As an accounting major enrolled in graduate courses and planning to sit for the CPA Exam soon, I fully understand the financial challenges faced by my peers to pay for our education. There are numerous opportunities that accounting majors could take advantage of before and after graduating to help us make sound financial choices.
Accounting firms offer different financial benefits and incentives to their employees. The following are some of them that I would like to share:
- CPA Bonus: Some firms reward employees with bonuses of up to $5,000 for passing all four parts of the CPA exam within a certain period of time. Firms strongly encourage obtaining a CPA license for career development, management opportunities, financial services experience and more. This is a great way to be rewarded for all your effort in preparing for the exam.
- Student Loan Reimbursement: Firms may assist employees in reducing their student loan debt through different benefits. For example, PwC’s Student Loan Paydown benefit will pay $1,200 a year towards the loans of associates and senior associates.
- 401(k) Retirement Plans: Employees can contribute a portion of their wages to their 401(k) Retirement Plan and often receive a matching contribution from their employer. Many firms encourage employees to participate in their 401(k) plans to have a financially secure retirement with the financial assistance of the firm.
In addition to post-graduate financial benefits, accounting majors could also reap financial benefits and opportunities while in school. Through firsthand experiences combined with my observation of how other students tackle student loan debt and save money, here are a few tips I would like to share:
- Scholarships: Apply, apply, apply! Billions of dollars in scholarships go unclaimed each year because students are not applying for them. If you come upon a scholarship that you are eligible for, don’t be shy. Go ahead and apply! You can find scholarships through the university website, accounting-related organizations and other organizations you are involved in, the financial aid office, where you work or have previously worked, scholarships search websites, and more.
- Discounted purchases: Our school has arrangements with various local vendors for discounts to students for a variety of purchases including auto services, dining, housing, and entertainment. All you need is your student ID. Other universities may offer similar programs to their students.
You will definitely enjoy these discounted savings!
- Open a savings account: Banks and credit unions offer savings accounts geared towards students that are cheaper to open and have lower fees. Save the money you have remaining from your earnings as soon as you have paid your immediate expenses. In case of emergencies, such as extra tuition or student-related fees, car breakdown, and injury, having a savings account helps fund these unexpected situations. As a result, you can avoid incurring late fees or borrowing money with interest that increases your debt.
- Minimize credit card balance: It is not as easy to pay off a credit card as it is to have access to one. Therefore, it is essential to make your payments on time and only charge what you can afford. Paying the full balance on time each month will help you avoid the interest on your remaining balance and late fees. Another advantage to this is you will improve your credit score in time for future purchases that perform credit checks.
- Use campus amenities: Check the university website to see upcoming events and activities held right on campus. Doing this before spending money off campus can save you money since most of the events and activities at school are free. For example, movie nights, comedy shows, and fitness classes are held on campus among many others.
I hope these benefits and opportunities will help you effectively manage your finances before and after graduation.