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Tips for a smooth transition: exit strategies for graduating seniors

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — USA Funds, the nation’s leading education loan guarantor, suggests that college students review a brief checklist before they leave campus to ensure they are financially prepared for the next phase of their lives.

As part of its service to higher education institutions, USA Funds provides a free financial literacy curriculum for college students. More than 500 colleges, universities and career colleges nationwide use the program, USA Funds Life Skills.

The USA Funds Life Skills module “Now That You Are About to Graduate – Taking Control of Your Life” recommends that students prepare for life after college by developing a plan for employment, preparing to live within their means after leaving campus, and understanding their student loan responsibilities and options.

USA Funds suggests graduating college students review the following checklist, which is drawn from the USA Funds Life Skills materials.

For students still seeking employment:

  • Are you treating your job hunt as a full-time job?
  • Have you prepared your employment package, including a cover letter, resume (both paper and electronic versions), letters of recommendation and a portfolio with samples of your work?
  • Have you prepared answers for standard job interview questions?

For all graduating students:

  • Do you have a realistic idea of your starting salary and your actual take-home pay after taxes and other deductions?
  • Have you revised the budget you followed while in college, or developed a new budget, to reflect your prospective income, as well as additional expenses you’ll incur in starting your career? Those expenses could include relocation costs, housing expenses, new furniture, utility costs, transportation costs, and expenses for clothes for work.
  • Does your new budget include a plan for saving a portion of your income?

For students who have taken out federal loans to pay college expenses:

  • Have you completed an exit counseling session with your college financial aid office?
  • Have you calculated your monthly student loan payments and determined how you will accommodate these payments in your personal budget?
  • Do you understand your options if you discover you can’t afford your monthly payment? These options include flexible repayment plans, as well as deferment or forbearance, which permit student loan borrowers to temporarily suspend their loan payments, if they qualify.
  • Have you organized your student loan information in a file so you can find the mailing addresses, phone numbers and Web sites for your lenders?

“The transition from college to work can be challenging,” said Denise B. Feser, USA Funds senior vice president, customer relations. “A little advance planning can ease the transition and ensure graduates start the rest of their lives on solid financial footing.”

Headquartered in Indianapolis, USA Funds is a nonprofit corporation that works to enhance postsecondary education preparedness, access and success by providing and supporting financial and other valued services. During the year ending Sept. 30, 2007, USA Funds guaranteed education loans totaling $25.8 billion for students and parents throughout the nation. USA Funds serves as the designated guarantor of federal education loans in eight states: Arizona, Hawaii, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Mississippi, Nevada and Wyoming. USA Funds also invests $16.3 million annually in scholarships and outreach programs that advance its mission of support to higher education. For more information about USA Funds, visit www.usafunds.org.

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