Browsing Tag

paying for college

Adulting Other

Decorating Your Dorm Room on a Budget

June 15, 2018

If you are headed to college, you know all about the expenses that come along with heading back to school. Tuition, fees, housing, books, food and more all add up significantly.

Decorating your dorm room can be one place where you can reduce your costs and save your money for other expenses. The college or university likely provides a bed, desk, and a small dresser. Often times the space is rather drab, leaving it up to you to spruce it up to suit your style.


First off, you need comfortable bedding including sheets, pillowcases, and a quilt or comforter set. College students aren’t known for getting a lot of rest, but you will need bedding more than anything for your dorm room. In smaller dorm rooms, your bed takes up most of your space and will likely double as your seating area so you will want to find some high-quality bed linens.

The standard size for most dorm room beds is twin extra long. A comfortable Twin XL comforter set with a stylish print or with textured ruffles is the perfect piece to focus your décor theme around. These bedding sets are likely to be your biggest expense when decorating your dorm room, but you don’t want to skimp on quality here to save a buck.

Indoor Potted Plants

When you are stuck in your dorm room working on a term paper, you will appreciate the fresh air from your Pothos, Rubber Tree, or Spider Plant. They can also be purchased at a reasonable price from your local nursery. Having an indoor plant is a great way to create a focal point in your dorm room, add color to your space, or simply freshen up the place.

Wall Decor

The best place to save money on your dorm décor is in wall art. Shop thrift stores for some great vintage looks, such as large decorative mirrors or paintings. Or, create your own more contemporary pieces with a few DIY projects over the summer break. You can take your favorite t-shirts and turn them into a tapestry or some of your photos and create a collage.

Throw Pillows & Blankets

Decorative throw pillows and blankets are among the least expensive items you can add to your dorm room. They don’t just look good; they add functionality to your space. The pillows offer another place for you or your guests to rest your heads. The blanket will keep you warm on your couch or computer chair when you’re not quite ready for bed. Should you wish to bring a little bit of home with you to campus, try asking one of your family members if they could teach you how to knit a quilt or sew a blanket. 

Remember, when it comes to budgeting for college, you will have to account for some hefty expenses. Decorating your dorm room doesn’t have to be one of them. Shop at second-hand stores and garage sales to find items at heavily reduced prices. Don’t forget to enjoy the experience! 

After you have property decorated your dorm room on a college budget, be sure that you protect it with the proper renters insurance! As one of the leading college renters insurance industries, GradGuard is committed to protecting your favorite belongings. Learn more about GradGuard Renters Insurance and visit our website today.

About the Author: Kim Foerst is currently the digital marketing manager for Lush Décor, a brand of Triangle Home Fashions. She has a passion for writing relevant content and, in addition to home decorating, has blogged about a wide range of topics from heavy machinery to healthcare.

Health Other

4 Tips to Help You Excel at Adulting

June 12, 2018

Congratulations, you have graduated from high school! You’ve unlocked the entry-level door to adulthood; the one where you owe money to everyone, everywhere. In high school, your bank statement would be littered with charges such as McDonald’s and Forever 21. Nowadays, those charges are scarce and replaced by the responsibility of rent and tuition. Regardless, life comes at you fast.  The anxieties of trying to stay afloat on all of these new responsibilities may have you nostalgic for the drudgery of 2nd-period English. Not to worry; we are here with 4 tips on how to excel at adulting in college.

Keep track of fixed costs: Now you might say, “What even is a fixed cost?” It is a cost that will not change: i.e. rent. You will pay the same amount of rent every month unless there are changes made to your leasing agreement. Chances are, for bills like these, you have them set up on auto-pay. Just because you have auto-pay set up does not mean the payment is out of sight, out of mind. It is recommended that you have a physical list or spreadsheet of all the charges you know are inevitable to ensure you have funds in your checking account. If you don’t, your account may be over-drafted, which can result in monetary consequences. This would certainly put a damper on your weekly pizza budget. So, manage your bills, and it will save you some major headaches.

Limit your variable costs: You can probably guess what variable costs are based on context clues. Variable costs are things you pay for that often fluctuate. Examples include groceries and your utility bill (unless you pay flat rate). In terms of your budget, simply to limit where you can. Don’t leave lights on when you leave, limit your unnecessary purchases, and save money by budgeting your groceries

Learn how to say no: College is a wonderful time of your life. A lot of freedom will be thrown at you fast and you should have fun exploring the new waters. However, there will come a time when your feet don’t touch the ground anymore and you become uncomfortable with the way a situation is panning out. College peer pressures differ from those in high school. It’s important to stand your ground; especially when managing money is involved. Don’t let things get taken out of your hands as your true friends will understand.

Don’t be afraid to seek help: Believe it or not, nobody comes out of the womb with all the life skills they will ever need; they are acquired over time. Just because you are trying to be your own adult does not mean you figure everything out yourself. Any pride you may lose by calling up your parents for the 10th time that week will be surpassed by the relief of doing it right. However, be sure that you retain the skills you are taught. Don’t call your Dad every time the battery dies in the smoke detector. You should be actively trying to become independent.

Next time you’re looking around your parent or guardian’s house wondering how you will manage without them, remember these tips to excel at #adulting, and don’t forget to do the adult thing and purchase GradGuard Renters Insurance! You will impress your parents or guardians with your proactive decision. Taking life into your own hands means taking the proper precautions while at college. Learn more about GradGuard’s Renter’s Insurance today by visiting our website!

Adulting Other

Top 3 Reasons College Tuition Insurance Is a Smart Decision

June 7, 2017

For college families and their students, when discussing college the conversation almost always turns to money.  For good reason, according to the College Board’s 2016 Trends in College Pricing – the average published in‐state tuition and fee and room and board charges for 2016-17 are $20,090 and for out of state students, total charges are $35,370. The average published total charges at private nonprofit four-year institutions are $45,370.

In fact, for many college families, the expense of higher education is one of the largest investments they will make.  With so much money at stake, GradGuard suggests that college parents make a plan in case your student is forced to withdraw from school due to a bad bout of mono, illness or injury.  If you can afford to pay the cost of an extra semester, then you may not need tuition insurance.

However, for most of the nearly twenty million college students and their families, the cost of an extra semester would be a real financial burden.  As a result, college families are smart to consider purchasing Tuition Insurance prior to the start of school.

The Top 3 Reasons Tuition Insurance is a Smart Decision:

  1. If you can’t afford to lose the investment you are making in your semester of school – Tuition insurance can provide up to 100% refund for your expenses if a student gets sick, injured or have to leave school due to the death of a parent. Tuition insurance can cover those costs and help you get back on your feet in the event of a withdrawal, without the added stress of a financial loss.
  2. If your school does not provide 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 of tuition after the start of classes. Be sure to check with your school to see what their policy is and how much money is at risk. Check GradGuard’s school search function to see if your school offers tuition insurance to students.
  3. If you have more than $2,500 of academic expenses – Even if the school provides a 100% refund for tuition, most schools do not refund academic fees or student housing.  Many tuition insurance plans provide coverage for not only tuition but also for expenses related to academic fees and student housing.

According to research from the American College Health Association, student health incidents such as 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 coverage starting at $33.75 for $2,500 per term.  Remember, tuition insurance must be purchased prior to the start of school and, like all insurance plans, be sure to check the specific terms, conditions, and exclusions of your policy.

Other Student Life

Things That Cost More Than Renters Insurance

August 5, 2016

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 a sane human being. So, what would happen if those items were stolen or damages? 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 can 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 in college you spend more on 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.

Career Other Student Life

Reducing College Costs

June 21, 2016

College is expensive and college costs continue to climb every year but there are ways to help manage the rising costs.

  1. Apply for financial aid – even if you think your family earns too much money to qualify, send in the forms.
  2. Look for scholarships – scholarships are available to students that aren’t based on need.
  3. Apply for loans – many student loans do not require payments until schooling has been completed.
  4. Apply for grants – Grants give students money that does not have to be paid back after graduation.
  5. The Federal Student Work Program provides jobs to students.  These jobs often relate to their field of study, allowing students to get real world experience.
  6. Look for jobs through your academic institution.  Some schools offer jobs that come with tuition discounts and wages.
  7. Programs such as AmeriCorps, Vista, the ROTC and the Peace Corps will help pay off student loans or provide funds during college in exchange for a service commitment upon graduation.
  8. Tax breaks on 529 plans and larger deductions also are available.
  9. Take the first two years at a community college. Pick one that has an articulation agreement with a four-year university. It’s quite common and specifies which community-college credits will be accepted toward a bachelor’s degree at the four-year institution.
  10. If attending a four year college, take summer school at a community college near home.
  11. Get college credit early. Many high schools offer college-level classes to prepare for Advance Placement exams.

Paying for the basics

  1. The cheapest living is living at home with mom and dad, if you can.
  2. If you are planning on or required to live on or near campus, don’t buy the most expensive meal plan if you are not going to use it.
  3. Furnish your room with great finds from thrift shop rather then new decor.
  4. Be a resident assistant.  This job is typically open to undergraduate students and provides students with discounts on room and board.
  5. Ask your family to buy a home.  It may seem like a crazy idea but renting out other rooms can offset monthly mortgage payments.
  6. Paying for textbooks often costs college students nearly a $1000 a year.
    1. Purchasing books online using sites like,, and College Book Swap can help with the high costs of books.
    2. Avoid purchasing books when they are priced the highest, August, September, January and February.
    3. Purchase ebooks, ebooks are generally much lower in price and provide students access to the same information.
    4. Look for free books, one company, Freeload Press, provides some electronic texts free of charge.
    5. Consider international editions of books, some international texts are cheaper then US versions but contain the same content.
    6. Share books with other students or use a library copy.
    7. Resell your books when you are through.

College students typically have a small budget so maintain it well.  Little things add up quickly.

  1. Having a car can be a major expense if you are paying the bill.  If it is possible for you to walk or take the bus, do so.
  2. Compare cell phone plans, some carriers offer special discounts to students to help generate business.  Take advantage of these deals!
  3. Shop around for your computer.  It is hard to get through school without a computer but you can find great deals on computers if you shop around and compare prices.
  4. Find out if you are being charged for health care coverage from the academic institution, it may be duplicating the coverage you are already receiving from your parents.
  5. Stay on track in school, by graduating in four years or less, you can avoid any additional debt.

All of the tips and information above was provided by First Tax Solution LLC.

Career Other

The Real Cost of College

September 18, 2015

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

The Real Cost of College

Health Other

The College Bound Guide to Insurance: Be Sure You’re Protected as You Head Off to School

August 12, 2014
Insurance Guide for College Students

College students need a lot of supplies for college life: from bedding to electronics to school supplies, the costs can add up. In 2017, families spent as much as a mortgage payment or more on school supplies and that’s not counting tuition! Is your college investment protected? Certain insurance products can help your family protect what you’ve invested in your student’s college experience, from personal property to the cost of a trip to the campus health center during flu season.

In the residence halls

You’re probably bringing a laptop, smartphone, tablet, TV, speakers, dorm decor, clothes and school supplies with you to college. Maybe you’ll even bring a bike or some furniture. The cost of these belongings can add up – what would you do if they all needed to be replaced due to a fire on campus? Or if your big-ticket items, like your laptop or bike, were stolen – could you afford to replace them? Insurance can help you and your family protect your belongings if you face a loss or damage due to a covered event, like theft, fire or water damage.

There are two primary types of insurance that can help you and your family protect your belongings while you’re at school: homeowners and renters insurance. If your parents have a homeowners insurance policy, you may already be covered, but be sure to check the specifics of the policy. Many homeowners policies will only cover full-time students living on campus, and often at a percentage (usually 10%) of the policy limits. Be sure to take into consideration the deductible as well as a claim’s effect on the premium. Renters insurance can be a good alternative in these areas, as renters plans typically feature low deductibles and often low monthly rates.

To make the most of your insurance protection, you should create a home inventory of everything you’ve brought with you to school and how much it cost. Taking photos and carefully taking record of everything you have will make it much easier to determine what has faced a loss if you need to make a claim. The total cost could surprise you, and knowing how much all of your stuff is worth can help you determine whether 10% of your homeowners limits or the limits you chose on your renters insurance policy are adequate protection.

The New York Insurance Association recommends that students ensure they have adequate insurance protection as well as taking a common sense approach to protecting their valuables. They offer these tips to help students be mindful of their belongings:

Leave valuables at home if possible – While it may be necessary to take a computer or sports equipment to campus, other expensive items, such as valuable jewelry, luxury watches or costly electronics, should be left behind or kept in a local safety deposit box.

Engrave electronics – Engrave electronic items such as computers, televisions and portable devices like iPods with the student’s name or other identifying information that can help police track the stolen articles.

Always lock your  room door and keep your keys with you at all times, even if you leave briefly. And not just at night—most residence hall thefts occur during the day. Insist your roommates do the same.

Do not leave belongings unattended on campus. Whether you are in class, the library, the dining hall or
other public areas, keep book bags, purses and laptops with you at all times. These are the primary areas where property theft occurs.

Buy a laptop security cable and use it. A combination lock that needs decoding may be just enough to
dissuade a thief.


Newfound independence, the stress of classes, dining hall food, all-nighters, community living, partying – the college lifestyle, if unchecked, can take its toll on students’ health. Many schools require that students have health insurance, and for good reason: it can help protect students and their families from the high costs of medical treatments in the case of an injury or illness, like a sports injury during an intramural game or a case of mono.

Many schools offer students a health insurance plan, but often the most inexpensive option is for students to remain on their parent’s plan. Under the new health care law, young adults are allowed to remain on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. Check with your parents to see if their plan may be an option or speak with a licensed insurance agent to see what’s available to you. Our interactive health insurance infographic can help you get started.

In addition to health insurance, there are many ways students can take control of their well-being throughout the semester by setting time aside to eat well, exercise and manage stress:

  • Eat right. There’s a lot of temptation in the dining halls, but adding a side salad and ensuring that you get protein and vegetables and fruits each day will go a long way to giving your body the vitamins and nutrients it needs.
  • Stay hydrated. Swap sugary drinks for water. Getting 8 glasses a day can help fend off fatigue and keep you feeling good.
  • Get sleep. It can be difficult to get enough sleep when there are so many deadlines, due dates, and social events, but you should do your best to get in bed at a reasonable hour and if not, take a nap during the day. Sleep helps your immune system and can help you retain information, so you’re not studying in vain!
  • Manage your stress. College comes with an inevitable amount of stress, but setting aside time to deal with it will make it much easier. Exercise, taking time to relax, reading a book for fun or setting aside an hour to catch up on your favorite show each week will help you unwind and appreciate the many opportunities college presents. If the stress of college life is too much, there are many resources on campus that you can turn too. Don’t wait until it’s too late.
  • Get moving. Exercise is an important part of a balanced lifestyle, and not only will it help you stay healthy, it will make you feel good too. Hit the gym for at least 30 minutes several times a week and try to walk as much as possible. Getting your blood pumping will relieve stress and help you study smarter.


Perhaps the largest expense of all, more than airfare, a laptop, gas or a flu shot, is tuition for many families. Luckily, this too can be protected by insurance. Tuition refund insurance can help refund lost tuition if should a student be forced to withdraw from school, as recommended by your doctor, for a covered medical reason. Many schools do not refund most tuition after the first couple weeks of the semester, which could leave many college families vulnerable. Be sure to check your school’s refund policy, which you should be able to find on the website, and consider whether you need more protection than it affords.


Whether it’s traveling to campus from home, traveling to study abroad, or bringing a car to campus, insurance can help protect students from costs that may arise if things don’t go according to plan, like a health issue abroad, a canceled flight or fender bender while at school. Depending on your situation, you may want to consider insurance protection.

Car insurance is required if you bring a car to school. Look for a plan that gives you adequate coverage, though you may have to spend more to get more coverage, it will minimize your exposure. Speak with an agent about what coverages are right for your vehicle. Don’t forget to ask if you qualify for a “good student” discount – you could save 5-15%!

Depending on how far away from home your school is or where you travel to during the school year, travel insurance or a student benefit plan, like the Student Protection Plan, could be beneficial to you and your family. Travel insurance has different levels of features that you can customize for your trip. Most people think of travel insurance as just covering airline ticket reimbursements in case something goes wrong, but it can also protect you financially if you lose your luggage or need to be airlifted to better healthcare, depending on the plan you select. The Student Protection plan also includes medical evacuation as a benefit, as well as family emergency travel and roadside assistance, in addition to identity theft protection and more.

Insurance can help college students and their families protect their investment in education. Some of these protections may be beneficial to your family, some may not. It depends on your situation and risk tolerance. If you have questions regarding your insurance coverage for college, speak with an insurance agent for more information. Have a wonderful and safe semester!

Other Transition

5 Questions to Ask Yourself When Considering Grad School

February 11, 2014
Do i wanna go to grad school?


When you graduate from college, you have a lot of 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.

Career Other

5 Tips to Help You Find a Scholarship for College

November 20, 2013
5 Tips to Help You Find a Scholarship for College

Congratulations, you got accepted into college! Now how are you going to pay for it? Believe or not, there may be a lot of scholarships and grants out there for you to apply for, if you qualify, but searching for them can be a daunting task. Resist the urge to submit a college’s scholarship application and call it a day. There may be funding out there for you, if you qualify, and here are a few tips to help you find it:

1. APPLY!: Don’t rule out the possibility of available scholarships to help you pay for school if you qualify. While some scholarships may be available to qualified freshmen, there may be other scholarship funds also available to qualified upperclassmen. Start with your school or program and look up grant and funding information on the web. If you need additional help, go talk to your academic advisor.

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Other Safety

Should You Share a Renters Insurance Policy With Your Roommate?

October 2, 2013
Should You Share a Renters Insurance Policy With Your Roommate?

You share a lot of things with your roommate – space, rent, furniture, and the list goes on. If you’re renting, you may want to consider purchasing renters insurance to help protect your personal property and liability. In a shared living situation, does it make sense to share a renters insurance policy with your roommate?

Not all renters insurance policies allow you to share a policy with your roommate. There’s good reason for that – for most people, it’s not a practical or wise decision to make, unless you’re part of an unmarried couple that lives together. College roommates would not benefit from sharing a policy.

GradGuard recommends that college roommates purchase their own insurance policies, as a shared policy between roommates does not offer adequate coverage.

  • Will it be enough for your belongings combined? If you were to share with your roommate, you’ll want to make sure your limits cover both of your personal property – which can raise your rates quickly. Take an inventory of all of your belongings to determine how much coverage you need, and be honest. If the worth of your belongings differs significantly, you’ll want to consider separate renters plans.
  • It doesn’t make sense to share if you don’t share belongings. If you keep to yourselves and have separate lives and things in the apartment, a shared renters insurance plan could be difficult to figure out filing claims for both of your belongings together.
  • A claim filed by your roommate may affect you. If your roommate has a riskier lifestyle and is more prone to filing claims, that could affect your premium.

Talk with your roommate and an insurance agent to make sure you’re making the right choice for you. Sharing a policy could save you money on your premium, but could end up costing you long term.