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Becoming Financially Stable

Financial Planning

Quick Reads and Online Portals

Quick Tips and Video Guides


There are several budgeting worksheets and online templates to help you create your personal budget. Make sure to include all sources of income, expenses, pay and due dates, as well as any other financial data that you need in order to create a full financial picture of your financial situation. This will help you create and manage your cashflow. To get started, watch these 2 short videos to better understand how to create a budget and successfully create money goals. 


Credit is receiving something of value now and promising to pay back the amount you spent, plus a finance or interest charge, at a later date. Revolving credit can be used repeatedly for purchases that will be paid monthly. Credit cards are the most common type of revolving credit. Installment loans require consumers to follow a regular payment schedule, usually monthly, that includes interest, until the principal is paid off. Mortgages and car loans are common types of installment loans.

Your FICO credit score is a number, ranging from 300-850, that is generated to predict the likelihood and risk of paying off credit. A higher number can be beneficial in your future with lower interest rates, higher limits, and overall approval for loans and credit cards. Credit scores can be checked by financial institutions, creditors, employers, landlords, utility companies, and insurance companies. Credit reports may affect your mortgage rates, credit card approvals, apartment requests, or even your job application.

Reviewing credit reports helps you catch signs of identity theft early. Did you know that you can request a free copy of your detailed credit report annually? Click the link here to discover how and more about credit reports. 

Government Benefits is an online resource to help you find federal benefits you may be eligible for in the United States. Complete the free questionnaire to find the right benefits for you. As the official benefits website of the U.S. government, their mission is to increase citizen access to benefit information, while reducing the expense and difficulty of interacting with the government.

Below is a video example of how a user was able to use the Benefit Finder to locate medical assistance resources for herself and her family and compare over 1,000 state and federal benefit programs. 

Consumer Rights and More

Identity theft is the most common type of fraud, and college students are no exception. College students are particularly susceptible to identity theft because they live in close proximity to one another, and they do not take enough precautions to protect themselves. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) regulates the offering and provision of consumer financial products or services under the federal consumer financial laws and educates and empowers consumers to make better informed financial decisions.

They also offer clear, impartial answers to hundreds of financial questions. Find the information you need to make more informed choices about your money.

Key Ways to Protect Yourself

  • Securely store personal documents. Keep all items with sensitive information in a safe place. This includes credit cards, driver's license, and anything that may contain your social security number.
  • Strengthen passwords and utilize PINs. When creating passwords and PINs, be sure to use strong passwords (utilize symbols, letters, numbers, and capitals). Keep passwords in a secure location, not on a device.
  • Watch for scams. Scams try to trick students into giving personal information in hopes of stealing their identity. It's also important not to share too much personal information on social media.
  • Don't give out Social Security number unless absolutely necessary. Your Social Security number should only be shared when absolutely necessary. Be careful when mailing personal information, as it could be stolen. Be sure URLs contain a "https", where the 's' stands for 'secure', when sending personal information over the Internet.
  • Check your credit once a year. This is one of the best ways to catch instances of identity theft. You have the right to check your credit report once each year at
  • Limit use of public WiFi. Data thieves use public hotspots to steal personal information. Avoid shopping and logging into any banking or credit accounts while on a public connection.

If you suspect ID theft, report to and work with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create a personal recovery plan.

Manging Your Financial Aid, Career, and Additional Life Planning Tools

iGrad is an online platform that strives to empower students, alumni, staff, parents and families to make effective personal finance, student loan, and career decisions throughout their lives. There are several financial and career based tools within this resource. You may sign up for free by using your USM email address and choosing The University of Southern Mississippi as your school. 

Additional Help Managing Educational Loans

To learn more about student loan options, repayment options, student loan forgiveness programs and more, please visit the Department of Education's website

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