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Paul Pennelli

Health Other

The Ultimate List of What to Eat in College

May 29, 2018
The Ultimate List of What to Eat in College

Eating in college can be tricky – you need the fuel, you’re on a budget, the dining hall presents many (sometimes unhealthy) options, and we’ve all heard about the freshman 15. How can you make healthy, budget-friendly choices when you need a snack at school? We’ve got the low down on easy, healthy, cheap eats for college students.

Check out these 20 awesome resources for college students on what to eat to help you study, what you can get on a budget and even how to dress up your Ramen:

Happy (and healthy!) eating!


Other Student Life

5 Things You MUST Do Before Winter Break

December 4, 2016
5 Things You Must Do Before WInter Break

Finals, the holidays, packing for break – you’ve got a lot on your mind and a lot to do (and probably not that much sleep!), no doubt. However, before you head home for winter break from college, there are some things you absolutely MUST do to make sure you leave this semester on good note and will start the next one safely, healthily and happily!

Make Sure Your Work is Done

Before you leave, make sure you’ve gotten everything in before the grading period. Check your syllabi and fill out your course evaluations, and if you can try to sell back your books now. You may want to write a thank you note to the professors whose classes you enjoyed most, it could go a long way to keeping the lines of communication open in case you’ll want to ask them for a recommendation in the future. Wrapping up this semester is the first step in starting next semester strong.  Make sure all loose ends are tied up!

  • Check your syllabi for any outstanding items
  • Email or send a thank you note to your professors
  • Sell back your books to the bookstore or find a friend who will need your copy
  • Make sure to return any library books before the break to avoid fees

Pack Up Your Valuables

Leaving school for the winter break means your things will sit in your room for a couple weeks, without you there to keep an eye on them. Whether it’s theft or damage to the building from a snowstorm, your valuables could be vulnerable while you’re away. Take your valuables with while you’re away for so long to ensure that they’ll be taken care of – like your laptop, jewelry and favorite clothes.

  • Make sure you have a way to safely transport your laptop
  • Locate and pack any jewelry or valuables like cash

Check the Dates

Before you leave school, make sure you know when the residence halls and campus close and open back up again. If these dates conflict with your travel plans, make the necessary arrangements to either stay on campus or find somewhere else to go if it is closed. Also be sure to check your travel logistics to make sure everything still works and so you’ll be sure to be on time!

  • Check your school’s break dates and if the residence halls will close during that time
  • Confirm your travel itineraries
  • Make necessary adjustments or arrangements if above dates affect your travel plans

Clean Your Mini Fridge

This is way more important than you may realize – seriously! No one wants to come back to a moldy, smelly, little fridge stinking up your whole room, so make sure to clean it out and properly defrost it before you head home for a couple weeks.

  • Throw out any perishable food in your room
  • Clean the interior of your mini fridge
  • Defrost your fridge, find a guide here

Secure Your Room/Apartment

You’ll be away for several weeks, so make sure your room is secure and clean! You’ll want to return to an orderly space with everything just as you left it. Try to give yourself time after studying to clean up your space and make sure you secure the windows, unplug your electronics and make sure everything is good to go for your weeks away. If you have Renters Insurance, ensure your inventory is up-to-date, in case anything happens to your stuff while you are away.

  • Ensure all windows are closed tight and locked, for both weather and theft purposes
  • Hide any valuables and make sure your curtains are closed
  • Empty all trash
  • Turn down the heat, but not too low so your pipes don’t freeze!
  • Unplug any unnecessary electronics
  • Check to make sure your inventory is up-to-date
  • Lock all doors after leaving

With these tips, you’ll be ready for a relaxing college winter break! Enjoy!

Health Other

Top Ten Health Insurance Tips College Grads from eHealth

May 24, 2016

It’s the time of year again – graduation season! With graduation comes a lot of changes for recent grads. Could your health insurance coverage be one of them? If your plan is ending or you’re moving away from school, it may be time to check on your coverage and make sure it’s still the best fit for your needs. Luckily, eHealth has published tips to help grads know what to look for when assessing their current coverage.

Many recent grads may have coverage under their parent’s plans. That’s great, since this coverage will not go away after a student graduates, unless the student turns 26. As for the many students on student health plans through their colleges, they may lose coverage once classes end. Though open enrollment is no longer open, if a graduate experiences a qualifying life event, like marriage, moving to a new area, or the loss of qualifying health insurance coverage, they can purchase coverage on their own.

eHealth has developed a helpful list for recent grads and their families to help you figure out what kind of health plan you need. Here are their Top Ten Health Insurance Tips College Grads:

  • Know a qualifying life event when you experience one. A qualifying life event allows you to purchase an Obamacare-compliant health insurance plan outside of open enrollment and apply for subsidies to help you pay your monthly premiums… College graduation is not a qualifying event. However, losing Obamacare-compliant coverage that you received through school, a job, or your parents may be a qualifying life event. Moving to a new city or state may also be a qualifying life event. Work with a licensed agent like those at eHealth to learn if you’re eligible to enroll in an Obamacare-compliant plan when you graduate.

The skinny: Figure out your next step after school, and figure out if you qualify for coverage. A licensed insurance agent can help you figure this out and help advise on what plans make sense for you.

  • Review ALL your coverage options.…Is your current health insurance plan really the best choice for you? It’s time to re-examine your options, all of them. When it comes to health insurance, these may include purchasing coverage on your own, sticking with Mom and Dad’s plan, or enrolling in coverage through an employer, among others. If you don’t have coverage from a parent, employer, school, or other source, you should consider buying coverage on your own. Keep an open mind and review the coverage options available to you through a variety of sources.

The skinny: Review all of your options to see what makes the most sense for your situation. There may be several avenues where you can get coverage and it may be well worth your time to compare how they stack up against one another.

  • Buying coverage on the cheap may cost more than you think — or can afford. Don’t pick your next health insurance plan based only on which one has the lowest monthly premium. Instead, look at the “maximum out-of-pocket” amount for any plan you’re considering. This is what you could potentially need to pay, in addition to your premiums, for covered medical care in a worst-case scenario (like a serious illness or an injury requiring hospitalization). A monthly premium of $150 (for example) might sound great until you realize that your maximum out-of-pocket cost would be $6,000! If the lowest-premium plan is all you can afford, consider buying an accident or critical illness plan on the side to help cover your out-of-pocket costs in a worst-case scenario.

The skinny: This is great advice from eHealth. Make sure you consider your out-of-pocket exposure and whether that is something you can truly afford.

  • Think twice before sticking with Mom and Dad’s health plan. The Affordable Care Act allows your parents to keep you on the family health insurance plan until you turn 26. That’s a pretty good deal. However, Mom and Dad aren’t required to keep you on their plan and it may cost them to do so. What’s more, if you live away from home, in another city or state, your access to network doctors and hospitals through your parents’ plan may be limited or non-existent…

The skinny: Staying on your parent’s plan may seem like an obvious and best choice, but make sure to consider the costs and access you’ll have to the network.

  • Look beyond government exchanges. If you experience a qualifying life event and find yourself shopping for health insurance, don’t limit yourself to government-run health insurance exchanges. There are other plans available outside of government exchanges that can also meet your coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act. To find the plan that best meets your needs and budget, compare the options available through your government exchange with other options available through private online marketplaces like eHealth…

The skinny: You have several options available to you for searching for a plan. Make sure to look at both government-run and private marketplaces to see all of your options, or a marketplace that pulls plans from both like HealthPocket.

  • Consider short-term coverage for the in-between times. If you don’t expect employer-based health insurance to kick in for a while and you’re not eligible for (or can’t afford) coverage through another source, consider a short-term health insurance plan. Just make sure you understand what you’re buying. A short-term plan is a form of temporary coverage (from 30 days up to 12 months). It will not meet your coverage requirements under the Affordable Care Act, meaning that you may still be subject to a tax penalty. Short-term plans also may not provide coverage for preventive care, pre-existing medical conditions, or prescription drugs. However, short-term plans are relatively inexpensive and may limit your financial risk for medical care received for unexpected illnesses or injuries that are covered.

The skinny: Short-Term coverage is meant to be used temporarily, so if you are in a situation where you’ll be without permanent coverage for a short amount of time this coverage may make sense. Be careful, you may face tax penalties and won’t get nearly as much coverage as a traditional plan.

  • Keep an eye open for the next open enrollment period. The next nationwide open enrollment period for self-purchased health insurance is coming up on November 1, 2015. If you’re not eligible to sign up for traditional major medical health insurance after graduation, this will be your chance to do so. Don’t let it pass you by. Even if you find major medical coverage after graduation, you should use the upcoming nationwide open enrollment period to make sure you’ll have the best plan for your needs into 2016.

The skinny: The next open enrollment period begins November 1, 2015. Be sure to check it out – you may find a better plan in the marketplace then.

  • Check your subsidy eligibility. If you experience a qualifying life event allowing you to enroll in coverage outside of open enrollment, find out if you qualify for a government subsidy to help you afford health insurance. In order to qualify, your projected income for 2015 can be no more than 400% of the federal poverty level, which is about $47,000 for a single person. Be aware, however, that unexpectedly earning more this year could mean that you end up having to pay back some or all of your subsidy dollars. To learn about your eligibility for a health insurance subsidy, work with a licensed agent or your state’s government exchange.

The skinny: You may qualify for a subsidy to help you pay for your insurance. Check with an agent or your state’s government exchange to figure out if you qualify.

  • Consider a “catastrophic” health insurance plan. These are major medical plans intended primarily for people under age 30. They provide less coverage overall than typical health insurance plans but may be more affordable on a month-to-month basis. They’ll meet your coverage requirements under the health care reform law, but you can’t use government subsidies to help pay for them. Catastrophic plans might be a good choice if you can’t afford more robust coverage but want something to back you up in case of an emergency. Just be sure that you could pay your deductible if you had to.

The skinny: Can’t afford a regular plan? Consider a “catastrophic” health plan. You’ll get less coverage overall, but it will meet coverage requirements.

  • Understand your tax obligations if you go uninsured for 2015.Being uninsured the day after graduation doesn’t mean that you’ll automatically have to pay a tax penalty. Under the Affordable Care Act, tax penalties are typically triggered when you go uninsured for three consecutive months or more than once in the same calendar year. There are also exemptions for people with very low incomes or certain other circumstances. If you’re tempted to go uninsured after graduation, make sure you understand what your tax penalty may look like. For 2015, the tax penalty for going uninsured is the greater of $325 or 2% of your taxable income. Depending on how much you earn in 2015, your tax penalty for going uninsured could be hundreds of dollars or more.

The skinny: If you go uninsured, you’re not only opening yourself up to the financial risks of an unexpected medical issue, but also the tax penalties that go along with being uninsured for three consecutive months. Make sure you understand this penalty.

With so many changes happening as you graduate, these great tips from eHealth can help you ensure that you’ll have the right health insurance coverage once you graduate school.

Health Other

Types of Insurance New Grads Should Consider

May 20, 2016
Insurance Guide for New Grads

Graduation. You made it! Congratulations! Undergrad is behind you, and you’re about to embark on the next phase of your life. And while that is super exciting, it can be nerve-wracking and even a little bit risky. Some of those risks, however, can be mitigated with the right types of insurance. As you start off on your own as a young adult, you may start building a life you’ll want to protect, and insurance can help you do just that. Whether it’s a job, grad school, traveling or the unknown that’s next for you, insurance can be an important part of building your finances.

1. Health Insurance

You’re young, you’re healthy… do you really need health insurance? Soon you’ll be required to have it under new healthcare legislation, and in the meantime it is valuable coverage to have. Young adults have the highest rate of injury-related emergency department visits of all age groups (source), so it is wise to consider a plan in case of an accident or illness. Health insurance comes in many forms, so what is best for you? It all depends on your situation. Be sure to speak with an agent to review your options before purchasing insurance.

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Career Other

10 Job Search Resources for College and Beyond

September 22, 2015

There are few tasks as stressful and time consuming as searching for a job while also balancing the rigors of college. Things don’t get any easier immediately post-graduation. So, why not get all of the help you can? Here are a list of ten resources that are sure to make the job search a little easier, and a little more fruitful.

This websites hits on the three main interests of job seeking college students and recent grads. These are entry level positions, internships, and part-time work. Students can post their resumes, look through posted jobs, and get lots of great job search advice. Job searches can be performed by top job categories, or through Career Rookie’s vertical channel which allows students to search some of the more popular employers and career fields.

My Next Move

Do you know exactly what you want to do after you graduate? Do you have it narrowed down to a few choices? Do you have absolutely no clue? No matter where you are, My Next Move is a great resource for you. You can look for the perfect job by industry or enter in specific keywords related to the job you would like to have. If you are completely flummoxed on where to start, they have a utility that will suggest possible careers for you based on your talents and interests.

Smart Custom Writing

This is an online writing service that is perhaps most well-known for helping students with their writing assignments. What many students are discovering though is that is also a great resource for help with resume and CV writing, design, and editing. This premium writing service also offers students help with custom written cover letters tailored to each position. No student should begin their job search without a professionally written resume. Why not rely on a company that has a proven history of helping college students?


This is another great internet based resource for students. Don’t let the bare-boned web design fool you. What Experience lacks in flashy graphics, it more than makes up for in solid information for job-seeking students. You’ll get access to available jobs and internships along with great information on other topics such as interviewing tips and the best companies to work for.

College Recruiter

Do you have your sights set on starting your career in a major metropolitan area such as Los Angeles, Dallas, New York or Chicago? Are you interested in throwing your hat in the ring for one of the most sought after internships in the country? If so book mark College Recruiter as it is essentially your central repository for the jobs and internships you are seeking.


Why limit your job search to just one country when there are opportunities all over the world. This is especially true if you are a domestic relations student or are pursuing a career in international business. Ihipo is the perfect online source for students seeking job opportunities in other countries. You can search overseas jobs and internships, plus get excellent advice on your international career aspirations.

Campus Career Center

This is a solid job search resource for students anywhere looking for job while they are in college or a career once they have graduated. All you need to do is create an account on Campus Career Center. Then, you can search for jobs all over the country. In addition to this, recruiters will be able to access your resume information and contact you with available positions. This is a particularly great website for students interested in a civil service career.

Monster College

This is the division of Monster that is dedicated to helping college students get off on the right foot when it comes to finding the perfect job. It provides students with the ability to search for entry level jobs, but the resources don’t end there. Monster College provides students with advice on putting together their portfolios, financial advice, job search help, career advice, internship information, and scholarship resources.


This isn’t any networking site. LinkedIn is flagship networking website of virtually every career field there is. No student should start their job search before creating a profile and connecting with past employers, instructors, other students, and mentors. You never know when these connections will help you get the job of your dreams.

Office Politics

Nobody wants to believe that they are impacted by the game that is office politics, but the truth is they are. As a student, the faster you learn how to navigate office politics and use them to your advantage, the better off you will be. Office Politics approaches these lessons with a tongue in cheek sense of humor and a reminder that mastering office politics does not require dishonesty or underhanded manipulation. This is a great blog for students getting started in the business world.

About the author: Julie Ellis – the founder and editor at Premier Essay. Her wide experience in the field of education, self-improvement and psychology gives her the opportunity to help all people that are willing to make the world better. Learn more about her and connect on Twitter, and Google+.

Career Other

The Real Cost of College

September 18, 2015

Paying for college is often more than just tuition – you’ve got books, living expenses, and fun study-break activities to consider as well! This infographic breaks down those costs throughout categories to help you realize how much the average student is spending… it may surprise you!

The Real Cost of College

Health Other

GradGuard featured on NBC12!

September 2, 2015
GG in NBC12

With school beginning once again, Tuition Refund Insurance has been garnering attention from families across the nation. GradGuard was recently featured in a story about tuition insurance by NBC12.

Most schools offer pro-rated refunds during the first several weeks of school, but after that, tuition can be lost if the student withdraws.

A few other companies offer tuition insurance too, A.W.G. Dewar, GradGuard, and College Parents of America. Prices usually range from 1% to 6% of tuition.

Watch the segment and read the full article on NBC12.

Career Other

GradGuard in the Washington Post!

August 27, 2015

As colleges across the country head back to school and tuition bills come due, families have been considering whether to purchase tuition refund insurance to help protect their education investments. The Washington Post recently published an article asking “Should you take out an insurance policy to cover college tuition?” and spoke with our co-founder, Bill Suneson, to discuss the benefits of this protection:

Families are often clueless about college refund policies, said William Suneson, co-founder of Next Generation Insurance Group, which offers GradGuard tuition plans underwritten by Markel. The company said its survey of university administrators found that while school policies are usually disclosed on their websites, few go out of their way to discuss the terms with parents.

“It’s important that families become aware and schools let them know what level of reimbursement if available,” Suneson said. “If a school doesn’t offer 100 percent refunds, families should have the opportunity to insure the risk.”

He said his company has sold thousands of Gradguard tuition policies since the plans were first introduced in 2010. While Suneson did not provide the exact percentage customers who have filed claims, he said the company has a 60 percent target for its loss ratio, which measures the percentage of insurance premiums that insurers devote to claims. Some years are higher than 60 percent, others are lower, he said.

Read the full article on the Washington Post.

Health Other

GradGuard featured in North Jersey’s The Record

August 22, 2015

The back-to-school season has opened up conversations about the usefulness of tuition refund insurance. Recently, our managing director John Fees was featured on, speaking to the benefits of such coverage.

“There is a lot of money at stake,” said John Fees, managing director of GradGuard, which offers tuition insurance at schools around the country, including Princeton University and Centenary College in New Jersey. “When you enroll in school it’s just like any other big purchase. You need to know the terms and conditions.”

College refund policies can vary, but many of them can be stingy; one insurance industry survey found that less than a quarter of schools provide full refunds for medical withdrawals. And many offer little or no refunds after the first few weeks of a semester.

Learn more by reading the full article: “Should N.J. parents of college students insure the cost of tuition?”

Career Other

GradGuard featured in the Richmond Times-Dispatch

August 22, 2015

Our co-founder, John Fees, was recently featured in an article addressing growing interest in tuition refund insurance.

John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, which offers similar tuition insurance programs, said 1 in 4 families can afford a loss, according to a company survey.

“There are unknown risks that families are taking around the second-largest investment of their lives. Not everyone needs protection, but everyone should consider it,” Fees said.

To learn more about the benefits of tuition refund insurance, read the full article: “Henrico’s Allianz Global has college tuition insurance.”