Monthly Archives: March 2012

What You Need to Know Before Studying Abroad

American Students Studying Abroad


Studying abroad is not something we have talked much about here at the Money for College Project. This may be partly because of, in my opinion, the demand to pay for your regular tuition first, before looking towards paying for a study abroad program.

However, study abroad programs are incredibly valuable, and I believe even essential for helping us build a world view outside of the little shell most of us have grown up in. Studying abroad is an excellent way to see the world, immerse yourself in a culture different than your own, and internalize that there are people in this world who are different than you. In fact, the majority of people in this world are much different than you. The lessons learned on a study abroad trip can be the jumping off point to a career, or it could be the catalyst used to signal change. You might find an entirely new career field while on a study abroad trip, or you may realize that your current course of action is not at all what you really want. You may also cement the fact that you are not really ready to settle down into a corporate 9 – 5 and you still need to experience some adventure in your life. These are all perfectly acceptable outcomes of a study abroad trip.

The infographic above is very interesting because it goes into detail about the most popular study abroad locations, and also the most popular programs and colleges which participate. It is interesting to me that the largest percentage of students studying abroad will do so in Great Britain. Italy however is a close second, that rings true from all of my experiences. Who would not want to spend a semester nestled in the hills of Tuscany sipping excellent vino and eating biscotti while studying architecture….count me in!

If you are considering a study abroad trip I hope you will find the above infographic helpful. These trips can be expensive but there are also specific scholarships that are dedicated to helping your find money for your study abroad trips.

Scholarship of the Day: Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship

Scholarship of the Day


Award: $5000 


Deadline: May 30, 2012

The Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship is open to high school seniors and first-year college students. You must be a citizen of the U.S. or Canada and be under 25 years of age to be eligible for this award. You must also submit a maximum 1000-word essay on the following topic: “Why is a healthy lifestyle important in school?”; and in under 500 words, describe your career plans, goals, and personal ambitions.

Read here to learn How to Apply for Scholarships Effectively.

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How to Apply:

There is no Formal Scholarship Application. To apply for the Healthy Lifestyles Scholarship, please write your scholarship essay in Microsoft Word or, if you do not have Microsoft Word, in Google office, the latter is free to use on the Internet. After you are finished the writing process, please attach it to an email and send it to: If you have any questions or concerns, please forward them to Linda Wells ( ).

Previous Winners:
April 2011 – Carmelo Vargas – Texas
December 2010 – Shifang (Stephan) Cheong – California
May 2010 – Elizabeth Maalihan – Florida
December 2009 – Michael Striker – Minnesota


Awards Available: 1



 As of May 30th, 2012, be under 25 years of age.
 Be currently a senior in high school or in your first year of college/university
 Be a resident of the United States or Canada
 Answer the following essay questions:
1) In under 1,000 words: “Why is a healthy lifestyle important in school?”
2) In under 500 words: Describe your career plans, goals, and personal ambitions




Additional Information:

The $5000 award will be presented to the student who provides the most comprehensive answers to the two questions.

You could also win an additional scholarship.Win $1000 by taking part in Thepensters Writing Contest for college students.


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Don’t Go to College if You Can’t Afford It!

dont go to college

I will warn you, this post may come across as somewhat of a rant. Ok, to be honest, it is entirely a rant. However, I am passionate about this subject, and hopefully you won’t skewer me for letting you know what I truly feel. This post is somewhat of a follow-up of my post last week about the recent law introduced in Michigan to give out free college tuition.

One of the biggest problems in our country today is the fact that so many people feel entitled. They may feel entitled to a bigger house, a brand new car, a vacation twice per year, a wife, a family, a good paying job, and a college education. I work with students every day who have one goal in mind: graduate from college. They will do whatever it takes to reach this goal. That might mean sacrificing 6 years of their life in pursuit of the degree, taking out more student loans than they could ever repay in a lifetime, or it could even mean endangering their health with binge drinking or lack of sleep while in college.

Some of the most financially unhealthy people I have ever met live on college campuses. The vast majority of these students have a lot of debt and ZERO income. Student loans are structured so students can borrow the funds they need to graduate with the intent that they can then get a job and begin to repay those loans. But what if that job does not happen? Or possibly even worse, what if reality slaps them in the face and they realize that a college degree does not guarantee a cushy office job with a corner window and a fat salary?

Every day I speak with parents and students who are struggling to make ends meet. This may be because the parents lost their job and can no longer pay for their child’s education, because the student’s GPA slipped and they lost an important scholarship, or it might be because a graduate student lost the funding for his graduate assistantship and now his tuition has skyrocketed. All of these situations can be heartbreaking, but in the end my question continues to be: should you go to college if you cannot afford it?

There are many people in both sides of the “go to college at all costs” camps. Some agree, and some reject that train of thought. Whatever stance you take, I don’t think you can deny the fact that many students are obtaining their college degrees only AFTER they have put either themselves or their parents in a precarious financial state. Is it worth it?

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Money for College Project Weekly Roundup: Hot Hot Heat

No, no, not the indie rock band…I’m concerned about the sweltering heat wave that has hit the southeast United States this week. We hit 3 record setting highs for this month in one week! We never got any snow this year (sad) and now we are trying to skip over spring and go straight to summer!

Spring and Fall are my two favorite times of the year, so I am sincerely hopeful that the weather cools down a bit so we can truly enjoy typical spring weather. The good news is that our heat has not come on for weeks now, so our gas and electric bills should be WAY down.

March madness is also in full swing as of last night, (still waiting for Duke to get upset in the first round…) so it should be an exciting 3 weeks.

Money for College Project


[button link=”” color=”red”] Free College in Michigan[/button]



[button link=”” color=”red”] Copyright Awareness Scholarship[/button]




Yakezie Friends


[button link=”” color=”green”] Sustainable Life – Got Old Wood?[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Stock Trend Investing – Roth IRA[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Penny Pinching Pro – Thesis Edits[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”]Fiscal Phoenix –  Important Ratios[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Mighty Bargain Hunter  – Silver a Bargain[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Money Cactus – Finding Your Passion[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Roshawn Watson – Be Frugal or Earn More?[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Broke Professionals – Delay Gratification[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Dog Ate my Wallet – Yeah Without Money[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] Money Crashers – Carnival[/button]


[button link=”” color=”green”] My PF Journey – Blog Income Give Back[/button]



Scholarship of the Day: Copyright Awareness Scholarship

Scholarship of the Day


Award: $5000 , $3000, and $2000


Deadline: May 1, 2012

The Copyright Awareness Scholarship is available to students between the ages of 13 and 25. To be considered, you must creatively present your viewpoint on the importance of intellectual property and copyright law. Entries must include a multi-media component, which can be one or all of the following: audio, video, or PowerPoint files. All audio, video, PDFs, and PowerPoint files must be saved to a CD or DVD and mailed in with the entry form. Audio and video projects should be under five minutes in length.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] Apply Now[/button]


How to Apply:

HOW TO ENTER: To enter, beginning December 1, 2011, go to or and follow the instructions for completing the Application and uploading your Submission. Applications must be submitted by Tuesday, May 1 no later than 11:59 PM EST.

Limit one (1) Application and Submission per person.  Written, pictorial, audio or video responses that are obscene, pornographic, defamatory or otherwise objectionable will be disqualified. All Applications and Submissions become the property of the Sponsor and will not be returned. Sponsor assumes no responsibility for lost, late, misdirected, or unintelligible entries. By submitting an Application and Submission, you fully and unconditionally accept and agree to these Official Rules and the decisions of the Sponsor, which are final and binding.

NAFME is looking for students to creatively present their viewpoints, in VIDEO format, on The Importance of Intellectual Property and Copyright Law. All submissions must consist primarily of original material. If a submission contains copyrighted material (e.g., a song, a video clip) owned by another party, please submit evidence of permission to use that material. Submissions that contain copyrighted material but which do not include such evidence of permission to use that material will be automatically disqualified.

Videos should be in .mp4, .m4v, mov, or .wmv formats. Other formats will not be accepted. Videos should be between thirty (30) seconds and three (3) minutes. Per the application form, videos should be 20MB or less. NOTE: the online application form will not allow any file larger than 20MB.


Awards Available: 3



The NAfME Copyright Awareness Scholarship Program Sponsored by the MPA for 2012 (the “Scholarship Program”) is open only to those legal residents of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia and individuals currently studying in one of the fifty (50) United States and the District of Columbia pursuant to a valid F-1 Student Visa who are between thirteen (13) and twenty-five (25) years of age at the time of application and who are currently enrolled in an accredited secondary school or post-secondary institution of higher learning (college, university or trade school). Students must supply contact of school official so that enrollment can be confirmed.

Current employees, officers, directors and agents of Sponsor and their immediate family members (defined as spouse, domestic partner, parents, siblings and children) are not eligible to win.




Additional Information:

SELECTION OF POTENTIAL WINNERS: Sponsor is looking for Submissions that are well-constructed and clearly and creatively address the topic. On or about May 15, 2012, a qualified panel of judges will select three (3) potential winners. All applicants will be notified of their status via email.

4. PUBLICITY: By submitting an Application and Submission, Applicant (or, if a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian) agrees that Sponsor may, without any limitation or further compensation or notice, use his or her name, voice and/or likeness in any and all media, worldwide, for the purpose of advertising and promoting the Website, the Sponsor, the Scholarship Program, or any other promotion, contest or sweepstakes of the Sponsor.

5. OWNERSHIP: By submitting an Application and Submission, Applicant (or, if a minor, his/her parent or legal guardian) assigns to Sponsor the material submitted, including the worldwide copyright and any extensions, renewals, revivals, reversions and restorations thereof.  Applicant agrees that Sponsor and its designees may exploit, edit, modify, and distribute the Submission and all elements of it in any and all media now known or not currently known, throughout the world in perpetuity without compensation, permission or notification to Applicant or any third party.

6. REPRESENTATIONS AND WARRANTIES/INDEMNIFICATION: Each person who enters this Scholarship Program represents and warrants to Sponsor as follows: (i) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio and/or video content are the Applicant’s own original, previously unpublished, and previously unproduced work (except for any copyrighted material owned by third parties as to which all necessary permission to use such material has been obtained) and, as of the date of submission, are not the subject of any actual or threatened litigation or claim; (ii) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio and/or video content, neither infringes upon nor violates the intellectual property rights or other rights of any other person or entity; (iii) the Application and Submission, including any written, pictorial, audio, and/or video content, does not and will not violate any applicable laws, and meets the Official Rules set forth herein. Each Applicant hereby agrees to indemnify and hold the Sponsor harmless from and against any and all third party claims, actions or proceedings of any kind and from any and all damages, liabilities, costs and expenses relating to or arising out of any breach or alleged breach of any of the warranties, representations or agreements of Applicant hereunder.

7. NO OBLIGATION TO USE: Sponsor shall have no obligation (express or implied) to use any winning Submission, or to otherwise exploit a winning Submission or continue the development, production, distribution or exploitation thereof, and Sponsor may at any time abandon the use of the winning Submission for any reason, with or without legal justification or excuse, and the Scholarship prize recipients shall not be entitled to any damages or other relief by reason thereof.

8. LIST OF SCHOLARSHIP PRIZE RECIPIENTS: The names of the Scholarship prize recipients and their winning Submissions may be posted on Sponsor’s Websites.

9. SPONSOR: The NAFME Copyright Awareness Scholarship is sponsored by The Music Publishers Association of the United States and the National Association for Music Education (NAFME).

Questions regarding the Scholarship may be directed to


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Free College For All High School Graduates in Michigan??

money for college

You may have heard about this story back in January when it first broke, but it has come into the limelight over the weekend because two Michigan lawmakers are set to unveil their plan to offer free public college tuition to all high school graduates in the state of Michigan.

Sounds crazy right?

Well the lawmakers certainly have their fair share of detractors, but they have garnered a lot of support as well.

Here is how the plan is set to work: [box] The proposal would allow Michigan high school graduates to get grants of up to roughly $9,500 a year for attending college. The grants could be used to pay tuition or associated costs at public universities and community colleges in the state. The plan is to pay for it by taking and saving the closings from tax loopholes, taxing Internet sales, and shaving lucrative state contracts with private vendors by 6 percent.[/box]

This plan sounds great in theory, but it is based on tax increases for the citizens of Michigan. In case you are not aware, this is the same state that has been decimated by the recent blows to the auto industry, as well as the virtual collapse of the local economy around Detroit. Michiganders don’t exactly need a tax increase right now.

Supposedly, the plan could be put into play without increasing the tax burden of private citizens: [box] Democrats say the plan could be accomplished without tax increases for Michigan citizens. But some businesses or others who could lose tax credits or exemptions under the plan would face higher tax bills than before, which would be a concern for Republicans.[/box]

In the end, I believe it comes down to the question of whether or not it is a good idea to increase taxes and give away virtually free rides to the state’s high school graduates?

Will a free ride to college cause students to give up. If getting into, and paying for college is no more difficult than just showing up, will students continue to have a drive to succeed?

Is there a correlation between paying for college and being invested in your own success?

To be honest, I believe that there is. Just as someone appreciates a vehicle that they have struggled to pay for, they will appreciate a college education if they have had to work to pay for it.

However, working hard to fund your education should also be balanced by the fact that college tuition is skyrocketing through the roof, and students are finding it much more difficult to pay for college. Finding money for college is not easy, and many students are having to rely on student loans just to make ends meet.

Will our economy be better off with higher taxes or with more student loans that cause another economic downturn when the student loan bubble finally bursts?

Pick your poison.

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Money for College Project Weekly Roundup: March Madness

For all of my fellow college basketball fans, we are entering our favorite time of the year: March Madness!

I love nothing more than sitting in front of the tv for hours on end watching all of the drama and suspense unfold. Who needs reality tv!

Unfortunately, my Alma Mater won’t make it into the big dance this year, but I still plan to watch as much of the tournament as possible. I’m a little jealous of Jeff at Sustainable Life; I believe he is actually going to watch some games live this year! Maybe some day…

Even if you are not a big college basketball fan, I think there is still some awesome information that can be learned from the following articles. Here is what went on at Money for College Project as well as with my Yakezie friends. Enjoy!

Money for College Project


[button link=”” color=”red”] Family Financial Fitness Day[/button]



[button link=”” color=”red”] Higher Ed Helps the Economy[/button]



[button link=”” color=”red”] Odenza Marketing Scholarship[/button]




Yakezie Friends


[button link=”” color=”green”] Sustainable Life – Tenets of Sustainability[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Stock Trend Investing – Mobile Stock Investing[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Penny Pinching Pro – Thesis Edits[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”]Fiscal Phoenix –  Fun in Investing[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Mighty Bargain Hunter  – Uncle Sam Keeps Refunds?[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Money Cactus – Hyperbolic Discounting[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Roshawn Watson – Safe investments?[/button]



[button link=”” color=”green”] Broke Professionals – House on the Market[/button]



[button link=”″ color=”green”] Dog Ate my Wallet – Budgets…[/button]



Scholarship of the Day: Odenza Marketing Scholarship

Scholarship of the Day


Award: $500


Deadline: March 30, 2012


The Odenza Marketing Scholarship is available to students in the U.S. and Canada who are between the ages of 16 and 25. You must submit two 500 – word essays to be considered for this award. A minimum 2.5 GPA is also required.

[button link=”” type=”big” color=”orange” newwindow=”yes”] Apply Now[/button]


How to Apply:

In order to apply for the Odenza Marketing Scholarship you must write two small essays. Every essay must contain three essential elements.

1. The essay must provide a thesis statement (in the introductory paragraph). The thesis statement must encapsulate the main argument for the paper. It must be clear and coherent, and it must answer the question that has been put forth on the application.

2. The essay must offer supporting evidence. The writer must provide the supporting evidence in paragraph (not “bullet” or list) form. Each paragraph must contain evidence that supports one idea or concept that proves the thesis statement. The writer must provide citations (in footnote, endnote, or paranthetical form) for all evidence presented.

3. Every essay must follow basic rules of format and grammar. Every paper must contain a beginning (introductory paragraph), a middle (several supporting paragraphs that comprise the body of the paper), and an end (concluding paragraph). Grammar is vital for essay composition. Sentence fragments, misspellings, and improper punctuation denote a carelessly-written and poorly-conceived paper.

Read more about Application: Odenza Marketing Scholarship by


Awards Available: 1



To be considered eligible for the Odenza Marketing Scholarship you must:

A) Be between the ages of 16 and 25 on March 30, 2012

B) Submit answers to the essay questions, which can be found on the application page, prior to the March 30, 2012 deadline.

C) Have at least one full year of post secondary studies remaining at the time of the award

D) Have a GPA of 2.5 or greater.

E) Be a citizen of the United States or Canada

Read more about Eligibility: Odenza Marketing Scholarship by




Additional Information:

The scholarship winner will be announced on or around June 1, 2012 and will be posted on this website immediately after. All applications must be received by 11:59pm ET on March 30, 2012. No late applications will be reviewed.

Read more about Eligibility: Odenza Marketing Scholarship by


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How Higher Education Helps the Economy

How Higher Education Helps the Economy

Another great infographic from our friends over at Online Universities Resource.

The main metric in this infographic is Return on Investment or ROI. They used a recent study by PayScale to determine which colleges had the best ROI. This means that based on the amount you would have to pay for tuition, your ROI is the amount of financial reward that you would receive in return for your education. Translation? How good of a job you can get and keep over the course of your career!

We’ve talked before about how your job prospects and the ability to earn a competitive wage are the new standard for colleges and universities. When you sink $100,000 into your college education and then end up with no job prospects and student loan bills that you cannot pay, you not only hurt yourself but you become a drain on society and our government. Avoiding this at all cost should be your goal. You can do this by spending as little as possible on your college education, by finding the best job possible, or by doing both and keeping all of your options open.

The chart at the bottom is also very interesting. It looks at the current unemployment rates in America and the corresponding majors that those unemployed folks pursued while in college. Architecture and the Arts have taken a beating in recent years. Always good to think about these things before deciding what your major in college will be!

My Family Financial Fitness Day

financial ftness day

This past Saturday was my annual Financial Fitness Day.

I started doing this a few years ago on a recommendation from a family friend who said that he had been doing this for the last 30 years. The concept makes perfect sense to me: a day set aside for nothing but taking care of updating, rebalancing, changing, analyzing all of your financial data and positions.

The finances of one family can become very complicated very quickly. When you factor in insurance, mortgage (or rent) payments, retirement, savings, utility bills, college savings, and taxes, it quickly becomes apparent that you could use a virtual assistant to help you keep track of your finances.

Rather than hiring someone else to handle my finances for my family, I take one day out of the year where I completely devote myself to optimizing our finances. My wife is happy to let me go for one day to focus 100% on getting our finances in order for the next year. Here are a few things that I was able to accomplish in the most recent addition of my finncial fitness day.

Researching Our Insurance Premiums

We pay a lot of money in insurance every year. We pay insurance on our cars, on our home (we used to even pay insurance on our mortgage, but thankfully that is done), on ourselves, on our life, on our business liability and equipment, and even a special jewelry policy for my wife’s engagement ring.

My task with all of the various insurance policies that we have is to research quotes and compare coverages for every policy. This ensures that we are getting the most coverage for the best price. In some areas, we are willing to pay less of a premium for less coverage 9pr a higher deductible) and in other instances, we need to pay a higher premium and have a lower deductible.

The main change that I made this year is to research how our health insurance will change when we bring our adopted child home. I had to contact my insurance provider to ensure I understood the process for adding a child to our policy, and to ensure that I completed the forms within their deadlines to ensure our baby’s medical bills were covered in the hospital.

That was the only major change in insurance that I made this year.

Rebalancing Our Portfolio

This task this year was fun. In the past, this has not been so fun. Reason being? It’s no fun to rebalance a portfolio when that portfolio lost money. This year however, we managed a 9$ increase over the previous year. Our retirement portfolio is roughly 70% in a 2055 target date index fund, and 30% in a small cap business fund. The small cap fund had growth of about 18% this past year, so I took a portion of those funds and moved them over to the target date fund to get back down to our 70% – 30% split.

Rebalancing does not have to be difficult. We have used index funds for years now, and I have enjoyed their ease of use, and their low cost. I highly recommend them.

Updating my Credit Card on Auto-Billpay

My credit card expired in February, and I had to go through and update every auto-billpay account that I use to ensure that all of the payments went through. All but 2 of our monthly bills route through our credit card so this makes it very easy to pay bills every month, but quite a headache to update the credit card on every account. This took me about 3 hours, since I had to remember the login and password for every single bill (and most of them had expired!!).

Projected Taxes for 2012

The last major task that I accomplished in my family financial fitness day was to project our taxes for 2012. We just received our taxes back from our CPA for 2011, and I needed to evaluate what changes we could make this year to lower the amount of taxes we paid. This was the first year we had a business (my wife’s photography business) so our taxes were a bit more complicated than usual.

I also worked on updating our profit and loss statement for our business and our expense report for our business tax purposes. Making this a priority now will help us be much more organized come tax time again next year.

Do you have a family financial fitness day?

What tasks do you accomplish on a day like this ?

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