09.02.11 | Back to School Financial Tips Special

Posted in College Life, FAFSA, Financial Aid, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

As you head back to school, some back to school financial aid tips…

  1. Make a budget BEFORE the semester begins. Figure out what kind of money you’ll be able to earn and what you’ll be spending and stick to it.
  2. Team up with a roommate, hallmate, or friends to enforce each others budgets. The power of the group works. Social financial apps like Wesabe, Mint.com, and Geezeo can help with this, too. Set a goal that you publish among your friends and stick to it. Set rewards for achieving those goals.
  3. Take a class online while everyone is out partying – or during a break.  If you take one class during one spring break and one class each summer – you can graduate a semester early!
  4. Go for a lot of walks on campus. You’ll meet a ton of new people, and you won’t have to spend money to do it. Being visible is the easiest way to meet new people. Want to meet lots of new people really, really fast? Volunteer at any kind of event, work at the help desk, etc. Be helpful and you’ll make amazing, fast connections that often endure long past college.
  5. Everything marked free isn’t. Beware of any free offer that requires you to sign up for anything. Not saying it’s bad, just know what you’re signing for like a stealth. Some of the best conversations you’ll have are on playgrounds. Hang out at places like that vs. cafes or other money-spending venues. Want to make your own game socially? Go off campus, wander around (with safety in mind) and find the best hangout spots in the town, then share them with friends. Museums, galleries or the city gardens as examples.
  6. Check your campus email every day. Financial aid offices often send notices to campus email addresses. Don’t miss a bill. If you’re technically savvy, just forward it to your other webmail account.
  7. Buy and bring to campus an indoor dryer rack. You’ll cut your laundry bill in half and the rack will pay for itself in weeks, especially if it’s around $18. You can find magnetic and closet-based systems for as little as $10 online.
  8. Bring resealable containers. I’m not saying bring them into the dining hall or anything but, you know.. Make sure you don’t skip meals if you’ve paid for them. That’s just throwing money away.
  9. Have a small lockbox in your dorm room. Keep your checks, debit card, etc. in there and locked up. Make it a combo lock so that if you lose your keys, you’re not out of luck. And it’ll make you think twice about reaching for the good stuff when you have an impulsive thought.
  10. If you have a student ID card that’s tied to any kind of financial account, punch a hole in it, stick it on your keychain, and put your keychain on a lanyard.
  11. Opt out of as many fees and unnecessary bills as possible, such as campus phone and TV service. Seriously, you have the Internet. What else do you need? Use free applications like Skype, change your mobile plan to unlimited calling if you call home a lot (and you probably will if you’re a first year student), use Hulu.com for television, and avoid those extra, unnecessary expenses.
  12. Shop around online for better textbook prices.
  13. If you’re living off campus and on a partial or no meal plan, sign up for the supermarket loyalty card plans, coupon hunt online, and get a decent meal plan together. Planning ahead a little will save you hundreds, if not thousands of dollars on food.
  14. Set up an affiliate program during college and get your personal professional web presence going as soon as you can. You’ll have more free time in college than you will after college, so take the time to set up your blog, web site, LinkedIn profile etc. and develop professional contacts early. By the time you graduate, you’ll be way ahead of everyone else playing the resume cannon game. Get known for something in your field of study or focus early on.
  15. Keep hunting for scholarships! Pick a time each week, 1 hour per week, and apply for a new scholarship each week. I guarantee after a year you’ll be happy you did. Better yet, get some friends together and make it a social thing.

08.22.11 | What Not to Bring to College

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Students moving into college

This time of year, students are bombarded by back-to-school advertising offering dorm room essentials and must haves. While much of this can be beneficial, and in some cases necessary for college living, there are also a lot of superfluous items that students wish they had not brought to school.

Take, for example, my roller blades, which instead of getting me to and from class, remained in the trunk of my car for 3 semesters. These are just space-wasters, and as any returning college student can tell you, space is essential! So we’re asking all of you experienced students out there:

What should students avoid bringing to college?

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08.15.11 | Hidden College Costs

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips by Student Loan Network Staff

College students with electronicsHigh tuition prices are no surprise to many students and parents, and there are a variety of financial aid options to help cover the costs, including grants, loans and scholarships. What schools often fail to mention is the other costs of going to college. Unfortunately, there are many more expenses than just tuition, room and board, and books. Here are some of the most common hidden college costs that you should budget for.

One-Time Expenses

Orientation – For most students, orientation only happens once, and it’s a good thing, too. Many traditional universities charge students who attend freshman orientation. Before you attend, make sure you know what your school expects from you financially and if you can afford it.

Dorm essentials – Freshman year will most likely be your most expensive year at college. This is because of all the first-time (and hopefully last-time) purchases you need to make. From extra-long bed sheets to shower caddies, the small essentials can really add up. Luckily, if you take care of your things, you should make it through college without having to re-buy anything.

Computer accessories – While most students do factor in a laptop, many forget to include the accessories in the budget. With the laptop also comes the warranty, case, flash drives, and other various software you may need for your coursework.
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07.29.11 | Results: What’s left on your back-to-school-list?

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Last week we asked students what was left on their back to school lists. With almost 3,000 votes, we’ve gotten a lot of great feedback! Here are the results…

back to school

 

With books and course supplies leading the pack at 26% and 21%, many students are still waiting on some important items! You’ll have to make sure to hit up the back-to-school sales in August for all your dorm room essentials. But there were also a lot of necessities that weren’t on this list. Some of the “other” supplies that students responded with are:

  • Food
  • Toiletries
  • And kitchen supplies

All of these supplies can take a toll on your wallet; luckily, there are still last minute funding options for students who are stuck. Private student loans can help with many of these extra, last minute expenses like laptops, course supplies and books.

Start funding your last minute expenses today!

07.21.11 | What’s Left on Your Back-to-School List?

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

We’re coming up on the back to school season, and that means one thing – back to school shopping! There are a lot of expenses that can pile up in August, so we want to know what you still need. Have you been saving for a car or computer? Are you waiting for dorm supplies to go on sale? Let us know what’s left on your list!

Once you’ve voted, don’t forget to check back next week for the results!

07.13.11 | In the News: Last minute tuition hikes and cuts to financial aid packages

Posted in College Life, Financial Aid, Student Loans by samantha b

We’ve all heard the news about the trouble state governments have had this fiscal year, and the proposed budget cuts to deal lower debts for next year. What you might not know is that your higher education could be on the chopping block, especially if you attend a public college where more of the costs this fall may be pushed to the students. As this fiscal year comes to an end, the budget needs to be finalized in each state and as a result of government cuts, many public colleges will lose large fractions of their funding. To make up for the funding gap, universities are trying to lower spending, but have also decided to hike student fees, some as much as 22%.

“With freshman orientation right around the corner, many college students and their parents are about to get a surprise that could derail years of careful financial planning: last-minute tuition increases and cuts to financial aid packages promised just a few short months ago,” SmartMoney* reports. “As states have finalized their budgets in recent weeks and months, cuts to public college funding have started to trickle down to parents and students. Since March, at least 19 states have cut money for public colleges. Some states, including Illinois and Georgia, are also slashing grants awarded to students just a few months ago. Still more families won’t find out about changes to tuition and financial aid packages until the end of the summer or even after the semester begins — what experts say is the longest delay ever.”

Some of the states that should expect to see the highest increases for public college tuition are Arizona, California, Pennsylvania, Florida, Washington, Nevada, Tennessee and New Hampshire. As these last minute changes are unveiled, students are beginning to wonder how to make up for these added costs and if they’ll be able to enroll this fall. Most students have already tallied their funds from family contribution, federal aid, grants, scholarships, and their summer job – and were all set for September. If your school does end up raising your tuition costs, one quick solution to fill the gap is to apply for a private student loan today. Affordable private loans give you the versatility to pay for all your education-related costs and the flexibility to apply when you need the funding most – which for some of you might be right now. Also, it never hurts to keep applying for more scholarships. New scholarship opportunities are added to Student Scholarship Search every day.

We hope your school is not hit by the budget cuts, but if it is, please come back and let us guide you to some more funding sources.

*SmartMoney Article: Last Minute Tuition Hikes Hit Students (7/11/2011)

06.24.11 | Deciding Factors in Your College Choice

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Now that most students have made that tough choice of what college to attend, we want to know how you chose! Students may consider a wide variety of factors to help in this decision, but was there one or two aspects that put your school ahead? Tell us about it what made you choose your school!

(Note: you may select up to two answers)

06.08.11 | “What Are Your Summer Plans?” Results

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Thanks to all of you who voted in our recent poll, “What are your summer plans?” We’re back to bring you the results! Not surprisingly, it looks like the majority of voters (roughly 37%), plan to work this summer, while taking classes came in second at 24%. It’s awesome to see so many students making the most of their summers, but I’m glad 21% of students are also taking some time to relax.

It’s interesting to see that travel (11%) beats out getting an internship (7%), especially considering the growing importance of internships. In this economy, getting ahead through internships is a great alternative for those who can’t find jobs, though instead of money, you’d be getting college credit. This seems counterintuitive, but getting real world experience can helps students land jobs faster and may even open a lot of doors in the process.
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05.27.11 | What are your summer plans?

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Do you have a job lined up for the summer? Are you planning a great vacation? Taking a summer class? Whatever you’re up to, we want to know about it! Take our poll to let us know what you’re plans are this summer…

03.28.11 | Your Guide to Off-Campus Housing

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

StudentsThe decision to move off campus is not one that everyone can make easily. There are a lot of factors that can affect where and when you move out of your school residence halls to your own place. Most schools require freshmen to live on campus their first year, and some even through junior year. Before looking into off-campus housing, make sure to check your school’s housing policy. If you’re going ahead with the process, here are some things for you to consider.
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