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Office of Financial Aid
Teachers College, Columbia University
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Financial Literacy

Financial Literacy Resources

The staff in the Teachers College Office of Financial Aid understands that financing your graduate education can seem daunting. We also understand that living on a budget and considering loan repayment plans while embarking on your first (or new) career can be a challenge, as well. In light of our current and alumni students' concerns, our staff has worked together to create this page as a resource for you to educate yourself on the financial circumstances that you may encounter in school and after graduation. Read on to access information on loan repayment, Public Service Loan Forgiveness, and budget management.
  • National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) - The NSLDS is the US Department of Education's official loan database. You can find all of your federal loan history on this page as well as information about your loan servicers. Each loan will be numbered; click on the number by the loan in which you are interested to learn more about that loan. You must use your Federal Student Aid PIN to access this website. If you do not know your PIN, please visit this page to learn how to secure a new one.
  • Federal Student Aid - The US Department of Education recently created this website to help students navigate the world of Federal Student Aid. They have combined numerous information sites that they once owned to form this new site as a one-stop page for all things Federal Student Aid. Each page contains a glossary detailing commonly used financial aid terms and ways to contact the Department of Education.
    • Federal Student Loans - This is a comprehensive page detailing your options and responsibilities as a loan borrower.
    • Repay Your Loans - Learn how, when, and to whom to make your federal loan payments. Understand grace periods, repayments, default, and loan cancellation.
    • Repayment Plans - Find out how to work with your loan servicer to determine which federal student loan repayment plan works best for you. This page displays a table that will allow you to easily compare the plans, while the Quick Links section on the right side of the page will lead you to various repayment calculators.
    • Forgiveness, Cancellation, and Discharge - Certain situations deem your federal student loan(s) forgivable. They may also be cancelled or discharged so that you are no longer expected to repay the loan. Use this page to learn more about these situations as well as the Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) program.
  • Financial Awareness Counseling - The interactive Financial Awareness Counseling module provides students with tools and information to help them understand financial aid and assist them in managing their finances.
  • You Can Deal With It - FedLoan Servicing has developed this website to help student loan borrowers with loan and money management.
    • Trouble Paying - This page provides detailed tips on ways to ensure that you avoid defaulting on your student loans. Go here to learn about how to change your bill's due date, reduce your monthly payments, and consolidate your existing eligible loans.
    • How to Save - Use this page to learn about ways to save for your short- and long-term goals, including the 70-20-10 rule.
    • Managing Money - Understand what it means to "learn more, earn more." The Managing Money area provides tips on how to budget and save while maintaining a good credit score.
    • Personal Stories - Hear from students themselves and read first-hand accounts of how they deal with their student loan debt.
    • Expense Worksheet - Every little expense adds up. Use this worksheet to itemize your monthly bills and anticipate the annual costs for which you must budget.
  • FedLoan Servicing - The FedLoan Servicing Publications page houses several useful pieces of information that can help you make informed decisions about loans that you have borrowed, loans that you plan to borrow, and how to become eligible for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).
  • Access Group - Access Group is a nonprofit organization centered on the promotion of access to higher education. View their main page to access their site menu, which will lead you to advice on paying for school, good financial habits, the importance of good credit, and repaying your loans. Click on the following links to access information and PDFs from Access Group's Credit Smart Series.
    • Repaying Your Student Loans - Go here for Access Group's advice on planning for debt, borrowing wisely, establishing spending plans, and avoiding default.
    • Credit Basics - The good, the bad, and the important things to know about credit.
    • Credit Card Basics - Refresh your memory on credit card fundamentals including your credit limit, fees, rates, and what to look for when applying for your first credit card.
    • Credit Reporting - Understand what affects your credit report and who (besides you) can access it.
    • Credit Scoring - What goes into your credit score? Get an idea of your credit score and how to maximize it.
    • Credit Safety - Identity theft is serious business. Learn how to protect yourself from thieves who may try to access your personal information and damage your credit.
    • Paying For Graduate School - Analyze and compare your needs while developing a personal action plan for graduate school payment.
    • Student Loan Repayment - Compare repayment plans and keep track of your out-of-school budget.
  • New York State Higher Education Services Corporation (HESC) - The HESC has compiled a list of federal programs that will assist you in repaying your federal student loan debt in return for your service commitment. Students in certain health professions will be eligible.

  • iGrad - iGrad helps you take command of your financial future. The website links to important articles, job search tools, townhalls, financial literacy information, and videos on how to become your own financial advisor.

  • Paycheck City - Paycheck City is a web-based paycheck calculator that you can use to calculate your net (or "take home") pay. It will help you better understand your paycheck and determine your budget for the week, month, or year.
  • Mint - Mint is an easy way to keep track of your spending by having your bank account activity analyzed. You can sign up for a free secure account and sync the information on your Mint account between your computer, your Smartphone, and/or your tablet. Mint only reads your information and provides you with statistics on your spending and income. It will not move money between your accounts or to any third party.

  • Social Media - In recent years, financial aid institutions, including those associated with the US Department of Education, have started to understand the impact that social media can have on how students receive information. Here are a few social media pages you may want to visit:
    • TC Office of Financial Aid Facebook page - The TC Office of Financial Aid page is a view-only Facebook page that we use to remind students of various issues related to financial aid, including scholarships and federal aid.
    • Federal Student Aid Facebook page - The Federal Student Aid Facebook page is a page that you can "Like" so that their updates will show up on your Facebook news feed. This page is updated regularly and you can write on the page's wall to give/receive feedback.
    • Federal Student Aid Twitter page - The Federal Student Aid Twitter page posts multiple reminders a day for students interested in federal aid. If you have questions or comments, you can tweet them @FAFSA -- they usually respond!
  • WiseBread - WiseBread is a blog designed to help its readers with "living large on a small budget." The page contains countless articles containing everything from having a frugal Valentine's Day, to eating vegan on the cheap, to managing how much you spend on lattes. WiseBread applies financial aid advice to real-life situations.

Financial Literacy

  • Financial Literacy Resources