Stephen F. Austin State University

Life After College

Life After College

Congratulations on graduating and landing that new job! After these highly-developmental four years of your life, you are ready to start your career and embark on your own. This transition to the world of work will be different from the life you have recently been used to, and will come with some challenges, but also great rewards!

College vs. The World of Work

College

Work

Frequent, quick, and concrete feedback (grades, and so forth) Infrequent and less precise feedback
Highly structured curriculum and programs with lots of direction Highly unstructured environment and tasks with few directions
Few significant changes Frequent and unexpected changes
Personal control over time, classes and interests Directions and interests are dictated by others
Intellectual challenge Organizational and people challenges
Choose your performance level (e.g., A, B, C). A-level work required all the time
Focus on your development and growth Focus on getting results for the organization
Create and explore knowledge Get results with your knowledge
Individual Effort Team Effort
Right Answers Few right answers
Independence of ideas and thinking Do it the employer's way
Professors Bosses
Less initiative required Lots of initiative required

Source: NACE Jobweb

Money Matters

Filling out your W-4

Approximately 30-40% of your hard earned paycheck will be forked over to Uncle Sam every month. Ouch! All new employees are required to fill out the W-4 form when beginning a new job, which determines the amount of federal income tax withheld from your paycheck.

Download your Form W-4 from the IRS Website.

Download "Filling out your W-4" for practical tips on filling out this important paperwork.

Budgeting Basics

Before you blow your first paycheck on the hottest Apple product, get yourself in gear by developing a well-thought out budget. Doing this will ensure you won't wind up eating beans and weenies every night, or worse... deep in debt! Budget your take home pay minus your expenses in the following areas:

  • Home
  • Utilities
  • Food
  • Health
  • Transportation
  • Debt repayment
  • Entertainment
  • Pets
  • Investment/Savings
  • Miscellaneous

If you have expenses that are incurred more/less often than monthly, convert these payments into a monthly amount when developing your budget. For example, if your car payment is due every six months, convert this premium to a monthly amount by dividing it by six. By doing this, you will avoid scrambling for your bills at the last minute.

For more information on this topic, download Budgeting Basics.

Paying off student loans

You may be wondering what you need to do about your student loans once they come out of their deferment period. The mistake you don't want to make is to procrastinate! Start paying off your loan(s) as quickly as possible.

  • Get exit counseling from the Financial Aid office, which will provide valuable advice on how to manage your student loan repayment
  • Know your grace period to begin repayment.
  • Communicate your new address to your student loan company
  • Should you consolidate loans? Look into this option because it could lower your monthly payments and lock in the current interest rate (which will save you money long-term)
  • If you have difficulties making repayments, contact your loan company. Communication is key!
  • You may get your loans deferred temporarily. It is important to really NEED to put the loan on deferment because it will add to the interest and life of this loan.

For more information, download Paying off student loans.

Where to put your savings

Savings are usually put into low risk, interest-earning accounts. However, there is also opportunity for higher risk investments, which may yield larger returns. Learn about the different accounts available when deciding to save and/or invest your money:

  • Savings accounts
  • High-yield bank accounts
  • Certificates of Deposit (CDs)
  • Money Market Funds
  • Money Market Deposit Accounts

Download Where to put your savings for detailed information on this topic.

Housing: Rent vs. Buy

Hmmm... the great debate, to rent or buy. What's the best option for you? To make a thoughtful choice, weigh the following:

  • How dependable is your current job and salary level?
  • How predictable are your other personal circumstances, such as health and marriage?
  • How likely are you to stay in this house for the next five years?
  • How much travel does your job entail? If it is frequent, who will handle your housing emergencies for you while you are gone?
  • How heavy is your current debt load? How well are you managing it?
  • Do you have enough money in savings to cover a down payment and some to spare?
  • Do you make enough monthly income to cover a monthly mortgage, house maintenance and yearly property taxes?
  • Are you comfortable with the responsibility that comes along with owning a home?

Typical budgets suggest you allocate 25-35% of your income for all expenses associated with your housing (whether it is rent or house payment). Download Housing: Rent vs. Buy for more information on this topic.