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paying for college

Student Life Transition

8 Ways to Pay for College

November 8, 2021

Attending a college or university can be a great way to open up new doors in your life. You can make professional connections, explore different career paths and nurture your personal interests all on a single campus. A big problem many students face today, though, is paying for college. As costs continue to rise students find themselves scrambling to cover tuition and fees so they continue working toward their dream. If this sounds like you, don’t worry! There are plenty of ways to pay for school so you can enjoy your classes without worrying about tuition.

Fill Out FAFSA

This is the free application for federal student aid. It’s the federal government’s way of assessing your needs and seeing what it can do to help. Universities and colleges use the information in this form to determine what types of funding you might be eligible for. Things like scholarships, grants and student loans are all determined by your FAFSA. The form is filled out per school year and needs to be renewed each year.

Find Scholarships

Almost every higher education institution offers its own scholarships, both campus-wide and departmental. These are also the scholarships that everyone else at your school will be applying for. They’re great to get in on or be awarded, but they’re by no means the end of your scholarship opportunities. Plenty of national organizations and large companies offer their own scholarships to college students. Start searching early and you’re likely to find a treasure trove of alternative scholarships that can help you pay for school. 

Apply for Grants

Grants, like scholarships, are another type of funding that you don’t have to pay back. There are federal and state grants that you’ll be considered for through filling out your FAFSA. The most popular type of grant is a federal Pell grant, which can cover a significant amount of tuition for qualifying students. States have a variety of grants for certain types of students as well, such as Louisiana’s Go Grant for low-income students returning to school.

Get a Work-Study Job

Plenty of students work their way through school, but some lucky ones get to work at their school. Work-study jobs are especially helpful because they often come with some type of tuition remission or exemption (in extremely lucky scenarios). The university or college pays you to hold a position on its staff and as an added bonus it also discounts your tuition. These jobs are typically offered through certain departments, so check with your school to see which areas offer work-study jobs.

Tapping into Your Savings

No one wants to pay out of pocket for their education, but sometimes it’s a reality you have to face. Saving for college throughout high school or in the years before you plan to attend can help you satisfy tuition requirements without having to work extra shifts and worry about missing a payment. A good rule of thumb is to have two years’ worth of tuition and fees saved before you start and a solid savings plan to keep yourself funded throughout your education. 

Choosing an Affordable School

Wouldn’t everyone love to attend an Ivy League school? Although your dream school might have the best program in the country or be in a beautiful area, college is also a time where you have to get real about your financial ability. Setting your sights on a school that’s above your budget will likely set you up for disappointment. Choose a school that’s affordable on its own and also offers lots of funding opportunities. If your state offers scholarships for in-state students, look at schools that honor those programs. Some universities even have legacy scholarships available for students whose parents and grandparents attended as well.

Paying for college can seem impossible, but there are lots of ways to find the money to finance your dreams. Fill out your FAFSA, look for scholarships, grants and work-study jobs, make sure your savings account is in order and find an affordable school. Don’t forget to protect your investment in college with tuition insurance!

BIO: Brett Clawson has a degree in Business Management and has started a couple of small businesses. When he’s not focusing his time on those, he spends time with his wife and two sons. His oldest son has entered the wonderful realm of college, and he now enjoys sharing tips that he and his son have found essential for college life.

Health

Bloomberg: Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless it Doesn’t Cover Covid-19

November 16, 2020

As Covid-19 outbreaks continue to pop up nationwide, college campuses are no exemption. Naturally, college parents are anxious about their kids’ health. Olivia Raimonde, Janet Wu and Katherine Chiglinsky took a deep dive for Bloomberg into the health and financial worries of Covid-19 and college.

The feature, ‘Tuition Insurance Sounds Great, Unless It Doesn’t Cover Covid-19’ includes an interview with a GradGuard member, Marcy Fischer, about her decision to send her daughter to Emory University with Tuition Insurance. Covering her daughter’s tuition and off-campus lease comes to about $30,000 per semester.

“You know, if they just get sent home from school and go virtual, that’s one thing,” Fischer, who lives in Massachusetts, told Bloomberg. “But if they were to get sick and have to withdraw from university for the semester, we’d be out that money.”

To cover the risk of losing tens of thousands of dollars, Fischer bought a tuition insurance plan from GradGuard, she told Bloomberg. The plan can cover what would have been otherwise lost tuition expenses and other fees if a student is too sick to finish the semester.

Atlanta-based Emory University is one of the nearly 400 colleges and universities that partner with GradGuard to offer college students and their families the best rate and coverage for tuition insurance. Fischer was able to protect a semester’s worth of expenses, $30,000, for around $300. Any student attending a four-year non-profit college or university can purchase a policy, however, the policies are underwritten by Allianz Global Assistance and are more costly if purchased directly online.    

Interest in tuition insurance has jumped significantly over the year, as the pandemic made the financial risk of college even more apparent, according to John Fees, CEO of GradGuard.

“Families are more aware than ever before of the risks of paying for college,” Fees said.

Epidemics and pandemics are typically excluded from GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance coverage. However, until further notice, GradGuard is choosing to accommodate claims for students who completely withdraw from school due to becoming ill with Covid.

In addition to Covid, Bloomberg goes on to explain that tuition insurance can also cover withdrawals due to other types of illness, including mental health conditions.

But it’s important to note that tuition insurance won’t cover costs if a school moves from in-person classes to online-only learning.

“It’s a medical withdrawal, not a change in how schools teach,” Fees said. “It’s not a business interruption insurance.”

GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance is an affordable way for college students and families to protect what’s often the second-largest investment in their lives. Covid outbreaks on college campuses highlight further proof of how costly it can be for these families when a student is forced to withdraw.

Student Life

Paying for College on Your Own? Here’s Some Advice

November 14, 2020

It’s no secret that college can be one of the most costly journeys in life. Considering tuition, fees, books, room and board, traveling back home, and gas for those students who have a car, the amount of money spent on education can add up quickly! Some students have family and others to help with these expenses which can make life as a college student a little easier. But many others are paying their own way through college with little to no assistance.

Here are a few tips for students to consider if they’re paying for college on their own:

Don’t forget to fill out the FAFSA before each semester.

FAFSA stands for Free Application for Federal Student Aid. Whether you have help from family or you’re pushing through college on your own, all students should fill out their FAFSA each semester. This federally funded program provides grants and loans for college students. It is always best to research the requirements and criteria before filling out this application because it can be a little hard to understand at some points. Always remember that grants and scholarship money generally do not have to be paid back. Loans must be paid back so it’s important to get as many grants and scholarships as you can!

Get a part or full-time job with a flexible schedule.

While some students work while in school for extra cash, others have to work in order to pay for all of their education expenses. Those students who must work in order to pay for their education should find a job that is willing to work with their school schedule. Sometimes, this is easier said than done. Use your best judgement when making the choice to work part-time or full-time. Remember that the most important goal is to graduate and keeping yourself physically and mentally healthy. So if you’re already taking 18 credits this semester, adding on a full-time job would be really difficult.

Make sure the school that you choose is affordable. 

We all have different ideas of what is considered affordable and what isn’t. If you are a college student that is paying for your education out of pocket, be sure that the school you attend is the right choice for your wallet. Students often hear that in order to excel in your career you must attend the best or the most elite college or university. Some of the more highly recognized and notable universities often have higher tuition costs as well as room and board. Don’t fall into peer pressure! Always do your research on the schools that you are interested in and if the cost and atmosphere are right for you, making the right choice will be simple.

If you are a college student paying for college on your own, know that you are not the only one. Remember to always fill out the FAFSA before each semester and get as many grants and scholarships as you can. When looking for a job, whether it’s part or full time, make sure they are willing to accommodate your schedule and keep your physical and mental health a priority as well. Most importantly, find a college that is affordable for you and within your means! College will always be costly, but you don’t have to strain yourself in order to achieve your goals.

Other Transition

15 College Student Benefits You Might Not Know About

April 20, 2020

College is a unique time in life. When else will you be surrounded by people your own age, and study among people with your same academic interests? It’s the time when you’re existing in that state of not being a kid anymore, but not quite being a grown adult yet either. But did you know that college is also a time when you can get tons of discounts and rewards just for being a student? Businesses and schools have perks for students that a lot of people don’t know about. Here are 15 that are definitely worth checking out:

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Health Other

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

July 11, 2019

When college families and their students are discussing college, the topic of money always comes up in the conversation. For good reason too! Did you know that the combination of tuition, fees and room and board charges average between $20,000-$50,000 a year?

For many college families, the expense of a higher education is one of the largest investments they will make. Since there is so much money at stake, we suggest that college parents make a plan in case their student is forced to withdraw from school due to severe injury or illness. Of course, if you are one of the few families out there that can afford to lose your large investment, then tuition insurance may not be necessarily needed for you.

However, for most of the twenty million college students and their families, the financial loss of an entire college semester is a burden big enough to break the bank. As a result, college families are smart to consider the purchase of tuition insurance prior to the start of the school semester.

3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the tuition paid for a semester at school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund of your expenses in the instance that a student gets severely ill or injured; it can also help cover the costs needed to get back on your feet in the event of needing to withdrawal.
  2. If your school does not provide a 100% refund – Do you know what your school’s refund policy is? A majority of school refund policies do not extend beyond the fifth week of the semester, and many don’t refund the full cost after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is so you can see how much of your money is at risk.
  3. If you have additional academic expenses – Even if the school does provide you with a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing. Many tuition insurance plans can provide coverage for academic fees and student housing in addition to tuition.

Student health incidents like illnesses, accidents, and injuries happen frequently, even to young and healthy college students. The good news is that college families can protect their investment by purchasing tuition insurance! Visit our website at www.gradguard.com/tuitioninsurance to see the plans available on your campus!

Other Transition

Living Off-Campus: What You Need to Know

April 12, 2019

Now that you are ending that “dreadful” year of living on-campus, I’m sure you are considering living off-campus. You’re sick of the small space, the hovering of the RA’s, having to use your keycard every time you go in and out of your residence hall, the limited amount of guests you can have over at any given time–the list goes on and on. The only logical thing you’ve been thinking about for awhile is “when can I finally move off-campus?”

Don’t worry, we all have this thought and are excited for what that entails, however, life is very different off-campus opposed to on-campus and there are definitely a few things you need to consider when making that decision.

Can You Afford It?

This is huge honestly. Though you are stoked to be living on your own with the ability to have get togethers whenever you want to, there is a pretty large price tag to come along with that. Living off-campus you need to consider what your rent will be, how much your bills are going to cost, whether your apartment comes furnished or not, how much your groceries will be each week, etc. Sometimes, the cost of living off-campus exceeds the cost of living on-campus. Be sure you consider all of these expenses first before moving.

Are you living with roommates or by yourself?

It can be tempting to live by yourself, but that experience should be saved for when you are finished with school. Living with roommates will probably be your best bet, as long as you pick and choose them wisely. It takes a certain human(s) to be a good roommate to share the expenses properly, understand your weird habits, and do their fair share of the cleaning. There wasn’t a need to worry about those things when living in the dorms, but outside of them, it is a whole new world.

How are you going to get to campus?

Commuting is something that we sometimes forget when moving off-campus. How are you going to get to class when you move off-campus? Hopefully, you find a place with good rent at a good size that is close enough to campus for you to walk or bike, but if not, you definitely need to think about the cost it will be for you to get a parking pass for your car or what the bus schedule is and the route it takes to get to campus. These can really be deal breakers depending on the location of the apartment/house you’re looking at.

Changes in your renters insurance

If you move off-campus, there can be some changes in your renters insurance coverage. The premium price might change, your landlord could want you to get higher limits, you have more stuff to cover so you might want to get higher limits anyway, etc. Regardless of your living situation if it is on-campus or off-campus, renters insurance is a must, but definitely for off-campus housing. You don’t want to be stuck with having to replace a bunch of stuff on your own if you come home from class one day to see that you were robbed and all of your stuff missing.

GradGuard offers renters insurance to students living off-campus as well as on-campus! You still get all the benefits like low deductibles and worldwide personal property coverage, so don’t forget to update your address or purchase a new policy when moving.

We hope this has helped you with your decision making! Remember that college is the time of your life and living off-campus is a great experience, just be sure you are prepared for it.

Other Student Life

Important Things to Know About Your Student Loans

April 10, 2019

With total student loan debt in the United States now over $1.5 trillion, students have to be prepared to pay off those student loans when they graduate. Knowing your available repayment, forgiveness and tax options will not only help you manage your student loans effectively—it may also save you money.

Many students fail to look into their repayment and forgiveness options, which can hurt their ability to pay off their loans on time. On top of this, some students don’t realize how private student loans differ from federal aid. To help you understand your student loans, here are some of the most important things to know.

Interest accrues while you’re in school.

When you take out an unsubsidized federal student loan or a private student loan, interest will start accruing as soon as the loan is disbursed. This means that although you can usually defer repayment until after you leave or graduate from school, the interest you owe on the loan will start to build up while you’re in school and will continue accruing throughout repayment. When you graduate, you will be responsible for paying off the interest accrued and your total loan amount.

There are multiple federal student loan repayment options.

Federal student loans have several repayment options. Upon graduation, you’ll be automatically enrolled in a 10-year standard repayment plan unless you opt for an income-driven repayment plan. With one of these plans, your monthly payments will be based on a percentage of your income, and your loan balance will be forgiven after 20 to 25 years of repayment.

Private loan repayment options are limited compared to federal student loan repayment.

Private student loan repayment options are a bit different from federal aid options. Generally, private lenders don’t base your monthly payments on your income. Instead, you will choose a loan term, usually between five and 20 years, with a monthly payment based on paying off your balance and interest by the end of your term. There are no forgiveness options for private student loans.

You may qualify for tax deductions or tax credits.

You may be able to claim certain education tax credits or deductions if you’re in school or paying off a student loan. If you are still in school, you may qualify for the American opportunity tax credit and lifelong learning credit. And if you’re repaying your student loan debt, you should look into the student loan interest deduction and the earned income tax credit. Tax credits and deductions typically have income and filing status requirements, but if you qualify, you stand to save hundreds or thousands of dollars on your taxes.

As graduation gets closer and those loans start to creep up on you a little faster, remember these financial tips from GradGuard to help you out!

Other Student Life

Don’t Expect Your Homeowners Insurance or University to Replace a Stolen Computer or Backpack

March 7, 2019

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.

insurance-chart

Students living independently for the first time may mistakenly believe that their parents’ homeowners insurance will protect them.   There may be coverage for students who live on campus but in many cases, homeowners insurance contains high deductibles or eligibility requirements that may exclude certain claims, ultimately making it insufficient or inadequate for college students and their families.

Rental housing expert, Ben Hoglund, CPM, believes that it is incumbent upon student housing providers to educate their residents on the importance of adequate renters insurance protection. “They aren’t going to learn that in class,” proclaimed Hoglund.

Hoglund referenced a survey he conducted titled “Campus Housing Risk Mitigation Study” in which he researched the types, causes and monetary impact of property damage occurring on college campuses across the United States. The study also addressed student and housing provider awareness of available insurance products to mitigate these risks.

The findings show that:

  • 33% of respondents indicated that it is not their policy to require reimbursement for resident-caused fire or property damage in excess of $5,000.
  • Campus policies on required property insurance vary, with many schools having no requirement with regard to renters insurance.
  • 24% of respondents were not aware that some renters insurance products do not include both personal property and liability protections.
  • A majority of respondents estimated that less than 60% of their student residents are aware that they can be held financially responsible for damage to university property for which they are at fault. Vandalism, bicycle theft, and electronics theft are the most reported personal property losses by campus residents.

Due to higher insurance deductibles and low collection rates on resident damages, private sector housing providers have become proactive in their efforts to mitigate property financial losses caused by resident carelessness and negligence.

GradGuard offers renters insurance that covers personal property loss in the case of fire, certain natural disasters, theft, and vandalism, and provides personal liability protection for bodily injuries to another person or for damages to another person’s property if an incident occurs within the rented residence or elsewhere.  Check your policy for complete details and limitations, but in all cases get protected.

Other Transition

Why Renters Insurance is A Smart Decision for College Students

January 17, 2019

College students are smart to consider protecting themselves with renters insurance. In fact, most state insurance commissioners recommend college students consider renters insurance.

According to the 2018 Clery Act reports on campus crime, colleges and universities reported 22,469 burglaries. During the same year, campuses reported 2,070 fires within on-campus student housing.

“While property crimes like burglary and campus fires are an ongoing problem on many college campuses, the good news is that there is a renters insurance policy that is designed just for college students,” said John Fees, co-founder of GradGuard, an authority on protecting the investment of college students and their families and a leading provider of renters insurance to schools nationwide.

With so much money at stake, Fees suggests that college parents make a plan if their student is a victim of theft, their property is damaged by a fire or water damage, or if they are found responsible for accidental damages, they may cause. As a result, college students and their families are wise to consider purchasing renters insurance before the start of school.

The Top 3 Reasons Renters Insurance is a Smart Decision for College Students:

  1. If you can’t afford to replace your backpack, bicycle or computer – Renters insurance can replace your stolen or damaged property.  Renters insurance can cover those costs and help you get back to classes, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not replace stolen or damaged property – The majority of schools do not replace stolen or damaged student property. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk.
  3. If you can’t afford to pay for accidental damages you may cause – True renters insurance includes personal liability protection and can help pay for unintentional damages when a student cannot.

According to Bob Soza, President of College Parents of America, “not all renters insurance programs are the same. We recommend GradGuard’s college renters insurance plan because it includes an exclusive student endorsement that provides affordable coverage that features a low deductible, worldwide property coverage, and no credit check.”

Fees continued, “college students and their parents are often caught unprepared, and these unexpected incidents can also disrupt a students’ education. Fortunately, they do not also need to be unprotected; for about .50 cents a day, students can secure protection against financial losses making renters insurance a must-have consideration for college families.”

This article was updated in July 2020

Career Other

Flexible Side Jobs to Help Pay Off Student Loans

December 26, 2018

College is one of the most unforgettable times of your life; you’re independent to earn, learn, and grow. However, this brings a bundle of responsibilities that include not only your daily expenses but also the college fees, living costs, food, and so much more.

Most students find themselves stuck as they are unable to manage money in the smartest way. The need to socialize and to pay bills and fees have to be kept in a balance.

Students often opt for student loans and try to get the best possible loan offers. In the case of international students, the choices are less. Sometimes they have to only opt for risky private loans. Yet, you can check out student loan offers that best suit you.

Money management is an art that you must learn before you head to college. It’ll save you from graduating with a heavy amount of debt that is still pending. That means you will be paying off student loans from the first few job salaries until it has all been repaid.

To avoid that, students are considering the options of online or offline side jobs that have flexible hours and flexible pay scale. Here are 4 flexible jobs that you can begin to pay off the student loans:

  1. SAT or ACT Tutor:

If you scored well on the SAT or ACT, why not share your experience with the college students who are in search of an expert? To ace exams, we only need to learn some tricks rather than simply remembering memorizing the information. Tutors show us the best way to learn all the material in a minimum time available.

Start tutoring the juniors by imparting your knowledge and experience to them. It will assist them in clearing the entrance exams. You can teach via Skype or other online portals to reach students from around the world.

  1. PowerPoint Presentations:

If you are good at making PowerPoint presentations and can come up with different variations in it, sell your services. In order to do this job, you can make an attractive portfolio and upload it on different freelancing websites such as Freelancer, Upwork, People Per Hour, etc. Many students, as well as companies, are looking for someone to make a good PowerPoint presentation for them. Thus, it can be a good source of income to help meet your other expenses.     

  1. Brand Ambassador

What is your favorite brand? Have the products been of any help to you? Then spread the word. If you get the chance to become a brand ambassador, share your experiences with the products and build potential client leads. It can later turn into a full-time career opportunity in the marketing field.

  1. Website Evaluator:

If you are an expert in discerning the areas of a website that need improvement, then become an evaluator for different websites. Help the website owners pace up their business. Along with being a website evaluator, you can evaluate search engine and social media platforms related to the website. This will help you establish a good user experience.

As life goes on, don’t let student loans run your life. Remember the tips from GradGuard and these side hustles help pay off those student loans a little sooner.

Taylor Hill works for a financial technology company Stilt located in San Francisco which is revolutionizing the way individuals with limited or zero credit history get loans in the U.S.