An Unconventional Guide to Paying for College

Money for College Project Weekly Roundup: Scholarship of the Day

Posted by on Feb 10, 2012 in Scholarships and Grants | 12 comments

Yesterday I decided to finally roll out a new segment of the Money for College Project: The Scholarship of the Day!

One main focus of this blog is helping you find money for college, and traditionally one of the best sources of college money is scholarships. Scholarships are amazing, but their one big problem is that people don’t know about them. Getting the word out about a scholarship is the hardest task for a scholarship committee, and finding scholarships is the hardest task for college students.

This new segment is intended to bring these two groups together. To match prospective college students with real scholarships they can apply for. You may not qualify for every scholarship that you see posted here, but I promise you that there will be many that you can apply for.

If you are a scholarship committee and have a scholarship you would like to promote, please let me know, and I will be happy to get it posted for you!

Enjoy the selections for this week!

Money for College Project

 

Pro Athlete Money Problems

 

 

Facebook IPO

 

 

Second life and Personal Finance

 

 

Use Your 1098-T

 

 

Scholarship of the Day

 

 

 

 

Yakezie Friends

 

Sustainable Life – The Meat Challenge

 

 

Stock Trend Investing – Suggested Reading

 

 

Penny Pinching Pro – Business Etiquette

 

 

Fiscal Phoenix –  Mutual Funds

 

 

Mighty Bargain Hunter  – Tax Deductions

 

 

Money Cactus – Motivation

 

 

Roshawn Watson – Views on Money

 

 

Broke Professionals – Company Stock Awards

 

 

Dog Ate my Wallet – Coffee Talk

 

 

My PF Journey – Spread Betting

 

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Money For College Project Weekly Roundup: Productivity Tools Edition

Posted by on Jan 27, 2012 in Getting Started | 6 comments

Last week on Money for College Project I wrote a weekly roundup post about how much I have going on in my life right now. Over the weekend I realized that I needed to streamline some things or my life and productivity would spiral out of control. One of my biggest problems is being able to focus when I write. I typically have 1 hour in the morning where I complete my focused writing for blog articles and what not. That works for me.

However, now that I will have blog posts on top of papers for my grad school classes, I know I will need to write much more than 1 hour ever morning. To combat my ADD and actually try to get something done, I wanted to find a full screen text editor, that would allow me to write and focus without any interruptions.

Scrivener is what I ended up with. I did the free trial to see how I like it, but so far it is incredible. It is easy to use, cool to work with, and even aesthetically pleasing to look at. It does cost $45 though, which is why I am seriously evaluating it to see if it will be worth it through the free trial. I’ll keep you posted…

Enjoy the selections for this week!

Money for College Project

Forbes 15 Richest Fictional Characters

 

How to Sell Old Coins for Cash – I Made $102

 

Surviving the College Dining Hall – Infographic

 

Stiff Competition for Financial Aid

 

 

 

 

 

Awesome Articles You Need to Read

 

Camp Wandawega – Escape!  If you are looking for a quiet retreat to the woods and would love to escape the hustle and bustle of your daily routine, or even escape the 21st century, then travel back in time to Camp Wandawega. At $200 a night it is pricey, but how many other times in your life can you stay in a 3 story treehouse?

 

BiFS – Husband Working from Home  Crystal from Budgeting in the Fun Stuff recently announced that her husband has decided to quit his job and work full-time with her advertising business. Her client list and advertisers have expanded so much she cannot keep it a one woman show any more. Hats off to her. I work with Crystl, and I have been more than pleased with the results. If this new employee addition truly means more advertisers for all of her clients, then this is indeed an exciting move!

 

Student Loan Debt – Ebook  The College Investor launched a new ebook this week called Student Loan Debt. It’s a quick read, and it walks you through your options regarding student loan debt and how to pay it off. If you are struggling with student loan debt, then I would highly recommend this free resource!

Yakezie Friends

 

Sustainable Life – CSA Save Money?

 

 

The Millionaire Nurse – Workplace Stress

 

 

Daily Money Shot – Dream Job Security

 

 

Money Beagle –  Less Snow

 

 

KNS Financial  – Textbook Rentals

 

 

Bucksome Boomer – Recession Romance

 

Invest in the Markets – Small Portfolio

 

Dog Ate my Wallet – Brother’s New Venture

 

 

 

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Federal Student Aid Unlocked: Pell Grant

Posted by on Jan 10, 2012 in Completing the FAFSA, Scholarships and Grants | 2 comments

This post was originally published back in 2009 on the first variation of the Money for College Project. I would selfishly like to think that my writing has improved from these humble beginnings, but it’s probably not true. Regardless of the writing, the information is still gold. The Pell grant is the premiere need based grant funded by our tax dollars and administered by the Department of Education. Complete your FAFSA to qualify for this award and all other federal grants and Stafford student loans.

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Every year Federal Student Aid (FSA) provides more than $83 billion in financial aid across their various programs. This money assists about 14 million students attending college. With those staggering numbers I can promise you that if you complete the proper steps I outline here on this blog, you can get a piece of that money!

Over the next few days I would like to explore the different types of Federal Student Aid. With 10 different programs that offer assistance to students, it is easy to get lost in a cloud of numbers and unfamiliar terms. Hopefully, after we have gone through this journey of exploring every program in detail, you will have a better understanding of how you fit into the big picture, and most importantly, where you can go for your money!

Before we get into the individual programs, it is important to note HOW one would go about applying for this aid. GOOD NEWS! It’s simple: The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). With one application you will be evaluated for all 10 FSA programs. Simply go to www.fafsa.gov and follow the steps to submit your application (Intimidated by the FAFSA?? More to come on that later so stay tuned!).

Now that you know how to apply for all these programs, let’s look a little closer at each one.

First: Federal Pell Grant

This is the most important Federal grant as it is the largest grant. Since it is a grant, it does not have to be repaid. The Pell Grant is available exclusively to undergraduate students and your eligibility is determined by your financial need. Your financial need is used to determine how much of the Pell grant you will receive, if any.

For the 2009-2010 award year (which runs July 1st 2009- June 30th 2010), the maximum amount you can receive in Pell is $5350 (**For 20120-2013 the maximum Pell award is stuck at $5500). Depending on which college you attend this could be enough to pay your entire tuition (eg. the school where I (formerly) worked is only $1746 for a full time student, per semester!) Or if it will not pay your entire tuition, the Pell grant will almost certainly make a significant dent in your college tuition bill.

Also, for part-time students, the Pell grant can be applied to your tuition through a scaling award system. Here is an example: If you receive the maximum Pell award of $5350, that breaks down to $2675 in Fall and $2675 in Spring (if you come full time). If you come half time, the Pell amount would be cut in half or $1338 each semester. Now keep in mind, your tuition should also be less, so Pell should cover roughly the same percentage of your tuition bill whether you take full or part-time classes.

Coming up next: Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity grant (FSEOG)

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The College Bucket List Top 10

Posted by on Dec 8, 2011 in Featured, Getting Started | 6 comments

college bucket list

What are the 10 quintessential things every college student should experience?

What makes a college experience more than just a series of grades and a piece of paper?

What are you most looking forward to during your college years, or what do you wish you could go back and do that you never got to?

This will all be answered here today, as Money for College Project is proud to present:

The College Bucket List Top 10

 

No. 1 – Take a Cross Country Road Trip

Nothing screams the freedom of college more than a cross country road trip with close friends. This can be done during spring break, over the summer, or even on a long weekend. More points are obviously due if you can pull this off spontaneously. No planning, no destination, just get in the car and drive. Oh, and don’t forget to bring the TP.

No. 2 – Study Abroad

One of the joys of being in college is the opportunity to travel with no strings attached. Most likely the closest relationship you are leaving behind would be a girlfriend/boyfriend. No spouse, no kids, no job, no major responsibilities. At what other point in your future life will you be able to transplant yourself into a foreign country for a few months? I submit…most likely never! So take advantage of a study abroad program while you can. This can also greatly impact your ability to get a job and give you a worldview that looks beyond the coasts of your home country.

No. 3 – Join an Intramural Team

The vast majority of college students do not have college athletic scholarships. This does not mean however, that you lose your athletic ability. In fact, many top tier high school athletes simply decide not to pursue college athletics and focus on their academics. Smart move. Intramural sports gives you an outlet for your athletic prowess without the pressure and time commitment of practice, coaches, and a grueling game schedule. Intramurals are also excellent times to spend with close friends, and create some great memories for the years to come. Many colleges have everything from flag football, soccer, basketball, hockey (field or ice), and ultimate frisbee.

No. 4 – Earn a B, or even a C

So this might sound like strange advice. After all, you go to college to get the best grades you can, and to be successful right? I agree, but I also strongly believe there are more important things in your college life than grades. If we were all good college students with a 4.0 GPA, the world would be a sad place. A college degree is as much about the experience, and learning to become an adult as it is about earning your degree. If you have the option of studying a few more hours for an exam to make an A, or volunteering to help build the Habitat for Humanity House your college sponsors every year, I would pick the Habitat house ever year. When you look back, the experiences you have in college will be what stick with you the most.

With that said, you need to shoot to keep a B average. Some employers still look at those things, and virtually every Grad School sets a 3.0 GPA as it’s minimum entrance requirements.

No. 5 – Go Fanatical for a Sports Game

Even if sports are not really your thing, being a fanatical fan at your college’s biggest sporting event can be all kinds of fun. You could paint up for your home football game against the in-state rivals, you could camp out all night to get tickets to the conference championship basketball game, you could bring a megaphone to the big soccer game, you and all of your friends could make signs for the women’s volleyball team at their big game, or you could even work your way into the President’s box at a home football game. I highly recommend anything short of streaking…..definitely not recommended.

No. 6 – Cultivate a Caffeine Addiction

This can be incredibly useful while highly enjoyable. Late nights in the library can be dreary and dull but with a fresh dose of caffeine in your system your night can be instantly turned into a frenzied race to the finish. Caffeine will always be the one friend you can count on when you need it the most, especially for those 8am exams which leads us to…

No. 7 – Pull an All Nighter

This may be the standard by which all other college activities are measured. You are assured of at least one all night study session with a 8am exam the next morning. As referenced above, your only true friend may be caffeine, but with your newly cultivated caffeine addiction you should have no problem keeping your spirits up and your focus where it needs to be. Ace the exam, then enjoy the sweet crash of sleep for the rest of the day.

No. 8 – Start a Business with College Friends

Does The Social Network mean anything to anybody? You may never have another opportunity in your life where so many intelligent people are all gathered in one central location. Colleges are a cornucopia of brilliant ideas and young minds with the energy to bring these ideas to life. Starting a business with your college friends can be the most rewarding decision of your life. Even if your business does not take off and earn you millions, you still will have begun down the path of entrepreneurship, which hopefully will stay with you for the rest of your life.

No. 9 – Join a Protest, Rally, or Demonstration

Not everyone is political, and not all rallies are for a fanatical cause. College is a time to figure out what you believe, and learn how to make a difference. A protest, rally, demonstration or march is a great way to link yourself to a good cause and make a difference. Who knows, it might even lead to a new career prospect!

No. 10 – Graduate

I know, this might seem dumb, but the best goal you can set for yourself in college is to graduate. Your college experience might be amazing, but you really limit your options without your diploma. There certainly are exceptions who have done alright without a degree (Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg) but they are just that, exceptions. Your college legacy will be firmly sealed in the alumni status as you walk across the stage and receive your diploma.

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Understanding Your Financial Aid Package, plus a sweet video!

Posted by on Nov 30, 2011 in Completing the FAFSA, Scholarships and Grants | 2 comments

There is a lot of information floating around the internet about how a school constructs your financial aid package. In fact, this might be one of the most misunderstood parts of the financial aid process and something we have talked a lot about here at Money for College Project. There seems to be a large disconnect between submitting a FAFSA and receiving your financial aid package back in the mail.

By working in a financial aid office for many years, I have become a little jaded to the fact that these letters are difficult to understand. However, every time I meet with a student who is lost about the entire process, it become clear to me all over again, that this is really confusing!

I am always trying to find better ways to explain this process to students and parents, and I ran across a video recently that I think does an excellent job of explaining how the process works. The video is created by Brown University, so there are a few Brown specific statements made, but overall 98% of the information presented will work at all colleges across the U.S. The information is so universal because virtually all colleges accept federal financial aid, and the U.S. Government regulates how their funds are awarded.

A few notes on the video:

  • Not all schools meet 100% of demonstrated need when creating their financial aid packages (most Ivy League and top tier schools do). 
  • Often times loans are included in your financial aid package
  • If your parents are divorced or separated, you will use the parent income for the parent you live with (Brown’s non-custodial parent application is not required at most schools)
  • The FAFSA can be submitted on January 1st, in preparation for the upcoming Fall semester in August.  
Do you have any questions about how a financial aid award package is created? Please discuss in the comments!
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