholarship Resource Center, we work hard to know and put to use all the tips and tricks you need to earn some extra money for school.

The first step can often be the most intimidating one: finding scholarships. Thankfully, the Scholarship Resource Center has you covered there! We have hundreds of scholarships ready for you to look through in our External Scholarship Database. We also have options where you can sort out scholarships that fit you specifically. Are you majoring in History and have an interest in studying abroad? We have settings to help you find scholarships just for that! Are you Hispanic and a part of the LGBTQ+ community? We have settings available for you too! All scholarships on our database are researched by office staff to ensure they are safe and applicable to UWL students. If you have any questions or concerns about these scholarships, please do not hesitate to drop by, or give us a call.

The next step for scholarships, in particular those that have an essay portion, is to focus on things that set you apart from others. Say you have to write about your future goals; a simple “I don’t know yet” isn’t going to be earning you anything fast. Explore possibilities for your future. Think about where you want to be, the kind of work you enjoy, how college can help you get there. Focus on things that others wouldn’t think of. Scholarships are awarded to those who leave an impression on judges, not to those who do the same thing everyone else does.

A major mistake many scholarship applicants make is focusing on their grades rather than anything else. While grades matter, that’s not all that scholarship judges want to hear about. Don’t be afraid to discuss your experiences in clubs, your passions, or even your culture during your essays. You are far more than just your grade point average!

A factor to keep in mind is how the amount of work required may affect your chances. College students are busy, there’s no doubt about that. Because of that, any scholarships that require more work than the average are easier to obtain than simple 150 words or less essays. You will have less competition for the money you need for school. So, if you have some extra time on your hands, use it wisely!

Scholarships from around your community are some of the best ways to earn what you need. Are you apart of a church, or a member of a community program? Is your parent a member of the local auxiliary, or perhaps the town’s Knights of Columbus? These could all leave you eligible for scholarships through those programs. As they are not national, you have a far greater chance of receiving aid from these types of sources than most others. If you’re not a part of any of these groups, consider joining some and volunteering with them in the next several years. Even if you don’t end up receiving scholarships from them, they’re always handy to have for volunteer experience, and make great additions to your résumé!

Have you ever seen a scholarship that required you to send in money to be eligible? Those scholarships are scams. No legitimate scholarship should ask you for money in order to be eligible. If you have any concerns about whether or not a scholarship is legitimate, do not hesitate to call the Financial Aid Office at 608.785.8604, or stop by our office in 215 Graff Main Hall. We are always willing to help, and if we can save you from being subject to a scam, we will do everything in our power.

Scholarships may be intimidating, but saving you money is worth it! Keep up on them, and don’t let the loss of one scholarship stop you from continuing to apply to many more. And again, if you have any questions or concerned, don’t be afraid to ask our office for help!


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Monetarily App-ealing!

Apps have revolutionized our world more than we could have ever imagined. In fact, “There’s an app for that!” has become a common catchphrase for our society. Not surprisingly, money saving and tracking apps have become major attractions for anyone from businessmen to college students. In this article, we’re going to discuss and compare some of the best, and most popular apps that can help you be frugal and informed!

The first app isn’t for your phone, but for your computer! After you install Honey, any time you go shopping online, the widget will open up, showing you dozens of available coupons for you to use for your purchases! I’ve personally used this several times on major retail sites like Target, Macy’s, and even Microsoft! They also have deals where if you buy certain items from stores, you could earn anywhere from 1-100% of your money back. The percentage is always random, never letting you know in advance how much you can save, so don’t count on it to always save you enough if you’re tight on money. Another bonus they offer is price comparison! On sites like Amazon for example, it can be hard to know if you’re getting the best deal. With this tool, if a seller is available that can get you the same product at a reduced price, you will be notified! I’m obligated to mention that you should use this app wisely and only for things you need. Saving money is great, but not if you’re saving on something you never needed in the first place.

Another major app to consider for your financial needs is Mint! Available for both iOS and Andriod phones, this app is considered the best of the best! (One article even referred to it as the “Beyoncé” of personal finance apps.) By tracking all of your bank accounts, including savings, checking, even retirement accounts if you’re ahead of the game, this app creates potential budgets based on spending and income patterns for you to use. Every transaction is recorded and available to see in the app as well, making any potential threats to your accounts obvious before it’s too late.

Another major money saver for those who don’t depend on campus dining halls, Grocery iQ is the perfect app to save while stocking up for food! Available on iOS and Andriod, you can build grocery lists while simultaneously finding the lowest prices on each item based on the stores around you. It also offers barcode scanning so that if you need to find that one very specific brand of salsa that you just love too much, you know exactly what stores are carrying it! They also offer coupons for certain products, making everything just a little more easier on your wallet!

The final app any not-so-money-savvy student should look into is going to be another great one for those who can’t look to the dining plan for their food: Campus Special. Made specifically for college students, this app finds the best restaurant/eatery deals available around you and even allows you to order right from your phone for pick-up and delivery services! If you use the app enough, you earn rewards that you can use at your favorite places! Perhaps you can nab a free two-liter from your local Pizza Hut, or get two orders of Topperstix for the price of one. This will be an app you want to check out.

Saving money doesn’t have to be something you do all on your own. There are multitudes of apps and websites that are set up specifically to help you! If you’re not really interested in these however, you could always stop by It Make$ Cents! The staff members in their office are always willing to help you create budgets, and find great ways to save! Stop by 2103 Centennial Hall if you’re interested in their help.


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