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Archive | October, 2011

Should You Ride Along On Parents’ Car Insurance Policy

Should You Ride Along On Parents’ Car Insurance Policy

If you are already listed on your parents’ policy, ask to see a copy of the policy. Many policies allow a college student to stay on the family plan regardless of where they are attending school. In other cases, the student must attend school in the parents’ home state. Knowing this, you should ask Mom or Dad to call the insurance company to find out the details. You might be covered at no extra cost. Then again, you might be excluded from coverage. That would force you to buy your own policy.

An Individual Policy

While it is possible in most states for a college student to buy their own auto insurance as long as they are 18 or older, it is usually prohibitively expensive. While showing your independence is a good thing, it’s a little much to pay double what your parents pay for car insurance and still have enough money to live while at college. Go online and get some quotes just for the sake of comparison and you’ll see the difference. It will probably convince you that you can swallow your pride for now. It’s much cheaper to ride along with Mom and Dad.

Family Policy

Understand that staying on your parents’ policy comes with a few irritants. For instance, if you do anything that causes a spike in rates, your parents will know about it because it affects their insurance policy. You also might get an earful when they complain about the cost. A good compromise is to ask them to add you to their policy and you pay the difference in premium. It lets you both share the policy with dignity.

Driving Habits

Now that you are on Mom and Dad’s policy, you should be extra careful about your driving habits. There’s no hiding from the rate increase on your parents’ bill. Drive cautiously and safely, avoiding driving while intoxicated and only taking the car when absolutely necessary. By respecting the consequences of a mistake, you will be less likely to make one. You should care about this because a bad mark on your driving record can last until past your graduate from college.

Vehicle Ownership

Know that you may be fully responsible for everything that happens inside the car, as well as any and all traffic violations, parking tickets, or equipment failures. If you own the vehicle, you will be held responsible. Weigh these responsibilities carefully.

Going off to college is huge. The decisions you make now can affect the rest of your life. Be smart by making sure you are covered for the best rate possible, with the broadest coverage available. By driving responsibly now, you’ll be in a good position to find affordable car insurance after you graduate.

This was a guest post provided by They offer a free car insurance quote tool that can help you price your policy, compare auto insurance companies, and decide if you should join your parents policy or take out one for yourself.

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Students Need to Prepare Now for Credit Card Changes

Students Need to Prepare Now for Credit Card Changes

The following is guest article provided by Tisha Tolar.

After the recent changes to the debit card swipe fees banks are allowed to charge retailers, there is an up and coming agenda concerning the cost of credit card swipe fees. The Durbin Amendment has limited what banks are allowed to charge retailers in interchange rates.

For each transactions consumers make in-store with a debit card, the retailer must pay a fee to the banks for the activity. In years past, the interchange rate was 44 cents per customer transaction. With the Durbin Amendment now in place, those fees are being cut in half and as a result the banks are making less of a profit.

Affect on College Students

Because the banks are collecting less from the retailers on debit card fees, they need to now make up for those lost profits. This has resulted in the increased bank fees students may be encountering. From higher ATM withdrawal fees to maintenance fees on checking accounts, students will have to pay more just for dealing with a bank. In many cases the bigger fees are being incurred by customers of the larger banks but soon enough many financial institutions will likely have to pass on costs to customers.

Prepare for More Changes

Since the successful passing of the regulations concerning debit cards, lobbyists are now pushing for the same changes for credit card transactions. This means banks will now need to make up even more lost profits via their customers. For college students that maintain bank accounts for check cashing purchases or for the convenience of having a bank card, it will start to get even more expensive in light of the proposed changes.

What to Do Now

For college students that maintain their own bank accounts, it would make a lot of sense for you to meet with a bank manager and clarify what changes are being made, especially if you don’t feel you can afford the new charges being incurred. It may also be the right time to consider looking elsewhere. Smaller banks and community credit unions are still offering various incentives to customers whereas the big banks have already begun passing on the increased fees. Shopping around for a better deal before credit card swipe fee changes go into affect may be the best first step.

Here are some other tips to help college students stay financially stable:

Live By the Budget

College life is certainly a learning experience and it is the right time to learn about budgeting. A budget simple requires data concerning your income and expenses over the course of a month. Once you have identified how much money you receive in a month’s time, you need to subtract the expenses you have including cost of living expenses, entertainment, financial obligations (ie: bills), and all of your other expenses. If you subtract expenses from income and get a negative number, it is time to make some budgetary cuts. Once your budget has been established, make a commitment to living within its boundaries. It can be very tempting to sidestep those boundaries but living by a budget is the only way to assure financial stability. It will also be a useful tool for the rest of your life.

Stop Impulse Buys

While one of the supposed benefits of lower swipe fees on debit cards was that retailers would save money and pass along the benefits to the consumer, it does not seem that retailers are willing to part with their savings. In order to stick to a budget, you need to start getting consumer-savvy by comparison shopping for school necessities and personal items. Don’t shop at the convenience stores because it is convenient. You should work on pre-planning skills so you can be wise about your spending habits.

Understand Credit

You may have qualified for a credit card but that doesn’t mean you know how to use it responsibly. The CARD Act has changed the age limits of a person eligible to receive a credit card to age 21 there are still situations that allow younger students to have access to a credit card, such as being on a parents account or proving income stability to the credit card provider.

For this reason as well as your future financial life, it is imperative you understand how credit works. You may need to consult with your parents, a trusted professor, or a relative to find out exactly what responsibilities come with having a credit card. A large majority of college students graduate in deep depth thanks to their misunderstanding of credit.

Living a frugal life while still in school will help prevent debt loads that cause a lot of struggle after graduation. On top of student loan debts, running up credit card bills and other creditor accounts will make it more difficult to get financially ahead as school becomes a distant memory. With jobs already scarce, it is important students take the opportunity to learn as much as they can about their financial status so they can plan now for both the short and long-term.

Tisha Tolar is a financial writer for, a site that helps consumers compare savings accounts, CD rates, and home equity loans to make informed banking decisions and save money.

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Rick Perry And The $10,000 Bachelor Degree

Rick Perry And The $10,000 Bachelor Degree

For those that don’t know, Rick Perry currently serves as the governor of Texas and is throwing his hat into the ring as a presidential candidate. Earlier this year, Governor Perry became very vocal about the rising cost of education and made it his mission to encourage colleges and universities to start adopting new processes and procedures to help reduce education expenses for students.

Perry has established a budgetary/fiscal benchmark (challenge) for colleges and universities stating that there is no reason a bachelor’s degree should cost more than $10,000 (books included). He states that with the use of online courses and other technologically enhanced teaching techniques, cutting the cost of college for students should be easily achieved. Perry also suggests that students can help by taking post-secondary courses during their high school years so that they have some college credits under their belt by the time they hit campus.

As most of you know, I love infographics. They are extremely informative and pleasant on the eyes all at the same time. Even though I am doubting a little on the viability of Perry’s proposal, the following infographic provides some statistical data about college costs that will allow you to make your own conclusion on whether you think Governor Perry’s $10,000 bachelor’s degree is achievable. (Click on the picture to see a larger view)

Via: Online College Resource

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The Top Ten Ways A FAFSA Is Like A Colonoscopy

The Top Ten Ways A FAFSA Is Like A Colonoscopy

The following is a guest article provided by J. Randy Green, Director of Financial Aid at Wittenberg University

Last summer I read an article about a famous doctor who found himself on the patient side of a medical procedure.   The procedure he was going through reminded me of a process we deal with in the world of financial aid.  My epiphany?  The FAFSA is the higher education equivalent of a colonoscopy.

When I shared this revelation with colleagues, I found they did not necessarily see the links between the two.   So, in an effort to defend my good name, I present:

The Top Ten Ways a FAFSA is Like a Colonoscopy

Number 10No one really likes to talk about it. Professionals attend training sessions on them with regularity and entire industries have arisen around them, but you will raise eyebrows if you welcome guests to your Super Bowl party with, “Come on in – Green Bay’s up by 3, my son qualifies for a Pell Grant, and my colon’s clean as a whistle!”

Number 9 At some point in your life, you should go through it. Although you will probably complete your FAFSA before your first colonoscopy, experts recommend everyone go through them at the proper time.

Number 8Timing is important. A FAFSA should be filed after October 1st and before the deadline posted by the college or university.  Missing this window may mean missing an opportunity for college funding or even missing out on college altogether.  A recent study[i] recommends that colonoscopies be done at age 45 for men and 50 for women unless risk factors are present that would encourage earlier testing.  Having one too late may mean missing out on more than college.

Number 7You should do it even if you “know” you won’t find anything.  With the FAFSA, many people “know” they won’t qualify for financial aid, but I guarantee programs exist that provide scholarships or grants to FAFSA filers regardless of the results.  Not everyone qualifies, but if you don’t file a FAFSA, you certainly won’t.  With the colonoscopy, people who live right, eat right, and exercise right still need to have one.   Hopefully, the FAFSA process finds something for you and the colonoscopy doesn’t.

Number 6No one does it for fun.  Although there may be people out there with different ideas about this, I trust most of us could find more enjoyable ways to spend a few hours.

Number 5Product of the 60’s. Most higher education officials trace today’s popular financial aid programs to the Higher Education Act of 1965, which led to the eventual creation of the federal methodology formula and the FAFSA form.  The first colonoscopy procedures were done in 1969.[ii] Somehow, I don’t find this surprising.

Number 4Great effort has gone into making the experience as painless as possible.  For the FAFSA, there are professionals you can pay to help you, and there is a free event called College Goal Sunday in February to do the same.  The online process uses “skip logic” so that you only have to answer questions that pertain to your situation and results are available almost immediately.  Colonoscopy imaging has been greatly improved with smaller, flexible scopes and better imaging techniques.

Number 3Preparation is the key. In either case, if you don’t prepare properly, someone will have some crap to deal with.  With the FAFSA, preparation entails having access to the figures requested by the form (income, assets, identifying information).  It is helpful to have completed tax returns in hand or already filed when completing the FAFSA, but these may not be available by the school’s deadline (see number 8 above).  Preparation for a colonoscopy takes about three days, requiring strict adherence to the prescribed intake of food and fluids and other preparatory steps recommended by the physician.

Number 2Garbage in, garbage out.  To emphasize the importance of the preparation step: failure to prepare properly may have ramifications.  On the FAFSA, you will have to correct any information that turns out to be incorrect and you may be selected for “verification”, which is a little like an audit that the financial aid office staff will perform before they will release your grants or loans.  With the colonoscopy, you may have to go through all of those lengthy and involved preparation steps again, including giving up your fettuccini for three days of broth and juices.

Number 1We still have a ways to go. Virtual colonoscopy is currently being introduced and, while it still requires significant preparation, there is no need to sedate the patient with the new procedure.  The three-dimensional virtual colon created by the scan can be constructed in a few minutes, with the results available for analysis and interpretation at the doctor’s leisure.  With the FAFSA, increasing connectivity between federal agencies such as the Internal Revenue Service and the Department of Education may allow the application process to shorten to, perhaps, just identifying which colleges you are considering.

So in closing, as a sometimes humbling, potentially embarrassing, discomfiting but important procedure, the FAFSA is higher education’s colonoscopy.

[i]McMillen, Matt. “Austrian Study Shows That Men Develop Cancer and Precancerous Growths Earlier Than Women”.  WebMD Health News. September 27, 2011.

[ii] American Journal of Gastroenterology. September 1989.

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Upromise College Savings Plan (video)

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Textbooking – The Latest Craze On Campus

Textbooking – The Latest Craze On Campus

The following is a guest article submitted by Joseph Baker.

Buying textbooks has always been one of the least enjoyable parts of attending college: from finding the books to paying for them, it can be frighteningly expensive. And although the introduction of e-books has made it easier for students to find and use books for school, many students and their families still experience “sticker shock” when they see the prices of the texts they need at the beginning of every semester. Online stores now provide alternatives to students who want to avoid paying list price for textbooks and the ease of buying online is gaining popularity. Buying and selling used textbooks online is a reliable way to save money, to compare prices, and to sell books back once the semester ends.


The world’s largest online retailer started out as an online bookstore, and Amazon still offers students one of the best methods to buy and sell paper textbooks and e-textbooks. In addition to selling new and used books, their Amazon Student program allows members to receive free two-day shipping on everything Amazon sells, as well as discounts and other deals. Their Amazon’s comprehensive selection makes it an ideal choice for students attending online university classes or enrolling in distance learning programs.


Established in 1999 as a service for students to order books online and pick them up at campus bookstores, eCampus have transformed into a major college e-retailer. Students can also rent books from eCampus—student can just type in the ISBN’s of the books they want to rent, and eCampus ships them for free. When students finish the semester, they can ship the books back, free of charge.

Abe Books

For graduate students who need rare or out of print books for research, AbeBooks is an essential resource. Abe Books maintains a database of sellers from all over the world, which offers buyers a selection of translated and alternate editions that may not be available in the States. For students who want to sell their textbooks, Abe Books offers two easy programs that allows sellers to ship their books free of charge.

eBay bought in 2000, and the company expanded their offerings to selling and renting textbooks. Students can search for books using’s Buying Wizard, which allows students to search’s website for books and shipping rates that match their budgets.

School Message Boards

Most colleges and universities have message board system; and buying and selling books locally is a good way to save time and money, and to help out fellow students on campus. College students can use their school’s online message boards to find, buy and sell books to their fellow students. As always, should use caution, since person-to-person exchanges don’t offer the security of other online vendors. But creating a campus-based group of students who can buy and sell their books to each other can make the process faster, cheaper and easier.

The process of buying textbooks will probably never be one of the best parts of the college experience, but with a variety of online options, the textbook buying and selling process can go more smoothly than it has in the past. Students and their families should shop around for the best deals they can find—and spending a little extra time online can save hundreds of dollars a semester.

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Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5k Scholarship

Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger $5k Scholarship

Get $5,000 for your college education and $5,000 for the hunger related charity of your choice. This is definitely a win-win opportunity for you and your favorite charity. If you are active in your community, helping to promote awareness, and enabling others to be catalysts for innovative models and solutions to eliminate hunger in America, you should definitely apply for this scholarship provided by the Sodexho Foundation.

This scholarship program began back in 2007 and has provided thousands of dollars to students and their charities over the years. What is really amazing is that this scholarship is available for all students (kindergarten through graduate school). Students under the age of 18 will need to have a 529 college savings plan in place so that their funds can be properly deposited. Past winners can be seen here.

Here are the criteria and guidelines for the scholarship:

  1. All applicants must be enrolled in an accredited educational institution (kindergarten through graduate school) in the United States.
  2. All applicants must have demonstrated on-going commitment to their community by performing unpaid volunteer services impacting hunger in the United States within the last 12 months.
  3. All applicants must be citizens or permanent residents of the United States.
  4. Volunteer services performed by applicant must help non-family members.
  5. If applicant is selected as a potential national Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Scholarship recipient or regional Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Honoree, in order to be confirmed as a winner, the student’s parent or legal guardian must sign an Affidavit of Eligibility and Assignment of Rights.
  6. Scholarship funds awarded to winners must be used for tuition and related fees, books, supplies, and equipment required for courses at an accredited post-secondary education institution.
  7. Applications must be received before December 5th.

Some unique attributes for the scholarship program:

  1. The foundation may select up to five national scholarship recipients (at the $5k level); however, they reserve the right to select fewer than five national winners.
  2. The foundation may select up to 20 regional Stephen J. Brady STOP Hunger Honorees and each will receive $1k to be granted to their favorite hunger related charity.
  3. Employees of the Sodexo Foundation and Sodexo, Inc. are not eligible
  4. Applicants must obtain a Community Service Recommendation as part of the application process.
  5. Scholarship recipients will be notified by March, and a list of all winners will be posted on by June.

Click Here to apply for this scholarship and to access additional details. If you have questions, you can contact the scholarship administrator via email: or by phone at: 615 320 3149

If you know of someone that may benefit from this scholarship opportunity, please be sure to utilize the “share tab” below to pass this information onto them.

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Google And Associated Press – $20K Journalism Scholarship

Google And Associated Press – $20K Journalism Scholarship

Do you have an interest in journalism? Are you embracing technology, social media and the digital revolution to help get the word out? If your answer is yes to these questions and you could use $20,000 to help fund your undergraduate or graduate educational endeavors, this scholarship may be for you!

Google and the Associated Press will be giving out six $20,000 scholarships to students obtaining degrees in journalism, computer science and/or new media. Preference is given to students that can display attributes that would recognize them as innovators in the digital journalism world.

Here are the requirements for all applicants:

  • Be a U.S. citizen
  • Be a minimum of 18 years of age
  • Be currently enrolled full time at an accredited U.S. post-secondary institution pursuing an undergraduate or graduate degree. (College graduates returning to school are eligible to apply and must provide an acceptance letter from graduate institution.)
  • Have at least one year of full-time undergraduate or graduate study remaining
  • Have minimum grade point average of 3.0
  • Be at least a college sophomore at time of application
  • Submit your application by January 27th
  • Be available for in-person or remote interviews with selection committee if selected as a finalist

Some of the scholarships awarded will be based upon a student’s unmet need (meaning how much you have to pay over and above your estimated family contribution (EFC) and after your financial aid is factored in). So, the lower your EFC, the better your chances for getting one of the scholarships earmarked for students with unmet need.

You can apply for the Google – Associated Press Scholarship here…

The application process has three parts to it. Make sure you read through all the details and required information before initiating the application process. Good luck!

The scholarship process is being administered by the Online News Association. Mr. Irving Washington is the contact person. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to drop him a line via email: or phone: (317) 441-5051

If you know of anyone that may be interested in this scholarship, please be sure to use the “share tab” below to pass the information along.

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