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Archive | May, 2013

How To Establish A Good Credit Rating In College

How To Establish A Good Credit Rating In College

poorcreditscorePart of going off to college is learning to be a productive member of society. Being financially responsible is a big part of that role. Unfortunately, it can be difficult for students to learn the basics of controlling their own finances, including credit. Building a good credit rating while in college can go a long way toward helping graduates later in life. Having a good credit score is important because it will make it easier in the future to qualify for home and auto loans, as well as possibly getting better rates on them.

Ways to build good credit while in college

*Get help from parents – One of the easiest ways to build a good credit history quickly is to be added to a credit account owned by a parent. The student should be made an authorized user and provided a card associated with the account. Not only will this allow the student build credit fast, but the parent will be able to monitor their child’s usage.

*Obtain your own card – Those who feel they are ready to take on the challenges of owning a credit card may want to apply for their own account. Use it sparingly and be sure to pay off the monthly bill in full in order to avoid paying late charges or interest.

*Research – If the decision has been made to get a separate card, be sure to find the right one. Lots of companies will offer students incentives that can seem like a good idea but will actually result in higher interest rates. Find one with a relatively low limit initially so as to avoid the temptation to charge too much. Look for the lowest interest rate available. Some experts suggest a first card should be a retail card associated with a particular store. They usually do not offer many benefits, yet making regular payments on them will build good credit. One note of caution, however, is that they often will have relatively high interest rates.

*Pay all bills on time – While it’s important to pay the credit card bill on time each month, paying any other bills that are in your name is equally as important. The agencies responsible for setting credit scores take into consideration whether those bills are being paid as well.

*Check the reports – Consumers are allowed one free credit report a year, so be sure to take advantage of it. Even if the credit card is not used often, it is a good habit to get into for later in life. When reviewing the report, check for any errors. If one is found, get it corrected as quickly as possible in order to positively impact your score.

Building good credit can be difficult for college students, but it is worth it later in life. Starting out adult life with a bad credit score will make it more difficult to get ahead after graduation.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Claire Atkinson. She enjoys writing about financial topics and suggests the following site as a great resource to learn more about credit cards: Kanetix.ca.

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5 Tips On How To Be A Good Roommate Next Semester

5 Tips On How To Be A Good Roommate Next Semester

collegeroommatesjpgCollege life will have its ups and downs, but relationships are what define the experience. They motivate you to push through a difficult class or distract you when you’re studying for midterms. Just like any partnership, healthy roommate relationships take work. Common sense and a few simple tricks can help you and your roommate coexist peacefully under the same roof.

Maintain Your Own Space

It is all about boundaries and you and your roommate need some. Maintain your own space and define what your boundaries are up front. Don’t expect your roommate to read your mind — if late night TV is going to interfere with your beauty sleep, now is the time to say so. Make this a bonding ritual that helps clear the air right from the start. Things to discuss include:

  • Smoking
  • Visitors
  • Study time
  • Noise control
  • Pets
  • Food
  • Sharing

It is hard to come up with a complete list of things you love or hate all at once, so leave this line of communication open. Some issues may develop over time and the boundaries will change.

Hang Out at Least Once a Week

With any luck, you are building a friendship, not just saving on the rent, and that takes commitment. Set aside time for you and your roommate to do things together. Whether it is movie night or shooting hoops every Thursday after class, spending together time is a proactive way to nurture the relationship.

Expect Conflict

It is bound to happen – if you put two or more people under one roof, they will eventually disagree at some point. Go into the partnership knowing that problems will happen. Dealing with them right away keeps them from smoldering. Find ways to talk out the issues as they arise.

Timing matters. Be smart about approaching your roommate if you do have a problem. If it’s a bad day, put it off. Be aware of your own mood, also. If you are already cranky or irritable, what starts out as a discussion will end up as a battle.

Come Up With a System that Works

This is about organization. There are bills to pay, chores to do and personal space to consider. Plan it out to avoid procrastinating on necessary tasks:

  • Create a schedule for study time.
  • Make a list of who is responsible for paying the utilities.
  • Develop a “to do” list for cleaning.
  • Discuss how to get the best amenities for the house. For example, Direct2TV.com can hook you up with rocking TV service for just $29.95 per month. Research what else is available in the area to get the most for your combined buck.

Don’t leave anything to the imagination, but it is okay to leave some tasks open ended. If you have a minute to clean the refrigerator, by all means, knock yourself out.

A Little Communication Goes a Long Way

Communication, or lack of it, is a deal breaker. Finding ways to communicate puts out fires before they happen. You know the old sock on the doorknob trick? That actually works. Have a system that signals you need some privacy. Not everything in life is planned, so you had better have a way of silently dealing with those little unexpected surprises.

Above all else, be considerate of your roommate. Ask before you borrow, don’t eat food you don’t own and be courteous about noise. Remember, this person is more than just a way to keep the rent down. You are half of a team working to get through school together.

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DoSomething – The Puppy Text Message Scholarship

DoSomething – The Puppy Text Message Scholarship

puppytextlogoIn partnership with the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), DoSomething.org is providing a scholarship opportunity that is worth $3,000 to one lucky college student.  The scholarship contest runs from May 21st through July 26th.

Scholarship Name: $3,000 Puppy Mills are Bad Scholarship
Sponsor Name: DoSomething.org
Scholarship URL: www.dosomething.org/puppy
Description: Use your phone to fight for the millions of puppies born in abusive factory farms. Share a text messaging game on puppy mills with 6 friends and you’ll be entered to win a $3,000 scholarship.
Millions of puppies are born in horrible conditions each year, just so puppy mills can make a profit. Invite your friends to step into the shoes of a pet store employee who discovers their store supports puppy mills.
To enter for the $3,000 scholarship, visit www.dosomething.org/puppy and submit six friend’s phone numbers. No minimum GPA. No essays required.

 

Common Questions For DoSomething.org:

 

What will you do with my number?

We’ll text you an invitation to start playing the game. We’ll never give out or sell your info.

What will you do with my friends’ numbers?

Your friends will receive an invitation to play the Puppy Text. They can choose to accept or ignore it. We never give out or sell your friends’ info!

How do I win the scholarship?

Send the Puppy Text to six of your friends using the form above and you’ll be entered to win a $3,000 scholarship.

When is the scholarship winner announced?

If you win the scholarship, you will be notified by August 9th. The winner will also be announced on this page.

Want to get in touch with DoSomething.org?

Have a question that wasn’t answered here? Email Hilary at puppy@dosomething.org

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Making the Most of Student Financial Aid Programs

Making the Most of Student Financial Aid Programs

financialaidFamilies are finding it more and more difficult to keep up with the rising costs of college tuition in recent years. Fortunately, financial aid is available to students in multiple forms, including federal aid, loans, scholarships, grants, and work-study programs. However, many students do not know exactly how to make the most of the financial aid at their disposal. The following tips will help ensure that you get the most out of these student aid programs.

 

  • Spend time researching: Before you start applying to financial aid programs, be sure to read up on the regulations for each. You need to know what program suits you best, and which scholarships you are most likely to get. By doing your research early on, you can pick out the right programs for your financial needs, and you’ll be able to prepare for the requirements to submit. This increases your chances of getting the aid you need.
  • Talk to a professional: Most colleges and universities have student aid offices. High school counselors are also good resources to ask about financial aid. If you’re looking for student aid, it’s a good idea to visit a professional to seek guidance. Sometimes, communities or non-governmental organizations (NGOs) will provide help with applying to aid programs like the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
  • Calculate your tuition costs: The adage “know your enemy” is rather applicable where tuition fees are concerned. Instead of going in blindly, use the college tuition fee calculators available online to identify the approximate amount you’ll have to pay. When you have that concrete number, it’s much easier for you to identify how much aid you’ll have to apply for and how much you could possibly pay out of pocket.
  • Make sure your forms are accurate and timely: Remember that even if you’re in a hurry, your financial aid applications should be immaculate. You cannot afford inaccuracies. Most of these programs will base their aid decisions on the details you have provided. If you enter inaccurate information, this could jeopardize your chances in getting substantial student aid. Just as important as filling out your forms accurately is filling them out on time. There are a lot of applicants seeking the same financial assistance as you. Therefore, it’s a good idea to submit your application as early as you can. If possible, submit before the deadline. This is not a good time to dally, because you might just lose out to the students who submitted ahead of you.
  • Reevaluate your financial aid package: A lot of students make the mistake of just settling into whatever financial aid they receive in their first year. In reality, circumstances can change the amount of aid you’re receiving. For example, a student whose parent was laid off recently can now apply for more aid. Continue to tweak and revisit your financial aid programs and see if new circumstances can give you a better assistance package.

Today’s guest article comes from the Student Financial Literacy team at iGrad.com.

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How Student Loan Debt Adds Up – Infographic

How Student Loan Debt Adds Up – Infographic

It is probably not surprising to most but student loan debt has now surpassed the $1 Trillion dollar mark. Total education loan debt now exceeds total credit card debt by more than $150 Billion dollars. The good news is that the average student loan debt incurred by a borrower is only hovering around $26,000. Even though this amount of individual debt may not sound great, it is surely a better scenario than this crazy insane student loan nightmare. The following infographic (provided by the good people at debt.org) shares a lot of statistics and information about student loan debt (click on the picture if you want to see it in a larger format). Enjoy!

student-loan-debt-infographic

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10 Colleges with the Highest Rate of Study Abroad Programs

10 Colleges with the Highest Rate of Study Abroad Programs

studyabroadA Campus of Another Country

At one time not so very long ago, the usual college student’s exposure to other cultures consisted of a requirement to take either Music History or Art History. Most college students also informally counted frequent meals of pizza and exposure to foreign beers as a more popular and entertaining form of cultural exposure.

Now, however, it seems that nearly every four-year college or university offers at least an abbreviated overseas class to be taken either between or during regular semesters. It has become the norm for many college students to spend a semester or even an entire academic year studying in a foreign country, adapting to cultural mores, learning the language and gaining a far greater understanding of the world than could be picked up in a domestic classroom.

The Lessons Students Learn

Among the first lessons students learn as they prepare for their overseas educational journeys is that of bureaucracy. Passports must be located, reported as lost or applied for in the first place. Student visas must be obtained from the countries in which the students will study and a study abroad insurance policy will need to be purchased for any required medical care while abroad. Depending upon the country, immunizations and prescription medication may be required to help protect students from indigenous diseases. Only after all these details are completed can a student put down his book bag and take a good look around.

Academic Communities That Encourage Studying Abroad

According to an article by Kelsey Sheehy on the “U.S. News & World Report” online magazine website, around 23 percent of college students reported a study abroad experience at some point during their four or five year undergraduate quest. Sheehy’s top 10 list of schools with the highest proportion of undergraduate foreign study includes two schools that absolutely require satisfactory completion of a class taken abroad to be awarded a baccalaureate degree. The last two schools on the list reported identical rates of 70 percent of students having taken some coursework abroad at some time during their college experience.

As identified by Sheehy’s article, the schools and their reported rates of undergraduate participation are as follows:

  1. Goucher College in Maryland, 100 percent
  2. Soka University of America in California, 100 percent
  3. Queens University of Charlotte in North Carolina, 94 percent
  4. Loyola University of Maryland, 84 percent
  5. Kalamazoo College of Michigan, 82 percent
  6. Centre College of Kentucky, 80 percent
  7. Bethel University of Minnesota, 75 percent
  8. Elon University of North Carolina, 71 percent
  9. Carleton College of Minnesota, 70 percent
  10. University of Denver in Colorado, 70 percent

Long-Term Benefits

A recent study by IES Abroad, a nonprofit organization that provides study abroad programs for U.S. students, revealed that graduates of the group’s programs pull in an average of $7,000 more each year in their starting salaries than students who never studied abroad. Studying abroad is indeed beneficial in the long-term, giving graduates an edge when it comes to scoring better and higher-paying job opportunities after college. This can help to justify some of the up-front expense of a study abroad trip; even though it might cost a bit more up front than a typical semester or year Stateside, the benefit of traveling the world as a student will pay off in the form of salary gains down the line.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article is provided by Kristine Esser. She enjoys writing about study abroad opportunities for college students.

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Beyond the Big Game: Careers & Scholarships in Sports Medicine

Beyond the Big Game: Careers & Scholarships in Sports Medicine

It’s fairly safe to say that at some point during childhood, most little boys and girls will dream of being professional athletes when they grow up. Sadly, not all of us are born to bend it like Beckham, and those of us who are have other difficulties to face: one major injury or too many birthdays and it’s all over.

Fortunately, an exciting career in sports medicine can keep many athletes in the game after their playing days are over, and keep many athletes-at-heart with their fingers on the pulse of the sports they love – literally!

Whether you’re in high school, currently in college or even post-graduate, it’s never too early to take that first step or too late to switch gears. So, here are a few tips to help you get started on your future today.

What are your options?Sportsmedicine

There are many different specialties within the field of sports medicine and can include:

  • Athletic Trainers
  • Chiropractors
  • Coaches and Scouts
  • Dieticians and Nutritionists
  • Massage and Physical Therapists
  • Recreation and Fitness Workers
  • Doctors and Surgeons

Here are some specifics on three of the most popular:

Athletic Trainer
Trainers are Board Certified healthcare specialists with at least a Bachelor’s degree from a National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA – see more info below) accredited college or university’s athletic training program. For higher income potential, trainers can complete a Master’s program in athletic training.

Either way, trainers are highly skilled in preventing and treating (including rehab) various sports-related injuries. Finally, trainers employed by high schools, colleges and professional sports teams are the first responders on the scene of an injury.

Physical Therapist
A professional healthcare expert with a Bachelor’s and a Master’s or Doctorate degree in physical therapy who has received a passing score on the National Physical Therapy Examination (or state-specific exam) can qualify for a license to practice as a physical therapist.

A physical therapist’s focus is on providing physical rehabilitation to people of all ages with varying degrees of medical issues and complications and other functional disabilities. Commonly employed by hospitals, clinics and private practices, PT’s also have the option to provide individualized home-care. Additionally, working as a traveling physical therapist provides flexibility and freedom for those who prefer not to be tied down to one location.

Orthopedic Surgeon – Sports Medicine
The cream of the crop in terms of sports medicine occupations is the highly specialized orthopedic surgeon. These physicians are the best in the athletic biz for diagnosing and medically/surgically treating injuries to the ligaments, tendons, bones and joints of athletes and physically active individuals.

If you want to become one of the highest paid individuals in the health and exercise science field, you can expect to pay for it with your time and education. In addition to a Bachelor’s degree in an acceptable pre-med major and 4 years of medical school, you can look forward to 4 years of orthopedic surgery residency, an additional year or two in a sports medicine fellowship and accreditation from the American Board of Orthopedic Surgery.

To help you prepare for any of the above careers, consider taking these courses in school:

  • Adaptive physical education
  • Biomechanics
  • Exercise physiology
  • Fitness assessment and exercise prescription
  • Motor development
  • Sports management
  • Sports nutrition
  • Other courses in the Pre-med program

Great Sports Medicine Scholarships

The bottom line is that if pursuing a career in sports medicine, exercise science or physical therapy is the path you want for your life, there are resources out there to help you reach your goals.

National Athletic Trainers’ Association (NATA) 
The National Athletic Trainers’ Association is the professional membership for certified athletic trainers and others who support the athletic training profession. There are annual awards to help current and prospective students and the requirements can be found here: http://www.natafoundation.org/scholarship-program.

Eastern Athletic Trainer’s Association Scholarships 
For members of the National Athletic Trainers’ Association NATA Districts I and II, 10 students in accredited entry-level athletic training programs are awarded $2,500 grants each year (http://www.goeata.org/downloads/PDF/EATAScholApp11.pdf).

American College of Sports Medicine
The American College of Sports Medicine’s website has an expansive list of available grants and awards intended to promote the study of sports medicine and exercise science and encourage the athletic professionals of tomorrow: http://www.acsm.org/find-continuing-education/awards-grants/student-awards.

In addition to awards, grants and training programs, the ACSM link above provides information on flexible continuing education options as well as career resources.

Don’t forget to search for state and college-specific grants and scholarships, as well!

In addition to the foregoing, what are some other sports-related careers you have considered?

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Steve Gingrich. He is a brand manager for CompHealth, supporting their 3 Allied Staffing and Placement divisions and the physical therapy jobs division. He loves contributing to the blog and social media outlets as his side gig, and has worked for CHG Healthcare since 2010.

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5 Budget Saving Tips for the Frugal Student

5 Budget Saving Tips for the Frugal Student

statebudgetYou’re a student. You don’t know much about money – except that you don’t ever seem to have any. That’s OK, but you want to better manage the money you do have. Fortunately, it’s not difficult to save money as a student. It just takes a little ingenuity. Here are five ways you can save money right now:

Take Advantage of Your School’s Cafeteria

Most students shudder at school food, but the fact of the matter is that it’s cheap – at least compared to the other options out there. If you have a meal plan, then going out to eat doesn’t make much sense. If you’re the type of person who enjoys going out with friends, you might not be able to convince them to eat with you. That’s fine. Grab a quick bite to eat at school, then go out with your friends. You may not be hungry at all (thus saving you a lot of money) or you’ll spend much less wherever you go because you’re already pretty full.

Buy On Consignment

Consignment shops aren’t sexy, but they’re an easy way to save money. You can often find amazing deals – including clothes – for up to 70 percent off. Another idea is to hit up the Goodwill and Salvation Army outlets in the nicer neighborhoods.

Why the nice neighborhoods? Because it’s likely that the people in those neighborhoods made donations – and donations from people in nice neighborhoods means you might score some designer clothes for cheap.

Rent Textbooks

Chegg.com and Bookrenter.com are excellent places worth checking out. You can get textbooks for deep discounts here. In fact, you might save up to 80 percent off. That’s a significant savings when you’re living on student loans or a part-time job.

Split The Cost of a Warehouse Membership

One of the best ways to save money while in college is to buy in bulk. The problem is that you might not need a gallon of mayonnaise or 25lbs of chicken breasts. However, if you pool your resources with your fellow roommates (or friends who aren’t your roommates), then you could end up savings a substantial amount of money on groceries and other necessary expenses.

This is especially nice if you don’t have a meal plan or don’t like the school’s food. Divvy up the cost of a membership at a warehouse club, and buy in bulk. Use coupons to get even greater discounts. Then, split up the bulk items between you and everyone else you’re sharing the membership with. You may be surprised at just how far you can stretch a dollar using this tactic.

Lock Up The Credit Cards

You don’t have to keep up with the Joneses in college. It’s tempting to whip out your credit card and start charging it up, but this is usually a recipe for disaster later on. You’re eventually going to have to pay that bill. A lot of times, college students are trying to have fun while going to school. There’s nothing wrong with that – but realize the simple fact that you don’t have a lot of money.

This is a time to hunker down, financially. You’ll have plenty of time to buy expensive gadgets and, while it might seem tempting to go out and party all weekend long, there’s a price tag that comes along with it. Is it really worth it? In most cases, no.

About the Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Gillian Kearney, a personal finance consultant. Her articles mainly appear on personal finance blogs where she shares her money saving tips. Visit Monkey for more money saving ideas.

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