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Making the Big Move after Graduation

Making the Big Move after Graduation

So you’ve finally graduated college. Congratulations! But now what? If you’ve seen the classic film, The Graduate, then you know that your post-college days can feel aimless. Don’t let this happen to you. Whether you want to join the workforce right away, or would like to take some much deserved time off to fulfill personal needs, having a plan and sticking to it is a key component of moving on once you’ve finally received your hard-earned degree. To ensure that your big move after graduation goes off without a hitch, follow this five step plan.

1. Creating a Plan

Having goals provides terrific motivation for creating a plan and sticking to it. Do you want to join the Peace Corp? Perhaps you’d like to teach English in a foreign country? Or perhaps you are eager to start earning right away so that you can start putting money away for a house. Whatever your goals are, put pen to paper and put together a plan for how you might achieve them. Think of a goal as a destination, and a plan as directions on how to get there – you wouldn’t set off across the country without first consulting a map, would you? Achieving your goals should be treated no differently.

2. Finding a Job

Finding a job can be difficult, tiring, and discouraging, and may take much longer than you anticipate. The important thing is to not give up. Keep at it and treat finding a job like a job. Commit yourself to it for eight hours a day, five days a week, until you land that coveted position. Keep track of your applications with a spreadsheet, and don’t be afraid to follow up with contacts if you haven’t heard back. Most hiring managers are dealing with dozens, if not hundreds of applicants. To make your job easier, consider using sites like Monster, Indeed, and LinkedIn to find positions that might be right for your education and experience. Do so and you may even be able to find a job before you move.

3. Taking Care of Essentials

To make things easier for you once you’ve arrived in your new town or state, consider taking care of some essentials before you get there – or at least as early as possible. Change your mailing address as soon as possible, update billing and mailing info with your banks and credit card companies, transfer your insurance policies over to your new state (if applicable), and research driver license requirements as well. The more you can do in advance, the less you’ll have to do when you get to your new home. And considering the many facets involved with a big move post-graduation, you’ll appreciate all the help that you can get. How can you keep track of all of these essentials? See Step One!

4. Building Your Savings Account

Unfortunately, moving often doesn’t come cheaply – this is especially true if you’re picking up everything and moving out of state. Between hiring movers, transporting your goods across state lines (or even city-to-city), getting yourself to your new destination, and covering move-in expenses at your new place, you are likely looking at several thousand dollars simply to get from Point A to Point B. Needless to say, it pays to have some money saved up. How do you do this when you’re a starving college student? Well, believe it or not, you have options.

For students graduating in a year or two, put together a savings plan now. Even $100 per month can make a big difference when it comes time to graduate – over the course of two years, that leaves you with nearly $2,500 in your pocket. If you’ve already graduated and have little in the way of savings, then we recommend picking up extra work so that you can earn additional income. This may mean taking on additional shifts at your current job, picking up a second job in your off hours, or freelancing. Other options, like Amway, make it possible to earn money on your own schedule, at your own pace. With this extra income, you can cover your moving expenses and have some left over in the till at the end of the day.

5. Making Friends and Settling In

Finally, make yourself at home in your new home. Even if you’re moving back to your hometown after four years away, many college graduates find that the home they return to is not the home that they left – they have changed, and so has their town. To help the process of making new friends as easy and seamless as possible, consider joining clubs, forming bonds with new co-workers, finding like-minded people on social media, and trying new things. Use sites like Yelp to find cool restaurants and attractions in town, and dive into local publications for insider knowledge on upcoming events, concerts, and more. Remember, not until you’ve settled in will your new house become your new home.

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What to Splurge on as You Prepare for College

What to Splurge on as You Prepare for College

Heading off to college usually involves a lengthy — and expensive — shopping list. To stick to your budget, you’ll need to be smart about what you’re investing your money in. Here are a few items to keep in mind.

Sturdy Backpack

You’ll be lugging plenty of study materials around campus for at least four years, so do your future self — and your back — a favor and invest in a sturdy backpack to haul it all around. Look for a design that is as sturdy as it is sleek so that it can easily transition as a work bag for your internship or first job. Key features to look for are a special padded laptop section, hidden compartments for valuables, as well as plenty of other storage compartments to keep the rest of your essentials organized and accessible.

Shower Curtain & Other Bathroom Linens

It’s worth splurging on a quality shower curtain to keep your bathroom looking clean and elevate the style of your space for a more adult look. Be sure to protect your shower curtain from mold and mildew by using a mildew-resistant liner. This can prevent mildew from growing, which can also save you time cleaning your bathroom.

Instead of buying the cheapest towels you can find in bulk, spring for towels that cost a little more. High-quality bath towels, hand towels and washcloths will often wash and wear better, lasting longer and saving you money in the long run. Skip the colorful options in favor of solid white towels that can easily be bleached to look like new if they stain or start to discolor.

Reusable Water Bottle

Maintaining optimal hydration offers a host of health benefits, from aiding digestion and helping you feel more energized to improving the look of your skin and promoting overall immunity. And if you are living it up in the typical college fashion and going out drinking with your friends often, hydration is even more important to ward off those dreaded hangovers.

Splurge on a double-walled stainless steel water bottle from Hydroflask, Swell or Klean Kanteen. While plastic water bottles, even the reusable kind, can leach chemicals into your water, stainless steel water bottles are safer and more eco-friendly. The sturdy construction also means this style of water bottle is more durable and can stand up to the drop and tumbles that can occur as you tote it around on campus daily. Double-walled, vacuum-insulated construction is key for temperature stability, keeping your water cold for hours in any environment.

Wireless Key Finder

You’ve got a lot going on and all of that juggling can make it easy to lose track of the simplest little things, like your keys. Save yourself the headache of furiously tearing your place apart looking for your keys by investing in a wireless key finder. This ingenious little device attaches to your keyring and uses a Bluetooth signal to pair with your phone. When you cannot locate your keys, simply deploy the find feature from the device app on your phone and it will begin playing a designated finder tune to help guide you toward your keys.

By splurging on the above items, you can enjoy years of use and spend less sweating the small stuff and more time focusing on your studies.

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5 Ways to Earn Extra Money While Earning Your Degree

5 Ways to Earn Extra Money While Earning Your Degree

You can see the light at the end of the tunnel that is your college career. You have everything you need to finish: your class schedule, motivation and sweet spring break plans. You have everything except enough cash to get you through the school year. For many students, holding a traditional full- or part-time job is difficult to manage with their ever-changing class and extra-curricular activity schedules. If you know where to look, though, there are plenty of job opportunities that can fit into your hectic lifestyle and earn you enough money to fund the necessities, such as books and rent, and maybe even a few well-earned spring break excursions.

Online Transcription

If you have excellent typing skills and a decent tolerance for repetition, online transcription may be for you. The work is straight-forward: listen to an audio file (and then listen to it a few more times) and then type exactly what you hear in a provided format. Transcription companies such as TranscribeMe, Rev and Quicktate hire new employees who pass a skills test. You generally only need a computer and high-speed internet connection to work and you can pick up as much or as little work as you can handle. Companies usually pay between $15 and $25 per audio hour (your actual pay per hour depends on your efficiency).

Online Surveys

Taking online surveys is probably not going to cover all of your expenses, but it is an easy way to earn a little extra money in your free time. Money Saving Mom links to six legitimate survey companies on her website that you can check out to help you earn some cash.

Contractual Work

There are a plethora of online sites that connect skilled workers to employers. For example, Handy pairs cleaners (at $22/hr) and handymen (or women) (at $45/hr) with jobs, allowing workers to chose the jobs and schedule. Likewise, websites like Zirtual and TaskRabbit connect people in need of virtual (or at times, in person) assistants for specific tasks. If you’re an aspiring entrepreneur, a company like Amway, the 26th largest company in the U.S., provides a framework to earn money while honing online sales and other creative marketing skills.

Freelance Work

If you’re hoping to work in a creative field, there is no better way to earn money while building your portfolio than freelancing. While freelancing has a longer startup time than something like online transcription, the potential career payoff is much greater. Freelancing is not just for writers, either; websites like Upwork list freelance opportunities for everything from graphic designers to editors to news producers.

Selling Plasma

If you’re looking for something that won’t tax your brain but will earn you a little extra money, many college students sell plasma for up to $70 per week. The process, a quick physical and then a nurse drawing blood, takes less than two hours and can be done safely two times a week.

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Consider Giving The Gift of College This Season

Consider Giving The Gift of College This Season

holidaygiftsWith student debt growing 56 percent over the past ten years, saving for college has never been more important.

One way to face the challenging costs of college head-on is to open a 529 college savings plan. A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged investment plan designed to encourage saving for the future higher education expenses of a designated beneficiary (typically one’s child or grandchild). Investing in a 529 is a quick, easy tool to realistically meet your college savings goals this year—and beyond. With more than 12.3 million 529 plan accounts open nationally, 529 plans continue to be one of the most compelling ways for families of all income levels to plan ahead, save for college, and reduce their reliance on student loans.

Committing to a college savings plan may seem overwhelming at first, but if you are in need of some inspiration to start, consider this: children with a college savings account are six times more likely to attend a four-year college, compared to children with no dedicated account. In addition, college graduates earn an average of $1 million more than high school graduates during their careers, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. In addition, a recent study by Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the workforce reported that by 2020, more than 65% of new jobs in our country will require a college education.

The College Savings Plans Network (CSPN)—the nation’s leading objective source about Section 529 College Savings and Prepaid Tuition Plans—strives to educate people on the benefits of 529 plans, and why they are necessary for our children’s future. Here are some saving tips from CSPN to help you jumpstart your college savings plan and ensure it is financially fit for 2015 and beyond:

Define your savings goals: The first step is to determine how much you ultimately want to save for your child’s education. Do you want to save for tuition only or include room and board? All four years of college or just two? Public or private? You can use a college cost calculator to forecast what the estimated cost of college will be when your child is ready to enroll.

Start early and save often: Start saving as early as possible – you can even open an account before you have children. The earlier you begin saving, the more time your money has to grow, and you can always increase your contributions to an account in the future. Just like exercise, it’s never too late to start saving. Remember, saving something is always better than nothing. Think of it this way, a family that begins setting aside $50 a month when their child is born can accrue over $21,000, in an account that earns 7% interest per year, by the time the child turns 18. In this case you can see that a little bit goes a long way in helping to eliminate future debt.

A recent nationwide 529 investor survey conducted by CSPN confirmed that investors are choosing to start early. According to the results, 31 percent of investors opened a 529 account for a beneficiary aged one or younger. In addition, the average age of a first beneficiary is five years, while the average age of a second beneficiary is four years, suggesting that investors begin saving earlier when opening a second 529 account.

Find Your Fit: Nearly every state offers a 529 plan, either a prepaid tuition plan, and/or a savings plan. Many plans offer tax or other incentives for residents, so it’s always a good idea to look at your state’s plan first. However, you don’t have to go with your state’s plan if it isn’t the right fit for you. In fact, you can participate in almost any 529 plan across the country. CSPN’s website is an excellent resource for choosing a 529 plan that best meets your saving goals/needs. You have the option of comparing 529 plans by feature and by state.

For more information on how to start saving for college, or to spread the word on 529 plans to friends and family, visit CSPN’s website: CollegeSavings.org.

About Today’s Guest Author:

Betty Lochner is currently Chair of the Executive Board of the College Savings Plans Network (CSPN), a national non-profit association and is the leading objective source of information about Section 529 College Savings Plans and Prepaid Tuition Plans. Lochner also serves as director of Washington’s Guaranteed Education Tuition (GET) program, a division of the Washington Student Achievement Council.

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New Taxes and Fees Would Pay for Free Community College

New Taxes and Fees Would Pay for Free Community College

freecommunitycollegeWhen President Barack Obama first proposed his plan for two years of free community college for qualifying students, wiser Americans waited to pass judgment until the next part of the plan was announced.

Why? Because they know nothing is really free.

And so it is with the $60 billion community college plan. The White House has released an overview of how they would pay for the plan. The answer: it’s going to come from the richest Americans and from large banks. That is, of course, if it can get past the Republican-controlled Congress.

Tennessee Leads the Way

Obama’s national proposal mirrors “Tennessee Promise,” a plan that also helps pay for high school students to attend community college. The plan is wildly popular in Tennessee – about 90% of the 2015 senior class in Tennessee (58,000 students) have applied to the program, according to The Tennessean.

Enacted last year under Gov. Bill Haslam, a Republican, the “Tennessee Promise” offers high school graduates in the Volunteer State money to help pay for community college. The “last dollar” program gives money to students after they have exhausted all other avenues, including Pell Grants. The “Tennessee Promise” money covers whatever costs are not covered by other means.

The Tennessee program is available to all students, regardless of academic merit or economic need. It is funded by interest earned in the state lottery reserve. The program is part of the state’s “Drive to 55” program, where the state wants 55% of its population to earn college degrees. That number hovers now at about 32%, ranked 43rd out of the 50 states.

Obama’s Plan

The president’s plan has its roots in the same concerns Haslam has in Tennessee – there are an increasing number of jobs that require a college education, and that trend is going to continue in the coming years.

His plan would allow states to cover the costs for qualifying community college students. The federal government would pay two-thirds of the program, the states the other third. Obama proposes paying for the plan through two main avenues. The first is raising taxes on capital gains, a move the White House says will affect only the top 1 percent of taxpayers. The second is raising the fees on institutions that borrow large amounts of money.

The proposal also calls for expanding tax credits to part-time students and also exempt Pell Grants from taxation (currently only money used to pay education expenses is exempt). The proposal also would call for not calculating Pell Grants in applications for the free community college, meaning students could take advantage of both programs (as they do in Tennessee).

Passing the plan as is could prove difficult. Critics argue it would be more effective to simply expand Pell Grants or increase the amount a student can receive. Republicans in Congress have already said they oppose new taxes.

And Ben Nelson of the Minerva School, which works with high tech companies to design a curriculum for information technology that meets the needs of business, said expanding online classes with targeted educational programs would be a better solution. Community colleges, Nelson told Yahoo! Finance, are now more like remedial schools teaching students the basics because high schools are, in his opinion, no longer doing the job.

iFame Media a brand management agency provided this article on behalf of Imagine Sports, the leader in baseball simulation games for over 20 years.

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This Holiday Season, Plan Beyond the Shopping and Festivities – Plan for the Future

This Holiday Season, Plan Beyond the Shopping and Festivities – Plan for the Future

collegesavingsThe holiday season is filled with joy, celebration and lots of planning—planning the perfect gifts, planning where to get the best shopping deals, or planning a delicious holiday menu.

Yet there is one plan that isn’t always top of mind come December: planning for college. With the cost of college doubling every nine years[i] and parents only on track to cover 28 percent of their college savings goals[ii], there is no better time to make saving a priority.

Giving: A Family Affair

Parents don’t want their children living with debt, as eight out of 10 are concerned that it will hinder their child’s ability to be financially independent post-graduation[iii]. Despite that fact, and that many parents are failing to meet their college savings goals, many are not asking for help from loved ones. Only 21 percent of parents report asking family and friends to consider gifting to a college fund in lieu of traditional presents for special occasions[iv].

The good news is that friends and family—particularly grandparents—want to help and are already having college savings conversations. Fidelity’s recent Grandparents and College Savings Study found that 69 percent of grandparents acknowledge talking to their children about college issues, including topics like the total cost of college and how the family will pay for it. But grandparents aren’t just stopping with conversations; they’re contributing too. According to the study, 90 percent of grandparents reported that they would be likely, if asked, to make a contribution to their grandchild’s college savings fund for special occasions in place of other gifts[v].

What’s driving grandparents’ willingness to help save? Fidelity’s newest eBook, “Gifting Grandparents: A Holiday Tale,” explores these motivations and many grandparents cite the importance of an education, skyrocketing tuitions and fees, and wanting their grandchild to be debt-free post graduation as reasons behind their generosity, among many more[vi].

Saving Made Easy

One way that grandparents are helping their grandkids plan for the future is by contributing to 529 plans. According to the same study, 52 percent of grandparents report already being familiar with 529 college savings plans, which are dedicated solely to college savings and allow savings to be used federal income tax-free for qualified higher education expenses such as tuition, books and other education-related supplies and fees.  In fact, there was a 12 percent increase in the number of new Fidelity retail 529 accounts opened by grandparents during the first four months of 2014 alone (January through April), compared to the same time period in 2013[vii].

Adding the gift of education to your holiday plans has never been easier. In fact, grandparents and other loved ones can gift from the comfort of their own home. Using Fidelity’s free 529 Online Gifting Service, owners of Fidelity’s retail 529 college savings accounts can use social media to encourage friends and family to help them save for college online. Giftors, like grandparents, can send their contributions electronically directly to the 529 college savings account – so no need to mail a check.

By: Keith Bernhardt, vice president of college planning at Fidelity Investments

The UNIQUE College Investing Plan, U.Fund College Investing Plan, Delaware College Investment Plan, and Fidelity Arizona College Savings Plan, are offered by the State of New Hampshire, MEFA, the State of Delaware, and the Arizona Commission for Postsecondary Education, respectively, and managed by Fidelity Investments. If you or the designated beneficiary is not a New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Delaware, or Arizona resident, you may want to consider, before investing, whether your state or the designated beneficiary’s home state offers its residents a plan with alternate state tax advantages or other benefits.
Units of the Portfolios are municipal securities and may be subject to market volatility and fluctuation.
Please carefully consider the Plan’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses before investing. For this and other information on any 529 College Savings Plan managed by Fidelity, contact Fidelity for a free Fact Kit, or view online. Read it carefully before you invest or send money.
Keep in mind that investing involves risk. The value of your investment will fluctuate over time and you may gain or lose money.
Fidelity Brokerage Services LLC, Member NYSE, SIPC
900 Salem Street, Smithfield, RI 02917
709605.1.0
©2014 FMR LLC. All rights reserved.

 


[ii] Fidelity Investments, “8th Annual College Savings Indicator Study,” August 2014

[iii] Fidelity Investments, “8th Annual College Savings Indicator Study,” August 2014

[iv] Fidelity Investments, “2014 Grandparents and College Savings Study,” June 2014

[v] Fidelity Investments, “2014 Grandparents and College Savings Study,” June 2014

[vi] Fidelity Investments, “Gifting Grandparents: A Holiday Tale,” December 2014

[vii] Fidelity Investments business data through April 30, 2014

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5 Master’s Degrees That May Be Worth Your Money

5 Master’s Degrees That May Be Worth Your Money

Everyone wants a competitive advantage in their chosen field, but is more education always the way to gain the upper hand? If you’re considering spending some extra time and money on advanced training, you want to be sure that it will pay off. Here are five master’s degrees that are sure to increase your advancement opportunities and potential earnings.

Business Administration

picturebusinessA Master’s in Business Administration is a must-have if you’re looking to distinguish yourself from your peers in the business world. Additionally, if you aspire to work as an executive, VP, or CEO, an MBA is often required. Fortunately, many MBAs require just a one-year commitment and online MBAs are becoming more popular.

While not all MBA graduates will be the next Donald Trump, most graduates do earn about 25% more than their BCom counterparts. Along with networking, non-monetary benefits of the MBA curriculum include gaining people management skills and influential presentation abilities.

Education

pictureeducationA Master’s in Education is often overlooked because few graduates earn a six-figure salary. However, completing a Master’s in Educational Leadership offers great bang for your buck. This degree is often offered online, allowing graduates to teach while they complete the program, and accelerated master’s programs can be completed in as little as one year.

Many employees working in educational leadership and administration positions earn nearly double the standard teacher salary. Additionally, if you’re passionate about improving the education system, administrative roles offer the power to truly effect change and improve the lives of students and teachers.

Engineering

pictureengineerWhile engineering is already a solid career, engineers with master’s degrees have better employment opportunities and often command a six-figure salary. Master’s degrees in this field allow for specializations in entrepreneurship, globalization, energy studies, healthcare, and cities engineering. The biggest salaries, however, go to engineers with a Master’s in Electrical Engineering. Master’s programs offer flexible schedules and can be completed in one to three years, depending on how much time you have to commit to your studies.

Physician Assistant

picturephysicianInterested in medicine but not interested in spending another four years in school? Consider taking a master’s degree to become a physician assistant. Supervised by a physician, assistants play a significant role in healthcare and duties include examining patients, providing treatment, and diagnosing injuries and illnesses. Not only is this a rewarding career, but the pay is great: around $97,000 mid-career.

Math and Economics

picturemathThe world needs more math geeks. Today’s companies have huge amounts of data to contend with and they are in desperate need of analysts who can process data and tell executives what it means. Economists and mathematicians with a master’s degree earn an average salary of $110,000.

While it’s difficult to condemn anyone for seeking more education, thrifty students should choose a master’s wisely before applying to graduate school. After all, debt collectors won’t care what master’s degree you have when it’s time for those pesky college loans to be paid back.

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4 Affordable Cars for College Students

4 Affordable Cars for College Students

carkeysYou are so close to receiving your diploma. All of your long, hard work in college will have finally paid off, and it will be time to carve out your path in the world. But first, you’ll need some wheels to take that path. As a college student, though, affordability is a factor, especially considering your last tuition bills, books and the looming student loan debts. And dependability is a necessity for making it to class, finals and hopefully job interviews. For the budgeting college student, deciding on a car can seem overwhelming, but it doesn’t need to be complicated. Choose the vehicle that best reflects who you are and that best meets your reliability, affordability and style criteria. Here are just a few choices to think about:

Honda Civic

For a traditional student with practical tastes, the compact Civic is an obvious choice. Both new and used models are heralded for style and performance. Plus, since 2006, the Civic has earned good ratings in every safety category, reports MSN Autos.

The 2011 four-door Civics are spacious and reliable, and were manufactured before the Honda redesign, which proved disappointing to Civic enthusiasts, claims Forbes. These cars are equipped with independent front strut suspension, independent rear multi-link suspension and Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA) control, for optimal safety, according to Motor Trend. Be sure to do your homework through a trusted site like Kelley Blue Book before you buy, though, to guarantee you pay a fair price.

Ford Fiesta

Both current models as well as the 2010–2011 models of the Fiesta are fuel-efficient without sacrificing power, so this model is an ideal fit for the student that wants practicality with some speed. Under the hood, the Fiesta features a 1.6-liter, 120-horsepower engine and yields about 40 mpg on the highway, states MSN Autos. Plus, the Fiesta is available as a sedan or four-door hatch, depending on your personal style and preference. On the inside, new models boast plenty of leg and headroom, and the interior is plush and comfy, says U.S. News Best Cars.

Kia Soul

For the spunky, funky student, the off-beat Kia Soul is unique and reasonably priced. The Soul offers a 1.6-liter, four-cylinder engine, so it’s great for sporting around town. You even can upgrade to a 2.0-liter, four-cylinder engine if you want to brave the open road, where the Soul gets around 31 mpg. It also earned a 9.3 on the U.S. News & World Report’s safety rating. And if you are looking for something newer, Auto Week states that the 2014 Soul is less top-heavy and more solid on the road. Therefore, this is the car for the self-assured, safety-conscientious, free-thinking driver with an eye for the aesthetic.

Nissan Cube

Also on the road less traveled, the Nissan Cube stands out as the perfect car for the progressive, hip student or the industrious, abstract design major. With a unique front grille, ripple-like interior and an asymmetrical rear window design, the Cube rocks out to the beat of its own drum. The 1.8-liter engine generates 122 horsepower and performs at 27 mpg in the city and 31 mpg on the highway, reports MSN Autos. In addition, it is noted for its responsiveness and prime handling. And most importantly, the Cube makes a statement and a lasting impression.

Earning your degree is just the first step to making your way in the world. You’ll have many choices to make leading up to and after graduation, but your car should be an easy checklist. Whether you want safety, affordability, performance or personality in your car, all you need to do is a little research and choose the car that makes the most sense for you.

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