The Basics About Financing Higher Education

By Mathew Jade

Education costs have grown rapidly over the years, and students are finding it increasingly difficult to manage their finances. Funding for education is a challenging task, particularly for high school students who want to attend top-notch universities and unemployed individuals who wish to pursue different lines of work. Instead of settling for mediocre alternatives, you can still aim big by paying for your education in the following ways:

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Education Grants

You may consider applying for financial grants for educational purposes. Students can acquire educational grants from the financial aid office of their universities. The best thing about grants is that you don’t have to pay them back. The only hurdle is qualifying — which isn’t necessarily easy.

Scholarships

Excellent high school students are frequently awarded merit-based scholarships, which also do not need to be repaid. The qualification for these scholarships varies, but often requires the student to have great grades and high scores on scholastic aptitude tests.

Work-Study Employment Plans

Some students work on a part-time basis to generate funds for their education. To this end, you may consider applying to your university to see if employment opportunities are available. The U.S. Government currently provides a 60 percent wage subsidy to employers of students engaged in work-study programs.

Internships and Trainings

On-the-job training opportunities and internships may allow you to to combine class attendance with full-time work. Although internships do not provide big financial compensation, they do allow students to gain practical experience, enabling them to decide about their major and possibly resulting in a job offer from the company they worked for.

Private Loans

By requesting private education loans from your friends and family, as well as from various other private sources, you may be able to cover hefty fees and pay them back in installments. Student loans can usually be arranged at either fixed or compound interest rates, which normally require a financially sound co-signer and a credit check if the loan provider is not satisfied with or unaware of your credit history. Many people believe that it is nearly impossible to repay students loans, but that’s not true; there are organizations that provide counseling for students to help them with their repayment structure.

Tax Breaks

Students may be able to get tax deductions in addition to credits towards tuition, costs, fees, and interest from student loans. However, these options are only available after paying tuition fees, and are more like rebates than discounted tuition. You can learn more about education tax breaks on the internet at government tax sites. Families can also qualify for tax breaks for their children’s education.

Mathew Jade is a passionate blogger who loves to write on Economics and finance-related topics. For further updates follow @Mathew_Jade

 


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Looking for Money for College? Check Out These Suggestions

By Ruth Ann Monti

Unless you never take your earbuds out, you’ve no doubt heard the horror stories about student loan debt. The average college graduate left school in 2012 with $29,400 in student loan debt, according to the Institute for College Access & Success. That’s a lot of debt for people just starting out. If you’re entering college or considering it, think about how you will pay for tuition without going into (much) debt. It is possible, but you need to research and plan.

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Is Relief in Sight? Top Tips to Manage Your Student Loan Debt

By Chris Gates.

Total student loan debt in the United States was $1.2 trillion last May, before the 2013-14 school year even began, according to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. The Institute for College Access and Success reports that the class of 2012 carried an average debt load of $29,400, nearly $3,000 more than the class of 2011.

Congress attempted to throw current college students a lifeline this past summer, passing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. The bill, signed into law by President Obama on Aug. 9, lowers interest rates on nearly all new student loans taken out after July 1, 2013. Some in Congress believe more needs to be done—for example, Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., wants students to get the same 0.75 percent rate on loans that the Federal Reserve gives to big banks. While Congress tries to figure out a solution, borrowers need to address their individual situations. A few ideas to get you started:

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A Prep School Primer (Infographic)

Although I disagree with the title of this infographic (I think instead of “best” it should read “most famous” or “most expensive”), here’s an interesting look at prep schools across the country.

Did you go to a prep school? What was your experience?

Prep Schools
Source: BestEducationDegrees.com

Law School Costs (Infographic)

Intro by Marcela De Vivo.

Graduation, whether you’ve just earned your bachelor’s degree or master’s degree, is definitely a major accomplishment. While pursuing higher education can bring some great benefits, it can be a huge financial investment and at times a burden. For this reason, students should really think about how they plan on paying for college or graduate school. Trying to find financial aid for school can often turn into a full time job; as more and more grants and scholarships see their funding reduced, students are forced to look into more accessible forms of financial aid like student loans. More advanced degrees such as a J.D. tend to cost even more. In 2013, the average law school student graduated about $124,000 in debt. Although the costs of education can be high, it’s still a worthy investment, as statistically college graduates earn significantly more than those without degrees — and the higher your degree, the more you earn.

Paying for school can seem intimidating and challenging, but with smart saving and budgeting skills, finding funds for a degree can become the least of your worries. Student loans can be a time-saving way to find financial aid, but students should always compare and research different loans to find the ones that have the best interest rate and payment plans. To get a sense of just how much grads can end up paying for law school, and to learn some money saving tips that can help you get rid of student debt quickly, check out this infographic on law school costs.

Source: CedarEdLending


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5 Budgeting Tips For High School Seniors Getting Ready For College (Guest Post)

Dave Landry Jr. is a financial consultant and economist dedicated to blogging and the creation of infographics in his down time. He has two young daughters who will be graduating from high school before he knows it, and will be sharing these budgeting tips with them as well. He hopes you find these tips useful for your own pre-college budgeting, or if you’re a parent, will give some of this advice to your children.

Congratulations, you’ve made it through high school! As you get ready for the next big step, it’s important to learn real world skills that will help you transition not only from high school to college life, but also from college life to the world beyond.

Budgeting skills are important in everyday life; learning how to manage your money before you’re on your own in college will keep you from overspending and finding yourself deep in debt. Below are some budgeting tips that will help you get started on to that path to financial security.

1. Learn to track your spending. The first step to creating a budget is to document everything you spend money on or buy. Whether you stick with an old-fashioned notebook and handwritten lists or choose to download spending tracker apps for your smartphone, track everything you spend for at least a month. It doesn’t matter if it’s as small as a pack of gum or a soda from the vending machine at school. While not strictly necessary, it would be good to include notes on your spending behavior, like how you paid for it, where you bought it, and why you bought it.

After a month’s documentation, you’ll have a better sense of where your money is going. If you use apps or a spreadsheet, you can quickly see how much you’ve spent on entertainment, car expenses, clothing, food, and school-related purchases. This will form the base categories of your budget.

2. Learn to develop a budget. Once you’ve established where you spend most of your money, start to set up a budget. The budget will consist of the major categories established during your spending, and will include a space for savings, emergencies, and income.

Ideally, you’ll create this budget on a spreadsheet, or using one of the free online budgeting tools or apps. Once you graduate from high school and enter college or the workforce, your budget categories will change and shift; using a malleable system allows you to customize and adjust as needed.

Establish spending maximums so that your spending doesn’t exceed your income.

3. Pay yourself (start saving). One of the important categories in your budget should be a savings account. Even though interest rates on savings accounts are low right now, putting money in the account is more about the practice and the act of creating an emergency fund, than it is about making your money work for you (even though it is a good idea to start thinking about investments and interest rates).

Whether you’re saving for a rainy day, or towards a particular big purchase like a post-graduation trip or a new car or college, getting into the habit of “paying yourself” and including it on your budget will serve you well in your adult life, when you won’t necessarily have alternative sources of financial assistance.

Learn to prioritize within your budget by putting money in your savings account before you spend any of your income or allowance on entertainment.

4. Figure out financial aid, student loans, and other means of paying for college. Most families will need to rely on financial aid and student loans to pay for school. As you, the student, will need to start paying back the loan as soon as you graduate (up to a six month grace period, or possible deferment if you are going to graduate school), it’s important that you learn as much about your options before taking out the loan. Don’t borrow any more than absolutely necessary for tuition, room and board, and other essentials.

5. Get a summer job. Now that you have a sense of your expenditures, and can project how much you need in order to fulfill all your bills and other costs, you need to start bringing in income. If you’re not already working a part-time job of some sort, consider getting one in the summer between high school and college. Previous work experience can help you get a coveted college job, which will help with bills that the student loan doesn’t cover.

Keeping to a budget isn’t as boring or challenging as it may seem. These are necessary skills that can translate into an opportunity to study abroad, buy that dream car, or have money on hand for an emergency, which greatly reduces stress in the long run. Learning to manage your money is a skill you’ll use for the rest of your life. You can also consider obtaining your education online through affordable programs that offer equivalents of in-classroom learning and degrees. Online degree programs also allow students to pursue their education at their own convenience, allowing them to work full-time to support themselves or a family if need be.


Now that you’ve got your budget under control, it’s time to focus on your grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

Going the Distance…From Your Living Room (Guest Post)

Will Bankovich, freelance blogger for Study2U.com and full-time dad, wants to be Bill Cunningham when he “grows up”.

My three-year-old is crying, the cat just barfed on the carpet, spaghetti is bubbling over onto the stove and, in the midst of all this, I’m on the phone with a shady mechanic trying to get quotes on a new alternator so I can make it to work this week. The last thing on my mind is “Gee, I should really go back to college”. But maybe it should be.

Are you a single parent thinking about going back to school? (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cawley via Flickr)

Are you a single parent thinking about going back to school? (Photo courtesy of Kevin Cawley via Flickr)

 

A 2010 National Poverty Center press release reports that over 31% of families headed by single individuals were under the national poverty line. This is by far the poorest sub-group in the country, without factoring in ethnicity. Naturally, this statistic leaves out some vital factors: assistance such as food stamps, Medicare/Medicaid, employer-provided insurance and other subsidies/social services. Including, most importantly, that life with low-to-modest wages does not equal a deprived life for you and your kids. Small budgets can lead to creativity. You can be penniless and still build a life of love.

However. When you’re trying to take care of your family, higher learning equals higher earning. The statistics on this are well-known facts. Those in possession of a college degree are making more money. Fortunately, there are many, many resources out there for non-traditional students. I saw an article not too long ago focused on “the best fields of study for single parents”. Nonsense, I say! The best area of study for anyone is whichever career they want to go into. Period.

Distance learning is obviously a popular option for those with priorities at home. Online courses cover basically every area of study, are beamed right into your living room and tend to be cheaper than most standard colleges and universities. You work at your own pace and can probably make your kid a sandwich while you’re taking a test, or work full-time, squeezing classwork into your own spare moments. And forget the commute! You can earn credits in your robe and slippers.

With all the talk of student loans crushing the millennial generation, you’d think financial assistance would be a tough nut to crack. If this is your first foray into academia, Pell Grants are your new best friend (they can only be used towards a first degree). Pell Grants can be combined with other types of funds, and there are no restrictions on the number of scholarships you can apply for. If there’s any money left over the refund goes to you, to help out with other expenses.

The last thing to consider is the example you’re setting for your kids. Afraid they’ll see you pulling out your hair trying to juggle your job, a brand new course-load, being a good parent and well…life in general? Rest assured, you’re illustrating the importance of education to those kiddos. Not just school, but life-long learning and the pursuit of passions. And that’s just about the most important trait you could hope to instill.


No matter what type of student you are, The Secrets of Top Students can help you succeed.  Order your copy today!

College Student Debt Through the Generations: An Infographic

Many thanks to ConsolidatedCredit.org for providing this fascinating infographic. It’s got pretty much everything you want to know about college tuition and student debt.

Interesting or terrifying? Share your thoughts in the comments!


Going off to college?  Give yourself the gift of great grades.  Order your copy of The Secrets of Top Students today!

 

How to Calculate the Cost of College

Higher education awaits... but can you afford it?

Higher education awaits… but can you afford it?

For all those students who have gotten college acceptance letters recently, congratulations! But now comes the next question: can you afford it? The Wall Street Journal has provided some excellent resources for calculating the cost of college, for all you parents and students trying to figure out where to go next year. First of all, I highly recommend the article Making Sense of College Aid, by Ruth Simon and Rob Barry. It provides an excellent overview of what to look out for in your financial-aid packet. For example:

Some schools don’t even mention costs in their financial-aid award letters, while other schools cite only tuition and fees, ignoring transportation, textbooks, and living expenses. Many colleges describe loans as “financial aid” or obscure the fact that the aid package includes federal loans to be taken out by parents.

There’s also an excellent online resource, How Do Schools Stack Up?, which allows you to plug in various schools and see things like ROI (return on investment), median borrowing, what percentage graduates in 4 years, the current cost including tuition, room and board and other expenses, and salaries of alumni. Lastly, at the bottom of the page, there’s a terrific interactive worksheet that allows you to compare college offers by looking at the “net price”—your total annual costs after subtracting grants and scholarships.

Good luck making your choice! It’s a tough decision, but you’ll get through it.


Going to college?  Give yourself the gift of good grades with The Secrets of Top Students!