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Archive | June, 2014

College Bound? The Best New Cars for the Frugal College Student

College Bound? The Best New Cars for the Frugal College Student

collegecarIf you have a college-bound student heading off to university in the fall, you’re probably already planning to make sure they have everything they need once they arrive on campus. But what about how they’ll get there and get around once school starts?

An estimated 22 million college U.S. college students are heading to campus this year and the last thing you want to do is send yours off in an old, unreliable or unsafe car. If your teenager is still driving grandma’s old beater, there’s a good chance the car won’t even make it to the college dorm room parking lot when you help them move in.

Buying a new car for your college-bound son or daughter is an important part of planning for college. By using a reputable car valuation service like Kelley Blue Book, you can make sure you’re getting a fair price on a new car.

Here are the five best new cars for the frugal college student who is looking to save a few bucks while still looking cool and staying safe on the road.

Fiat 500

The little Italian cars long popular in Europe have really picked up speed in the United States. The model 500 car is selling especially fast, with many of those buyers being late teenagers. The Italian auto maker revamped its original 1957 subcompact car with a sporty exterior and interior and gets very good gas mileage.

Honda Fit

The Honda Fit is an affordable, safe and compact car that gets very good mileage. Being a Honda, the Fit also will not require much maintenance, making it perfect for college kids who don’t have a lot of cash for expensive repairs.

Toyota Prius

The Toyota Prius is another great option for frugal college students who want to save money on gas and help the environment at the same time. The Prius now also comes in several different styles, so if the natural hatchback is not to your student’s liking, they can have their pick of other body types. A little pricier than an all-gasoline car, the cost of the hybrid car is deferred while saving on gas and helping save the environment.

Nissan Rogue

Crossovers like the Nissan Rogue are a little compact car with some SUV mixed in. The new Rogue seats up to seven people, but you wouldn’t know from looking at it on the outside. The Rogue is a bit more expensive than a smaller car, but it’s safe and having all the storage space in the car is perfect for those long drives back home with loads of dirty laundry.

Kia Soul

The Kia Soul is another great crossover option for college students on a budget. Perhaps you’ve seen their commercials with the hamsters dancing and driving. Hopefully your college kids won’t have too big of a party in this great vehicle, although it has several amenities such as a booming sound system and other features that make it a super cool car. It also has about 20 cubic feet of cargo space to give plenty of room to pack for the long trip home.

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CheapScholar Announces 2014 Scholarship Winner!

CheapScholar Announces 2014 Scholarship Winner!

CheapScholar.org was founded in January of 2010 and a number of amazing things have happened since that first informative article (Now Introducing The Sleeker, Newer, Updated FAFSA!). The following represents a few notable moments for me and CheapScholar.org:

  • Over the course of the past four years, I have had the opportunity to share nearly eight hundred articles with our readers.
  • CheapScholar’s College Resource Center has helped thousands upon thousands of students find the answers that they need on topics related to the financial aspect of their college experience.
  • CheapScholar had a very meager beginning with just a couple hundred visitors in the first month – now the site is welcoming tens of thousands of visitors each month!
  • Our Find Scholarships page has become a “go to” resource for students/families looking for outside scholarship dollars.
  • Recognizing a need among high school guidance counselors, CheapScholar.org rolled out a free resource for Guidance Counselors that provides tools and information to help the students and families in which they serve.
  • CheapScholar.org has embraced social media to its fullest and we have a sizable following on Facebook and Twitter (Be sure to connect with us if you have not already!)
  • CheapScholar.org is spreading the good word about Paying For College options by providing free Paying For College seminars for high schools, foundations, & organizations throughout the midwest region of Ohio and in various parts of the nation.
  • We are continually making the CheapScholar.org website a solid resource for families, students, guidance counselors, college administrators, etc… This year we introduced “The College Pulse” – a daily news resource that compiles paying for college information from across the nation in one convenient location. In addition, we also proudly support financial literacy efforts by hosting Financial Football on our site!

One of the greatest accomplishments that CheapScholar.org recently achieved is awarding our third “How Do You Make College Cheaper?” scholarship. It has always been my goal to help students make their way to college through the information and resources provided here on CheapScholar.org but I also wanted to help by providing financial support via a scholarship. This is the third year that I was able to make that happen. And, based upon the number of entries, the positive feedback received, and the goodwill generated, I plan on continuing the scholarship giveaway in subsequent years. So Enter Today! 😉

I am pleased to announce that Jacqueline Vazquez is the 2014 scholarship recipient. Ms. Vazquez is looking forward to attending University of Central Florida and I hope this scholarship gets her one step closer to achieving her educational goals.

If you would like to learn more about Jacqueline, please take a moment to read through the bio she submitted to us to share with our readers. As you will see, this year’s scholarship found a good home with Jacqueline.

Jacqueline Vazquez (2014 Scholarship Winner)

JacquelineVazquezGradPic

Hi! My name is Jacqueline Vazquez. I am an incoming freshman at the University of Central Florida and I recently graduated from Somerset Academy Charter High School in Pembroke Pines, Florida. Throughout the last four years of my life, I have been heavily involved in my high school’s National Honor Society; I was Liaison of the club in my junior year and was elected as President of the club during my senior year. I helped the club to grow and help our school and the community by participating in fund raising events, food drives for the less fortunate, and volunteering at the Homeless Voice’s 5K Walk/Run. I am also a member of the Spanish, Science and Math Honor Societies at my high school (Somerset Academy). Some of my hobbies include writing, reading, playing soccer, and watching sports with my dad. In fact, I love sports so much that I am planning to study Communications and pursue my dream of becoming a sports broadcaster! Furthermore, this scholarship will help me to continue my education and have the funds to pay for tuition, books, meals and school supplies that are essential to my college life. Without the burden of worrying about how to pay for college, I can fully apply myself to my studies and my participation in extracurricular organizations at the college I will be attending. I want to be able to look back at my college experience and see it as a time of productivity, scholastic success and personal growth, and I know that this scholarship will help me to do just that. Thank you from the bottom of my heart… This award will be put to good use!

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Roadblocks to Paying for College: Your Parents’ Bankruptcy

Roadblocks to Paying for College: Your Parents’ Bankruptcy

bankruptcyEntering into college can be stressful, especially when considering you financial situation. Unfortunately, there are a few things that can make financing your college career even more challenging.

Your Parents’ Influence

If you’re in any way dependent on your parents for your college tuition, then you’ve probably noticed by now that schools rely on a credit-check of your parents’ accounts.

If your parents have, at any time, declared bankruptcy or are even in the midst of it, you’re probably worrying about your ability to pay for a college.

Here are some things you’ll want to know about receiving grant money, your eligibility for government assistance and much more.

The Bankruptcy Reform of 1994

Right off the bat, we’re going to put some of your fears to rest – you’re still eligible for grant money.

The Bankruptcy Reform of 1994 ensures that you, as a student, can’t be denied federal grants because of your parents’ credit history. So, even if your parents have filed bankruptcy in the past or are undergoing the process at the time of your application, it won’t be held against you.

Thankfully this reform also ensures that you can receive scholarships to further your education. To that end, you’ll be able to receive the same benefits as students who have parents with a clear credit history. Your parents can even set up payment plans so that your transition will be even smoother.

The US Stafford Loan in particular is an example of a government loan which is always available to you regardless of your credit history.

Federal PLUS Loans and Bankruptcy

Unfortunately, there is at least one type of loan which is dependent on a good credit history from your parents. Only individuals with a clear credit history can apply for The Federal PLUS Loan. So what does this mean for you?

If your parents are denied a Federal PLUS Loan, then you may actually be eligible for a larger unsubsidized government loan. This can even take effect within the first two years of college. Students who received larger unsubsidized loans in the first two years of college have been recorded as getting up to $4,000 more right away. It’s also been reported that you can receive up to $1,000 more (in addition to the first $4,000) for your last two years.

If you have your heart set on a Federal PLUS Loan, you’ll need to find a cosigner with good credit.

Private Schools and Bankruptcy

It’s important to note, however, that private schools have different regulations for the application process and the grants which go through their institution.

Although the reform of 1994 applies across the board to federal student loans, it doesn’t apply to private school ones. Each private school retains the right to check your parents’ credit history through the past seven to ten years.

Getting Help

Applying for financial aid can be challenging. The most important thing to remember is help is always available. Contact someone in your college’s financial aid department. The staff is well-informed about school policy and may even be able to help set you up with a payment plan or a loan that fits your situation best.

If your parents are considering bankruptcy, contact a bankruptcy lawyer right away. This law professional can give you additional information about how the process will affect your college education. Sometimes, it is beneficial to consider the timing of filing bankruptcy. Maybe your parents will want to wait until after you’re enrolled.

Your education is important. Just because your parents may have had a rough spot with their credit doesn’t mean your education should have to suffer for it.

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6 Ways to Save on Entertainment Costs for College Students

6 Ways to Save on Entertainment Costs for College Students

entertainmentHopefully before you started college, you applied for financial aid. And with any luck, you scored a scholarship, and maybe a grant or two. With the help of your aid package, you probably feel confident that you can finance your education, but student aid doesn’t cover entertainment expenses. To offset the cost of movies, travel, and parties, it’s important to adopt a frugal mindset. Use these tips to save on entertainment while in school.

1. Use Your ID Card
Your student ID card presents numerous opportunities to save, both on campus and off. Most universities work with local businesses to provide discounts to students who present their cards, so always keep your ID handy – it might score you a free drink or a buy-one, get-one deal at a nearby bowling alley. Also know that your card provides free or discounted entry to many on-campus entertainment options, such as sporting events, concerts, and movies.

2. Ask for Discounts
Be sure to ask about student discounts wherever you go. Most large entertainment venues, including minor league sporting events, movie theaters, and even ski resorts, are happy to cater to students by offering a better deal.

3. Cook in
Cooking in can save you money while providing a night of entertainment. Grab your roommate, hit the grocery store, and pick up whatever you need to cook lasagna, spaghetti and meatballs, or fajitas. Then consider selling your leftovers to other students cramming for finals or looking for a late-night meal. You’re not only saving money, you’re generating it. You can even lower your expenses by clipping coupons from the Sunday paper or looking them up on a mobile app, such as Pushpins.

4. Entertain In-Room
Do you need a night off from your studies? Enjoy in-room fun rather than hitting the town. Classic board games, such as Pictionary or Scattergories, are good options, as are Apples to Apples and card games like Spoons. Rent movies from a Redbox kiosk at roughly $1 per day, then grab your friends for a low-key night in.

5. Limit the Keg Parties
Keg parties are fun, there’s no doubt. But if you’re required to pitch in for the cost of beer, or you’re asked to provide some of your own beer and snacks as backup, a single night out can really add up. Besides, attending class with a hangover won’t do much for your GPA.

6. Participate in Intramural Sports
Intramural sports represent a great way to spend some of your down time. If you’re talented at basketball, baseball, or even flag football, you can get active and have fun for next to nothing.

It may seem like putting entertainment expenses on a credit card is no big deal, but those bills are likely to come back to bite you down the road. Not only is credit card debt expensive (all those interest payments add up), but if you make credit card use a habit, it’ll be hard to break later. Instead, develop a frugal mindset. If you can start saving money while in school, you’ll be prepared to start paying off your student loans after you graduate.

What are some other ways to save on entertainment costs while in college?

About The Author:

Today’s guest article comes from Gary Richardson. He is a financial writer who shares tips about saving money, banking, and getting the most out of college – all while staying within budget.

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