Browsing Tag

paying for college

Other Student Life

10 Tips to Help Boost Your College Budget

December 5, 2018

The broke college student subsisting on instant ramen noodles and mooching off their parents may be a tired cliché, but it still carries a kernel of truth: college isn’t cheap, and money is often very tight as a result. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to be that way. If you’re having a hard time keeping your finances in the black during college, there are plenty of steps you can take to improve your situation. With a little bit of planning and ingenuity, the ten tips below can help ease your budget crunch and make sure that you’re getting the very most out of your college experience.

  1. Cut Costs on School Supplies

As any college student can attest, textbooks and other supplies can burn a hole in your wallet in a hurry. Rather than buying new books at the campus bookstore, consider looking for used books online, at local bookstores and even from friends and acquaintances. Alternatively, many modern textbooks can be purchased digitally and downloaded to a tablet or laptop for a much lower price than their physical counterparts. Many other supplies can be bought in bulk for big savings, and again it’s best to avoid campus bookstores and their inflated prices.

  1. Use Credit Cards Responsibly

When it comes to credit cards, there are two common and equally troubling approaches. Some people are tempted by the ability to simply flash some plastic and buy anything they wish, while others are scared away from using them entirely. In reality, there’s no reason to fear credit cards – if they’re used responsibly. In fact, using a credit card for routine purchases and paying off the balance in full each month is a fantastic way to begin building a strong credit history. Just be aware that interest rates are often exceedingly high, so don’t buy something you can’t pay for except in the event of a true emergency.

  1. Cook for a Week

Food is an expense that most college students simply don’t think about, but it can add up quickly. Eating out or signing up for a meal plan isn’t cheap, and relying on cold pizza and Hot Pockets isn’t very healthy. Instead, consider making your own meal plan by devoting a few hours on the weekend to cook meals for the entire week. Simply plan out whichever meals you’d like to eat, make a list of all the necessary ingredients and buy them all at once. Cook the meals, place them in containers and stick them in the freezer. When you’re ready to eat, all you need to do is take your chosen meal out and heat it up. Voila!

  1. Start a Savings Account

It’s never too early to start saving for a rainy day, and a savings account is a great way to do it. Even if you can only afford small, irregular deposits, you’ll be building a financial cushion and earning interest while you’re at it. Most importantly, you’ll begin developing the good saving habits that you’ll need to prepare yourself for the future. Take time to do your research and find the best interest rates available, but be sure to avoid accounts that require a monthly fee.

  1. Use Your Student ID

You may not realize it, but your student ID can be a major money-saving tool. You’ll find a variety of fun activities on nearly any college campus, and your student ID can often snag you a serious discount or even free admission. It’s a great way to stay engaged and enjoy yourself without shelling out much money. Your ID can also earn you savings from a wide range of other stores, venues and websites, so keep your eyes peeled for student discounts wherever you go.

  1. Use Alternative Transportation

If you’re accustomed to driving to and from class, you may not notice how much money you spend on gas and other transportation-related expenses. Whenever possible, consider using alternative means of transportation to save some extra cash. If your commute is short enough, walking or riding a bike is free and can help to keep you in shape. Public transportation is another cost-effective option, and it can even give you an opportunity to sneak in some extra work or studying.

  1. Do Your Homework on Student Loans

Student debt is a massive problem in the United States and managing it poorly can cripple your finances for years to come. Easing that burden begins before you borrow a single cent, as choosing the right loan can make all the difference. It pays to do your research, comparing all available options in search of lower interest rates and payment terms that suit your particular situation. In most cases, federal loans will be the most affordable option, as well as providing fixed rates and more flexibility. It’s also important to determine the smallest loan amount you realistically need, which will keep your balance lower and allow you to repay your debt more quickly.

  1. Work Smarter

Balancing work and school is no easy task, but it’s a financial necessity for many students. If possible, try to find a job that naturally fits into your typical schedule. Many employers near college campuses are willing to provide flexible hours for students, but it’s important to keep your employer updated on your schedule to avoid conflicts. You may even consider taking a job that pays slightly less if it affords you time to do schoolwork.

  1. Make the Most of Your Education

While it may not directly put money in your pocket, staying focused on your education will ensure that you’re getting the best bang for your buck. You’ll be paying for your schooling for quite some time, so it’s important that you get as much out of it as you can. If you go to classes, work hard and set yourself up to succeed in whatever you choose to do after graduation, it’ll be worth every penny that you spend. As an added bonus, spending your time on schoolwork means you’ll have less time to waste money on frivolous things. It may not be as fun in the moment, but your bank account – and your future – will thank you.

  1. Adopt Money-Saving Habits

College is a time to receive an education, but it’s also a time to learn valuable lessons that will serve you for the rest of your life. One of the most important lessons you can learn is how to manage your money, and in particular, how to develop good money-saving habits. Set aside some time every week to review your budget and look for opportunities to save some cash, whether it’s opting for generic brands and using coupons at the grocery store or making your own coffee in the morning instead of paying for an expensive cup at the coffee shop. Learning how to save a few dollars and cents now can make a big difference in staying financially healthy in the long run.

As you begin to “adult” a little more in your daily life, remember to check out GradGuard’s blog for all your college hacks!

 

Beth Kotz is a contributing writer for Credit.com. A graduate of DePaul University in Chicago, she has also been featured as a writer and editor for numerous energy, entertainment, and home blogs.

Other Transition

College Students Over 25, is it Too Late?

November 26, 2018

When we think of college, we can often think of young people at the cusp of late teen years and early adulthood. With many lifestyle changes happening today, more and more adults are going back to college or even starting school in later adulthood. This means older students who often have full-time jobs, life experience, and even children of their own are attending college. According to the National Student Clearinghouse, as of March 2018, more than one-third of college students are currently over 25 years of age. With such an increase in numbers, more and more colleges and universities are providing resources for older students.

The Primary Concern of Cost

College and financial aid tend to go hand in hand. For many older college students past the “traditional” college age of 18-22, resources such as parents or high school scholarships like Bright Futures are not available to them. Fortunately, there are many other financial options out there for non-traditional students. For older college students who work, many companies offer full or partial tuition reimbursement upon successful completion of their courses. Some states offer state scholarships for non-traditional students. Loans are another option, and some lenders offer flexible payment plans for students.

Fitting College into a Busy Schedule

Returning students or students beginning college may feel some apprehension balancing busy lives with academic workloads. For older students with established jobs, careers, families, and other commitments, they may feel they don’t have adequate time for college and might ask younger students to help them with their homework. With this in mind, many colleges and universities have created supportive programs and assistance specifically geared toward these students. More institutions offer night courses for those who have full-time jobs as well. Some schools even have weekend options and most offer online courses. Online classes can be very effective and offer useful tools for students including webcasts, tutorials, and discussion boards.

Life as an older college student can be fulfilling and exciting. Aside from the normal concerns such as time and cost; college has many benefits. From those seeking to expand their education and land a more promising career, to those starting out for the first time ten or twenty years past the “traditional” age of college students, the benefits of attending school are significant. Older students can pace themselves while they are in college. Unlike their younger peers, older students may be established enough that they can take fewer courses at a time and still work toward their degree at a more suitable pace (Lumina).

Having passed the traditional college age, many older college students are actually able to appreciate, truly absorb, and instantly apply their college knowledge to their lives, which can make the journey even more rewarding. With more and more students either returning or beginning college later in life, a new wave of experienced and professional students is emerging. There is such a bright turnout and many agree that it is never too late to go to college.

If you do decide to go back to college, know that GradGuard has you covered with both insurance and all your need-to-know hacks.

 

BIO

Christine is a professional essay writer who writes on several different subjects. Due to her experience with essay writing, she has helped many people land their difficult tasks doing what she loves.

Other Student Life

What to Ask Your Renters Insurance Agent

November 15, 2018

Being an adult can mean so many different things; first, you have to do your own laundry, second make your own coffee, and third purchase your own renters insurance policy. This can honestly be super daunting to those who still have issues making their own dentist appointments, but we’ve made a simple list of things that you should be sure to ask your renters insurance agent when the time comes!

How do I know what my coverage limits should be?

Most renters insurance policies come with both personal property coverage and personal liability coverage. Personal property coverage is the limit that protects your personal items that are inside of your residence, and personal liability coverage is what protects the actual structure itself. Be sure to talk to your university or rental property to see if they require any specific limits while you are living there.

How much is the policy?

See if your renters insurance agency is charging you monthly, annually, semi-annually, or another billing option. Talk through it with them to see if there is a benefit to one billing option as opposed to another.

How long does the policy last?

This depends on the company that you are purchasing through and what you opted to pay for the policy. If you paid annually, then the policy likely lasts for a full 12 months from the date that you chose your coverage to begin. If you are only needing the insurance for a certain amount of time, be sure to ask your agent about their cancelation process and what is required to terminate the coverage.

What does this policy cover?

This is SUPER important to ask and have an understanding of. For example, if you want to have renters insurance in case someone breaks in and ransacks your apartment, just be sure that theft and burglary is a covered peril under the policy you are wanting.

How does the claims process work?

This is a general question with an important answer. Most people have no idea how to make an insurance claim if needed and it should be one of the top questions to ask your renters insurance agent. The claims process can be different for each agency, so just to be sure you clarify it if needed.

When it comes to purchasing renters insurance, questions are important to ask! We want you to ask questions and have a full understanding of what you are getting. It is so important to know that we are here to help you. Much like a doctor, you should be asking your renters insurance agent as many questions as possible and do not feel like any question you have is too small or too silly. GradGuard has your back and encourages you to ask whatever questions you think are necessary. We are there when you need us and will help you with all of your adulting needs.

Career Other

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Grad School

October 15, 2018

When you graduate from college, you have options about how to make your next move. Some will try to jump into the workforce, some take time off, and others think about continuing their education by applying to graduate school. If you’re considering grad school, make sure to ask yourself these five questions first:

1. Am I sure of what I want to study?
Graduate school is obviously different than the undergraduate experience. You might have started out as a freshman with an undeclared major, and took your time deciding on what to major in. Grad school doesn’t really offer that luxury. You have to know what it is that you want to study and what degree you’d like to eventually obtain. This will make searching through grad programs easier. If you don’t have any specific goals in mind though, grad school might not be the best idea.

2. Will this advance my career prospects?
When you already know what it is you want to study in grad school, you need to ask yourself how it will affect your professional future. Grad school will take up a lot of your time and it can be pretty expensive. You might want to get an MFA in creative writing, but will that help you get a paying career before you can be a bestselling author? If you’re interested in something that won’t necessarily help your career prospects, consider putting off grad school until you have more stability and a steady income.

3. Can I afford it?
Most students graduate college with a huge pile of student loans. It’s important to think about how you’ll tackle those payments in addition to new bills for grad school. Try looking for scholarships and grants, and find out what schools and programs would be within your budget. Also consider the fact that some jobs will help pay for your graduate school classes! So if you’re ready to jump into the job market, find out what companies offer tuition reimbursement.

4. What schedule would be best?
Grad school accommodates for people’s busy schedules, so think about what time commitments would best suit your lifestyle. Full time, part time? Would you take night classes after work, or go during the day? Depending on what schedule you make for yourself, you can earn your degree in different amounts of time. Consider that too—do you want to devote three years to grad school, or do you want to set a sooner cutoff date and work from there?

5. Can I be fully committed?
Don’t forget that grad school is hard work. You’ll have to work more independently, and there will be higher expectations for you. You might get less guidance from professors than you did as an undergrad, and you’ll have to be self-motivated to stay on top of all your ongoing assignments. Make sure that you’ll be able to balance your grad school workload with any outside commitments you have.

If you’ve considered the above questions and are ready to start the graduate school search, excellent! Refer to this article to see what tests you’ll have to complete to be eligible.

Remember to look to GradGuard for all your college insurance needs!

Adulting Other

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!

Other Transition

Things That Cost More Than Renters Insurance

October 4, 2018

Chances are you’re bringing quite a few things along to college with you this year. Some of those things, such as your bike, laptop, and X-Box are big-ticket, expensive items that you need to make it through the semester as a sane human being. So, what would happen if those items were stolen or damaged? You’d be out a lot of cash just trying to replace them.

On a college student budget, replacing a laptop could be disastrous. In addition to being diligent about your stuff, students should also consider protecting their stuff with GradGuard Renter’s Insurance!

Renters insurance provides valuable financial protection for your stuff and personal liability. According to the Insurance Information Institute, the average annual cost of a renters insurance policy is $184; that is less than $16 per month! That doesn’t seem out of reach even on a student budget. Actually, $16 per month is just 53 cents a day!

There are some things you spend more on in college like…

  • Coffee (just a plain black drip coffee costs more if you are getting one every day)
  • Going to the movies with your friends. Even if you just see 1-2 movies a month it will cost more than renters insurance.
  • Newspaper
  • Dorm laundry facility
  • Bus or subway rides
  • Your cell phone
  • A pack of gum/mints
  • A bottle of water
  • Late night pizza
  • Late night Jimmy John’s
  • Making copies at the library (they can get expensive!)
  • Gas for your car (if you are commuting or want to go home every weekend)

Some of these things might not apply to you, but when you think of the things that can happen in college where something of yours might need to be replaced due to covered damage or theft, having renters insurance is definitely worth the price! Make the smart buy and get protection with the only renters insurance that contains an exclusive college student endorsement – with unique features and coverage designed for college life- from GradGuard.

Adulting Other

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.

Adulting Other

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!

Other Transition

Everything You Need to Know About Changing Colleges

July 10, 2018

The decision to switch colleges requires an understanding of all the preparation that is needed. While it may seem like choosing a college your senior year of high school all over again, the logistics can be complex and make the change a challenge. Today, let’s look at the steps you can follow for a smoother transition to another college.

Assess your reason

It’s imperative that your reason for switching schools is to advance your potential for a successful college career. Fast Web emphasizes that adjustments can be made in order to smoothly transition to your new college. Departmental rankings may play a role in your decision, but you should certainly weigh out the factors that come along with each of our additional categories. 

Search for colleges meticulously

Develop criteria for the college you want. Base it on the courses, the conditions, and the location. This will help narrow down your search to your target schools.

Consult your advisor

Your advisor may already be familiar with the transfer process. They can endorse you to the people who can help you facilitate the transfer: the registrar, admissions, or financial aid.

Schedule on-campus visits

To get an up-close look at your target colleges, schedule a tour! Be sure that they are definitely where you want to go. An infographic about college visits featured on GradGuard mentioned that it’s best to soak up the atmosphere on campus.

Know your transferable credits

While visiting a prospective college, consult the admissions officer to know if they will credit some of the subjects you’ve already taken. In a guide on transferring college shared by Maryville University, an emphasis was placed on checking if your target college is accredited with your current college. This will increase your chances of getting previous courses credited by the new school.

Review your financial aid

Talk to your advisor and the financial aid officer at your desired school. It is crucial to have a good idea of your financial position and the feasibility of transferring.

Gather all the application requirements

Just like when you first applied for college the first time, acquire and fill out all the application forms. This may include your high school and college transcripts, letter of recommendation, and so on. Be sure to check with the university you are wanting to transfer to for a complete list of the applications and documents needed for transfer.

Submit application

Always be mindful of submission deadlines and the timing of when to expect to hear back regarding your acceptance. Remember to keep the communication lines open as universities are able to reach you in a variety of different ways from phone calls to email to texting.

Secure your spot

Finalize your commitment to transferring by making the required down payments on tuition and covering other fees as soon as you can. Fill out the necessary forms for housing if you’re going to stay in a dorm, and secure all similar arrangements.

These steps will help stay organized especially during moments you feel stressed and pressured along the way. Transferring to another college may be just as big a decision as your first venture into higher education. By preparing thoroughly, the process will be as hassle-free as possible.

As always, when you are looking into colleges to transfer to, be sure that you update your renters insurance information and look into GradGuard’s Tuition Insurance! GradGuard makes it simple and easy to update addresses, phone numbers, billing information, and more! Be sure to let GradGuard know when you move locations so we can help you out as best we can.

Adulting Other

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.