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Packing Tips for College Move Out Day

May 27, 2020
Packing Tips for College

How bittersweet this time of year is – summer is approaching, meaning no more classes or exams or deadlines, but you have to say goodbye to your friends, professors, clubs and parties. Although this can be a fun time to get distracted and get ready for the warm weather and summer fun again, it’s also a time to make sure you’re prepared to be on time for your flight or ride when moving out of your dorm or apartment.

Between finals, nice weather and saying goodbye to friends, it can be difficult to get everything packed in an organized and timely manner. However, it helps to do a little bit over time, so the whole task never seems too overwhelming. What do you need to do before you leave? Where should you begin? Check out this list!

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5 Sneaky Things That Could Be Draining Your Bank Account

October 10, 2018

As college students, most of whom aren’t independently wealthy, the last thing we need are useless things draining our funds. But you might be surprised at the things that you don’t really need to be paying money for! Here we break down five things that could be draining your bank account.

1. ATM fees. You probably know that if you use an ATM that your bank doesn’t own to get cash out of your account, you could be incurring fees of up to $3 a pop. While that may not seem like much, it adds up after a while, especially when tacked onto the money you’re already withdrawing. For some of us, however, it may not be much of a choice if there isn’t a branch of our bank near campus. An easy fix for this problem is to simply ask for cash back when purchasing something at any store. That way you can leave any unnecessary fees behind you!

2. Bottled water. We know what you’re thinking – water?! How could that be an unnecessary cost, I need it to live! But think about it: you’re paying upwards of $2 or $3 several times a week for something that ought to be free! Even if the taps in your dorm or apartment aren’t exactly drinking friendly, it’s more than likely that there are several drinking fountains on your school’s campus where you could fill up a reusable water bottle (you probably have one from your school that they gave you for free at some point – I have at least four!) and have a thirst quenching beverage for next to nothing. Plus, it’s more eco-friendly!

3. Your daily coffee/energy drink habit. I know, I know, you can’t function without your caffeine. But have you ever done the math on how much that little habit is costing you per month? What about per year? And we won’t even get into how bad it is for your health! Assuming that each drink is around $4, by cutting your consumption from five times a week down to three, you could be saving nearly $40 a month. That’s almost $500 per year! Let that one sink in for a moment.

4. Vending machines. A lot of these money drains seem to revolve around food and drink! If you go down to the vending machine or run to the gas station or convenience store every time you’re hungry, you’re going to end up way overpaying. Instead, you should go to the local grocery store or supermarket and buy multiple serving snacks, in bulk size. That way you’re getting a better deal per serving and paying less money less often (plus you’re more apt to buy healthier snacks).

5. Parking meters. Yes, sometimes these are necessary evils, but when you do the math, in the long run, it might make more sense (or cents?) to purchase a parking pass for your school. While it may seem like a large expense at one time, breaking it down will reveal that it’s more cost efficient to just spend the money upfront, instead of pumping in gallons of quarters each day.

 

Be sure to check out GradGuard for all of your life and college hacks!

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Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

October 1, 2018
Living Off-Campus: 5 Solutions to Daily Struggles

What’s the most exciting thing about going to college? Yes; it’s about learning, friendships, and parties. But most of all, it’s about independence. If this is your first time living away from your family, it will be an entirely new experience. Your responsibility will be put to the test.

So let’s talk about living on campus, shall we? It’s not always the most attractive option you have. Sure; it’s usually more affordable than an apartment, but it doesn’t always give you the level of independence you’re looking for. There are too many people, too many roommates, and too much noise all the time.

If you want to be truly independent, you’re probably considering living off-campus. That’s a great decision, but it’s also a bit challenging. You’ll face daily struggles related to finances, commuting, and adulting.

You’ll Have to Learn How to Manage Your Finances

When you’re off campus, your expenses are not put together in a single big payment. The fixed expense is limited to the rent. You have control over everything else. You can control the electricity you spend, the money you spend on groceries, the internet service provider, and everything else.

You have to know where your money is going all the time. A budget management app on your phone will help a lot! It will keep track of the expenses, letting you know exactly how much money you have at your disposal.

Remember to Manage Your Time

When you’re in your comfy bed and you think about a 30-minute commute in -15 degree weather, the idea of skipping class will come naturally. Resist that temptation! You have a schedule and you have to keep on track with it. Otherwise, you’ll start procrastinating and you’ll eventually delay your own graduation.

Sarah Cooper, a contributor of A-Writer, explains that time management is the biggest issue for students living independently: “When you’re in full control over the way you live, you’ll naturally strive for comfort. That leads to skipping classes, delaying the work on an important project, and wasting time in every other way possible. These students have to learn how to use their calendar. I’m serious!”

Your Roommate is the Closest Friend You’ve Got

Having a roommate is great! Not only because you’ll split the expenses, but also because you’ll always have a friend to count on. However, when two young people are in a room together, you can’t expect rainbows, unicorns, and happiness all the time. There will be dirty clothes on the floor, there will be noise when you want to rest, and other struggles you’ll have to learn how to deal with.

Honesty is the best way to ensure a successful friendship. When you’re bothered with something your roommate does, tell them in the nicest way possible. “Could you pick up the clothes from the floor? I can help if you need me to!” That’s a nice way to resolve a conflict, don’t you think?

You’ll Need to Learn How to Cook; It’s Fun!

When you live in an apartment, you’re responsible for your own food. You can eat whatever you want, as long as you learn how to cook. Start watching YouTube videos of chefs preparing easy meals and be sure to practice; you’ll get into cooking in no time.

Why is it important to learn how to cook? – Because grocery shopping is way more affordable than eating out. Plus, the food you cook yourself will be healthier.

How about Getting Your Own Wheels?

Commuting is the main struggle for students who choose to live away from campus. To say that public transport is not enjoyable is an understatement.

  • How about getting an old car? It will not only get you wherever you want to go, but it will also be the place where you keep all your books, snacks, and backup clothes while you attend classes.
  • If the car’s maintenance is too expensive for you, how about a scooter?
  • If your place is not too far from campus and the road is safe for bikes, that’s a huge bonus. A bike is the most affordable option you have and it helps keep you fit.

Yes, there will be challenges, but don’t let them discourage you. You’ll have a great experience living off-campus; you just have to learn how to manage your time and finances, find an easy way to commute to campus, learn how to cook, and become friends with your roommate. You can do that, right? 

And don’t forget that living off-campus means that renters insurance is a must and GradGuard has your back! Remember to visit our website for all of your insurance needs.                                                                                                                                                                            

Audrey Pilcher is a passionate blogger and freelance writer at  college-paper.org. Being engaged in numerous international internships during studies, she gained invaluable experience. Since then Audrey was willing to share it with others.  Therefore she became an article writer on studying, self-growth issues.

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WSJ – Tuition Insurance Catches On as Costs Rise, Students Struggle to Adjust

August 19, 2018

Appeared in the August 20, 2018, print edition as ‘Demand for Tuition Insurance Is Surging.’

‘The cost of college is driving this,’ ‘

Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000, John Fees – Co-Founder of GradGuard.

As college tuition rises so too has demand for insurance to cover what in many cases is among a family’s biggest investments.

For Mindy DiCostra, a tuition-insurance policy was a life-saver last year after her daughter withdrew mid-semester in her junior year at Marymount Manhattan College in New York following an allergic reaction to an anxiety medication.

Because Ms. DiCostra agreed to pay $238 for tuition insurance when doing paperwork for the school, she was eligible to receive a full reimbursement for the $16,000 in tuition she and her husband had paid for the semester.

“I had no idea how important it would be when I checked that box,” she said.

Tuition insurance protects families in case their son or daughter has to drop out of school past the point at which a school offers tuition reimbursement, usually around halfway through the semester. Driving the increased demand are higher college costs and, to a lesser extent, rising mental-health disorders among college students that have raised concerns among parents that their children may struggle away from home.

About 70,000 policies were written across the U.S. market last year, up from 20,000 five years ago, said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, which started selling tuition-reimbursement insurance seven years ago. It works with campuses including the University of Pennsylvania, Auburn University and New York University, its website says.

“The cost of college is driving this,” said Mr. Fees. “Families cannot afford the loss of $30,000.”

The average published tuition and fees at a private college has increased to $34,740 in 2017 from $15,160 in 1988 according to the College Board. The numbers are adjusted for inflation.

“I think a lot of families don’t fully grasp that if they have to withdraw midterm it can have a significant financial impact,” said Paige Lee Director of Tuition Insurance at Allianz. College is “the second largest investment most families will ever make” after a home.

Most schools have some sort of reimbursement policy but they generally don’t cover withdrawals during the second half of the semester. At Vanderbilt University, a student will be reimbursed for some portion of his or her tuition and room and board up until about halfway through the semester. After that, they don’t receive anything.

Tuition and housing at Vanderbilt costs about $59,000, and 80% of that can be reimbursed with insurance, which costs about $530, said Chris Cook, who oversees the financial accounts of students at the school.

Several companies provide tuition insurance, Most policies charge in the neighborhood of 1% of the cost of school. A semester that runs $30,000 would cost about $300. At least 200 schools now work with insurers, offering the coverage to families when the pay the tuition bill.

Liberty Mutual Insurance started offering tuition-reimbursement policies this year, in part because of consumer demand. When a student drops out mid-semester parents are often “very surprised to learn that you may not get anything back,” said Michele Chevalier, a senior director at Liberty Mutual.

Not everyone thinks the plans are necessary. Jodi Okun, a college financial adviser in Los Angeles, said she has so far steered her clients away from tuition insurance because she doesn’t feel it is necessary in most cases. However, she has but counseled them to be aware of the timeline for withdrawals, so if a student is struggling with a mental-health issue they can leave in time to recoup the cost.

“I tell them, make sure you know when the deadlines are, especially if they are going far away to school,” she said.

Plans don’t typically cover students who drop out for academic or disciplinary reasons but will for medical reasons. Generally, insurers don’t ask about pre-existing conditions, either mental or physical. The idea, GradGuard’s Mr. Fees said, is: “If a student is healthy enough to start to a semester, they qualify.”

Insurers say that the number of claims they receive citing mental health incidents has risen. As many as one in four students at some elite U.S. colleges are now classified as disabled, largely because of mental-health issues such as depression or anxiety, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and interviews with schools.

Carmen Duarte, a spokesperson for A.W.G. Dewar, Inc. which has been offering tuition-reimbursement policies since the 1930s, said claims have remained flat for physical-health incidents but increased for mental-health reasons. She said policies are most likely to be bought by families of first year students. Allianz Insurance, which began selling the policies in 2015, said about 20% of claims were for mental health and 70% were for physical health.

Write to Douglas Belkin at doug.belkin@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications
Michele Chevalier is a senior director at Liberty Mutual. An earlier version of this article misspelled her first name. (Aug. 19)

 

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5 Items You Need For Your College Apartment

August 10, 2018

Congratulations, you survived the dorms! You’ll be surprised when you realize how attached you have become to the convenience of the dining hall, and the fact that your dorm was probably a quick walk away from all your classes. Sadly, all that is over and you’re going to need to cook now. And if you can’t figure out the best way to survive your lengthed commute to class, check out our comparison blog here. Now there are hundreds of articles on the web about all the junk that you can buy and use twice if you’re lucky. This post is designed to give you 5 items you will use on a weekly, if not daily basis.

Coffee Maker: Temptations are everywhere. Coffee shops surround your campus like moths to light. Everywhere you look, $7 cups of Joe are being sold, and if you don’t show restraint, you are going to blow your monthly food budget on one week of coffee. You can purchase a coffee maker off Amazon for fairly cheap, and the single cup coffee makers are a godsend for people who only drink one cup. Pro Tip: Keurig may have made this industry what it is, but you don’t have to pay their prices for the similar quality. Check out your local Target or home goods store for something off-brand, but still functional.

Basic Pots and Pans: You don’t need to go out and buy the $350 Gordon Ramsay collection, but you are going to need a few items. You may not know how to cook now, but over the course of the year, you will pick up at least a few recipes that you can make. Fry pan, saucepan, and baking sheet are the bare minimum. Pro Tip: Crock Pots can be extremely useful if you are committed to meal prep. Simply put the ingredients in, turn it on, and go to class. Come back, and you have dinner.

Vacuum Cleaner: At some point, you are going to have to clean up those crumbs from last week’s Hot Pocket. A vacuum may not be a fun purchase, but man, you will regret not buying one. A mop is a good idea too, but the vacuum is a necessity. Pro Tip: You don’t need to buy your parent’s PetMaster 3000, a small, lightweight model will do you just fine for your messy habits.

Basic Tools: For some of you this could be very foreign. “I will just call maintenance,” you say. Believe or not, they have better things to do than unscrew the shelf in your fridge so you can move it down a rung. Screwdriver (Phillips and Flathead), pliers, and a tape measure are all essentials for any living space. Pro Tip: You can find beginner kits all over the internet.

Dishes: Last, and most importantly, is basic dishware and cutlery. A few plates, bowls, and silverware will be in use at all times, so it is important you have some available. No matter how little you cook, at some point, you will need a spoon or a plate, and you can find sets of varying size and quality very easily. If you plan on doing any cooking whatsoever you will need a minimum 1 chefs knife and 1-2 steak knives. Pro Tip: A pair of kitchen scissors is very convenient, and chip clips are life savers.  

To wrap it up, there are a lot of things out there that will become a staple in your life, it will be different for everybody. But before you sink all your budget into money-grab products you saw on TV, consider how much you will actually use it. And don’t forget to cover your newly acquired items with the proper renter’s insurance through GradGuard! Would hate for all of those items to go to waste if you fill your apartment with smoke when you start to make your first Rachel Ray recipe. Get a free quote on our website today!

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Three Assumptions That Can Cost College Families

August 9, 2018

As nearly 3 million new college students and their families prepare to start college this year, now is an excellent time for parents and students to examine important financial issues that can impact the entire family. The cost of college is frequently among the largest investments a family and student make.

As a result, it is important to prepare for and reduce the potential and unintended costs surrounding college life.  A key place to start is to evaluate your assumptions about college life and explore alternatives for how you can protect your investment in a college education.

1. My child’s health insurance is covered by his school

Some schools offer health insurance, others do not. First, you should check to see if your student is covered by your family health insurance plan. Be sure to verify what the college’s coverage requirements are and be sure to check the bursar’s statement bill to see if you have been billed for health insurance.

If you have been billed for student health insurance by your college, but sure to let them know if you have coverage so you can “waive” the coverage. 

If you do not waive the coverage, your student will be billed for health insurance.

2. Campus housing will pay for my student’s damaged or stolen property

There are an average of 24,254 annual burglaries reported on college campuses and an average of 2,129 annual fires reported in on-campus student housing.   Parents are smart to review their home insurance policies closely for certain limitations. Most policies provide some coverage for students away at college (often up to 10% of the policy limits) but may limit that coverage to full time or on-campus students only. Additionally, filing small claims against a home policy may result in higher premiums or be subjected to high deductibles.

If you can’t afford to replace your student’s stolen or damaged property (like a backpack), then purchasing renters insurance for about fifty cents a day is a smart idea. 

GradGuard’s renter’s insurance is the only policy that includes an exclusive student endorsement that provides coverage designed for college life.

3. If my child gets sick or injured, the college will refund tuition and fees

Most colleges do not provide a complete refund to students who are forced to withdraw mid-term that is a result of a medical injury or illness. In fact, only 16% of schools surveyed in 2017 reported that they provide a refund for tuition.  All virtually all schools will not provide a refund for academic fees or room and board.  hough some schools may provide a partial refund for tuition up through the fifth week of school, nearly all schools do not refund the costs beyond tuition such as books and academic fees. As a result, tuition insurance is a smart alternative to protect your college investment from a potential loss.

If you can’t afford the cost of an extra semester, then tuition insurance is a smart idea.  Just remember that tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the first day of classes.

Remember that the best way to manage risks facing your student and the investment you are making in college is to be aware of where your student may be vulnerable.  Asking the right questions and considering how to protect yourself from an unexpected financial loss can help your student stay focused on their goal of college graduation.

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The 5 Dorm Items You Absolutely Need.

August 3, 2018

This is it. This is the day you move out. Your mom might not be ready to be an empty-nester, and let’s face facts, you might have never done your own laundry before. Maybe you’ve never moved before either. You’ve lived in the same house, in the same town, and went to the same barber all your life. Well, finding a new barber is likely going to be the least of your worries when starting this new chapter. Moving to college for the first time can be a bit scary, but we have 5 things you absolutely need to survive in the dorms this year (Results may vary).

Laundry Hamper: This is a MUST. Sorry to say but having clothes strewn about your room is not a “fun quirk.” Also, have you ever tried to carry an armload of clothes to and from the laundry room without dropping more socks than you knew you had? Pro Tip: The mesh folding hampers made a great space saver and are easy to deal with.

Bedding: Chances are, your dorm room employs an extra long twin and unless you have an older sibling who went to college, you do not have those sheets with the extra length. Be sure to get a few sets and alternate them. Pro Tip: In a pinch, use queen, and just let the slack hang down.

Storage Containers: Whether your taste is a trunk, totes, or folding cardboard boxes, you will need to store all your misc. items that you couldn’t bear to part with but have no actual use. They are also good for storing extra clothes or books. Pro Tip: Plastic 3 drawer containers are also great for storing books, documents, and ramen.

Headphones: This one is very important. PSA: Your roommate may or may not want to listen to what you are listening to 24/7. The headphones are also great when you roommate is talking to their mom for the third time that week about every minor tragedy that’s happened. As much as you love hearing about how the dressing on their kale salad was too sweet, sometimes you need a break. Also great when it is 2am and your roommate is asleep, but you NEED to watch that next episode on Netflix. Pro Tip: Noise-canceling headphones are recommended for maximum success.

Cleaning Supplies: You would be shocked at how many people are totally fine living in filth. A few crumbs on the carpet is acceptable. A little iron and lime buildup around your sink and shower are ok. But when your toilet starts to darken in tint and develops a ring around the toilet bowl, it’s time to clean up. You also need to clean your floor occasionally, and, sadly, the trash fairy is never coming; take it out instead of stacking everything to create the next great modern art piece. It won’t be so bad if you stay on top of it. Pro Tip: All-purpose cleaner will solve the majority of your cleaning problems, make sure you have a bottle (or three).

We hope this list makes packing for school a little easier! Along with these essential dorm room items, be sure that you have the essential renters insurance! GradGuard protects your items in and out of the dorm room. With the new year approaching be sure you are prepared and cover all of your bases. Let us know your dorm necessities in the comments below.

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Your Vacation is Awaiting! Let’s Get Packing!

July 17, 2018

Good news students, it’s still summertime! Before the next semester starts to slowly creep up on you,  go ahead and reward yourself with a relaxing but also adventuresome vacation. After all, you did work extremely hard for that GPA, and you deserve to forget you’re a college student for just a moment and enjoy a well-earned break away from campus.

Whether you’re staying for a few weeks in another country or just going to Cali for the weekend, it’s always wise to pack the essential items that you know you’re going to need on a day-to-day basis. 

However, that’s easier said than done. How nice would it be if you can just magically memorize everything that you need to bring with you on the day of your trip? As a college student, you’re probably used to stuffing everything in your brain at the last minute. For a vacation, this can be a tough thing to accomplish unless you’re extremely low-maintenance where food and water are all you need to survive on a who-knows-how-long getaway.

For those who need a little more than just the essentials to survive, there’s an effective way to make sure that you will have everything you need so that your brain is roaming free and your body is at its most relaxed stage while you’re on your long-awaited vacation.

One method that works wonders is to re-enact your typical day in your head from the moment you wake up until the moment when you’re ready to lay down on your bed and call it a night.

After taking a minute to really think about your daily routine,  a typical day might look something like below:

 

                           Day activities            Things to pack
Waking Up  Your favorite pillow (especially if it’s a road trip).
Take a drink of water Your favorite reusable bottle. Hydro Flask is an amazing option as it’s designed to keep your drink hot or cold all day and helps create a more sustainable world. 
Brush teeth Your toothbrush, toothpaste, and mouthwash.
Morning skin care routine Your favorite face wash, toner, serum, moisturizer, and most importantly, sunscreen, and more.
Breakfast For those who don’t want to spend money every day on breakfast while on vacation, bring a few food items from home that are not easily perishable, such as breakfast bars, instant oatmeal, ready-to-eat pancakes and French toast, and dried fruit (dried mango slices are so yummy!).
Outing activities Plan out your outfit accordingly, make sure to check the weather of your destination before the trip.

Cold weather: fuzzy socks, scarf, gloves, earmuffs, jackets, sweaters, long pants, a beanie, etc.

Hot weather: sunglasses, summer shoes (sandals, flip-flops, etc.), shorts, tank tops, swim trunks,  sundresses, anything with thin and breathable fabrics will do.

A few miscellaneous things that are good to bring include: hand sanitizer, tissues, and wet wipes. 

             Activities before bed                     Things to pack
Shower Your favorite body wash, shampoo, and conditioner.  Don’t forget the loofah!

*A great recommendation is the 18-in-1 Dr. Bronner Pure Castile soap, as it can be used for many purposes and saves you tons of spaces in your luggage.

Brush teeth Same as in the morning
Evening skincare routine Should be similar to the morning routine. Bring any additional products you might need.
Reading (optional) If you’re a reader, bring a Kindle or a couple of your favorite books along with a book reading light. 
Allergy prevention If you know you’re susceptible to allergies, pack allergy pills as a change in weather can cause severe sneezing and coughing. Better safe than sorry!
Bedtime Bring an extra blanket if your destination has cold weather, and an extra pillow won’t hurt 🙂

Of course, this is just a general list of what an average college student would typically need while on vacation, but please pack accordingly based on your own wants and needs as everyone is different.

Apart from the above list, the most important thing of all is to stay safe while you travel. To ensure that you and your belongings are protected no matter where you go, GradGuard Renters Insurance offers a worldwide (yes that’s right, worldwide) coverage that will protect college students and young adults from unpredictable mishaps such as theft and vandalization that could happen while on vacation.  

With that said, have a safe and fun-packed vacation!

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Moving in with a Roommate: Insights and Advice

July 12, 2018

Living with roommates is a rite of passage experience for those who are in college and in post-grad life. When you move in with another person, there will always be challenges and disagreements, but there is also the potential for friendship and mutual respect. Every roommate is different, however, there are ways that you can make your experience run smoothly so that you enjoy your living space and those you share it with.

Roommate Agreement

Even if you are best friends with your roommate, before you move in and get settled you should fill out a roommate contract or agreement. You can’t expect anyone to read your mind, so being upfront from the start about your expectations for your shared space will open the lines for communication. Discuss issues that might come up–like using each other’s belongings or who will be responsible for the trash. Write down your preferences with your roomie’s, and keep a shared document in a place you can both access it if you want to add to it or reference it in the future.

The Decor Discussion

Decorations and furnishings are an important part of making your place feel like home. Before you move in, start a checklist with your roomie to keep track of what furniture pieces that you have and what you might need to get. Even if you aren’t ready to invest in big furniture pieces from a brand like Arhaus, you can check out their social media profiles, such as Instagram, for decor inspiration and then recreate their designs using different items. To ensure all roommates are involved, start a joint Pinterest page and start sending ideas back and forth. You might even find some DIY ideas that you can create together, or find ways to celebrate your shared interests or photos in your common-rooms. You can also check out our previous post to get ideas on how to decorate your dorm on a budget.

Have your Own Space

Within the space you’ll share with your roommate, try to have a place to retreat to if you need some personal time. This might be tough if you are sharing a smaller apartment or even just a dorm room. This “personal space” might have to be somewhere outside your living space, like your favorite coffee shop or a choice seat in the library. You should also be honest with your roommate if you ever feel like you need more space. They may not even realize that you feel the space isn’t being shared equally, so don’t be afraid to speak up.

Be Patient

It might take a little while to get used to your roommate, and for them to get used to you. It’s important during this time to be patient and understanding as you begin to understand each other’s personalities and habits on a deeper level. Even if you aren’t best friends with your roommate, take the time to learn a few things about them and ask them how their day was. If you understand why they do certain things, you might be more willing to forgive their more bothersome tendencies.

It is also important that you and your new roommate are covered by the proper renters insurance! GradGuard caters toward college students and offers low deductibles, student endorsements, and worldwide coverage. Learn more about our insurance offers on our website.

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Guide to Paying for College — Why the Beginning Can Be Confusing

June 27, 2018

Anyone who is contemplating going to college knows that the cost of college has risen dramatically in recent years.

Tuition costs at a 4-year, private college or university in 1997-1998 cost an average of just over $16,000 per year. In 2017-2018, the average shot up to over $41,000 per year according to a recent cost of college report. This does not account for inflation or additional expenses.

Understanding that college is pricey is the first step, but the next step is figuring out how to pay for it. Figuring out how to pay for college may be challenging for many new students. There are plenty of financial aid options so it may seem like a confusing system, but we have a few tips on how to get the process started.

Start with the FAFSA

The FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It should be the starting point for all students entering college. It can be filled out online for free, and the annual application opens October every year. 

As the name indicates, the FAFSA is offered by the federal government, and you need to fill it out to be eligible for federal student loans and grants. The application requires basic information including your Social Security Number, federal income tax returns, W-2s, bank statements, etc. If you are a dependent student, you will also need most of this information for your parents.

You should start with federal aid because it comes with more benefits. You may be eligible for Pell grants that do not require repayment (for more information on Pell Grants, check out the Education Department page), and federal student loans come with accessibly low fixed rates. You can access various repayment plans and can defer payments when in trouble.

Look for Free Financial Aid

Free financial aid refers to scholarships and grants – lump sum awards to pay for education. These are highly advantageous because they don’t require repayment. If you’re going to college, you should never stop looking for scholarships. You should search early and often throughout your time at university.

There are many opportunities to shave off a part of tuition, and they’re offered to various candidates. Many scholarships are based on academic or athletic merit, and some private organizations offer need-based scholarships. Others are offered for any number of reasons, like attending a particular organization, choosing a field of study, or even being left-handed.

Fill in the Gaps

Even after looking into financial aid and FAFSA, you may still be short on the college bill. If you’ve talked to your school and exhausted all options, then you may be able to get help from the private sector. Private student loans are offered by banks and lenders to qualified student applicants, and they can be a last resort option in financial aid. A private student loan can mean the difference between missing a semester and paying the bill, but they come with distinct risks.

These do not come with as many benefits as federal loans. Some private loans require repayment immediately on top of limited repayment options (for more information on private loan repayment, refer to this guide from LendEDU). They require an applicant to pass a credit check, risking the chance of denial. Additionally, since a private loan approval is dependent on credit, the interest rate is also derived from an applicant’s credit history. This opens the door to higher rates compared to federal student loans, especially for new students.

 

Deciding how to pay for college can be overwhelming, but there are basic steps to follow when figuring it out. Knowing this is key if you want to make it out of college with a degree.

Another basic step in paying for college is being sure that you are covered by the proper renters and tuition insurance! GradGuard offers both to ensure that you are covered and leave you with less financial stress in the event that things go awry. Visit our website for more information on our insurance offers.

 

Andrew Rombach is a guest author from LendEDU – a consumer education website and financial product marketplace. Andrew graduated from college in 2016 with his own chunk of student loan debt. Since then, he’s taken an interest in personal finance and written on plenty of different topics.