The Summer Job Search
The multi-month break that is summer vacation is nothing short of perfect in the eyes of a student who's been plugging away for a full academic year, and lazing around for the entirety of your time off seems great. But as fun as it is, killing whole afternoons all summer long on the couch, in front of the computer, or outside in the sun is a waste of your time. There's money to be made, and if you don't have a summer job now, you'll find yourself wishing you did a short ways down the road. Having a summer job may seem like a chore to some of you, but the benefits of working during your summer vacation are huge.
Building Your Resume
Getting a job now makes getting one in the future easier. Build your resume with a summer job, even if it's waiting tables or lifeguarding. A future employer will be glad to see prior work experience on your resume, and you will become a more attractive candidate for the job. Get out and see what the job market is like, and gain some work experience.
When you start working, you begin building your network of personal contacts. Employers and co-workers will be added to your network, which will develop over the course of your work experience. The individuals whom you have connections with will become valuable assets to you throughout your professional life, and effective networking will help you to find jobs in the future. Having a well-developed professional network and being able to network effectively is a skill that will serve you well throughout your life, and it's something that you can start with a summer job.
The most obvious benefit of having a summer job is that you'll be making money. Even if you're working part-time and making minimum wage, having a summer income is great. It can help alleviate the cost of college, even if you're saving a few hundred dollars here or there. Put aside as much as possible -- at least 70% of what you make -- towards your college savings, and put the remaining amount in your pocket. It'll be nice to have some spending money during the summer months, and even better to have money saved up for when you get to college and are faced with paying all sorts of college-related costs.
Having an income will also force you to become financially savvy. Dealing with paychecks, pay stubs, and bank accounts are all important skills you need to acquire, and having a summer job will help you with these skills. If you learn to manage your own summer finances, you will have a good foundation for managing college finances.
Lastly, having a summer income and saving the majority of it can reduce the amount of money you may have to take in student loans. Even if the amount of money you make over the course of a summer isn't large, every dollar counts. If you can take out $1000 less in student loans, that's a financial victory. Having a summer job and saving your money can enable you to do that.
A Word of Financial Aid Warning
Making money over the summer is great, and it will be a big help to you when it comes to paying off college costs. However, if you rake in too much, your earnings can impact your financial aid award. You can make about $4,000 per year without a significant effect on your financial aid eligibility, not including any income from a work study program. Once you cross the $4k threshold, your expected family contribution (EFC) will be increased by as much as 50% of every dollar above that amount. Having an income as a student is very helpful, but you've got to recognize its potentially negative impact on your financial aid eligibility.
Filling the Financial Gap
Odds are you won't be able to cover the entire balance of the student loans you may need with a summer job, but making a dent in the figure is important. If you're looking for money to fill that gap, check out SimpleTuition's Loan Comparison Tool to compare and apply for private student loans from top lenders. Be sure to check back with the site for any financial aid information you need throughout your paying-for-college process.