02.26.13 | Make the Most of College Savings

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

February 25 – March 2, 2013 is America Saves Week, and to kick things off, student loan giant Sallie Mae released a national study on how Americans save for college. In “How America Saves for College: 2013” the statistics show that although most families are optimistic about their college savings, few are taking advantage of their options today. According to the study “Most college savers remain optimistic about their ability to save and plan to increase their savings in the next five years, though two-thirds don’t have a plan to achieve their goals.”

How Families are Saving

Much of the data has been compiled into an infographic, which shows a variety of ways families save, and the types of accounts they’re using. Of the families saving for college, only 27% choose 529 college savings plans. Other savings vehicles include general savings accounts, checking, investments, and even retirement accounts.

How America Saves for College

Best Ways to Save

Parent-Owned Accounts
Savings in the student’s name is assessed at a much higher rate than parent savings when applying for financial aid. While a maximum of 5.6% of parent assets count against a family, a whopping 20% of a student’s assets are used in financial aid calculations. When possible, keep funds out of the student’s name, and take advantage of incentivized savings vehicles over checking accounts, for example.
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12.03.12 | 14 Great Holiday Gifts for Students

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

Stack of Gifts

Technology Gifts

  1. External hard drive – This was a life-saver for me in college. There were a few times when my USB drives were corrupted and unusable. Backing up all of your papers and other files on an external hard drive will eliminate the headache of recovering any missing files down the road.
  2. Digital camera – A digital camera is always a great gift to document all those college memories. High School seniors will also appreciate this as their senior year winds down.
  3. Noise-canceling headphones – College is…loud. Whether studying in the library or trying to sleep when there’s a party down the hall, these are great for all students.
  4. Laptop – This might be a little pricey for a holiday gift, but take advantage of sales this season. If you decide to pick out technology for your student, make sure know what features they’ll need beforehand! Computers with good graphics cards and a lot of RAM are great for streaming movies or playing video games, as well as the basics like word processing.

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08.16.12 | College Jobs for Freshmen

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

Freshman Jobs: Ways to Earn & Save Much Needed CashDid you know that 93% of Freshmen have off-campus jobs? Paying for college and living expenses is tough, that’s why we want to help you make money during the school year! It’s not always easy finding steady employment, but there are plenty of odd jobs for college students to earn cash, such as:

  • Babysitting
  • Mowing lawns
  • Shoveling snow
  • Delivering food
  • Being a bike courier
  • Stuffing envelopes

The options are seemingly endless! For more ideas on great jobs for college freshmen (both on and off campus), check out our recent infographic, Freshmen Jobs: Ways to Earn & Save Much Needed Cash.

While you’re there, let us know how you make money while in school!

07.10.12 | How to Have a Great Summer Before Leaving for College

Posted in College Life by Student Loan Network Staff

university-campus

Welcome back!  With summer vacation approaching its halfway point, many of you are probably starting to feel anxious about college.  Yes, you can’t wait to go, but you’re also starting to realize that you’re nervous about leaving home.  The best way to enter college is to enjoy these last few months at home, and here are some tips to ensure that happens.

Work Hard, Play Hard

You will want to put aside as much money as possible for spending during your freshman year, but don’t let work consume your summer.  Even if you’re working full-time, you still have the weekends off.  Use that time to hang out with your friends, or do whatever you’re passionate about.  After work, meet up with your friends instead of going home and watching TV.

Coordinate a Weekly Event

Plan an event with your friends to take place that same day every week.  This could be Poker Tuesdays, Whiffle ball Wednesdays, or anything else that you can think of.
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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 Student Loan Network Staff

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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05.23.12 | Save money with your student I.D.

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

Savings AheadJust admit it, you’re jealous of children and senior citizens who get discounts on train rides and movie tickets, aren’t you? Well, you don’t have to be. Wherever you go to school and in any city across the United States, plenty of establishments will offer discounts if you show a school identification card.

College tuition and living expenses take enough of a toll on you and your family’s pocketbook, so it’s only fair students get a discount on daily activities and nightlife entertainment.

For discounts, here’s a list of places and things you should definitely use your student I.D. card for:

  • Airports, train and bus stations
  • Theaters and museums
  • Events, such as concerts, art shows and carnivals
  • Sports stadiums (for games or shows)
  • Electronics
  • Clothing
  • Food

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05.09.12 | Skipping class costs how much!?

Posted in Financial Aid, financial aid tips, Scholarships, Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

The Cost of Skipping ClassIt’s 7:30 on a monday morning and your alarm clock goes off. You turn it off and roll over for 5 more minutes of sleep. When you finally roll out of bed and look at the clock, it’s 11:30 and you’ve missed your class. Not a big deal, right? As it turns out, skipping class might cost you more than you think.

According to the recent infographic from StudentScholarshipSearch.com, skipping just one class is a waste of $20 if you attend a public college, or $50 if you’re at a private school. This may seem like it’s not a big deal, but wasted money can add up fast! If you’re paying for college with loans, you’ll be paying interest on that class’s cost too!

Still not convinced you shouldn’t skip class? What if i told you that “those who wasted time in college are 3x more likely to be unemployed”? That got your attention, didn’t it?

To find other ways skipping class can hurt you, check out the True Cost of Skipping Class infographic.

09.13.10 | What the FAFSA? Words of Wisdom about the Financial Aid Form

Posted in FAFSA, Financial Aid, Stafford Loan by Student Loan Network Staff

In my previous post, I gave a quick run down of the types of financial aid that I can apply for to help finance my education. Applying for federal aid will be my first step, so I want to start preparing my FAFSA form.

Why do I need to fill out a FAFSA form?

In order to qualify for federal aid for students, you must complete and submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to the U.S. Department of Education. This form is used to calculate your financial aid eligibility based on the financial and demographic information for you and your family.

Once complete, the Department of Education will forward a record of the application to the school/schools you specify.

What can I do now to prepare my FAFSA?

While the FAFSA needs to be filed with your 2010 tax information (which you won’t get until at least January of next year), it is recommended that you get a head start on gathering the right information now. In fact, most of what you’ll need for the FAFSA can be taken care of now. You can also estimate your tax information based on this years forms, however, this is only recommended if you can make a very accurate guess.

Below is a check list for what you and your family can do now to prepare early for the college financial aid application process:

Financial Aid Deadlines: Begin gathering the deadlines for your financial aid applications. Each school may have different deadlines.

Tax Information: Grab your 2010 tax forms, and anything else you are preparing for 2011 as well. You’ll receive your W2′s in February of next year and you may want to update your FAFSA when that information arrives.

Asset and Demographic Information: This where you list the financial details about you and your family, including your assets and demographic information. For help with what this will entail, visit FAFSAOnline.com and send your parents here.

School List: You can tell the Department of Education to send your results to a maximum of 10 schools. You will have to list the schools by their school code, which can be found here: FAFSAOnline.com – School Code List. When you’re looking into schools and noting their deadlines, make sure you find their code as well.

FAFSA Pin: Both you and your parents need to sign up for a FAFSA Pin #. This number will be used to identify you throughout the application process, and you can get it early and put it away in a safe place!

Ok, now go! You can download the FAFSA form now. You may file it early, but you will have to then update the forms next year with your new tax information.

02.22.10 | Right Now Blog: College Tuition Edition

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

Without a doubt, one of the biggest anxieties about going to college or graduate school is the pricetag. Depending on the school, it can go anywhere up to $60,000 a year (including most fees, room & board, etc.), and what is more scary is the fact that those prices grow every year. The practice of taking out private student loans and performing loan consolidations is commonplace now in the higher education industry, alluding to continued growth in school costs and heavier financial burdens on incoming and returning students.

College Tuition Growth, 1990-2009

According to CollegeBoard, the popular college prep and testing website, the average tuition growth percentages are as follows for the USA:

  • Private four-year schools: +4.4%
  • Public four-year schools: +6.5%
  • Public two-year schools: +7.3%

There is no denying that this is alarming. Education costs are already sky high as is and if you do the math, an average student in a public four-year program will pay roughly $31,000 in tuition costs alone over the length of their program (not including the other myriad expenses a student encounters while in school.)

As a result to this, online education options have begun to gain more traction — not just because of their flexibility, but also their lower overall cost due to savings on overhead from not having to maintain entire campuses. If you find yourself struggling, they might be an excellent option to advance your education while still allowing you to work and making living pay.

What is being done? At the moment, there is a lot of talk about schools going as far as freezing tuition growth or severely capping the increases. They do understand that the costs are spiraling and it impacts their retention rates, as well as new admissions. In addition, some schools implement tuition freezes as a merit-based “scholarship” to those with an arbitrarily-set GPA or higher. You should consult your college’s financial aid department to see if there is such a program and try to earn it, if you aren’t already.

04.17.09 | Being a Teacher’s Pet is a Good Thing

Posted in Student Loans by Student Loan Network Staff

If you’ve ever been called a brown noser or teacher’s pet you’re on the inside track in the game of life.

Professors love students who participate in discussions, ask questions, and offer their own perspective. It really adds to the flow of the class and takes pressure off other students who are either too shy or intimidated to speak up. You serve as the savior for both the professor and your fellow students. Think of yourself as that classrooms student body president. That is the role I find myself in right now.

When I was younger I was painfully shy and didn’t utter two words in class, but I have learned in life that the squeaky wheel really does get the grease. This time around I am a presence. I set a precedent for myself early on in each semester by scoring well on my first exam, being an active participant in class, and asking enlightened questions via email on off days. Now moving forward I always get the benefit of the doubt when I miss a class or even skimp on an essay question. Just two weeks ago I argued about the way a certain question was structured on the exam which led to my incorrect response. The professor agreed with me and gave everyone two points that had got that one wrong.

Last semester I told one of my professors she was doing a great job and was very fair. She was overjoyed by the feedback. It’s the same in the business world or in any walk of life. Throw a compliment or two out there and see the response you get, I guarantee it will be positive. I can’t remember ever telling a girl she was pretty and her replying, “You think I’m pretty! You’re a jerk.” People love compliments!

The next time someone calls you a teachers pet accept that compliment with open arms. The world can use more of you.


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