Monthly Archives: December 2011

Merry Christmas — A Little Early

It’s been a crazy few days for our family. My father in law wound up in the hospital with multiple blood clots in his lungs and will be in the hospital through Christmas Day. So needless to say, we will be spending part of our Christmas stuck in a hospital room.

He’s in great spirits however, not in a lot of pain, and very thankful to still be with us.

So for us this Christmas, we are very thankful to have him still with us. Regardless of whatever gifts come our way this year, that will be the most precious.

With that said, that is the reason I have been a little vacant from the blog the past few days, and why I wont be back to the blog until January. The rest of the Christmas Holiday is going to be spent with family and friends, and enjoying the precious gift of life that we all have.

I hope you all have a great Christmas, and I look forward to coming back in a week or so!

Is a College Degree Worth Taking Out a Student Loan? Student Story

money for college

I have dedicated the Money for College Project to helping you find more money for college, and finding better ways to manage that money while in college, and after graduation. I have railed against student loans, and the many negative consequences that can come along with them.

Rather than another tirade against “The Man” I wanted to share with you a recent story that I heard while speaking with a student on my college campus. It might surprise you to see how some students view student loans, and I hope it is a wake up call. It was for me anyway.

Student Story: Jake – The 19 yr old Engineering Student With No Plan

When Jake wakes up every morning, he is even further in debt, even though he spends no money during the day. How is this possible? He has unsubsidized Stafford Student Loans that are accruing interest while he is enrolled in school. Because he does not have  part-time job, and has elected to focus his energy 100% on school, he chose not to pay the accruing interest on his student loan, and therefore it has continued to increase daily for the past two years.

Jake is a typical student. He likes to sleep late, he grumbles about going to class, he pulls all nighters in the library before big exams, and he loves college life. His big secret however, is that he already has over $28,000 in student loans as he nears completion of his second year of college. He’s not even half-way done.

How is this possible? He maxed out his Stafford Loans ($5500 for Freshman Year, $6500 for Sophomore Year), he received a Federal Perkins Loan ($4,000), and he took out a private student loan with this parents ($12,000). All told, he already owes back the price of a brand new SUV, and he has not even finished his Sophomore year of college.

I wanted to dig a little deeper and see what led Jake to the decision to take out so much in student loans.

I asked Jake about when he first made the decision to attend college. He said that he had applied to multiple schools, but he finally made the decision to attend our college because of the excellent Engineering program. The average starting salary for a Civil Engineer (his program of choice) is $44,000 for graduates of our program, and there is an 83% job placement rate. (I was actually very impressed that he knew these figures, and it gave me some hope!)

I asked further about his financial aid package, and he noted that when he received it, he was initially elated. His financial aid package was enough to cover virtually all of his tuition and fees. Then he looked a little deeper. $7500 of his awards were from student loans; money he would have to pay back. He had also not factored in the cost of a meal plan ($1450 per semester), required on-campus housing ($2900 per semester), and a required laptop for his Engineering program ($1200). With all of these extra fees added in, he began to realize that he still needed more funds to cover his costs.

He said that he approached the Financial Aid Office to see what help they could offer him. His FAFSA had already been evaluated for federal aid, and all of the Academic scholarships had already been awarded, so Jake was left with only one option: More Student Loans.

The process was virtually the same for his Sophomore year. He was able to score a small scholarship through the engineering department, but with the rising cost of tuition, and extra lab fees for some of his courses, that was quickly eaten up.

This brings us to the present, with Jake stuck $28,000 in debt, and only half-way through his degree program.

The more we talked, the more I could tell that Jake was resigned to his fate. All of his friends had student loans, so he saw no harm in it. He wanted to be a Civil Engineer, he wanted to graduate, and this was the only way he knew how.

I finally worked up the nerve to ask Jake the big question: “Is your college degree really worth the student debt that you will have when you graduate?”

Jake said an emphatic yes, and I knew he would. I knew that almost every college student would say that when asked. What else would they say? “Well not really, but I figure I have no other choice and I have to have a degree to get a job!” Oh wait, I’ve heard that one too!

What would I recommend to Jake and any other student in this situation?

I would ask them to take a step back, and take a serious look at their situation. Start by looking at real numbers. Let’s assume that Jake gets a job paying $44,000 (it is a big assumption). After taxes his take home pay will be roughly $2750 per month. Let’s assume that Jake’s student loan consumption continues at his current rate and he graduates with $56,000 in loan debt. The average loan payment is $50 per $5000 borrowed. Jake is looking at a $560 per month student loan payment. That leaves him with only $2,190 per month to pay all of his other bills, save for retirement, pay for his health care premiums, put gas in his car to get to work, and enjoy life a little bit.

Not exactly a rosy financial picture for our friend Jake.

Then comes decision time. You might ask “Is the juice really worth the squeeze?” Should Jake and other students like him remain in school, continue to borrow loans, and struggle financially once they graduate while they perpetuate the cycle of college graduates who are in over their heads in debt?

I honestly don’t know the right answer, but I can see that something needs to change.

I think we need to have a serious conversation with our next generation of college students BEFORE they enter into college and walk them through this scenario. Help them to see how much student loans can sidetrack them financially for years. Help them to find a major that will allow them to get a job. Help them choose a school that has a good track record of placing their graduates in jobs that actually pay a decent salary. Help them understand how to find FREE financial aid and avoid taking out student loans.

These conversations are not easy, but I believe they are essential to help our future generations avoid bankruptcy and our country avoid utter financial ruin.

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Money for College Project Weekly Roundup: New Car Edition

My wife and I have finally made the decision to buy me a new vehicle. I took a new job back in April 2011, that increased my daily commute significantly. I now drive 94 miles per day, round trip. As you can imagine, this meant that our fuel bill skyrocketed. I currently drive a 1997 Ford Explorer Sport which has been paid for for over 5 years. I love the vehicle, and would not even consider getting rid of it if it were not for it’s terrible gas mileage – 19 mpg highway.

So, after taking a close look at our budget and expenses, we have decided to purchase a new Chevy Cruze. The new vehicle gets 42 miles per gallon. We are able to get 0% financing on the loan, and pay a down payment also. With the savings in gas every month, I will be able to come within $50 of evening out the savings in gas expenses, and the increase in having a car payment!

I did not factor in the higher taxes and insurance yet, so I know that will put me behind again. At this point in my life it if worth it to me to have this job, and our family is alright paying a little extra for this opportunity. Can’t say that will be the case in 5 years though…

Anyway, as I prepare to buy a new car this weekend, here are some good reads for your edification!

Money for College Project

[button link=”” color=”red”] Turn Your Hobby into $1Million Business[/button] An insider’s look at how some personal finance bloggers turned their hobbies into multi-million dollar businesses. Also, some baby steps to get you headed down that same road.

[button link=”” color=”red”] 2012-2013 FAFSA – Sneak Peak[/button] An advanced look at the 2012 – 2013 FAFSA. You can’t fill it out yet, but this will give you an idea of what to expect.

[button link=”” color=”red”] Unwanted Christmas Presents[/button] We have all gotten them – Christmas presents you don’t want, and will never use! Here are 3 ways to  get rid of them, and turn the unpleasant gift into something worthwhile!


Awesome Articles You Need to Read


[button link=””] Raising Entrepreneurial Kids[/button]  Man V. Debt wrote an excellent article about teaching our kids to be entrepreneurs at a very young age. I think this is an excellent suggestion, and something I fully plan to do, when we have kids.


[button link=””] $20 Free from Amex[/button]  Penny Hoarders has long been one of my favorite personal finance sites to visit. Every time I visit I seem to learn something new, and for some reason the style of posts and random nature of the money saving ideas always sparks my creativity.


[button link=””] Ultimate Holiday Lights Display[/button]  I don’t know how many of you feel the need to imitate Clark Griswold in Christmas Vacation, but if you do, or if you secretly wanto, here is an awesome article on how to dominate your neighborhood light competition.


Yakezie Friends


[button link=”” color=”green”] Sustainable Life – Goal -O- Matic[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] The Millionaire Nurse – Shoplifting[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Daily Money Shot – 30K Amazing Race[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”]Money Beagle –  Manage Your Mortgage[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] KNS FInancial  – Pay for Spray[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Bucksome Boomer – End of Year Tax Moves[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Invest in the Markets – Risk Management[/button]


[button link=”″ color=”green”] Dog Ate my Wallet – Volunteer from Home[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] My Personal Financial Journey – Solo 401K[/button]



3 Ways to Cope with Unwanted Christmas Presents

unwanted christmas presents

I’d like to say that I have never had this problem, but I would be lying through my teeth. Most of you can relate. You have all received a Christmas present that just didn’t quite live up to your expectations. Instead of an Xbox, you received a kitten calendar.

Instead of a skateboard you got a pack of socks.

Snuggies anyone?!?

Unfortunately, the mystery is not whether or not you will receive unwanted Christmas presents, but rather what do you do with them once you get them?


What better way to make use of a Christmas gift that you do not want than donating it to someone less fortunate. Millions of kids go without Christmas presents during the holiday, and your small donation could brighten up their life. At Christmas time there are hundreds of organizations that accept donations for unwanted presents. Visit your local grocery store or Wal-Mart to find an organization willing to take your unwanted presents.

This might be a bit miserly, but you can even use your donated Christmas presents as a taxable deduction (You can debate on the ethical standing of that one).

Refund or Exchange

The one thing that can make an unwanted Christmas gift a real treat is a gift receipt. A gift receipt is your ticket to returning or exchanging your gift back to the store it was purchased from. Depending on the sotr, you may receive a cash refund, or store credit.

Many stores will even take back your brand new merchandise without a receipt, and give you store credit. All you have to do is find out where it came from. If you can’t figure it out, it’s up to you to play sneaky detective and try to pry it out of your unsuspecting relative.

Sell on Ebay or Craigslist

The after Christmas sales market is huge. Sites like Ebay and Craigslist are booming after Christmas with unwanted Christmas presents. If you have never sold items on Ebay or Cragslist, it is simple to create an account and list your items.

While you are at it, you could dig even deeper into your closets and find your other unwanted items and sell those online also. Who knows, you might wind up finding a hidden stash of stuff you did not know you had, and make a tidy profit off of it. Craigslist and Ebay have become an answered prayer for people who receive unwanted Christmas presents every year. It takes a little extra work, but turning those unwanted gifts into cash is a gift all in itself!

Your Ideas

How about you? Do you have any unique ways to dispose of your unwanted Christmas gifts?


Sneak Peak at the 2012 – 2013 FAFSA Application


Sneak Peak at the 2012 - 2013 FAFSA Application

It’s hard to believe that it is almost that time of year again. Beginning January 1st, 2012 you will be able to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

This financial aid application will be used to qualify you for financial aid for the upcoming Fall semester in August 2012. Yes, it is 8 months in advance, and yes you should do it as soon as possible!

The Department of Education has recently released a sneak peak version of the 2012-2013 FAFSA Application. You cannot actually submit this worksheet, but you can begin working on the draft version today, so you will be fully prepared to submit the real document when it becomes available on January 1st.

Procrastinating on completing your FAFSA could mean the difference in thousands of dollars in college financial aid. For example, the FAFSA deadline for many colleges is February 15th. If you wait until January 1st to begin gathering the documents needed, you will likely miss out on this deadline. If you miss this deadline you will miss the priority date for your college’s scholarships and grants program and lose any potential financial aid you qualified for through your school.

Even though this worksheet is available, you do not want to submit a paper copy of the 2012-2013 FAFSA Worksheet.  The electronic application at will be available beginning January 1st, and that is where you should submit your application. Submitting a paper FASFA could take 5-6 weeks to even get to your school, whereas a FAFSA submitted on the web will take a maximum of 48 hours.

There is also a really neat tool that is new this year for the FAFSA called IRS data retrieval. If you have successfully submitted your IRS tax forms, then you can “retrieve” that data through the FAFSA form. When this data is retrieved it will automatically populate the FAFSA form so you do not have to compare line by line figures. This one change alone could save you hours in completing your FAFSA.

The Department of Education may not be perfect, but they are trying very hard to make the FAFSA completion process less of a barrier to applying for Financial Aid. The best way to be prepared is to know what to expect. Print out a copy of this 2012-2013 FAFSA worksheet, and look it over to know exactly what to expect when you sit down to complete your FAFSA in a few short weeks.

Turn Your Hobby Into a Business Worth $1 Million

turn your hobby into a business

Let’s suppose that you have a hobby which you love. This hobby could be anything from fixing bicycles, creating model train villages, playing paintball, sewing, writing/blogging, creating websites, or even driving. You are passionate about this hobby, and you would be perfectly content spending 8 hours a day working on your hobby.

What if I told you that you could make over $1,000,000 by turning that hobby into a business?

It’s entirely possible, and here is a real life example.

Personal Finance Blogs Equal Serious Cash

I read an article this morning that rocked me to the core. First, because I did not realize that this had happened, second, because I had no clue that this was even possible. The article was a list of personal finance blogs that have sold for 1 million or more.

First, I had no idea that Get Rich Slowly,  Bargaineering, and Consumerism Commentary had even been sold. That should be read as a compliment to their former owners and current publishers. Second, they were sold for staggering sums of money!

All of these blogs had been created out of a hobby, a passion for writing, and a need to get their financial lives on track. The end result was a business that made them a fortune.

I have interacted with all three of these bloggers, and I know that they have worked very hard to reach this goal. They have also all been blogging for several years, so their success was not overnight. They have positioned themselves as experts in their fields, and have been financially rewarded for their efforts.

How to Turn Your Hobby into a $1,000,000 Business

$1 Million seems like a fairly tale. It seems like such an insurmountable goal that it is not even worth setting. However, I bet you that all three of the above personal finance bloggers would have told you the exact same thing if you had asked them several years ago.

What changed?

The path to a $1 million business begins with a realization that your hobby can indeed be turned into a business. Like any good business, you must have a plan. Your plan does not specifically have to state it eventually being sold for $1 million, but it does have to include a plan to make a profit, and to expand.

For example, if you are passionate about playing paintball; how can you turn your passion for paintball into a profitable business?

[box type=”info”] I would suggest learning how to repair paintball guns. When you go to play paintball with your friends, you can charge a small fee to fix the guns that malfunction. Your friends will be willing to pay you because they can have them fixed on the spot. You have a captive audience.

Then you could branch out to buying and reselling paint. Out in the woods, or on the field, players will always run out of paint and need more. If you have the supply they need, you can turn a quick profit. Buy low, sell high!

With the profit you make from these sales, you could then rent a piece of property and create your own paintball field. You can furnish it with scrap junk, and players will likely flock to your location. Then you can charge entrance fees, sell paint, sell paintball guns, and even sell concessions. Before you know it, your passion for paintball has turned into a real business.

Then an investor may swoop in, see the progress you have made, and offer you $1 million to buy your business outright. They will likely even hire you back on to run the show.[/box]

Any hobby can be turned into a business.

I would recommend taking the following steps once you make the decision to take your hobby to the next level:

  • List the needs of people you know who also participate in your hobby
  • Place a star beside the needs that you believe your business can fill
  • Detail your plan to fulfill the top 3 needs on your list
  • Spread the word to your friends about your new services
  • Create an expansion plan to scale your business as it grows

Don’t Lose Your Passion In Your Business

One of the most common problems with starting a business out of a hobby is that many people quickly lose their passion for that hobby. There is a fine line to be walked, and many people quickly become complacent in their business because the joy in their hobby has been overtaken by the stress of a business.

Finding the right balance, and keeping your passion are what will take your business to $1 million.

In my experience, the key to keeping the passion for your hobby is to still participate in that hobby outside of your business.

If you write for a profit, you should carve out some time every day to write for fun.

If you create websites as a business, have a coding party with your friends.

If you sell model trains, invite some kids over to check out your model train village.

If you start a limo driving service, take a joy ride in the mountains.

Don’t ever forget what initially attracted you to the hobby in the first place. Focus on that, never lose your passion for your work, and someone might write a post about your $1 million business in a few years!

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Money for College Project: Exam Week

I work on a college campus, so naturally my work ebbs and flows with the college schedule. This week has been particularly slow because it is the dreaded Exam Week!

Exam week is much different as an employee than as a student. As an employee I welcome exam week because it always gives us a much needed lull before Spring registration starts up again. I’ve been able to catch back up on my work after being out for a week on our cruise.

Exam week also means that Christmas is still rapidly approaching. Students will leave to go home, and faculty and staff will have the campus to ourselves until Christmas. A college campus is always a little weird without students….but I will welcome the slower traffic! With that, here is the best of the best from this past week!

Money for College Project


[button link=”” color=”red”] New College Rankings[/button] An interesting look at a new ranking system that takes into account tuition cost and your ability to actually earn a salary once you graduate. I believe this may be the measure by which all degrees are measured in the future.

[button link=”” color=”red”] College Bucket List Top 10[/button] This list compiles the top 10 things that I believe every college student should experience before they graduate. In no particular order, but hopefully some of you read this while still a student, and can check off the list before you leave campus!


Awesome Articles You Need to Read


[button link=””] Global Expedition Vehicles[/button]  So what if I said that I would absolutely love to sell my house, buy one of these vehicles, and live my life on the road. As soon as I saw these beastly vehicles, I could not contain my excitement. I really wish the plant was closer so I could go visit. Anyone ever seen one of these vehicles in person? I would be perfectly content to travel the world in one.


[button link=””] SPI November Monthly Report[/button]  Pat from Smart Passive Income reveals his monthly numbers, and they are once again staggering. It definitely helps to learn some valuable lessons from one of the best in the internet marketing business.


[button link=””] Citizen’s Arrest[/button]  I hope that many of you thought of Barney Fife and Andy Griffith when you hear Citizen’s Arrest. Regardless, this really is an interesting article, which brought up some things I never knew.


Yakezie Friends


[button link=”” color=”green”] Sustainable Life – Food in a Split Household[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] The Millionaire Nurse – Charitable Giving[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Daily Money Shot – Picky Eaters[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”]Money Beagle –  Phishing Scams[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] KNS FInancial  – Loan Consolidation[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Bucksome Boomer – Piddling Away Your Money[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Invest in the Markets – Best Stock Picks[/button]


[button link=”″ color=”green”] Dog Ate my Wallet – Neilsen Family[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] My Personal Financial Journey – Charity Drop[/button]



The College Bucket List Top 10

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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New College Rankings Measure Graduates Ability to Earn Top Salaries

Why did you choose the college that you graduated from?

Did you look at the Princeton Review and make your decision based on which college had the best dorms, the best food, or the highest female to male ratio? If you did, you can freely admit it because you are not alone. The majority of college students put serious stock in these factors, as well as which majors are offered, classroom size, and student to faculty ratio.

A dozen college ranking systems have sprouted up in recent years and they look at an avalanche of data when evaluating colleges. Among all of these ranking systems however, there seems to be one piece of foundational data that is missing: Return on investment!

The new “Payback” survey by SmartMoney creates a payback ratio which is based on the average cost of 4 years of tuition, and the average salary of recent graduates (those graduating within the last 2 years), and mid-career alums (those out for 15 years). The higher the ratio between tuition sticker price and actual salaries, the better ranking the college received.

This ranking system gets at the heart of what Money for College Project is all about. The goal of attending college is to prepare yourself with an education and a degree that will benefit you financially in the future. You also need to manage your costs while in college and maximize your future earning potential. The “Payback” survey gives us a great reference tool to see which colleges actually succeed at preparing their graduates to make money in the real world without being saddled with enormous amounts of debt.

School Type
Payback Ratio
Starting Tuition & Fees (4 yrs., class of 2009)
Median Pay (recent graduate)
Starting Tuition & Fees (4yrs., class of 1996)
Median Pay (mid-career graduate)
Georgia Institute of Technology
University of Texas, Austin
University of Florida
University of Georgia
University of Illinois
Clemson University
Purdue University
Colorado School of Mines
Miami University (Ohio)
University of California, Berkeley
Indiana University
Pennsylvania State University
University of Rhode Island
University Connecticut
Michigan State University
University of Virginia
Univeristy of Colorado,
College of William & Mary
Ivy League
Princeton University
University of New Hampshire
Ivy League
Dartmouth College
Ivy League
Harvard University
Carnegie-Mellon University
Bucknell University
Ivy League
University of Pennsylvania
Colgate University
University of Richmond
Ivy League
Cornell University
University of Michigan
Ivy League
Yale University
University of Vermont
Ivy League
Brown University
Williams College
Ivy League
Columbia University
Dickinson College
Carleton College
Bowdoin College
George Washington University
Hobart and William Smith Colleges
Tufts University
Wesleyan University (Conn.)
Trinity College
Tulane University
Gettysburg College
Vassar College
Reed College
Oberlin College
Hamilton College
*Franklin & Marshall College
Sarah Lawrence College

No Ivy Leagues at the Top?

I think it is really interesting to note that the first Ivy League college we see is Princeton University, and it comes in at No. 19 on the list. On this scale, the high cost of an Ivy League tuition does not actually give as high a return on investment within the first 15 years in the working force, as 18 other colleges. Very interesting. I would imagine that if we extended the time horizon out to 25 or 30 years, that many Ivy League colleges would jump up the list, but in the relatively short term, the Ivy Leagues are not the winners here.

I also do not see any medical schools listen here. Granted, the survey does not list any individual majors in their list, but we can assume that most medical schools and their exorbitant tuition and fees, did not make the cut.

Not a True Representation

While reading through the data, and Smart Money’s creation of their ranking system, it becomes quickly apparent that their data is a little skewed. Fortunately, in our case, the data is skewed in our favor. The average cost of tuition used in the survey was out of state tuition sticker price. This means that if you paid in-state tuition, or if you received ANY financial aid then your earnings ratio will be a lot higher.

Can you figure out your own payback ratio?

All you need is your cost of tuition for your 4 year education, and your current salary. Divide your current salary by your cost of tuition, add two zeros, and you have your score. My score is 800.

I’m not rolling in the big bucks, but I was fortunate enough to escape college with virtually no debt, and having financial aid pay for all of my costs. Once financial aid is factored in, you can begin to see the true weight of this ratio. It can be very powerful!

Money for College Project Roundup: Traffic Apocalypse

So winter might not be truly here for all of you around the world…but here in the southeast at Money for College Project HQ, it sure feels like it!

We got back from our cruise where we enjoyed 85 degree average temps, to a balmy 35 degrees and rainy. Not exactly the best welcome home present. Beyond that, we had to get our furnace serviced so we have spent 2 of the past few days without any heat. I now 35 degrees might seem like a summer heat wave compared to many of you, but for us here in the south it’s cold!!

However, the cold weather does seem to get everyone in the holiday spirit, and Christmas lights and decorations have been springing up around our neighborhood all week.

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is only 22 days away, but indeed it is. I hope you enjoy these links as you prepare for the upcoming Christmas season, and cold winter temps!

Money for College Project


[button link=”” color=”red”] Top 20 Christmas Gifts for College Students[/button] This has become far and away my most popular post I have ever written. It was a lot of fun because these are all gifts I would love to receive (although many of them are quite extravagant).  This post has also been climbing up the google search engines in a fury, which has been a lot of fun to see.

[button link=”” color=”red”] My Carnival Cruise[/button] Many of you know that I just got back from my first Carnival cruise. It was a unique experience, and one that I will probably share more about in the coming weeks.

[button link=”” color=”red”] My Carnival Cruise[/button] Understanding your financial aid award letter is a tough thing to do. The video in this post gives a very simple explanation of what goes into this letter, and how it can be easily understood.


Awesome Articles You Need to Read


[button link=””] Traffic Apocalypse: Pakistan[/button]  Talk about a living nightmare! Traffic gridlock in the middle of Pakistan, after Benazir Bhutto was assassinated. This article rings true after seeing the traffic in the countries I visited on my cruise, and I can only imagine how this must have been. As much as red lights bug me and kill my fuel mileage, I suppose they have a good use.


[button link=””] BiFS November Monthly Report[/button]  Once again Crystal at Budgeting in the Fun Stuff rocks it with another killer month in revenue. Definitely one of the best in the personal finance arena as she is truly killing it!


[button link=””] How to Choose Perfect Survival Knife[/button]  Art of Manliness once again delivers a great article on how to choose the perfect survival knife. Not everyone will enjoy a post like this, but if you in the market for a survival knife (who isn’t?) then this post will make you happy.


Yakezie Friends


[button link=”” color=”green”] Sustainable Life – No Spend November[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] The Millionaire Nurse – Why Garden?[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Daily Money Shot – Weird Side Hustles[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”]Money Beagle –  Always Check for Promo Codes[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] KNS FInancial  – Black Friday Host Gator[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Bucksome Boomer – Greed and Violence[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Invest in the Markets – Have an Exit Strategy[/button]


[button link=”″ color=”green”] Dog Ate my Wallet – Will Work for Food[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] My Personal Financial Journey – Different Types of Loans[/button]