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Archive | September, 2012

Urban Campus Setting? – Five Ways To Save!

Urban Campus Setting? – Five Ways To Save!

Deciding to further an education is one of the smartest moves anyone can make. Countless studies have shown that, on average, people with a college degree earn more in their lifetime than those individuals with only a high school diploma. College opens up a realm of possibilities and also gives a world of experiences that can often not be duplicated. That being said, though, there are some major expenses that come along with deciding to attend college. It is easily one of the biggest expenses in life but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. If you are looking to attend colleges in Chicago Illinois, or really any urban area, there are ways to save money to keep that overall expense low. Here are 5 great ways to save.

Public Transportation

Urban colleges definitely edge out smaller community colleges in the area of transportation. Cars are expensive. The gas alone can quickly drive up a budget and adding in insurance, car payments and maintenance can quickly capsize a student’s budget. Public transportation is ideal because it saves time and money. Many of the colleges in Chicago Illinois are near public transportation. It is dependable and a great way to lower your carbon footprint as well. The key is buying a pass. Bus lines, train lines and even subways offer discounts on pass cards that allow you to ride a certain amount of times for a low fee.

Jobs Near Campus

Besides public transportation, you can definitely save money by picking a job near the college campus. How does this save you money? Most jobs found near college campuses are very flexible with shifts because most workers are students. You can go through the Financial Aid office of your college to find local jobs that allow you to take advantage of flexible schedules, great work experience and is near enough that you can hit your classes easily.

Minimize or Downsize

College campuses in urban areas are almost like self sustaining communities within a large metropolitan area. With public transportation and jobs, there comes an increase in housing. One of the downside to college living is that most apartments or housing tend to be small but that is ideal for saving money. By downsizing your living requirements you will save money on rent, furnishings and utilities. The key is making every item in your home function efficiently. You will be amazed at how frugal you can be when you are limited on space. If you are in the position of being able to have a roommate, definitely consider it. It will halve your living expenses.


The Internet is a valuable tool and used in urban colleges throughout the country. You will definitely need it for school but you also need it to save money. On the surface it does seem like a frivolous expensive but stop and consider how much time can be saved with a few searches or membership on a few select websites. There are many websites set up specifically to save people money. There are barter websites, book websites and even discount websites that offer coupons on public transportation, rent, and even every day necessities.

Spend Less

This may seem a bit redundant because of course…you want to save money. This bears mentioning though because there are hundreds of ways that most people waste money. An urban environment affords you the wonderful opportunity of spending less and most people do not realize it. Are you purchasing movies, CD’s or even text books? Get a library card and you can borrow them. Do you frequent a coffee shop? Taking your coffee from home or signing up for a discount card is really a great way to save money. When the punch card, or discount card, is full then you are often rewarded with a free item. These are everyday ways to save.

The real key in saving money is utilizing the college to its utmost. Colleges in Chicago Illinois, New York City or even San Francisco are all designed to help students. There are advisers, instructors and even fellow students that can really help you get your finances together so that college becomes affordable and you can actually save money.

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5 Tips For Paying Off Student Loans While In College

5 Tips For Paying Off Student Loans While In College

Paying off your loans while you’re still in school may seem like a daunting proposition, but with all the student loan horror stories in the news today, it may be your best option. Whether you’re in a four-year program or studying part-time, keeping on top of your loans early can spare you heartache down the road.

Why would you want to start paying off your loans while still in school? Won’t they be more manageable when you’re working a full-time job and not trying to study? Not necessarily – because interest starts accruing early, sometimes while you’re still in school, it may become more challenging to make these payments. Plus, life expenses, such as car payments and insurance, may start to take precedent once you’ve graduated.

Fortunately, there are a few simple tactics and life changes you can make to start paying off your student loans while still in school. Here are a few things you can try:

Consider community college

Although it may feel less prestigious to go to a two-year school instead of a four-year university, it’s well worth investigating because of the money you’ll save. Plus, most local community colleges allow you to transfer your credits to area universities, so you can still graduate with the four-year degree you desire.

Lower your living costs

To make more money to pay back your loans, cut living expenses wherever you can. Although you may crave independence, continuing to live with your parents or another family member, even if you’re paying rent and some expenses, can save you money. Think about finding a job that pays some of your living costs – becoming a resident assistant or building manager can save you cash and looks great on your resume!

Set up a direct deposit

Calculate how much your interest will be each month, then set up a direct deposit from your checking account to your loan provider. If you never see that money, then you won’t be tempted to spend it. Plus, it’s one less thing to worry about while you’re focusing on your studies.

Get a great part-time job

Not all part-time jobs are created equal. Look for a job that’s close to or on campus to save money and time commuting. Consider a job in your library or on campus that respects the fact that you’re a student – many slow part-time jobs will even allow you to study during down time.

Come up with low-cost activities you enjoy

When you’re thinking about spending money on an activity, consider how much interest you could pay off with that money. It’s easier to make financially-savvy choices when you have a list at hand of free or cheap activities that you like, so write down all your options and add to it as you discover new interests. Join a club or two – not only are they usually cheap or free, you’ll often get free food out of the deal.

Paying your way through college isn’t always a scary proposition. It’s a smart financial move that could save you hundreds or even thousands of dollars later in life. Before you take on any student loans, consider finding ways to make payments while you’re still in school. You’ll thank yourself later.

About the Author

Today’s guest article is provided by Carly Lance. She is employed by Personal Bankruptcy Canada, a company of experts in the bankruptcy and insolvency act. She also thinks of herself as a personal finance junkie and loves to blog about saving money, frugal living and getting out of debt whenever she can. She believes a happy life = happy finances.

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Decisions, decisions: Make a thoughtful degree choice to launch your career

Decisions, decisions: Make a thoughtful degree choice to launch your career

When it comes to earning a college degree, is it the field of specialty that matters or just the degree itself? Many are inclined to believe employers only want you to have earned a degree, regardless of major, and that professional work experience trumps your field of specialty when it comes to applying for job. To be sure, having a degree in hand is the most important goal. It’s always possible to change careers later and abandon your body of education and work experience for a new profession. There’s no way, however, to know what’s coming around the turnpike. When you’re in the process of earning a college degree, it’s foolish to earn your major in a subject that doesn’t directly contribute to your professional goals.

Pursuing your field of choice

Think about this: If you don’t want to major in your given field while in college, what makes you think you want to spend 30 or more years working full-time in that industry? By choosing a major unrelated to your desired line of work, you’re placing in front of you a slew of unnecessary hurdles. Employers will always ask why you chose a certain major, such as philosophy, when all the while you were set on working in information technology. When you’re a fresh graduate hitting the job market after graduation, you’ll constantly be at a disadvantage when going for jobs against fellow recent grads who took the time to major in a related field.

Making a worthwhile investment

In today’s slow economy, is earning a degree for fun a wise use of time and money? Studies have shown that, in general, earning a college degree can lead to earning substantially more than others who fail to complete their studies. Whether or not that proves to be the case in your particular circumstances is beside the point. A college degree is a considerable asset that will carry with you through not only your professional career, but your entire life. It’s common sense in some ways: If you want to be an engineer, a degree in that field is much more practical and promising than one in business or the arts. Consider supplementing your major with a minor in your desired “hobby” field, allowing you to enjoy your education while still getting a worthwhile return on your investment.

Determining the best major

For some people, finding a major is a challenge all its own. Take time to research your options and determine what professional fields are a good fit for you. Talk to people who work in the industry or who are alumni of the degree programs you’re considering. You might even take career aptitude tests to determine which fields are a good match for your personality, interests and strengths.

A college degree shouldn’t be taken lightly. It’s a decision that could change the course of your future. You don’t want to make the mistake of wasting your time earning a degree that will fail to boost your professional aspirations. As college costs continue to rise, it’s ever more important for prospective students to think about what they want and whether that education is worth the time and financial and psychological investments. In order to get the value you seek, prepare to do a little research and a lot of contemplation before you register for classes.

Today’s guest article is provided by Joseph Baker.

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College Graduates: Broke & Living at Home (infographic)

College Graduates: Broke & Living at Home (infographic)

I recently came across an infographic (provided by the good people at that shares some sobering statistics about recent college graduates. A significant portion of the numbers paint a bleak outlook for college students. For example, one statistic states that 1 in 4 graduates move back home after college. The infographic attributes this outcome to high amounts of student debt and lack of employment opportunities.

I know that recent college graduates are not being handed job opportunities on a silver platter but do you really think the situation is as challenging as presented below? Take a look at the numbers and feel free to share your thoughts in the comment section below…

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Scholarships For Students With A Higher Calling

Scholarships For Students With A Higher Calling

Students going into Mission and Ministry work typically fair better at finding scholarships to help offset any education requirements/costs for that chosen career path. However, as interest grows stronger and more students are looking at Mission and Ministry programs across the nation, the competition for those scholarship dollars can also increase.

The General Education and Ministry Board for United Methodists Churches is pleased to offer a number of scholarship programs (see below) to help students realize their educational goals. The following are the requirements.

An applicant must be:

  • an active, full member of a United Methodist Church for at least one year prior to applying
  • admitted to a degree program in an accredited college or university WITHIN the United States
  • maintaining a grade point average of 2.5 or above

AND, high school students may apply if they will be college students in the fall term. Additional good news about some of these scholarships is that you don’t necessarily have to be going into Ministry and Mission work to qualify.

If you have been on the fence about becoming a Methodist, this may be the right time. However, also keep in mind that Lutheran’s have a good number of scholarship opportunities available as well! 😉

The Allan Jerome Burry Scholarship
Undergraduates (incoming freshmen NOT eligible); member of UMC at least 3 years. Nomination by campus minister/chaplain, recognizing academic performance, leadership skills, and participation in the activities of a UM-related campus ministry or chaplaincy program at the college or university. Member of UMC at least 3 years. GPA 3.0+. Average award $1,000.

The Bishop James C. Baker Award
Designated for CURRENT United Methodist Campus Ministers who have been in campus ministry for at least 3 years. Must have received an MDIV degree or equivalent; be pursuing advanced training: doctorate degree, certification, or independent study; GPA 3.0+. Must be committed to remaining in campus ministry. Average award $2,000 – $5,000.

The Bishop Joseph B. Bethea Scholarship
Undergraduate scholarship for African American students. Applicant must be a member of the Southeastern Jurisdiction Black Methodists for Church Renewal (SEJBMCR); GPA 2.8+, demonstrate financial need. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Clinical Pastoral Education-Ethnic In Service Training (EIST) Stipend
United Methodist clergy, certified candidate for ministry, or seminary student accepted into an accredited Clinical Pastor Education (CPE) or an accredited American Association of Pastoral Counselors (AAPC) program; Chaplain or pastoral counselor or pastoral care; racial/ethnic minority. Average award $1,500.

The Coleman Tyson Siekman Scholarship
Designated for endorsed clergy or persons pursuing endorsement through the United Methodist Endorsing Agency for correctional ministry. Requires ordained clergy or seminary students on the candidacy track to ordained ministry; experience in and a call to serve in the criminal justice/correctional ministries. Average award $700 – $1,000.

The David W. Self Scholarship
Students pursuing a church related career. Incoming freshmen (first year of undergraduate study) only may apply. Average award $1,000.

The E. Craig Brandenburg Scholarship
Applicants must be students 35 years of age or older; desiring to continue their education or go into a second career; member of the UMC for at least 1 year. Average award $1,000-2,000.

The Edith M. Allen Scholarship
This scholarship is for outstanding African-American graduate or undergraduate students pursuing a degree in education, social work, medicine, and/or other health professions. Must be enrolled at a UM college or university, have a B+ average or higher; and be an active full member of the UMC for at least 3 years. Average award $1,000.

The Elvina Jane Owen Award
Student must be majoring in education. First preference to students in the Jonestown District of the Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference enrolled at Allegheny College. Second preference to graduate students from Western Pennsylvania Annual Conference. GPA 2.85+. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Esther Edwards Graduate Scholarship
Female administrator or faculty member working for a United Methodist related institution pursuing a Ph.D. in higher education administration. GPA 3.0+. Average award $5,000.

The Ethnic Minority Scholarship
Undergraduate students of Native American, Asian, African American, Hispanic or Pacific Islander parentage pursuing their first degree. GPA 2.5+. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Fred Heather Memorial Scholarship
Designated for endorsed persons completing requirements for professional certification, advanced training appropriate to their endorsed setting, or enrolled in an Association of Clinical Pastor Education (ACPE) training toward certification as an ACPE Super- visor. Requires a person ordained in full connection or a certified candidate for ministry; endorsed currently or potentially endorsed by the United Methodist Endorsing Agency (UMEA). Average award $1,000.

The Georgia Harkness Scholarship
Females, age 35 or older, pursuing an M.Div. degree at any University Senate Approved School of Theology. Must be a certified candidate at time of application for the Elder track. Preference given to those who have chosen ministry as a second career. GPA 3.0+.
See the Georgia Harkness Scholarship page for more detailed information.

Average award $5,000.

The HANA Scholarship
Applicant must be born of Hispanic, Asian, Native American, or Pacific Island parentage (at least one parent); an upper level student (undergraduate at junior or senior level; OR a graduate or doctoral student); full and active member of the UMC for at least 3 years; GPA of 2.85+; with plans to prepare for leadership in the UMC and in their HANA community. Average award $1,000-3,000.

The Helen and Allen Brown Scholarship
Undergraduate racial/ethnic minority students from the Nashville District of the Tennessee Annual Conference or the New Orleans District of the Louisiana Annual Conference. Member of the UMC at least 3 years; demonstrate financial need. GPA 3.0+. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Joe and Trudy Thaxton Scholarship
Applicant must be an active member of Main Street United Methodist Church, Bedford, Virginia. Must demonstrate an ongoing history of active participation in church and community. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Journey Toward Ordained Ministry Scholarship
Student must be pursuing ordained ministry at either the undergraduate or graduate level; racial/ethnic minority aged 30 or under; member of UMC 2 years; must be attending a UM related institution. GPA of 2.85+ (undergraduate); or 3.0+ (graduate). This program has a mentoring component. Average award $5,000.

The Miriam Hoffman Scholarship
Undergraduate or graduate level, pursuing a vocational career in music education or music ministry. Average award $500 – $1,000.

The Native American Seminary Award
Native American students pursuing a degree at a University Senate approved seminary. Funded through the Native American Ministries Sunday Offering. Member of UMC at least 3 years. Born of Native American/American Indian/Alaskan Native parentage at least one parent). Documentation of tribal affiliation required. Must be in the candidacy process of ordination and demonstrate involvement within the Native American community. Average award $3,000 – $10,000.

The Rev. Charles W. Tadlock Scholarship
Students must be a certified candidate for ordination as an Elder in the UMC and successfully completed first year of seminary and pursuing an M.Div. As scholarship is derived from a will, preference given to candidates from the Missouri Annual Conference but is open to all. GPA 2.85+ . Average award $1,000 – $2,000.

The Rev. Dr. Karen Layman Gift of Hope: 21st Century Scholars Program
Undergraduate students who demonstrate strong leadership in the UMC. Member of UMC at least 3 years. GPA 3.0+. Average award $1,000 .

The Richard S. Smith Scholarship
Students pursuing a church related career. Must be a racial/ethnic minority. Incoming freshmen (first year of undergraduate study) only may apply. Average award $1,000.

The Rosalie Bentzinger Scholarship
Ordained Deacon pursuing a Ph.D. in Christian Education, enrolled in a University Senate approved Seminary; minimum 3 year membership in the UMC. GPA 3.0+. Average award $5,000.

The Special Seminary Scholarship
Seminary students pursuing ordained ministry as a vocation (M.Div.) under 30 years of age (unless applicant is a renewal). Must be attending a UM-related seminary or school of theology. Average award $2,000.

The United Methodist General Scholarship
Choose if you meet the general requirements but are unsure for which program you qualify. May be awarded to undergraduate, graduate, or doctoral students; must be full active members of the UMC for at least 1 year; have a minimum GPA of 2.5+, and are attending any accredited institution within the U.S. Average award: undergrad $500 – $1,000; graduate $1,000 – $2,000.

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Shoestring Travel Tips For College Students

Shoestring Travel Tips For College Students

For students, traveling can be especially costly, considering whatever you’ve been able to save has likely gone toward purchasing flights that get increasingly more expensive every year. So how can students travel comfortably and enjoyably when they have only some pocket change after airfare? The answer is shoestring travel. Here’s how:

1. Always stay at student hostels, or even consider couch surfing.

This is one tip that cannot be emphasized enough. After airfare, the most you’ll spend on traveling will be on accommodation. Student hostels throughout the world cost only a few dollars a night. Of course, do shop around. I’ve in some rare cases found decent, clean hotels at cheaper rates than hostels. Also, for those who are adventurous, “couch surfing” is a good alternative. Through the Couch Surfing website, you can find places to stay for free, in the interest of cultural exchange.

2. If time permits, tutor English for extra cash.

If you’re taking a long trip for a month or more, consider doing odd jobs to make money as you travel. I once had a friend who decided to travel around South America for a year, and she made extra money to support herself by tutoring English to kids and adults on a freelance basis. Freelance writing and web design, or any other job you can do online on a project-by-project basis, is another great way to make money as you travel.

3. Make friends with locals, who’ll show you less expensive, more culturally rich hangouts.

Travel to any country around the world, and you’ll be dumbfounded by how hard it is to avoid tourist traps. Even less popular restaurants, bars, etc., have become expensive once the Travel Channel features these places as “holes in the wall.” The best way to find cheaper places away from tourist hotspots is to befriend local people who can show you where they eat, drink, and have fun. Befriending local students is perhaps the best idea, since they are on a budget, too.

4. Visit cities and countries off the beaten path.

Of course, most of us who travel want to visit the most well-known cities and countries. But you’d be surprised by how much fun you can have by visiting a quaint French town in the countryside instead of Paris, or by going to Macedonia instead of Greece. When you stay out of the big cities and popular countries, you’ll usually spend significantly less, and you’ll find it easier to befriend locals, and you’ll have more interesting stories to tell your friends when you get home!

Have you traveled abroad before? What other shoestring travel tips can you think of?

Today’s guest article is provided by Barbara Jolie. She is a freelance blogger whose primary focus is writing about online education for her blog found on . She also enjoys investigating trends in other niches, notably technology, traditional higher education, health, and small business. Barbara welcomes reader questions and comments below.

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Looking For A Grad School? Check Out This Resource!

Looking For A Grad School? Check Out This Resource!

Over the course of time, a Bachelor’s degree has become a fairly common staple among students entering into the work force. Having a degree used to guarantee you a good job along with a comparable salary. Unfortunately, as competition gets tough in the job market and more and more students are donning their undergraduate degrees, it is necessary for those that are ambitious about their careers to distinguish themselves by furthering their education and obtaining a graduate degree.

Finding a graduate program that will satisfy your educational goals can be quite a task. Not only do you want it to be the best fit from an academic perspective, you want it to be at just the right cost and hopefully accessible from a demographic standpoint.

So, in an effort to help you locate the best graduate program, I would like to introduce to you a great new resource called This site is packed full of features that are guaranteed to help you in your search to obtaining a graduate degree. The following represents a few of the more standout tools available.

Browse By Program

Already know which field of study in which you want to continue your education? GP has got you covered by offering a sort tool that allows you to narrow down various schools based upon the type of program that you are interested in. The options are quite inclusive and range from Engineering to Liberal Arts & Humanities. Click here if you would like to browse various graduate programs by area of study.

Browse By Location

Sometimes the perfect graduate program can be found in your backyard. Other times it may require that you move to a different part of the country. Location plays a big role in obtaining your graduate degree, so it is important for you to be able to pin point the location of the various programs offered nearby where you live or maybe where you think you will want to live. GP takes the guesswork out of determining location by allowing you to browse graduate degree programs by state.

Peer Reviews

The quality and experience of a graduate program can vary. Colleges and Universities are very savvy when it comes to marketing their programs, so it is hard to tell how much you will enjoy (or dislike) a program based upon marketing materials. That is when student reviews and ratings come in handy. Fortunately for you, provides a forum in which students can share reviews and feedback about their graduate degree seeking experience.

Resources not only helps you find the best graduate program, they also provide you with a plethora of resources to help you acclimate to your new life as a graduate student.  Here are a couple examples of the many informative articles available on GP: “How to Create the Best Living Situation in Graduate School” or “Networking While in Graduate School”.

Scholarship Opportunity

In an effort to help graduate students nationwide, GP has established a scholarship program that awards $1000 to one deserving student each quarter. In order to enter, all you have to do is leave a review about your current graduate program.

So, if you are looking to continue your education and graduate school is in your sights, I hope that you consider utilizing all the resources provided by – The Graduate Program Guide for students, created by students.

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Buying a Car in College: Is This the Right Time For You?

Buying a Car in College: Is This the Right Time For You?

If you choose to buy or lease a car during your college years it could easily be the biggest expense you incur following your tuition, room and board. Owning a car on campus offers a sense of luxury, convenience, and also makes running errands or visiting family easy. However, owning a car on campus can also be expensive, time consuming, and somewhat risky should your campus not provide parking lot security. Is the expense of owning and maintaining a car outweighed by the clear advantages? Are you ready to make this large purchase? There are several things to consider when shopping for a car while in college: 

Check your School’s Policies Carefully

Before investing in a car, look into your school’s car policy. Some schools prohibit cars to underclassmen students. Additionally, most campuses are designed for students to walk easily from place to place. To make sure that investing in a car will not add time to your morning commute, try timing your commute time by foot first.

Car Maintenance and Additional Costs

Along with the obvious costs of the purchase or lease itself, you must consider maintenance and additional costs associated with car ownership. Routine maintenance can be costly, as can necessary repairs if routine maintenance is not performed correctly. Car insurance, registration fees and license plate renewal fees are additional costs associated with car ownership.

Parking on a College Campus

Consider your campus and parking availability. Are there adequate, secure parking spaces in areas you would like to drive? There may also be additional fees to consider, such as parking meters and required parking permits to keep your car on campus.

If you decide to purchase a vehicle, there are several ways to cut the costs of car ownership. The following are all suggestions for lowering the cost of car ownership for college students.

Lease vs. Buy
Have you considered leasing a car instead of purchasing? If you are planning to make monthly payments toward this purchase, leasing a vehicle could significantly reduce that payment. Of course the idea of leasing a vehicle is more of a rental agreement; you will be making payments towards this vehicle for years without owning it outright at the end of the term. Many lease agreements also include mileage restrictions and prohibit excessive wear and tear on the vehicle. Leased vehicles are still your responsibility to maintain, insure, and register, and you must also maintain current license plates for leased vehicles.

New vs. Used
New and used vehicles each hold their own advantages and disadvantages. While obviously the more expensive choice, new cars may offer a strong sense of security as the more dependable option over a previously owned vehicle. New cars typically include technological advancements which may offer additional savings in gas mileage or maintenance fees. However, new vehicles are usually more expensive to insure. Purchasing a used car may be more cost-effective, but be prepared should you encounter breakdowns or problems with that vehicle. Used cars may also lack the technology of increased gas mileage, making the vehicle more expensive to drive or maintain.

Study Hard and Drive Carefully!
Car insurance rates are not concrete. If you do well in college and receive high grades you may qualify for a “good student” discounted rate. If you drive safely without accident or traffic violation you may qualify for a “good driver” discount. Pay your bills on time—a higher credit rating may qualify you for additional discounts. Additional discounts may be offered for limited driving, lower-risk car models, carrying multiple insurance plans from the same company, or reaching a “milestone” age or life-changing event (marriage, the birth of a child, etc.).

Routine Maintenance
College life is full of responsibilities and it can be easy to forget that extra oil change or tire rotation. However, staying on top of your car’s routine maintenance needs can avoid expensive problems later on. Take good care of your vehicle and it will take care of you.

If you are preparing to make a trip back home for the weekend, ask around. Is there anyone else on campus that lives close to you and would need a ride? It is common for college students to car pool and share the expense of gas on longer trips. You could also run errands together with friends and share the expense of gas used for trips to the post office, laundry mat or grocery store.

Purchasing a vehicle is a big decision and one that should not be taken lightly. College students encounter a great amount of stress as the demands of education, work and social life can feel overwhelming. If you are deciding whether or not to purchase a vehicle while in college, be sure you are ready for the commitment of ownership before signing on the dotted line.

Today’s guest article comes from Ryan Devereux on behalf Rasmussen College, whose human resources degree can help you launch a career in a promising arena.

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