As a former Financial Aid Officer at a college I have become intimately familiar with the dangers of waiting until the last-minute to submit a FAFSA. Most people are not aware that as of January 1st, 2013, students are able to submit their 2013-2014 FAFSA for the upcoming 2013 Fall semester. The majority of colleges and universities have strict deadlines that must be met to be considered for financial aid. Missing these deadlines can have disastrous effects on your financial aid award letter.
Almost every institution of higher learning also has internal scholarship programs that can be accessed as additional sources of financial aid. All in all, the old adage “the early bird gets the worm” holds true. A lot of institutions have grant and scholarship programs that are awarded on a first come first serve basis.
File FAFSA BEFORE Filing Your Taxes!
Another bit of useful information for students and parents is that you can actually submit your FAFSA without having filed your taxes. On the FAFSA, when it asks you if you have submitted your 2012 tax returns, simply select the “I will file my taxes” option. Then once you have submitted your 2012 returns, simply log back into the FAFSA with your FAFSA pin and complete your tax information. If you have filed for an extension, this lets you submit your FAFSA while your taxes are still being processed.
Today is May 23, which means that many of the deadlines for the Fall 2013 semester have already been missed. It is not too late however to continue applying for more scholarships and grants to help earn more money for college. Applying for free money for college will help you avoid taking out student loans and avoid the burden of paying back student loans after you graduate. By taking advantage of the financial aid available on your campus you can maximize your changes of that elusive “free ride” to college.
You can check the local public library or your local high school guidance office for excellent scholarship opportunities. I encourage you to apply for as many of them that you qualify for!
Submit your FAFSA early!! (As early as January 1st)
Submit your FAFSA even if your taxes have not been filed yet
Take advantage of ALL scholarships and grant programs by being one of the first students to submit their FAFSA for the upcoming school year.
Contact your financial aid office if you have any questions, they will be more than happy to help you.
I was recently given a copy of the anthology – Share or Die – Voice of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis. The book is a collection of stories, mostly written by young adults, about what it is like to grow up in Generation Y (Born after 1985) and try to find employment post-graduation.
I don’t normally review books here at Money for College Project, but this book is an exceptionally interesting read. Many of our readers are in Generation Y, or are just outside of it and can find very relevant lessons in this book. If you are interested, you can pick up up here: Share or Die: Voice of the Get Lost Generation in the Age of Crisis
Never a Better Time to Become and Entrepreneur
I have said this many times before: During college, or the period right after graduation, is the best time to start a business. Your expenses and responsibilities are as low as they will likely ever ben in your life, and a business started in your early twenties can set the tone for the rest of your life/career.
Gen Y is graduating into a very unique economic climate. The world is trying to upright itself after a global economic recession and traditional jobs markets are still faltering. The barriers of entry to starting a business and becoming an entrepreneur are lower than they have ever been.
The Internet has brought the world together, and therefore you are able to connect with like minded people from around the world to share ideas, brainstorm, and plan. You can reach targeted customers quickly and efficiently through online advertising and social media. You can sell digital products online or become an affiliate for someone else’s products. Start-up companies are even partnering with large corporations to head their research and development wings. Did you catch that? Large corporations are outsourcing the future of their business to the sharp minds of Gen Y!
It is our time!
Pack Up and Travel the World
Another main point in many of the stories shared in this book is the call to to pack-up your things and travel while you can. There is a lot than can be learned from travel, and from personal experience, I can attest that many important life lessons and perspectives can be gained by getting outside of your comfort zone. In particular, I learned a great deal about how the U.S. is viewed in other parts of the world.
I think it is very important to understand that there is value, beauty, and power in the world outside the shores of the U.S. It is very easy to get an superior imperialist attitude living here, and this perspective will aid you in your career moving forward. it may also open up opportunities to connect with new and exciting people and places. It might even turn into a job if you meet the right people along the way!
The Bottom Line
graduating from college and striking out on your own in 2013 is not easy, but there is hope. In fact, the future is brighter than it has been for some time and now is as good a time as any to start your future.
Start a business, travel the world, pursue your goals, just please….don’t sit around and feel sorry for yourself.
First, I think it is very important to dispel a common myth about student loans: They are required to be repaid, and they can ruin your financially if they are ignored!
If you don’t make your student loan payment or make your payment late, your loan may eventually go into default. If you default on your student loan, that status will be reported to credit bureaus, and your credit rating and future borrowing ability will be damaged. In addition, legal action can be taken to require payment through garnishment of wages and withholding of tax refunds.
Unfortunately, I meet too many students who admit they did not realize the money they were receiving for college was from student loans, and that they would someday have to repay these student loans. This is a heartbreaking realization, but also one that is easily avoidable.
You will make your payments to your loan servicer. Your loan servicer will provide you with information about your repayment terms and your repayment start date.
FFEL loans not owned by ED
You will make your payments to your lender, the organization that made the loan initially. The lender could be a bank, credit union, or other lending institution. Your lender will provide you with information about your repayment terms and your repayment start date.
Federal Perkins Loans
Your loan servicer will most likely be the school you were attending when you received the loan, but in some cases, the school will have a separate organization handle the billing and other services for your Perkins Loan. Contact the school about making Perkins Loan payments.
As indicated in the chart above there are three main types of student loans: Federal, Private, and Campus Based. Each of these loans will have different methods for handling payment arrangements so it is imperative that you know which loans you have.
Second, you will need to evaluate your own financial situation to determine if your financial troubles will only cause you to be late for one month, or if you anticipate this to be an extended financial situation. If you just lost your job for example, you would treat this differently than if you spent too much on clothes this month.
If you expect your financial troubles to extend beyond one month, then you should consider applying for a financial hardship forbearance. You will need to contact your lender or repayment servicer and fill out their form to begin this application process. The key is to begin this process as soon as possible. Waiting until the day your payment is due to begin this process will not help you!
Third, you should consider a loan consolidation if you have multiple student loans to repay each month. Many student complain about forgetting to pay a student loan each month. If you have multiple student loans that are repaid to different lenders, this can be confusing. One way to alleviate some of this confusion is to consolidate your loans into one monthly payment. This allows you to have one payment to focus on each month and can generally allow you to pay your loans off faster.
You should be careful however, as consolidating your student loans also may cause you to lose deferment and forbearance options in the future.
The Bottom Line
It is important to understand that student loans do have to be repaid and they can hurt your credit if they are not repaid.
You have many options available to you and all of these can be accessed with a simple phone call or a visit to your lender’s website.
The worst thing you can do is shrink into a hole and hope that your financial trouble goes away. There are people willing to help, but they cannot help you unless you reach out t them!
College students throw away millions of dollars of “trash” at the end of each semester.
Rather than packing up their dorm room valuables into their vehicle and hauling them back home for the summer, many students choose to simply throw out their unwanted items.
This trash routinely includes items that are in perfect working order. Furniture is one of the most common items that lands in trash heaps. However lamps, alarm clocks, electronic devices, pots and pans, rugs, sports equipment, textbooks, clothes, and a number of other things also accumulate in dumpsters.
How Can You Take Advantage of This?
First of all, please understand that I am not normally a proponent of “dumpster diving”. I think there are much more efficient uses of your time if you plan to :buy low and sell high” to make some extra cash. However, there are too many legal, sanitary, and emotional issues that normally accompany traditional dumpster diving.
Raiding a dumpster in the back of a college dorm however is a completely different issue. They don’t throw away old egg shells and stale pasta in these dumpsters. It is not intended for trash. These dumpsters are generally made available by the college or university to collect unwanted items from students as they leave for the semester. Many of these items are then recycled or taken to the trash dump, but they present a wealth of opportunities if you can time your visit correctly.
First, you will need to find a end of semester move-out schedule for the college you wish to visit. This can typically be done very quickly through an online search of that organization’s website.
Second, you will need to contact the campus police on that campus to ensure that you would not be breaking the laws to go rummaging through their dumpsters. Depending on the location of the college that you visit you may have campus police present at the dumpster itself, or you may need to seek out the police headquarters to get your approval. In my experience, they are happy to approve this as long as you do not bother the college students or residents throwing away trash.
Third, you will need to scout out the dumpster locations. Typically these are placed right in front of or behind the main entrance to the dorm. They are generally large and many times, especially for larger dorms, have a gate on one end where you can easily walk into the dumpster. You should map out your route using a campus map, and ensure that you find all of the dumpster locations for the most effective search.
Finally, you should get there early on move-out day. Obviously you will not want to go if the weather is bad, as this will dramatically cut down on the quality of items that are thrown away. If you find a location where items are being tossed out, feel free to stay around and wait for something good to turn up!
Just a word of caution: Please remember not to take items directly from the residents however. Once they have left the items in the dumpster they are ok to grab, but you could get in trouble with the campus police if you begin approaching residents asking them for their belongings.
This is an excellent way to find items to re-sell. The best thing is that there are generally very high quality items being thrown out that you could then turn around and sell on Craigslist, Ebay, or have a yardsale of your own. The possibilities are endless!
Vista Health Solutions is giving away a $500 scholarship to one student who will be attending a public or private university in the Fall of 2013. To apply, applicants must complete the form below and submit an essay on the topic of:
“How I will stay in control of my health during my college years”
Applicant Requirements: To be eligible, all applicants must be planning to attend college in the Fall of 2013 as an undergraduate student. High school and undergraduate students are welcome to apply. Please include at the top of your essay your name, current school attended, current grade level and GPA.
Essay Requirements: Your college years are both joyful and stressful at the same time. With your new found independence comes responsibility. Too often college students put their healthy lifestyle on the back burner. How will you promote a healthy body and mind during your college years? Write an essay of 1,000 to 1,500 words explaining how you will take charge of your health.
Deadline: All essays must be submitted by August 1, 2013. The winning essay will be selected and announced on the Vista Health Solutions website on August 15th, 2013.
One of the most exciting times of high school is your senior year when you get to apply for scholarships. Forget prom, pep rallies, and Friday night lights; this is where the real fun is!
You are asking individuals, businesses, and non-profit organizations to take a stake in your future. You are asking them to support you financially as you pursue your educational goals. This is one of the few times in your life where it is perfectly acceptable to ask for a hand-out from people who are happy to give them! While this process may be intimidating and frustrating at times, it can also be exhilarating.
One of the most common questions that I get here through the blog is “Where can I find more scholarships?”
I have answered that questions through other posts here and here.
Today however, I want to look at this question through a different lens.
Create Your Own Scholarships
Some of the most successful business owners are the ones who bootstrapped their own business, and built their entire empire from the ground up. They did not wait for anyone else to hand them a job, they created their own.
This same mindset can be applied to creating scholarships. Rather than applying to hundreds of scholarships that already exist, and often have applicant pools in the hundreds (or even thousands), why not drastically increase your chances of winning a scholarship and go directly to the source.
Many businesses spend millions of dollars each year on research, development and marketing. This is an untapped resource for college scholarships that nobody is utilizing.
You should start by identifying businesses that operate in a field you are interested in. For example, if you wish to go into pharmacy, then you could consider pharmaceutical manufacturing companies. If you want to go into English, then you could target publishing and printing companies. If you are a construction science major, then you could target construction companies. Architecture students should target architecture and design firms. You get the idea…
I would suggest that you identify a list of at least 30 businesses.
You should then identify someone in the Human Resources office for each of these companies. These are often the folks who either manage any existing scholarship programs, or could get you in touch with the people who do manage these programs. Your goal is to set up an in-person meeting with someone from that company.
I would recommend that you do this in writing, followed up by a phone call. Much as you would do for an official interview. Again, your main goal is to get face time with this individual.
The Scholarship Proposal
Asking for money is not a simple task. Remember, your goal is to convince the executive that you meet with that you are worth their time, energy, and money. You will need to convince this person that your future is so valuable, and that you will work so hard, that they would be crazy not to invest in you.
You should treat this as an investment. You will need a scholarship proposal and a “business plan”.
What you will propose will depend on your field but should go something like this:
Hello Mr. Executive at fancy company I admire,
My name is DJ, and I am going to be a freshman in your industry in the upcoming Fall semester. I am really excited, but am still in need of additional finances to secure my college funding.
I have created a scholarship proposal for you, which I have brought with me today. I will harness the power of my entire sizable social media influence to thank you for what you are about to do for me. I will sing your praises to every person that I know. I will be an advocate for you on our campus. I will recommend interns in your industry come to work for you, I will invite representatives from your business to my college to present and to lecture. I will incorporate your company’s research and design into my college projects. I will come to work for you in the summer after my freshman and sophomore years. I will spend my spring break working on dedicated projects for your company. In return for this, I ask for your financial support to pursue my educational goals. For my time and effort, I feel that a scholarship of $5000 per academic year would be a sufficient agreement.
Once your proposal has been submitted, you will likely have to negotiate. I can guarantee that you will get turned down at least once, but do not get discouraged! Could you imagine the possibilities if more than one business agreed to your proposal!
Obviously you would need to modify your efforts for each business (you cannot work during spring break in more than one place) but the principle is the same.
Once you get a business to agree to this proposal, you have to follow through on your promises.
The best thing about this agreement, is that a relationship of this nature could easily land you a job in the future. Imagine going through all of this effort for a company without even being a full-time employee.
If a company sees your worth and value prior to you graduating, they may try to snatch you into a full-time position once you are done with school.
The news is filled with stories and data of rising tuition on college campuses. I have written about this very fact a number of times here on the blog. The talking heads on every major news channel mention it at least once per day and each person you listen to may spout out a number of various reasons why college tuition is continually on the rise.
“Experts” are so divided on this issue because there is not a clear cut answer. There literally could be a million internal factors that influence the cost of a colleges’ tuition, as well as the external factors of our national and global economy.
In researching this phenomena and from working on a college campus, I have a hypothesis of why college tuition has risen so dramatically in the past decade: Lifestyle Inflation and Greedy College Students!
I believe that “lifestyle inflation” or the 21st century version of “keeping up with the Joneses” is to blame for driving college tuition prices to unprecedented heights. College students are simply no longer satisfied with musty dorm rooms, and uncomfortable classroom chairs. College students expect to have multiple Starbucks locations on their campus. They want manicured grass and climate controlled buildings. They want spotless restrooms, and state of the art laboratory facilities.
Today’s college students expect to have sports stadiums which rival (or far surpass) professional teams. They want to have a gym facility with an indoor climbing wall, olympic size swimming pool, Zumba classes, and enough ellipticals to entertain an entire sorority.
College students also expect to have a car on campus, they expect to have access to social activities at every hour of the day, they expect their professors to bend over backwards to accomodate them within their office hours, and they expect to have private showers.
None of these conveniences and amenities are cheap.
To attract new students, colleges are forced to cater to these demands. The sad thing is that you will likely never get a student to admit that they crave the above luxuries. Even though they may not voice this opinion, their voice is heard loud and clear through their actions. They choose to go to colleges and universities which offer these amenities. The better the amenities, the higher the enrollment.
A Vicious Cycle
Many colleges are driven by their enrollment. Their budget is directly determined by the number of students they admit each year, and they do not receive funding from the state or other external entities. Colleges who live and die by the number paying students they have on campus each semester must do whatever is takes to attract their quota of students. Attracting new students means building bigger and nicer facilities, and providng all of the amenities mentioned above.
When college students (and parents!) walk onto campus for their college tour, they expect to find these things. Unfortunately, many students base their college decision on the level of the amenities offered by the college and not on their academic prowess.
Here is the vicious cycle: Colleges must provide these high priced amenities to attract new students, these amenities and facilities cost a great deal of money, thus driving up tuition costs, parents and students complain about high tuition costs and demand that colleges find ways to lower their costs.
The standard of living on a college campus has expanded to a level that colleges simply cannot keep pace with. Their attempts to keep pace have resulted in the skyrocketing of tuition rates.
As college tuition prices are driven higher by the insatiable desire of students for high priced amenities, student loan debt also continues to skyrocket. This is the predicament that we find ourselves in today.
Let’s take a step towards halting the rise of both college tuition and student loan debt, by eating more ramien noodles and accepting a moldy dorm room as your right of passage!
All information provided at Money for College Project is for informational purposes only. I am not a financial professional, so please consult a professional, and filter my advice through them. Per FTC guidelines, this website may be compensated by companies mentioned through advertising, affiliate programs or otherwise.