FOWLER: Refund checks: now you see them, now you don’t

Philip Fowler is a graduate student marketing major from Houston.

How many of us have received a refund? How many of us have actual plans for that refund before it’s even disbursed?
Everybody who has ever received a refund check knows the feeling of wanting to splurge on your wishlist items. But how should a student really be handling their refund check? Some of us take expensive trips, splurge on items you’ve always wanted like a pair of those new Yeezys, a new PS4 or even a down payment to that 2019 Dodge Charger you’ve always wanted.
The bottom line is a lot of students may not spend their refund checks on what they should. The intent for a refund check is to use it towards school, such as books and school supplies. But since the money comes in the form of a check or direct deposit having all that money at one time makes you desire things that you couldn’t afford before.
As millenials, our spending habits can get pretty out of control especially when Amazon, Fashion Nova, Sephora and Footlocker bills come into play. Some people may even plan to use the money to invest in themselves. Maybe you’ve been thinking about becoming a photographer and now you’ve finally have enough money to buy that camera you’ve been eyeing. However students need to realize this isnt free money and you will eventually have to pay it back with interest just like any loan you take out. So always remind yourself to use it wisely!
For instance, students who stay off campus may want to use that money to cover their rent for months ahead. The first thing you should do with your student loan refund check is pause and consider if the way you want to spend it truly contributes to your academic success.
You should treat the refund check as if you had to pay it back in a couple of months. Every student doesn’t receive a refund check. Those who do get the “privilege” of receiving the lump sum, the amount all depends on how much financial aid you received and how much your college expenses really cost. You could have anywhere from a couple of hundred dollars, to a couple of stacks left over in financial aid. Those of us who receive stacks back should be wiser than those three men from the bible.
As black students we have to practice good management. Unfortunately, a lot of us were not taught those skills growing up. We make poor decisions with our money and the quicker we get it the quicker we spend it.
Spending on frivolous items to feed our egos and to make up for times we couldn’t buy what we wanted or even need due to finances. However that’s not the purpose of loan money. College should offer free courses on campus that teaches smart money management skills, particularly at our HBCUs. Educating students on the fine lines of student loans, such as interest and payback periods.
As part of being an adult we have to know how to manage our finances, please be smart. Do not set yourself up for failure.