Admission & Financial Aid

Navigating Life After College

You’ve finished your classes, and that hard-earned diploma now hangs proudly on your wall. Congratulations! Now, are you ready for what comes next?  Life after college can be whatever you make of it…so here are some tips to help make your money work for you.

Growing Your Money: Investment Basics

There are many ways you can safeguard and grow your savings. It’s important to know the pros and cons of each type of account. Meeting with an investment banker at your bank or credit union may provide additional guidance.

Here is a basic list of general savings and investment options:

Savings Account

  • Account maintained at a financial institution (generally a bank or credit union)

  • Accrues interest but usually can’t be accessed for direct-payment such as a check

  • The number and method of allowable transactions, minimum balance, and interest rate earned are determined by the financial institution

Checking Account

  • A deposit account maintained at a financial institution, generally for the purpose of direct, on-demand access to funds via check or attached debit card

  • Usually has no limit on the number of transactions allowed per month, provided there are sufficient funds to cover each transaction.

  • Some accounts of this type may be interest-bearing; rates and availability vary by institution

Money Market Account

  • A deposit account which pays interest based on investment in  the money markets

  • Often has a higher interest rate, but also may require a higher minimum balance than a savings account

  • Transactions (usually done via check) may be limited on a monthly or quarterly basis

Stocks

  • Investments of basic units of ownership in a publically-traded company which may be bought or sold by the investor

  • Profits from the company are paid to stockholders as dividends

  • Value can rise and fall with fluctuations in specific markets and the economy in general

Bonds

  • Investment that is a debt security, where the issuer (such as the government) is obliged to pay interest over a fixed time frame 

  • When the bond reaches maturity (the end of that fixed time frame), principal + interest is paid to the investor

Certificates of Deposit

  • A special type of deposit account where you invest a fixed sum of money for a fixed time interval and receive interest payments at regular intervals

  • Generally a lower-risk investment than stocks, but there are penalties for withdrawing funds before the end of the fixed time interval

  • This type of investment is federally insured. Review this FDIC site for some very good tips.

Salaries and Careers

Your career path has great impact on your salary and other benefits. Remember your resources:

  • You have the support and assistance of Career Services at Concordia available. 
  • The Occupational Outlook Handbook is published by the federal government annually. Professional associations and publications often have listings of job opportunities and/or salary statistics that relate to a certain field.
  • Where you choose to live may impact your salary. The cost of living varies greatly by geographic region, especially from rural to urban or suburban areas. Compare costs and salaries between cities using online resources, such as Moving.com
  • Social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, etc.), have pros and cons when it comes to your employment. 
    • You can use your connections to get the word out about your job search, or find openings through friends and colleagues.
    • However, remember that anything posted about you—whether on your own page, or by your friends—could potentially be viewed by your current OR potential employer!
    • Be smart about your online presence and how you (and your friends) may share information about you.

Understanding Employer Benefits

In addition to a salary, your employer may offer a variety of benefits to make up your total compensation package. Make sure you compare the total compensation when you are deciding between job offers.

Retirement Plans

  • A 401(k) plan enables the employee to contribute pre-tax earnings, up to a specified dollar amount each year. Employer may match funds up to a certain percentage or dollar amount. For-profit businesses or corporations tend to offer this type of plan.

  • A 403(b) plan is similar to the 401(k), usually offered by non-profit organizations. Usually these plans allow for a larger annual contribution and earnings grow tax-deferred. Employer may or may not match employee contributions.

  • With either option, it’s best to maximize what you contribute to get the full “match” from your employer. Saving for retirement as early as possible allows the long time frame to help your account grow.

Health Insurance

  • You may be able to retain coverage under your parent's health insurance up to the age of 25. However, some health plans might consider you ineligible once you are no longer a full-time student. Make sure you and your parents know when your eligible coverage ends under your current plan.

  • Employer-provided group insurance has quite a varied range of costs and benefits. 
  • You may have to choose between a Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) or Health Maintenance Organization (HMO). Make sure you understand the difference.

  • New employees generally establish their coverage preferences when they first begin working (or as soon as they are eligible if there is a waiting period before benefits apply).

  • After that, employers usually have an “open enrollment” period where you can make changes to your benefit choices for the upcoming calendar or fiscal year. Be sure to file your paperwork on time to retain your eligibility.

Other Benefits

  • Employers may offer other benefits, such as: reduced charges for gym memberships, discounts for cell phone service, access to discounted (or free!) athletic/cultural event tickets, child care discounts, or tuition assistance for your continued education.

  • Be informed and utilize these resources. They exist to help your employer retain happy employees!