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SMMC News & Events Blog
This blog highlights news, events, and informative articles on personal finance from University of Illinois System's Student Money Management Center. Feel free to navigate to different categories with the list of topics on the right or search for a specific topic next to the view all link below.

blog posts

  • IOUs: There's an App for That!

    Have you heard of Venmo? Squarecash? These are just a few of the apps that allow you to send money to anyone, anywhere, anytime.  From a convenience standpoint, these advances are amazing—but what are the costs of convenience?

  • Completing the FAFSA

    The Free Application for Federal Student Aid, otherwise known as FAFSA, is “the largest source of financial aid to pay for college”. Read about important dates, tips & reminders for filing.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Fall 2020

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund.

    Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Exit Counseling is Live for Institutional Student Loan Borrowers

    If you borrowed institutional loans to pay for school and are graduating or leaving school soon, don't forget to complete your Exit Counseling to avoid a transcript hold!

  • Setting Goals for Your Well-being

    Explore how Maslow's hierarchy of needs and the dimensions of well-being can help you set, prioritize, and manage your SMART goals.

  • Podcast: Understanding Credit

    Episode 5 of Making Cents of Money, Understanding Credit, explores the complicated world of credit to help demystify things like scores, reports, and credit management.

  • Conscious Credit - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    In the ever-changing credit market, how do you reconcile what you hear about credit to find accurate, credible information to help you make ethical and conscious borrowing decisions? This webinar explored the role of a responsible borrower, myths and facts about credit, and how building a positive credit profile can have lasting impacts on your overall financial well-being.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Spring 2021

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs April 1 - May 1, 2021.

  • Man with over the ear headphones around his neck studying on a laptop. White text reads: Student Loans

    Podcast: Student Loans

    Episode 16 of Making Cents of Money, Student Loans, lays out some student loan statistics, considerations, and protections for borrowers in preparation for our webinar on Student Loan Repayment tomorrow!

  • Student Loan Repayment - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    There are 8 repayment plans for federal student loans, 10 federal student loan servicers, and an abundance of terms, tools, and tips to remember to manage federal, institutional, and private student loans. Watch our Student Loan Repayment webinar recording to learn about your options as a borrower.

  • Creating Your Own Financial Education Plan

    Use this guide to identify what modules in the University of Illinois Financial Literacy Badges Program align with your financial education needs and make a learning plan for yourself!

  • Woman sitting in car smiling and holding up a car key

    Podcast: Buying a Car!

    In episode 22 of Making Cents of Money, Buying a Car!, Nikki, Andrea, and Jake explain the true costs of car ownership as well as the terms and tools to know about before you buy your next vehicle.

  • Podcast: Money Personalities & Financial Well-being

    In episode 23 of Making Cents of Money, Money Personalities & Financial Well-being, Andrea, Jake, and Nikki discuss several financial personality inventories and the CFPB's financial well-being scale as tools to better understand financial values, habits, and internal feelings around money.

  • Podcast: Cryptocurrencies

    In episode 24 of Making Cents of Money, Cryptocurrencies, Andrea, Jake, and Nikki talk to Professor Lamont Black from DePaul University about cryptocurrencies, discussing everything from the blockchain technology behind them to their utility in the world of fintech.

  • Podcast: Choosing a Financial Professional

    In episode 25 of Making Cents of Money, Choosing a Financial Professional, Andrea, Jake, and Nikki talk to Kathy Sweedler from University of Illinois Extension about type of financial professionals, credentials, and how to choose one that best meets your needs.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Fall 2021

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Podcast: Student Loan Update

    In episode 27 of Making Cents of Money, Student Loan Update, Jake and Nikki gave a quick update on the state of federal student loans.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Fall 2021

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs November 15 - December 15, 2021.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Spring 2022

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Money in Relationships - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    Explore methods of communicating and managing money in relationships by watching this webinar recording from February 8, 2022.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Spring 2022

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs April 1 - May 1, 2022.

  • Podcast: Student Loan Repayment (update)

    In episode 41 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki discuss some of the big updates on federal student loans that have occured over the past couple months.

  • Chicago skyline with "Community Reinvestment Act" as text overlay

    Podcast: The Community Reinvestment Act

    In episode 47 of Making Cents of Money, Chasse Rehwinkel joined Nikki & Andrea to discuss the Community Reinvestment Act and how it is intended to support economic equality.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Fall 2022

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • 2 stacks of coins with a graduation cap on one stack. Text reads Biden Student Loan Cancellation & PSLF Limited Waiver

    Biden Student Loan Cancellation & PSLF Limited Waiver

    Not all federal student loan forgiveness programs are the same. We want to draw your attention to an upcoming deadline to be aware of if you work in public service and will still have a balance after the Biden student loan cancellations are processed.

  • flatlay of stethescope, mobile phone, and clipboard with "Federal Student Loan Forgiveness" text

    Podcast: Federal Student Loan Forgiveness

    In episode 48 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki talk about the differences between the federal student loan cancellation in Biden-Harris Administration's Student Debt Relief Plan and the temporary Public Service Loan Forgiveness Waiver that has a quickly approaching deadline of October 31st.

  • phone with credit score on screen & "Credit Scores" text

    Podcast: Credit Scores

    In episode 51 of Making Cents of Money, Nikki and Andrea discuss some of the ins and outs of credit scores, the credit ecosystem, and building credit to your advantage.

  • Build Credit to Your Advantage - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    Learn about building credit to your advantage by watching this webinar recording from November 9, 2022.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Fall 2022

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs November 15 - December 15, 2022.

  • piggy bank with grad cap on money

    Podcast: Paying for College with Scholarships

    In episode 52 of Making Cents of Money, Nikki and Andrea talk to special guest, Kara Holloway, Director of Scholarships at UIC, about paying for college with scholarships.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Spring 2023

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Pointer finger with tiny graduation cap on it

    Know What You Owe Challenge - Spring 2023

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs April 1 - May 1, 2023.

  • Top of graduation cap with money and words overlaid that say "Return to Repayment UPDATE"

    Podcast: Return to Repayment (Student Loans Update)

    In episode 60 of Making Cents of Money, Andrea and Nikki talk about the current status of federal student loans and how to prepare for the return to repayment which is expected in the next few months.

  • Credit Cards and Travel

    Travel credit cards have become very popular, offering a wide range of benefits if you use them wisely. Read on to learn about the pros and cons of using credit cards during travel and strategies for responsible credit card use.

  • sunset with utilities lines and white text that reads "Help with Utilities Bills"

    Podcast: Help with Utility Bills

    In episode 61 of Making Cents of Money, we learn about the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP). If you're struggling to pay utilities, apply by May 31!

  • image of cash and graduation cap with "Student Loan Management" text

    Student Loan Management - Get Savvy Webinar Recording

    Explore methods of student loan management by watching this webinar recording from May 3, 2023.

  • Image of capital building and stethascope with white text that says "Get Covered, Illinois"

    Podcast: Get Covered, Illinois

    In episode 62 of Making Cents of Money, Brian Gorman, Director of Outreach & Engagement for Get Covered Illinois, answers our questions about managing healthcare costs.

  • Image of wooden family figurines and house with text "Help for Homeowners"

    Podcast: Help for Homeowners

    In episode 63 of Making Cents of Money, Kari Byer, Director of the APLD & Investigations, joins us to talk about programs designed to help those who may be struggling with initial and ongoing homeownership costs.

  • Calendar with date circled that says Pay Rent! next to a roll of money

    Podcast: Help for Renters

    In episode 64 of Making Cents of Money, Kari Byer, Director of the APLD & Investigations, joins us again to talk about programs designed to help find and afford renting a place to live.

  • What's a Credit Report Anyway?

    Podcast: What's a Credit Report Anyway?

    In episode 67 of Making Cents of Money, What's a Credit Report Anyway?, Nikki and Andrea discuss what's in your credit reports and how to get them at AnnualCreditReport.com.

  • Financial Aid Notifications: Cost of Attendance is Estimated

    Financial aid notifications, or award letters, contain valuable information that help you understand the costs of college. However, it's important to remember that Cost of Attendance is an estimate.

  • Funding a College Education

    Funding your education can be a daunting task, but there are many tools to help students and their families cover the cost of a college education.

  • Decreasing Borrowing While in School

    Student loans can be a valuable tool for increasing access to higher education, but it does come with a cost. Learn how to limit those costs while in school so you decrease future costs of compounding interest.

  • Cash at College

    Webinar Recording: Cash at College

    Discover how spending, saving, and student loans impact your college experience.

  • woman drinking coffee and smiling at a computer with her hand in the air

    Understand Your Refund - Fall 2023

    Hundreds of students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn how to avoid being one of them.

  • Podcast: Understanding FAFSA

    In episode 72 of Making Cents of Money, Understanding FAFSA, Beth Groves, Professional Development Specialist from the Illinois Student Assistance Commission (ISAC) talks about major changes to the FAFSA, delays, and its importance for anyone considering post-secondary education.

  • Podcast: Loan Payments Resumed in October

    In episode 73 of Making Cents of Money, Loan Payments Resumed in October, we discussed the "on-ramp" to repayment being implemented by the U.S. Department of Education as millions of borrowers started making payments on their federal loans again in October.

  • Know What You Owe Challenge - Fall 2023

    About half of students at the University of Illinois take out loans to fund their degrees. Make sure you're not surprised by the amount of student loans you have taken out when you graduate by taking the Know What You Owe Challenge which runs November 14 - December 15, 2023.