Many students who receive financial aid get a refund at the beginning of the semester – a lump sum meant to cover costs like living expenses, transportation and books and supplies. Some students turn that refund into a monthly "paycheck," a strategy that can help with money management.

        "When I was almost 50 and went back to school after being laid off from my job, I most definitely used my financial aid as a paycheck," says Debi Goldben, who attended the College of Central Florida for her associate degree. "I was attending a community college, and there was always money left after tuition and fees. I always bought used books and then budgeted the rest over the term."

         Goldben, who was married at the time, parceled the lump sum she received from financial aid into $200 earmarked amounts each month. She used that $200 a month, along with her weekly $100 paycheck from work-study, to pay for books and living expenses for her family of four.