Educator Toolbox

TXGU Activity: Diving into Financial Aid


Created By:
 Texas GEAR UP

Grade Level: 12th

Introduction for Educators: Now that your students are in twelfth grade, college is starting to feel much more imminent.

One of the biggest hindrances to college success is financial. Help your students grasp their financial needs by tasking them with filling out a projected budget for their upcoming college experience.

Introduction for Students: As a senior, you’re probably old enough to start working. The Texas minimum wage is $7.25 per hour (as of 2016). If you worked 12 hours a week, you could make over $4,000 this year.

A job is just one way you can spend this year saving up for college. So definitely consider if it’s a good option for you.

The Activity: A lot of students have probably never created a budget, now’s their chance to learn how to manage money responsibly.

Have student create a specific budget based on where they might go to school. Then, have them fill out a comprehensive budget that’ll outline their spending for four years of college. 

Have students visit the "Your In-School Spending Plan" section on the Adventures in Education website ( This tool will combine expenses and income to tell them how much college will cost per month and per semester. They might also use a tool like Microsoft Excel or Apple Numbers to do the same thing.

Now that your students know what to expect when they pay for college, use the time they have left to encourage them to earn more money or apply for additional scholarships. Then revisit this budget and see how much they’ve saved.

Bonus Features: When students look at their budgets, have them ask themselves, “Is it full of needs or wants?” Have them go back through their budgets line by line. Is there anything that they don't need? Perhaps they can survive without a car freshman year. Maybe they can make their lunch instead of going out to eat.

Create a second, much stricter budget. How much money did they save? Do they think they could realistically live that way?