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Archive | July, 2010

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How To Land The Perfect Federal Work Study Job

How To Land The Perfect Federal Work Study Job

Last academic year (2009-2010) the Department of Education funded federal work study jobs to the tune of $1,174,492,000 (yes, that is over a billion dollars). This coming academic year (2010-2011), DOE is funding work study with $974,492,000. I know these numbers are quite large but the important thing that you need to take a look at is the reduction from one year to the next. This coming academic year you can see that $200 million dollars have been removed from the federal work study program. This reduction is most likely a result of the ARRA (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act) dollars that are no longer available.

So what does all this mean to you? Well, I am glad you asked. If you are a student that is hoping to work on your campus next year through the federal work study program, you had probably better get a jump start on securing a job. Chances are, the $200 million dollar reduction in federal funding for this program is going to equate to less jobs being available on your campus. So, time is certainly of the essence when trying to find a job and anything you can do to better position yourself as a candidate is going to benefit you in the long-run. Whether you want to be the one to check id’s on the way into the fitness center or get the resume builder position in the Bursar’s office, the following tips should hopefully help you get that dream campus job.

Tips to Landing the Perfect Job On Campus

  • Start Applying As Soon As Possible: Most colleges have some sort of job listing available on their website. In addition, many even have a virtual application process that allows you to select your top three jobs and send an application to each one of them electronically and efficiently. As soon as you have selected your college and know that you want to work there, you will want to start looking through the job listings right away and routinely.
  • Follow-up, Follow-up, Follow-up: Work study jobs are just like any other job in the real world. If you want to get the job, you need to keep your name at the forefront of the person responsible for doing the hiring. Email them, call them, become their facebook friend (well ..maybe not that but you get the gist).
  • Look For The Jobs That Are Not There: In the past few years it seems like most work study jobs get filled by word of mouth and an official job opening is never posted. Take advantage of this by calling or stopping by various departments and offices to see if they plan on hiring anyone. If you get any good leads refer to the follow-up mantra above.
  • Play The Part: What I mean here is that even though you are a college student you don’t always want to look the part.  When you are looking to score a great work study job, try and keep the flip flops, ragged jeans, and chewed up baseball caps to a minimum. After you secure the job you can bring back the normal college attire assuming it conforms to the employer’s dress code.
  • Complete Paperwork in a Timely Manner: In order to qualify for federal work study you first have to complete your FAFSA so that the financial aid office can include it in your financial aid award. Also, double check with the student employment office to see if it is ok if you pre-complete any tax paperwork (W4’s) and or campus documentation required for employment. If you have all this done, it will save a lot of time for the office that hires you and it will show that you are a go-getter with initiative.
  • Draft Up a Resume: It doesn’t have to be anything too fancy at this point. It just needs to reflect any relevant job experience you may have had leading up to college. If you are visiting different offices on campus, you can always leave them with a copy of your resume and your current contact information in case a job opening becomes available. As you continue your college career, you can build upon this resume so that you can have a jump start when you begin the job search again in 4 years.

Working on campus during your college years is a fundamental “rite of passage” that everyone should get the opportunity to experience. Work study jobs help to prepare you for life after college, serve as great resume builders, and help you make connections with people that will provide solid references for you for many years to come.  I hope the information provided above helps you get a leg up in landing that perfect college job and gaining all that it has to offer.. and help you make a couple bucks along the way as well. 😉

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Davenport U. Provides Tuition Discount to Unemployed

Davenport U. Provides Tuition Discount to Unemployed

The state of our economy over the past few years has been like a roller coaster ride. Unfortunately, I think it has been going down more than it has been going up and I think we even experienced a loop somewhere along the way. The optimist in me feels that we are certainly moving in the right direction but unemployment in our country is still staggering around the 10% mark. Repeatedly, our nation’s leaders have said time and time again that now is the time for our unemployed to take advantage of their situation (availability of free time?) and prepare themselves to re-enter the job market with more education and a better skill-set.

Davenport University has heard this message and has stepped up to the plate to roll out the red carpet and welcome the unemployed to it’s campuses. Davenport has made a commitment to provide a 25% tuition discount to any current or potential student (who is unemployed) that attends any of the 14 campuses it has located in Michigan.

The following is a quote from Larry Polselli, vice president for enrollment and student development at Davenport U: “Current economic environments across the state of Michigan have created challenges for many. With 14 campuses across the state and programs tied to today’s jobs, Davenport University is uniquely positioned to help students by extending this tuition discount when people need it most.”

Qualifications and rules governing this tuition discount program is fairly simple:

  • Any current student who can show documentation of current unemployment will be eligible for the 25 percent discount (Unemployment letter, paycheck stub, confirmation page, etc.)
  • Students who are underemployed and currently in a Michigan Works program and can provide Michigan Works documentation will be eligible for the 25 percent discount.
  • The discount will be applied for the entire financial aid year that it is awarded.
  • The discount is not retroactive and may not be combined with other tuition or scholarship offers.

I did some calculations and the estimated annual tuition at Davenport University for the 2010-2011 academic year is $11,544 assuming the student attends full time (12 credit hours each semester). Based upon the 25% discount, you will be saving $2,886. That is a huge savings that Davenport is presenting to it’s unemployed students.

If you live in the Michigan area, are unemployed, and looking to continue your education, I certainly recommend that you look into this opportunity provided by Davenport University. Davenport also manages an extensive online undergraduate degree program in the fields of Business, Health, and Technology. At the time of this article, I am unclear as to whether the discount is applicable to their online unemployed students. However, it never hurts to ask…

Davenport University boasts an enrollment of 11,000 students, maintains their flagship campus in Grand Rapids, Michigan and provides satellite campuses in Alma, Battle Creek, Caro, Flint, Gaylord, Kalamazoo, Lansing, Livonia, Midland, Saginaw, Traverse City, and Warren. If you would like to learn more about Davenport University, you can stop by their website anytime.

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Having A Car On Campus – Freedom or Financial Drain?

Having A Car On Campus – Freedom or Financial Drain?

Whether to have a car on campus is probably one of the greatest debates that an incoming college student can encounter. Some students don’t have to worry about making this choice because it has already been made for them: either the college doesn’t permit first year students to have a car on campus or mom and dad have just simply said “No.. not a good idea and that is that.”  However, if you are a student that does have an option of whether to have a car on campus, let’s go ahead and look at the pros and cons as to whether you should bring the keys or leave them at home.


Reasons Why You Should Have A Car on Campus

  • You will look cool to all your friends: Many of your friends may not have been able to talk mom and dad into letting them have a car on campus. Since you have a car, you have something that they don’t (see next bullet point)…
  • Freedom: You can come and go as you like at anytime of day or night. No relying on public transportation or college campus transporters in your future!
  • Increased popularity: Not only do you look cool (as mentioned above) but now you have a way to make more friends. You are now the cool dude (or dudette) AND you are able to take all your newly founded friends to the store, to the mall, to Chipotle, and yes maybe even to class every now and again.
  • You can visit home more often: or at least that is the story you will tell mom and dad! 😉
  • You will smell better: I know… this one is a little bit of a stretch but do you know how hard it is to get your clothes clean when you have to cart them to and from the laundry mat on the bus or with your bike?


Reasons Why You Should NOT Have A Car on Campus

  • The Car Payment: If you already have a car (and it is paid off) then this does not apply to you. However, if you are purchasing a car specifically for college you may want to think twice if you have to get a car loan.
  • Maintenance: Whether your car is brand new or ten years old, there are things that you must do on a regular basis to keep your car properly maintained. (oil changes, tire rotations, alignments – especially if your college is in the midwest – pothole central!, brake inspections, replacement of air filters – and don’t forget the air fresheners while you are at it) All these things usually come at a price…
  • Car Repair: This is different than Maintenance in the sense that this is something that needs replaced or repaired in order for your car to actually get you from point a to point b. Some good examples; transmission, engine gaskets, water pump, alternator, steering pump, etc…
  • Petrol, Gas, Go Go Juice: Whatever you call it, it is the stuff that your car needs in order to be a car. Without the gas, your car is just a 1 ton paperweight.
  • Auto Insurance: Since this is not an optional fee, if you have a car, you WILL need to have and pay for insurance.
  • Parking Tickets & The Infamous Boot: If you don’t have a car, you don’t have to worry about paying for parking tickets, paying fines to get a boot removed, or paying for tow charges to get your car out of the impound lot. You may laugh, but based upon experience, it seems like every college student that has a car on campus pays one or more of these fees at least once during their college career.
  • Walking Campus: Most residential campuses like to refer to themselves as a walking campus. This means that you can walk from one side of campus to the other and not have to pack a lunch for the journey. If you are attending a residential campus, a car may not be as important of an attribute to maintain.
  • Alternate Transportation: Bicycling, walking, public transportation, etc… All of these are things that you can utilize in lieu of a car. If you have doubt, ask anyone that is from New York City. They have mastered all three.
  • Pay To Park: Most schools require you to pay a fee to have access to the school parking lot each semester. In addition, it is probable that you may have to pay a fee just to register your car with the campus.

So, I guess we are back to the question at hand… Is having a car on campus a sign of your freedom or is it more of a financial drain. The financial resources that you have available probably dictate your response to that decision but at the end of the day it is more than likely the emotional factor of the decision that will win out. Regardless of which route you choose, just be sure to plan ahead and know all the ways in which your decision will impact your time on campus and your availability and access to things off campus.

If you know of anyone that is contemplating this exact same decision, please feel free to utilize the “share tab” below to pass this information onto them.

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Funding the GI Bill

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Comparing College Costs? Don’t Forget The Toilet Paper

Comparing College Costs? Don’t Forget The Toilet Paper

Many families put a lot of effort in comparing the bottom line costs associated with their son or daughter attending the college of their choice. If finances were not a driving force in the college selection, students would probably attend the college they feel most connected to without regard to price. However, since college expense does play a role in the college search process, it is important that students be aware of ALL the fees and policies that could impact the amount they spend on their education at a particular institution.

The Most Basic Expenses

Tuition: This fee is pretty straight forward but there are probably some caveats that you need to inquire about. The first thing I would want to know is whether your college of choice charges per credit hour or if they have a flat rate for each semester that you attend. In addition, do they charge you additional fees if you take a certain amount of credit hours? This is commonly referred to as an overload fee.

Room: Everyone has to sleep somewhere right? You will want to see if you are required to be in university housing (residence halls) all four year or if you have the option of living in off-campus housing (rentals) at some point. Most colleges seem to provide this choice for students with a junior/senior status. Also, if they let you live off-campus, are you permitted to sign a lease with a private landlord or do you have to stay in a university owned rental? Lastly, something you need to check out is the commuter status policy at your school. If you live close enough to campus are you allowed to live at home and drive to school each day?

Board: Eating on campus has it’s privileges (not having to cook for yourself and no dishes) but it does usually come at a premium price. So you need to find out if you are required to have a meal plan all four years. In addition, you need to know if you have the option of choosing a meal plan that appropriately fits your eating habits and lifestyle. You certainly don’t want to be paying for more than you will be consuming and flexibility of meal plans (pricing and size) can have a considerable impact on your budget over the span of four years.

The Not So Basic Expenses

Technology Fees: In the old days, students used to come to campus and the only thing they needed to plug into an electrical outlet was an alarm clock. Today they bring dozen of devices with them ranging from cell phone chargers, ipads, laptops, refrigerators, and flat screen t.v.’s. Not only do they expect to have the availability of electricity to properly run these items but they also anticipate having internet access just about anywhere on campus (wired and wireless). In order to keep up with demand, colleges and universities have been implementing technology fees of varying amounts.

Facility Fees: You didn’t think those buildings on campus take care of their deferred maintenance all by themselves did you? In order to provide structural updates and improvements to the most frequented campus facilities, it is not uncommon for a college to implement this fee to fund the associated costs. The most common buildings I have seen falling under this category are the Student Center and the Health and Fitness Center.

Student Health Insurance: Just about every student attending a campus based university or college must have some sort of medical insurance coverage. The good news is that if you don’t have the coverage, the school has more than likely brokered a discounted rate and insurance plan on your behalf. They will pass the cost of this program onto you in the form of a fee BUT if you able to show proof of alternate medical insurance coverage you can usually opt out or waive the university provided student insurance (and the fee associated).

The Rarely Seen But “You Never Know” Expenses

Printing Fees: Have you ever seen a student print a 300 page research journal just so that they could obtain the quote found on page 93? I have. The student pulled out the page they needed and discarded the remainder of the stack. Fortunately, they were eco-friendly and took the time to place the 299 pages of unneeded paper in the recycle bin. 😉 As you can imagine, this doesn’t seem like a lot of expense but if you have this type of paper abuse happening campus-wide, it does equate to quite an expense for the college that provides free paper in their computer labs. I know one campus that is implementing this fee for the coming academic year and they are providing students with a “normal” allotment of free printing but will be charging per sheet there after.

Toilet Paper: I never thought it would get to this point but obviously our economy is struggling a little more than I knew. So much that Texas A&M is contemplating the removal of toilet paper from their residence halls. They estimate that this move will save the University $82,000. (WOW!) I can personally vouch for the misuse of toilet paper in my college days as I witnessed my friends looting the residence halls to “decorate” some of the trees throughout campus. So I can see how passively passing this cost onto students may be a benefit to some colleges and universities.

The important thing to take away from this article is that college expenses are not just about what you are billed, how much financial aid you receive, and what the difference is between. College costs can vary greatly depending on the different policies and fees that each school may have in place and before you make that final commitment, do your homework and double check some of the variables mentioned above.

Hope you found this article informative. If you know of anyone else that may benefit from this information, please feel free to pass it along using the “share tab” below.

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Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA)

Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA)

The following article is provided by the good folks at The Real College Guide. We are pleased to have them as a Contributor for CheapScholar.org. This article provides a good foundation for the information covered by SAFRA. If you have additional questions or would like me to provide additional details on any aspect of this legislation, don’t hesitate to drop me a line.

Understanding SAFRA and What It Means To You

The college tuition system has been turned upside down now that the Student Aid and Fiscal Responsibility Act (SAFRA) is law. The Student Aid and Fisc-huh?!?

SAFRA is legislation President Obama tacked on to his infamous health care reform bill.

“The White House succeeded in not only getting the health care bill passed, but in making a huge change to the college loan system,” says Eric Yaverbaum, education expert and author of Life’s Little College Admissions Insights. “It’s gone largely unnoticed because it’s seemingly unrelated to the blockbuster changes in the health care industry.”

There’s been some controversy surrounding the issue of combining student aid reform with the seemingly unrelated matter of health care reform. But political views aside, let’s see how SAFRA affects students:

No. 1: You’ll get loans directly from the government — without a middleman.
While some schools have participated in the Federal Direct Loan Program since its inception in the early ’90s, SAFRA requires that all federal student loans now be originated through the U.S. Department of Education. This means funds come directly from the federal government, which provides the loans at a low interest rate.

“It’s so advantageous to students,” says Yaverbaum. “My daughter is about to enter her freshman year, and as a parent I couldn’t be more excited about it. College students are really going to benefit. Paying back college loans kills kids forever. Now it doesn’t have to be such an awful experience.”

Your credit score and employment status are not factored into your application for a direct loan … unless you have extreme adverse credit (say, your car got repossessed or you’re more than 90 days past due on that Urban Outfitters account). If you get denied, you can appeal or get a qualified co-signer.

No matter where you are in the borrowing process, visit StudentLoans.gov to find out if you qualify for one of the four types of Federal Direct Loans:

1. Federal Direct Subsidized Stafford Loans are based on financial need. The government pays the loan interest until you’re out of school.

2. Federal Direct Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not need-based, and students are required to pay all interest charges.

3. Federal Direct Parent PLUS Loans (“PLUS” stands for “Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students”) allow parents to borrow money to help pay for their child’s education.

4. Federal Direct Graduate PLUS Loans offer the same terms as Parent PLUS for graduate and professional-degree students.

No. 2: You can consolidate loans you already have.
Federally guaranteed student loans will no longer be made by private lending institutions through what many of you already know as the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program.

What to do if you have an existing FFEL loan? For a one-year stretch — from July 1, 2010 to July 1, 2011 — current students who have FFEL loans can roll those into the Direct Loan program. The benefit is that you’ll only have to deal with a single lender (the Direct Loan Servicing Center) which means paying one monthly payment for all loans. Plus, your minimum monthly payment on a consolidated loan may be lower than the combined payments for FFEL loans.

No. 3: You’ll pay back less per month (and overall) and be done in fewer years.

Carrie Meyer, a rising senior at Ohio State University, has had to rely on three loans to cover her college tuition over the years: federal subsidized, federal unsubsidized and a personal loan. Meyer, a hospitality management student who currently works part time, still worries about paying off her loans after graduation: “With what I want to do, you don’t start out getting a big salary.”

Direct Loan borrowers can choose from several friendly payment plans, depending on needs — and you can switch to a different repayment plan if your situation changes. Beginning in 2014, the Income Based Repayment option will cap monthly loan payments at 10 percent of income and forgive remaining balances after 20 years of repayment. Sound like a lot? Actually, this is a major improvement from the current terms of capping repayments at 15 percent and 25 years, respectively.

No. 4: You could save big-time on loan payments if you go into public service.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness provides incentive for students to enter into full-time public service employment. The program forgives the remaining balance of a Direct Loan after a borrower has completed 120 monthly payments (that’s 10 years) while employed full time in public service. This includes government jobs, military service, safety professions, law enforcement, health care, social work, legal advocacy and some teaching positions.

No. 5: Maximum Pell Grant amounts will increase with inflation.

While SAFRA does not change the process for applying for federal grants, it does increase the amount of money awarded through the ever-popular Pell Grant program, which provides financial aid to low-income undergraduate students. For the 2009 to 2010 school year, the maximum Pell Grant was $5,350. The max will be upped to $5,550 for 2010 to 2011 and will gradually increase based on inflation costs beginning in 2013.

Students interested in applying for aid should complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid at Fafsa.ed.gov or call 1-800-4-FED-AID. Keep in mind that this is not a one-time thing — students who want to be considered need to apply for aid for every school year, so it’s important to stay on top of application procedures.

A recent report released by the College Board found that millions in financial aid are left untouched by community college students. In the 2007 to 2008 academic year, 58 percent of Pell Grant-eligible students who attended community colleges applied for federal financial aid, compared with 77 percent of eligible students at four-year public institutions.

No. 6: Community colleges and minority schools will get big bucks for improvements.

Says College Board President Gaston Caperton: “Community colleges are a critical part of the education system, serving nearly half of all undergraduates in the United States.” The terms of SAFRA reflect this sentiment, as $2 billion is being committed to improving educational programs and updating facilities at community colleges. In addition, SAFRA has earmarked $2.55 billion to be invested in historically black and minority institutions.

Talk It up!

What do you think about SAFRA and its impact on the college student aid system?

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Saving For College In Kindergarten

Saving For College In Kindergarten

I don’t know this guy but I like his philosophy on saving for education. Gavin Newsom is the mayor of San Francisco and he has high hopes of every student going to college regardless of their economic status. His convictions on this topic are so strong that he is committed to starting a college savings account for every kindergarten student attending a public school in San Francisco.

The savings account will be opened with $50 ($100 for lower income students) and will be directly funded by the city.This savings program is going to roll out to 25% of the incoming kindergartners this coming fall, 50% the following year, and continue gradually until all incoming kindergartners are receiving a college savings account upon enrollment. In addition, families who contribute $100 to the savings program during the first year will receive a matching donation from a local foundation called EARN

“I believe that every single child should be born not necessarily into wealth, but into opportunity,” Newsom said. “Once a mind is stretched, it can never go back.”

“It’s all about building aspirations – knowing they have a shot at being successful,” said city Treasurer Jose Cisneros, who developed the program with Newsom

I know that Gavin’s idea is probably going to come under fire and draw some scrutiny as his community is experiencing the same budget constraints that many states and cities are facing in our nation. However, I applaud him for his efforts and I hope his program is successful in changing the outcome for some of these students and providing them with the option of obtaining a college education.

On a side note, I was recently at the hospital (birth of our third child) and I was astonished by all the free things (product samples) and educational pamphlets that they provided us before we were discharged and headed home. I am wondering if a college savings informational brochure should be part of that mix? I am a firm believer that it is never too early to start a college savings account for your children.

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