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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

  • Cash at College

    Webinar Recording: Cash at College

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

  • Understand Your Refund - Spring 2024

    Many students end up unable to register every semester because they owe money back to the university, even after receiving a refund. Learn answers to frequently asked questions about refunds.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Student Loans Webinar #8 Recording: Different Types of Student Loans

    It's important to know the types of loans that you have in order to understand your repayment and other student loan management options.

  • Student Loans Webinar #7 Recording: Public Service Loan Forgiveness

    Learn if you can qualify for PSLF as a federal student loan borrower working in public service.

  • Student Loans Webinar #6 Recording: Managing PLUS Loans

    We explored the unique features of Direct Parent PLUS loans and Graduate PLUS loans. Direct Parent PLUS loans have more unique repayment considerations than all other types of Direct Loans.

  • Student Loans Webinar #5 Recording: Fresh Start & On-Ramp to Repayment

    We discussed both the On-Ramp to Repayment and the Fresh Start Program during this webinar. If you had loans previously in Default, the Fresh Start program may be a good program for you. 

  • Student Loans Webinar #4 Recording: Know Options if You Can't Pay

    We focused on what your options are if you can't make a payment, including the differences between deferment and forbearance. 

  • Student Loans Webinar #3 Recording: Review Consolidation or Refinancing

    We discussed interest and the differences between consolidating and refinancing your student loans. Carefully consider the consequences of using a private refinance loan to pay off federal student loans.

  • Student Loans Webinar #2 Recording: Explore Repayment Plans with the Loan Simulator

    We explained the many repayment plan options available for federal loans, but the primary action item we wanted you to focus on was using the Loan Simulator to explore repayment plan eligibility.  

  • Student Loans Webinar #1 Recording: Logging into FSA to Update Contact Info

    We discussed many aspects of returning to repayment during this webinar, but the primary action item we focused on was updating your contact info in your FSA account.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • What is Crypto Anyway?

    Podcast: What is Crypto Anyway?

    In episode 76 of Making Cents of Money, What is Crypto Anyway?, Jake Hamilton, a previous podcast co-host, comes back to provide an overview of how crypto works and what the future looks like for this financial technology.

  • 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: 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.

  • 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.

  • Episode 77 - Tax Talk with two people speaking to each other over some paperwork.

    Podcast: Tax Talk

    In episode 77 of Making Cents of Money, Tax Talk, Andrea and Nikki talk tax... forms, terms, and more as the April 15 federal tax deadline approaches.

  • 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.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • Podcast: Setting & Prioritizing Financial Goals

    In episode 75 of Making Cents of Money, Setting & Prioritizing Financial Goals, Nikki and Andrea discussed several strategies for setting, prioritizing, and re-prioritizing financial goals... just in time for the new year! 

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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: 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.

  • Is Crypto the Wild West? with a sunset and silhouettes of saguaro cacti.

    Podcast: Is Crypto the Wild West?

    In episode 78 of Making Cents of Money, Is Crypto the Wild West?, David DeCarlo and Jake Hamilton join us to discuss what regulation does and does not exist for consumers regarding crypto.

  • 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!

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Podcast: Credit Reports Update

    In episode 74 of Making Cents of Money, Credit Reports Update, we had a Consumer Alert! Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion are allowing access to free, weekly credit reports indefinitely now. 

  • 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 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.

  • 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.

  • Know What You Owe Challenge - Spring 2024

    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, 2024.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.