Sunday, January 27, 2013

Parents guide to paying for college

Now that your child got accepted to college, you have to begin to plan to pay for it. There is a lot of financial aid available, as well as other money sources out there for college. You will need to look at all options after studying your child's financial aid award.

Look at the financial aid letter very carefully, especially if your child applied to multiple colleges. The letter will spell out where all the aid is coming from, from grants to your pocket. There may even be an itemized list of what the bottom line for school costs are, like room and board. If it does not, you must factor that all in. Beware of the hidden costs of college. The bottom line is the total out of pocket expenses you will on the hook for. One college may be more expensive, but gives more financial aid, making it less costly for you. Others may me cheaper, but don't give as much financial aid, making more money come from your pocket. If you have financial hardships, write the financial aid office explaining this.

You will also need to dissect your family's financial situation. How much can you afford to pay? How much can the student pay? Remember, college will last 4 years, not just this one. Your child may need to work to pay for some of the college expenses.

Do a good scholarship search. Don't pay for one. The high school your child attends will have a full list. Also, look at other places for scholarships. You company may have scholarships for employees. Any clubs or professional organizations you belong to will probably have them as well. Apply for any and all you can.

Talk to the college about financing options. Most colleges and universities have some sort of payment plan. Normally, there is no interest.

Much of college is paid through student loans. All direct loans are now made by the government. Private supplemental and parent loans are also available, like PLUS loans. Private students loans should only be used as a last resort. They do not have the same low interest or repayment plans that direct student loans have.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Get more out of your financial aid award

If you will be paying for college using financial aid, now is the time to begin. In fact, most college students rely on financial aid. College tuition and expenses are rising, so you need to be able to get the most you can from your financial award package. Virtually every college gives out a financial aid package based on your FAFSA, so it is important to fill that out correctly. Here are some tips for maximizing your financial aid.

File your FAFSA early. You can start filling it out online January 1st. Quite a few colleges have deadlines, many as early as February. There is a limited amount of money that colleges have to give out. First come, first served is common. If you have not filed your income tax, or your parents, you can still fill out the FAFSA and use estimates. Bottom line, file your FAFSA early!

Even if you don't have a clue as to if or what you will qualify, fill your FAFSA out anyway. There is other money aid from colleges available, as well as federal student loans, that require a FAFSA to be filled out.

Be sure and fill the form out correctly and completely. Any errors or blanks will cause delays. All lines need to be filled out, even with zeros. If you fill it out online, the process should guide you on every line that must be filled in. Filling it out online is much easier anyway.

A college student is expected to contribute to their education. Your bank accounts and your parent's, will be counted. If you have money in a savings account, you might want to transfer it to a 529 savings plan. If you have a lot of money saved, use it all in your freshman year. That way, your future financial aid award will not be affected. Your parents can put money into an IRA or 401(k) that won't be counted as well.

One thing about your FAFSA to remember. Be sure and not lie or fudge figures. If you are found out, you could be declared ineligible for any financial aid. Be open and honest.

A little know aspect of getting more financial aid is to tell your college of your financial situation if it matters. You can talk to the financial aid officer, or write a letter, stating financial hardships that you and your family are going through. This could get you more aid. Also, if you get different financial aid awards from different colleges, you can use that as leverage for the school you want. Ask them if they will match a better offer. If the college wants you, they may do that.

Financial aid is not just grants and loans. You may need to work in the work-study program. The school also might give scholarships to eligible students who maintain good grades.

The bottom line is to get your FAFSA in now!

More info: Your financial aid award explained.

>> Free tips for broke college students.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Should you go to graduate school?

Sometimes your undergrad degree just won't cut it or lead to the job you really wanted. After graduating, many college students are thinking about grad school. Should I go, or not?

Many college students are not sure of what to do after graduation. Somewhere they have heard the myth that if you don't know, then just go to grad school. Not true. The only time you actually really need a graduate degree is if the career of your choice requires one. If not, why spend your time and money getting a degree that's a waste? Don't think it will make you more marketable. How about over qualified? Most grad students take out even bigger student loans!

Speaking of "more marketable." You will NOT be more more marketable except in jobs that require an advanced degree. Did you know it may actually make you less desirable? Because instead of getting valuable experience working in some job, you have spent the last 2 to 3 years staying in college. This only delays you getting a job! And what college grad does not need a job to start paying off that mountain of student loan debt?

One final thought. After getting an advanced degree, will you be applying to any and all jobs? If so, many job interviewers will think that you are only applying for a temporary job, IF your grad degree does not match it. After all, you went to the trouble of getting it, right?

>>More tips on graduate degrees.

How to be a teacher.

Friday, January 4, 2013

3 Ways for College Students to Earn Money Now

After the holiday break, you may be going back to college with a little less cash in your wallet. But there are ways to make some extra money, even for college students.

This may sound rather crass, but what did you get as Christmas presents?

Gift cards? If you did and you have not used them, why not sell them for cash? Cardpool.com allows you to sell them for over 90% of their value. PlasticJungle.com will buy them and pay by paypal or check. Having cash is probably more attractive than a new sweater or something.

Gifts? Unwanted gifts to be exact. What useless stuff did you receive? Why not sell the items on craigslist?

How about a part time job? snagajob.com has part time jobs listed for many areas. Working as a college student is actually the best way to put money in your pocket.

With a little effort, even broke college students back from the holidays can make some extra money!

How to be a teacher and find a teaching job.

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Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hot college degrees

If you are just starting college, or doing a career change, there are some degrees that are going to keep growing in high demand through 2013 and probably beyond. You may rethink your degree and career plans if your current degree is not cutting it. Here are some high in-demand degrees.
Accounting: A degree in accounting is perhaps the hottest degree. As the United States continues to recover financially, businesses will be looking for accountants. These jobs will grow almost 20%.
Business Management: Again, as businesses change and expand the recovery, business managers who know what they are doing will be in high demand. Tens of thousands of new managers and business consultants will be needed and desired.
Computer Science: It's no surprise here. Computer science has always been hot and it shows no signs of cooling. Programming and software needs of companies will continue to be needed well into the future. Computer science is a plus because it's a job skill.
Degree in communications: Just think of the growing ways we communicate: TV, internet, smartphone, social, email, and more. Knowing how to communicate across various channels will be a much sought after skill.
And how about graphic design? Again, as businesses expand the recovery, advertising and media will be key ventures. From books, posters, websites, even music cover designs will be in high demand. Again, being able to do advanced graphic design on computers will be a growing field for years to come.
In addition to this list, just about anything in the engineering field will be in demand as well.
>> How to find college scholarships.
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