07.24.13 | 5 Ways to Cover College Costs

Paying for CollegeWhether you’re a soon-to-be freshman or second semester senior, it is never easy to figure out how to cover the costs of college. With tuition and hidden fees of private colleges averaging out to about $40,000 per year, many of you are still wondering how your family is expected to pay for $35,000 of your education, even after having received your Student Aid Report (SAR) three months ago. To help you out in your pursuit of a college degree, here are 5 ideas for paying for college when Federal aid comes up short.

Befriend the Financial Aid Office

If you are disappointed by the amount of financial aid that you receive, try talking to your financial aid office. Many colleges have an appeal process for financial aid, so get on a first-name basis with someone in the financial aid office and see what else can be done.

Search for Scholarships

There are millions of dollars in scholarships that go unclaimed every year, so why not spend a few days this summer searching and applying for as many scholarships as you can find? On average, you will win 1 out of every 10 scholarships that you apply for, so don’t get discouraged. For starters, try visiting our recommended scholarship search website, or try winning scholarships through the ScholarshipPoints program. (more…)

08.31.12 | Best Money-Saving Apps for College

Posted in College Life, Student Credit by Student Loan Network Staff

Smartphone with AppsSaving money can be time consuming, especially in the fast-paced life of college students. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of the best money-saving smartphone apps for college students! Forget clipping coupons, these mobile deal-finders will help you stay on top of your game, while keeping money in your wallet.

The best thing about these apps? They’re free!

Chegg

Any accounting major can tell you that textbooks are expensive. But they don’t have to be. Find the books you need for class through the Chegg app and rent right there or even compare prices!

GasBuddy

Gas is super expensive, so why not save a little money when you can? GasBuddy finds the cheapest gas prices near you so you can save on every fill-up.
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06.22.12 | The Freshman’s Guide to Saving Money: Saving Money During the School Year

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips, News by CollegeKid

Welcome back readers.  For those just tuning in, I’m a student who recently completed his freshman year of college.

Student with Empty Wallet

College is a blast, but it’s also expensive.  After breaking the bank this past year, I’m here with advice on how to have a great time in college without spending your entire summer paycheck.

Purchasing tickets to shows/sports events

  1. Look for student discounts – When purchasing tickets to a concert, movie, sports game, etc., always see if you can get a student discount. Many such shows offer tickets at a discounted price to students.
  2. Buy cheap seats - You may really want first row seats to see your favorite team, but for the price they charge, it may not be worth it. When going to shows or sports events with friends, buy bleacher seats – You’re still going to see your favorite athlete and have a great time.

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06.13.12 | The Freshman’s Guide to Saving Money: Preparing for College

Posted in College Life, financial aid tips by CollegeKid

Relaxing with MoneyCongratulations!  You’ve been accepted to college, and, in a few months, you will be leaving home to start the next chapter of your life.  As someone who just completed his freshman year, I can honestly tell you that this past year has been the best year of my life.  However, it has also been the most expensive. I learned how expensive college is the hard way.  After having worked close to full time last summer, I had $3.14 in my bank account by the end of the school year.  My goal is to provide you with tips on how to minimize your costs without minimizing the college experience.

Purchasing books

Don’t buy books from your school bookstore unless absolutely necessary.  Websites such as Amazon.com and Chegg.com provide textbooks at a much more reasonable price.  Amazon also offers a feature referred to as Amazon Student, where students who register with a valid .edu address qualify for six months of free two-day shipping.

Before buying a book for class, check if your school library has it available.  I had to read a book every two weeks for one of my classes last semester, and I was able to find almost all of these books in my school’s library.
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04.19.12 | Financial Literacy Series: Budgeting in college

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

Piggy bank with chalkboardWhen I was in college, the last thing I wanted to do was keep track of my expenses and create a budget. Booooooring. But now that I’m an adult (though it rarely feels that way) I’m finding it more and more important to keep track of money going in and out of my accounts. I wish this was something I paid attention to in college, because for someone with my level of disorganization, these skills could have been immensely beneficial.

 

While budgeting has not come as naturally to me as it does to others, here are a few helpful tips that have ensured I stay profitable over the years:

Needs vs. Wants

This one I learned at a young age. Growing up, my parents made sure I understood the difference between needs and wants (to the point where I now get anxiety if I splurge on a “want”). Without going this far, it’s important to realize what is considered a need vs. a want. Is it something that is absolutely necessary for school/living? This is probably a necessity if it will help you survive at college. While you may want the top-of-the-line technology, can you make do with something less expensive? Probably. Reign in the expenses by sticking to the lower-cost necessities.
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10.26.09 | Effectively Paying Down Debt

Posted in Private Student Loans, Student Credit, Student Loans by Kristin Morris

Bill and CheckIf you are like me you probably graduated from college with two things; a diploma and a pile of debt. It is completely normal for students to have federal student loans and private student loans to pay off after college, but on top of credit card payments, rent and insurance payments these loans can be a huge burden. There are ways to quickly pay down your debt without getting overwhelmed. Here is the method that I use:

1: Figure out your monthly income and expenses including any student loan and credit card bills. This will allow you to see how much money you have left over after the bare minimum is paid.

2: Pay at least the minimum payment on all of your debts each month. Missing any payment can negatively affect your credit score. A poor credit score will makes it hard to rent an apartment, buy a car and take out any kind of loan in the future. Additionally, if you put off making payments you will end up getting slammed with interest in the long run.

3: Without neglecting any other living expenses and a modest savings plan, use any extra money to pay off whichever debt has the highest interest rate.  If you have a lot of credit card debt it is probably best to pay that down first. Once your credit card debt is paid off, try not to accumulate any additional debt. Once your first debt is paid you can move on to using your extra money to pay off whichever student loan has the highest interest rate and so on until you are debt free.

ScholarshipPoints Bonus Code: PAYDOWNDEBT

10.15.09 | Budgeting In Grad School

Posted in Graduate Loans, Student Credit, Student Loans by Kristin Morris

Budgets; you can’t live with them and you can’t live without them. I hate budgets just as much as the next person, but I have realized that having one makes my life a lot easier. By the time you make the decision to pursue grad school chances are you will be completely on your own financially. Whether you decide to go to school full time or part time while you work, paying for grad school will take a certain amount of financial discipline and budgeting. However, living within your means does not have to be a drag. You can successfully pay for grad school without being strapped for cash.

Here are some tips for creating a budget that works for your lifestyle:

1: Determine your monthly income and your monthly expenses.
This is the most important step to creating a budget. The amount of money you bring home on a monthly basis is what you have to work with. Make sure your expenses do not exceed you income. If you are going to school part time and working full time this will probably be a little bit easier for you. If you are living off of savings, determine how much you have for each month. Be sure to factor in all expenses including rent, car payments, insurance, groceries etc.

2: Take out loans to pay your tuition and other school expenses.
As a grad student you have plenty of loan options. The Graduate Stafford Loan has a low fixed interest rate and does not require a credit check. The Graduate PLUS Loan is a low, fixed interest rate student loan that is based on your credit. It allows you to borrow up to the total cost of your education minus any other aid you receive. Finally, there are other private loans that can help you cover any and all of your school expenses. Make sure you include all loan funds and tuition payments in your monthly income and expenses. GradLoans.com can help you apply for and secure all of the loans you need.

3: Defer undergraduate loans until your graduate degree is complete. Unless you have the money to start paying your loans back while you are in grad school you might as well wait. Do not kill yourself trying to pay off these loans until you are working full-time and have more flexibility.

4: Use a free online budgeting tool like Mint.com.
The days of scratching numbers on a piece of paper are over. This tool allows you to see all of your accounts, including your student loans, aggregated together. It will allow you to see where you spend the most money and where you might be able to cut back.

5: Find a credit card with good rewards.
Sometimes using a credit card to make all of your purchases can be beneficial if you pay it off every month and you get rewards points. I have a credit card that awards one point for every dollar spent. Usually I trade in my points for Target gift cards. Since I spend a lot of money there anyway it gives me a little extra wiggle room in my budget.
ScholarshipPoints code: BUDGETGRAD