Freshman Boot Camp Week 5: Going Greek

1 Sep

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

girls entering sorority house

Purdue University has a massive Greek community (roughly 18% of the student population joins a fraternity or sorority). Greek life can be great! There are activities, parties, socials, philanthropies, and the brotherhood/sisterhood bonds, activities that create lifetime memories. Many students rush houses (i.e. they join houses after going through the ‘rush’ process) but, there are costs to keep in mind. When rushing this fall do not just consider how big the house is, or how cool the members are, but also keep in mind the finances.

The Division of Financial Aid creates a Cost of Attendance each year for students. Sometimes it is easier to think of this as a system of budgets. Housing is one of the budgets listed. All students receive a budget for housing whether they are living on campus or off campus. Your financial aid will be processed by the university and sent to the university billing office (the Bursar office here at Purdue) based off the Cost of Attendance. Once at the billing office your financial aid will pay towards your university bill, tuition and fees first and housing next if you live on campus.

club fair

Photo by: Purdue Marketing and Media

If you do not have a housing bill with the university and have financial aid remaining after tuition and fees are paid you or your (depending on what type of financial aid you have) parents will receive a refund check for the remaining funds. It is then up to the student to use that refund to pay all of their expenses to their fraternity or sorority. Note that since students are billed on a semester basis, refunds are sent on a semester basis. If you are using the Cost of Attendance as a budget, you will want to split it in half for the yearly amounts.

There are certain questions you need to consider when it comes to going Greek:


Does the Greek organization you’re looking at have a house? Are you required to live there? How do they bill you? If they have a house and you are required to live there, what are the costs? Is the rent monthly, on a semester basis, or all at once in the fall? Is the house willing to work with you on when the payment is due? It’s important to keep these things in mind as financial aid will always be sent once each semester in a lump sum.

students filling up fountain pops

Photo by: Purdue Marketing & Media


Does the house provide food? Do they cater 3 meals a day 7 days a week? Do they have a cook? Is this in the housing fee or is it separate? Although some houses have cooks and provide food, others do not. Some houses have the student provide their groceries. If the student does need to get groceries, how are they going to get them? Do you have a car to drive to and from the supermarket? Do you plan on taking the bus?


Does the organization have a membership fee or dues? Some Greek organizations have membership fees, on top of the housing. Often times there are fees such as a national fee, and a chapter fee. Are these billed monthly, a lump sum or on a semester basis? Do you only pay this once when you enter the house, or every year?

Social Fees:

So they won’t be called social fees, but you know what I’m talking about. Buying t-shirts as a group? Who’s paying for the weekend social activities? What about the balloons, confetti, and other party supplies? Every time your house has a function, social, or party there are costs. And every time you hang out with your brothers/sisters there’s probably some purchases involved (pizza, clothes at the mall, Den pops). Who’s footing those bills?


Is there a fee for going through the rush process? What about a last minute road trip to the fraternity/sorority at your neighboring college? Are you prepared for your home town friends to visit? There are many unexpected expenses one can face in or out of a Greek organization. This is one reason why an emergency fund is key for any financial plan.

students dancing in costumes

Photo by: Purdue Marketing & Media

Non-monetary Fees: Not all fees cost money. What about your time? You are here first and foremost to be a student. It takes time to study and prepare. Do you have time to keep up your Greek social life and maintain a high GPA? Some houses even require you to maintain a specific GPA in order to stay a member.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. There could be more expenses, there could be less, and it’s just a something to keep in mind when deciding to join a house. Joining a house can be a great experience, and you can meet lots of people, see new sites, and make memories that will last a lifetime! Just do what works best for you, and consider all angles when deciding.


Congratulations, you have just completed the MyMoney Freshman Boot Camp.  You are now ready to have an excellent freshman year!

Are there topics we have not covered that you would like discussed?  Please share you ideas below.

Boiler UP!

Freshman Boot Camp Week 4: Syllabus Week

25 Aug

Recent Purdue Graduate Words of wisdom to the class of 2017

2014 planner on top of calendar

Photo by: Raysha Duncan


I’ll be honest.  When you think of that girl in class who has her entire week planned out, even down to what meal she is going to cook on what night, that’s me.

My favorite two days every semester occur during syllabus week, a time when I can write every assignment from every professor for the entire semester.  For all new Boilermakers, syllabus week happens the first week of classes every semester and you review the syllabus in class … for most classes.  Take advance of this time while you are reviewing the semester’s assignments and due dates by completing your planner.

I love planning and I love schedules.  I like to think of my planning addiction as a type of goal setting exercise.  I write what I want to accomplish every week, and it’s not complete until I actually mark the line through it.  That’s actually another one of my greatest joys—crossing off tasks that I want to do after they are finished.  I honestly believe that without weekly goals, I would never get anything accomplished.

Writing things down is a motivation for me because I hate seeing things in my planner that I didn’t get to cross off.  The feeling is comparable to my grandparents saying they are disappointed in me; it’s that serious!  This technique can also be used for long-term goals too, which is basically a glorified way of me saying I want to plan my work outs so I can get my high school body back by the end of summer.

papers and books on desk

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

It’s still the same concept, though.  I plan out what I want to do, week by week, to get to my end result.  It worked well for me during college, so I am more than optimistic that it will also work after college.

The things I’ve mentioned for goal-setting are fairly juvenile. I mean, it’s not like I am setting goals for my ten-year plan or anything, even though now that I think about it, I probably should start that soon.

stack of books & coffee cup

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

The key aspects of goal setting I have learned through college and personal life are to be realistic with yourself. Don’t tell anyone how much you love to plan things.  Make sure your goals are attainable for you, or else you will get discouraged.  It doesn’t make sense to say you are going to work out for three hours after you get home from work and then cook a five course meal.  That doesn’t even sound enjoyable!  And I’m really stressing here, keep your planning addiction to yourself because people love to mess with you.  They will start inviting you to things, like the bars when they know you have an exam tomorrow morning, just because they know that it will torment you and ruin your chances of getting your goals accomplished for the day.  Just do what I do, think to yourself: “what would my grandparents want me to do”… and you will usually make the right decision.


15 to Finish Indiana

19 Aug

Tuition. Books. Supplies. Parking. Housing.

Every year of college is expensive.

But on average, if you take 15 credits each semester, you’ll have an associate degree in 2 years or a bachelor’s degree in 4. And then, instead of letting the expenses of college drag on for years, you’ll be out in the world using your degree to jumpstart your career, get a better job, and earn more money.


Indiana’s 15 to Finish campaign is sponsored by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education in partnership with the state’s colleges and universities.

Freshman Boot Camp Week 3: Purdue ID

18 Aug

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

example Purdue student ID

What is your Purdue ID good for? It’s a student’s personal identification number. It’s how you get into your residence hall, it’s your meal ticket if you have a meal plan, it’s your verification when turning in an exam, it’s verification for offices and require it to see your student account information, and it’s how you ride the bus for free. Not to be dramatic, but you cannot LIVE without your Purdue ID!! Although memorizing the number is highly recommended, there are other reasons to carry around the card with you.

Housing: If you live in the residence halls, this is how you swipe into your building, and potentially even the wing you live on.

dining courtMeal Plan: If you have a meal plan, this is how you swipe into the dining courts. Each swipe counts as a meal. Some dining courts offer meals, like steak, which are called a “double swipe”. Double swipe meals count as two MEALS, so be careful how often you partake! On-the-Go! uses swipes in a similar fashion. On-the-GO! is your carry-out option for dining. Located adjacent to Earhart, Ford and Windsor Dining Courts, On-the-GO! provides a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and snack items. Signs are posted in the On-the-Go! locations stating much each item is worth. You add up all the items until it totals one meal swipe.

Dining Dollars: Dining Dollars are additional meal swipes on top of the meal plan that can be used. These are used more for eating out or in the mini marts around campus. Cary Knight Spot and Harrison Grillé are restaurants on campus that accept student’s Dining Dollars. Restaurants in the Union also accept Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can purchase other items besides food though. Mini marts also accept Dining Dollars, and while they have food items, school supplies, shampoo, etc. It’s similar to a small convenience store.cary knight spot

Boiler Express: Boiler Express is like a pre-paid debit card. Please note: Boiler Express must be set up separately, I repeat Boiler Express is separate and your refund does not automatically go into a Boiler Express Card. Boiler Express can be used at the same places as Dining Dollars. It can also be used in the laundry facilities. Each residence hall has a laundry room and you can swipe your Purdue ID to use your Boiler Express funds instead of quarters. They do offer a discounted price if you use Boiler Express instead of quarters! Click here, for more information regarding this program.

Discounts and Freebies: You can ride the bus for free with your Purdue ID card. Did you also know that many places offer discounts to students? You never know, flashing your Purdue ID might give you the unexpected, but oh-so coveted discount. Also, many Purdue-sponsored functions (Convocations, Union activities, sporting events, or even resident hall activities) often offer discounts to students which is a good reason to keep your ID on you to verify that you are a student.

The Muggle Bus System

14 Aug

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Lafayette CitBus

Have you misplaced your Nimbus 2000? Still recovering from a battle with a grindylow? …or is it just too cold to walk? Say hello to the City Bus, the Greater Lafayette area bus system. This bus system is free for all Purdue students. All you need is your Purdue ID and you’re off and running.

The buses have different colored names with a sign at the top of the bus and a colored route on the bus map matching the name to help you determine if that’s the bus you want. Even though you’ll mainly just use the campus and regular loops in West Lafayette, this is not the limit of your map! You can take the bus to Lafayette as well. And if you’re out late at night without your invisibility cloak, there’s no need to fear, there are actually two campus loops that run really late at night (like the Knight Bus for wizards) so you can take the bus home (or back to your car) when it gets dark.

students catching the bus

By: Purdue Student Life

Catching the bus is easy. Just figure out which stop you need to get you where you want to go, stand at the sign, and when you see your bus approaching stick out your wand arm. The bus will stop for you.

Not all of us have a Time Turner and there’s a chance that at some point you’ll be running a little late. There are several ways to see when your bus is coming and when to be at the stop:

Text: There is a bus stop ID on the signs. You just need to text RT4 followed by the bus stop ID and Route to 41411. They will send you the next three departure times via text.

Double Map: Like the Marauder’s Map, double map lets you see a bus’s location in real time. You can use this through the CityBus website or download the Double Map app on your smartphone.

MyRide: This smartphone friendly search allows you to enter in the bus stop number or street names to access information on your bus’s arrival time.

My Bus: This is a little more involved, but it’s a great one to access if you’re in your apartment and don’t have the bus stop number in front of you. Dropdown menus allow you to choose which route you are on and then two additional dropdown menus allow you to choose the direction you’re traveling and which stop you need information for.

There are some stops where pulling the ‘stop’ wire just isn’t needed. So you don’t have to hear that annoying ring, the Ross-Ade bus always stops at the top of the hill for the parking lot. The Silver Loop bus almost always stops at Class of 1950. It’s like magic! All buses will stop at the transfer station across the bridge in Lafayette too.

So the next time you’re in for an adventure and don’t have a hippogriff handy, try out City Bus. It’s much easier to use than you’d think!

Freshman Boot Camp Week 2: Dorm Decor

11 Aug

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

Purdue Dorm Room

Moving to college is a big adjustment! Out on your own, on your own schedule, it’s a massive change, and one often accompanied by homesickness. Decorating your dorm room is a great way to get that “home away from home” feeling and help reduce your home town blues. You can achieve decorating greatness without breaking the bank! Here are some tips on decorating your room.

Talk to your roommate(s):

Who’s bringing what? Do you really need two microwaves, and two fridges, and two futons? Deciding who brings what can really help save on costs and space.

Photo by: Kelli Mullins

Photo by Kelli Mullins


Honestly, dorm rooms are not suite-sized. There is only a finite amount of space within your room or within your space if you are sharing a room. Finding items that double as storage and decoration are often a good bet. For example, decorative jars to store small things on your desk or dresser top.  Not only are you saving money by not buying two separate items, but you also don’t need to buy/rent storage space for any extras.

Added advice: Command Strips are a life saver! Seriously, these things can be used for anything. Add a hook to one for a towel rack, or a necklace hanger. You can also hang wall art without damaging the walls. You would be amazed at all of the things that can be engineered with these things.

Furniture pieces:

Each residence hall comes with a bed, a desk, and a dresser. Do you need a futon and two chairs?  Probably not. Decide early with your roommate who’s bringing what and you can save space, confusion, time, and money. As a personal preference, one futon is awesome instead of two chairs. It’s a space saver and great to nap in…; can you say the same about two chairs?


Believe it or not, all dorm floors at Purdue are tile. In the summer that’s fine, but it can get a little chilly in the winter. While

Photo by:  Debbie Saenz

Photo by: Debbie Saenz

you can purchase a rug from any superstore, one of the best things I did for my dorm room was taking a trip to a carpet store. Left over pieces of carpet rolls are often discounted and buying the “scrap” is a cheap way to get a lot of floor covering and keep your feet warm! When I lived in Windsor, I got padded carpet that was left over from a carpet roll really cheap and it covered my floor completely. It’s definitely something to think about when pricing rugs.

Still lacking decoration inspiration? Check out some of these boards on Pinterest for some ‘pinspiration’ for your dorm this fall: this college’s dorm décor & DIY board, this girl’s dorm DIY board, and this blogger’s dorm décor board. Be sure to share any of your finds or advice below for other readers!

Freshman Boot Camp Week 1: Books

4 Aug

Brandon Endsley, Purdue Alumni

college books costs too much

The cost of college today is all over the news.  From every media outlet you can read, watch, or listen to a professional talk about how student loan debt is at an all-time high and tuition and fees are rising faster than inflation.  While this all maybe true, talking about the issues over and over does not help any student attending college.
Pick any college student and they can tell you how the cost of college affects them negatively.  I am going to cover some simple tips students can use to cut their overall college costs by spending less on text books.
Per, in the academic year 2006-2007 the average annual costs of books for a 4 year public university was $942 and that number continues to rise year after year.

1.      Rent if possible.  For the average college course, renting books is cheaper and less of a hassle for buying your textbooks.  Everyone knows that buying a used book is cheaper than buying a new book, but when you go to sell your book back your “buy-back price” is much less than the buy price and in many cases the book store will not even purchase the book back.  Plus, you may have to wait in long lines with unpredictable weather (if you’re in the Midwest) for little recovery of your first investment.  When you rent a book you pay a flat fee and return it by the end of your semester.  If you use an online source like or you can FedEx your text-book back to them within a reasonable time period after your semester ends. Local bookstores may also have an option to rent.

stack of books & coffee cup

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

2.      Look for an older edition of your textbook.  Calculus has not changed in 2000 years, but the story problems have.  I recommend checking with your professor to see if you can buy an older edition.  I took a tax class where the new book was $300 and I refused to pay that price for one text-book.  I bought an edition that was three years older for $0.62 on Amazon and received the updated tax codes (which were the only difference between the two text books) from my professor.

3.      Look for the e-book.  An e-version could be an option offered by the publisher of your text-book.  The online version sells for a fraction of the price of a new or used book.  The only downside of purchasing the e-book version is sometimes there is a limited time frame you can use the text-book.  If you want to keep the book for referring to after the class is over, this may not be the route for you.

4.      GOOGLE it.  It’s not just a phrase but a way of life for most college students.  What will surprise you is how many titles are available on Google books.

5.      Check Craigslist.  Besides garage sales, housing, and boats, you can find used books for sale from students who have taken your class.

6.      Borrow the book from a friend who has previously taken the class. 
7.      Share a book with a classmate and split the costs.  In this scenario I would still recommend buying a cheaper book and splitting the cost for even higher savings.

papers and books on desk

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

8.      Check it out of the library.  Your campus library should have the book required by your class.  You may not be able to leave the library with the book, but you could at least get some free studying done… until the library closes that is.

9.      Speak with your professor. A lot of time the department requires a book to be purchased but the professor barely uses the material or provides the material needed in class.  If it is before the semester starts try sending your professor or department head an email asking about the course materials.

Freshman Boot Camp: Crash Course in Preparing for College

4 Aug

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator and Purdue Alumni

Drill Sergeant

The start of the school year is quickly approaching (T-minus 21 days) and you probably still have tons of stuff to get ready. Starting college is stressful! How do you buy books?  How do you decorate your dorm? How do you stay organized? Should you go Greek? You’ve got a lot of thoughts going in many different directions and let’s be honest, you’ve heard it from your parents enough already.

We’re going to discuss all the concerns above over the next five weeks to give you a jumpstart on preparation for freshman year.

  • Week One: Book Costs
  • Week Two: Dorm Decor & The Bus System
  • Week Three: Purdue ID
  • Week Four: Syllabus Week
  • Week Five: Going Greek

$ave the Planet & Your Wallet

28 Jul

Amanda Locker, Majoring in Environmental Science at Purdue University

GIF shows changing seasons, spring to summer, summer to fall, fall to winter

GIF by: Magellan

College is expensive enough so the thought of spending more money on “environmentally friendly products” is a huge turn off to any college student!  However, buying environmentally friendly products is not the only way you can help reduce your carbon footprint.  Here are some things you can do to save money and help save the planet:

Bottled Water

MyMoney Water bottle and can koozieJust stop buying it now!  Bottles of water are expensive and the costs add up.  Vending machines on campus sell bottles of water on average for $1.25.  If you are buying even 5 bottles of water a month for the full academic year you are spending $56.25 on water… ON WATER! Not worth it, in my opinion.  Just get a refillable water bottle and you’re good to go.  Plus, if you really don’t want to spend any money on water, fill up your bottle at any of the drinking-fountains on campus.


Purdue has a variety of options on how to get around campus! The bus system (CityBus) is a great way to get around and has many different route options for students who live off campus.  Or, if you are still unsure about taking the bus you can always start biking to class and using all those fantastic bike paths.  Either transportation option will save you time, cash, and will help cut down your carbon emissions!

Farmers’ Markets

Purdue Farmers Market

As a student myself I know the feeling of wanting to eat healthy fresh foods but not being able to afford the costs of fresh food at the grocery stores.  However, there is good news! A study done at Bard College reports how in most cases the prices at Farmers’ Markets can be cheaper than at the grocery store.  In even better news Purdue has a Farmers Market and Lafayette does too! Buying local food helps reduce carbon emissions and helps boost your local economy. Even if you cannot do all three of these things just start out by trying one method above and see where it takes you!  Living a sustainable lifestyle really can be easier than you think.  Check this website out if you are interested in finding out what your Carbon Footprint is and more ways to reduce your impact on the environment. carbon footprint

If you would like more information about sustainable living or if you have any comments you would like to share feel free to comment below.

Townies – Should You Live at Home During College?

24 Jul

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

2 cats on a staircase

Pressure from childhood pets. Photo by: Madison Duncan


Many townies may feel the pressure to both live at home and live on campus at the same time. Deciding which is more beneficial can be a difficult choice. On one hand, it’s nice to be on campus all the time and having the ability to walk back to your dorm or apartment. But, expenses are high when you’re not living at home, especially if you do not want to work 20+ hours a week and opt to take out student loans. As townies, we have the advantage of making a choice of which we would like to do; unlike a majority of students. By choosing to stay at home with mom and dad, we are given the option of living a (most commonly) rent-free four years of college.

family sitting on a couch

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Personally, I chose to live at home with my family for the first two years of college. During my experience, I felt like I was missing out on something that everyone was talking about. Plus, it felt a little awkward being a college student when my baby sister was still in elementary school. I decided to move out, without much planning to be honest, my junior year. Because of this decision, I had to take out a student loan that I would not have had to take out otherwise. I won’t be graduating with a lot of debt, but it’s still debt I could have avoided. That’s not to say I didn’t benefit from of moving out. I learned a lot about how to live on my own and maintain balance that was otherwise hard to figure out while living at home with my family. There are definitely pros and cons on both sides of this argument, the largest con on moving out are costs. For me personally, I found the cost to be too much, and I’m actually moving back home with my family for my senior year to save up money for after graduation.

If you really want to save money or not work as many hours or not take out as many loans, then living at home is something you should seriously consider. There is no easier way to save on your college expenses than to stay at home with mom and dad and put off paying rent for 4 years. If that’s not something you’re worried about and you really want to live on campus for the experience, then that’s good too! You will grow a lot from moving out and having roommates. For those of you who are worried about not gaining this experience, you still have the rest of your life after college to not live with your parents.


lasagna sitting on stovetop

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

The debate between staying at home and moving to campus isn’t just limited to Purdue; all students who grow up in a college town have this debate with themselves and/or their parents. And a few general rules apply to all students in this situation.Living at home comes with the benefits of home-cooked meals and endless family time. But, if you have younger siblings like I do, there’s also a lot of coordinating of schedules and early bedtimes. This may not be the same experience you would have with roommates. The biggest difference is that your roommates don’t love you unconditionally and they can hold grudges longer than a loving little brother. However, you do learn how to communicate with people outside of your family and you get to learn what happens when you argue with someone you live with that is not a family member. I know I’ve experienced a lot of growth with this in my year out of my parent’s house. But, I am moving back in with my parents because I would rather be financially comfortable for my final year of college. It’s a tough choice, but it is your choice, and it really is about what makes you most comfortable.

1. Keep in mind what your schedule will be like: if you move on campus, how often will you be home? More often than justifies living on campus?

2. Is moving on campus financially feasible?

3. What are the pros and cons for each situation? Does one situation outweigh the other? Why is that?

These are just a few very general questions to keep in mind when making your choice of whether or not to stay at home during college.

Have you had to debate living at home versus living on campus? Which did you choose?  What made you come to that decision?

Okay, so you have made the decision to move out on your own but are still contemplating between, dorm life, renting an apartment, or renting a house check out Where should I Live?


***This was originally posted in June 2013 and the author was interviewed by Reuters. Check out their article on choosing to live at home here.


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