Money Smart Week

17 Apr

Money Smart Week April 18-25

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. – Staff from Purdue University’s Division of Financial Aid and the Indiana Council for Economic Education, along with multiple local entities, will be participating in a state and national effort to present more than 3,500 free financial programs during Money Smart Week on April 18-25.

More information about local offerings is available online by going to and then searching under Indiana-Tippecanoe County.

Money Smart Week is a public awareness campaign to promote financial education across all age groups. Launched in 2002 by the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, the program is now active in more than 45 states through national partnerships with the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and U.S. Department of Agriculture Cooperative Extension, and the American Library Association.

“Money Smart Week began as a coordinated effort among a small group of Chicago-area organizations working to promote financial literacy,” said Alejo Torres, senior outreach manager at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago. “Today, Money Smart Week continues to expand nationally, providing greater awareness of, and access to, personal finance resources for all.”

Money Smart Week events are open to the public at businesses, financial institutions, schools, libraries, nonprofits and government agencies throughout the country on topics including kids and money, unemployment, managing student debt, and retirement. To learn more, visit

College Seniors Week 2: Paying Your Student Loans

16 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

man jumping off dock; Text overlay: Paying Your Student Loans

Yikes! This is a scary topic, especially with student loan debt being broadcasted all over the news. Student loan payments can seem overwhelming, especially if you’re still on the JOB HUNT.  I’ve gone ahead and summarized some important information to know about your loans as well as some really helpful links to help you through the repayment process.

Grace Periods

If you have Stafford Loans and have stayed enrolled at least half-time (6 credit hours for undergrads and 4 credit hours for grads) for your entire college career, you will have your full grace period of six months before you are expected to start paying on those loans. If you have a Subsidized Stafford Loan, depending on when you took out your loans, they may start to accrue interest during this grace period. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans have accrued the entire time you’ve had them and will continue to during your grace period and beyond until they are paid off.

Grace periods for Perkins Loans are nine months, as long as you have remained continuously enrolled at half-time status during your entire college career.

Grace periods for private loans vary per lender, so you will want to check with your loan servicer to determine when you are expected to start making payments on them.

 Interest Rates

Stafford Loan interest rates have been changing a lot recently; they’ve gone down this past year (2013-2014) thanks to Obama signing the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013. But, this also means you could have multiple Stafford Loans with different interest rates. You can log into your student loan account at the National Student Loan Database to check on your loans, their interest rates, and to see your loan servicer.
Perkins Loans have a 5% set interest rate.

Private Loans have variable or set interest rates, depending on your lender. You’ll want to check with the lender to see what your interest rate is currently and if it’s subject to change.


The biggest thing you need to know about your loans at this point? You need to repay them. I’d suggest starting at here. This website has a lot of helpful information:

Repayment Options: the different types, and what applies to you

Loan Consolidation: how to do it, can you do it

Making Payments: where to go, who you pay

Deferment & Forbearance: are you eligible, what to do


There’s a lot of information floating around about student loans these days, so set aside some time and actually do some research in figuring out what the best repayment options are for you. You have to pay them back, and you may be paying on them for the next few years, so you may as well know what’s expected of you.

High School Seniors Week 2: Understanding Financial Aid

13 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

what is financial aid - open road

Financial Aid can be a tough concept to understand: financial = money, aid = help… So it’s free money that colleges give you to pay for your school, right? Well, kind of. Some forms of financial aid can be free money other forms of financial aid you will have to pay back.

The first step in getting financial aid is to file a FAFSA, and filing it on time. Filing your FAFSA on time is especially important so you are eligible for more types of financial aid, meaning state aid (if you’re a resident of the state where you attend college) and university aid. Once the universities you have been accepted to receive your FAFSA, they will be able to put together a financial aid award for you and calculate your estimated financial aid awards.

Financial aid consists of two main types of financial aid: gift aid and self-help aid.

Gift Aid

This refers to all scholarships and grants, or, to put it more simply, all the types of aid that you don’t have to pay back. Scholarships can be need or merit-based and students can get them from various sources. Typically, students receive scholarships either from their university or from a private donor. There are websites such as and to help students find all kinds of private scholarships. There are some pretty obscure scholarships out there, so if you look hard enough, you may even find one that fits your eccentric hobbies.

For information on grants and scholarships available to Purdue students, please visit our website.

Self-Help Aid

This type of aid consists of loans and Federal Work Study. Loans are the most common type of self-help aid; they’re also the only type of financial aid that really makes it on the news. Students are expected to pay back their student loans once they have graduated and depending on what type of loan you take, there may be interest accruing on it while you’re in school. Federal Student Loans consist of Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans. Parents may also have the option of taking out a Parent PLUS Loan to help cover any remaining costs that the student has; Parent PLUS loans are taken out in the parent’s name, so the parent is the one who is expected to pay them back. Students also have the option of taking out private student loans, which are loans they apply for through a third-party lender and are then sent to their college.

It’s important to remember that ALL LOANS HAVE TO BE PAID BACK, so always try to borrow as little as possible so you aren’t burdened with huge loan payments once you graduate college.

This may seem like a bit of a dry topic, but it is so important. Take some time and learn all you can so you’re well-informed on the financial aid you’re receiving and make sure you know what’s expected of you in order to keep the aid you get.  If this article did not answer all your burning questions make sure you do not assume an answer… give your college’s financial aid office a call.

College Seniors Week 1: Applying for Jobs

9 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Computer keyboard and mouse; text overlay: College Senior Job Search Tips

Graduation is only five weeks away guys, it’s crunch time. Many of us will be going off to join the work force; some already have jobs lined up, while another group will be continuing their educations in grad schools. Keep in mind, that it is important to be optimistic, but also realistic about the future. The job market is a scary place for graduating students, and with student loan payments looming on the horizon, you’ll need to keep your eyes and your mind open to new possibilities.

Where to Start

Purdue students and Purdue alumni are fortunate enough to have the Center for Career Opportunities (CCO) to help get their searches started. Even if you’re not at Purdue, here’s some good information for utilizing your college career center. Make an appropriate resume; you’re applying for a professional position, so you need to be professional. Potential employers first meet you on paper, so even though you may have a great personality in person; you need to show your skills on paper.

Finding Something You’re Interested In

Have you made it through your four years and haven’t pinpointed exactly what you want to do yet? Don’t know what field speaks to you the most? That’s okay! While you’re trying to figure out what you want to do, go out and network. All you have to do is talk: let people know who you are, what you like, and have an elevator pitch prepared. And if you’re under an extreme time crunch and just need to get a job to get the bills paid, continue exploring what you want to do after you’ve gotten the job you need right now. You may not find something in your field right away, but if you put in the time and effort, you will find the right job eventually.


Be realistic about this one… Not everyone is able to pack up and move to New York City to pursue their dream job the day after graduation. You may have to move back in with your parents and work in your hometown until you find something in your field. But you should know where you want to go. If you want to make it to New York City, start your search for jobs exclusively there and find a group of roommates you can share a tiny apartment with somewhat-comfortably. If you want to stay closer to home and you’re from a smaller town, you may have a smaller pool for potential employers. If you’re open to moving anywhere, you’ve just opened your potential job opportunities exponentially because you’ll go wherever the job takes you (maybe to one of the ‘Best Cities for New College Grads in 2013’). Another possibility would be to look into online work/freelancing if you’re not sure where you want to move.

What job search tips do you have for our graduating seniors? Leave your suggestion in the comments!

High School Seniors Week 1: Choosing A College

6 Apr

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

HS Seniors Week 1

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted into the top 5 colleges of your dreams! Your future is bright and many good things will come in your future…the typical fortune cookie stuff. But, how do you choose which college will be graced by your presence?

High school seniors headed off to earn their Bachelor’s degrees have about a month to make this decision…and it’s a big one. There are many things to take into consideration when choosing a college including, but not limited to: financial aid offers, location, major/program, and personal/lifestyle preferences.

Financial Aid Offers

With a lot of students, the final decision comes down to the money. And with student loan debt rising each year, this is a very responsible way to choose your college. It’s important to sit down with your family and hash out what they, realistically, can help you with and what you as the student are going to be expected to pay.  Remember, college is a four or five year investment, so think long-term financing; not just the first year. This is a tough conversation to have, any conversation about money always is, but it’s an important one.

Location, Location, Location

This can be a BIG factor in where you go to college, and you probably already thought this one over when you were applying to schools. How far away is too far? Or on the flip side, how close is too close? Some students like the idea of being able to go home every other weekend, while others are okay with going home just for breaks. Don’t try to be tough about it, if you like to be around your family then stay near home (and maybe even live at home)! But, if you like your space and you’re okay with having your family 1,000 miles away then go and be free! We homebodies envy you.


It’s really important that the college you attend has a program you’re actually interested in pursuing. While it may tempting to apply to that college because your BFF is going there or they have really awesome-looking housing or you may run into a celebrity there, the real reason you’re going to college is to learn and get your degree. If you’ve already made sure that all of your top picks have your major/program, then be sure to research and compare them. Look into their rankings, job placement percentages, faculty, and classes offered. And if you’re interested in a specific concentration, make sure they have that too. Purdue’s Computer Science program, for example, has a variety of “tracks” for students to choose from when pursuing their degree allowing students to focus in more narrowly on what they’re interested in, a good option for students who have a specific interest.

Personal/Lifestyle Preferences

I’m sure you’ve heard this one before… But there is a big difference between a big school and a small school, a rural school and an urban school, a liberal arts school and a STEM school. If you like access to museums and art and culture, then a rural school may not be your best choice but if you want access to the outdoors and hiking trails, then a rural school may be perfect. Most schools, like Purdue, don’t necessarily fit perfectly into these few categories (besides, BIG!) but they can have a bit of everything. Look into what each school has that matters to you: How many people go to this school? What are the average class sizes? How big are sports? Do you have access to the local community or is campus off by itself?


You know what you like better than anybody, and you’re going to be at your college of choice for four years, you need to make sure you’re making a reasonable choice for you.

April is Senior Month!

2 Apr

**This series first ran April 2014 and has been slightly modified**

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Photo by: Mattbuck

Photo by: Mattbuck

Many transitions happen in April and not just with the weather (especially here in Indiana). April is such an important transitory month for both high school and college seniors: high school seniors have a national deadline (May 1st) coming up really fast to choose their college and college seniors who don’t have a plan yet are really starting to feel the pressure. Whether you’re graduating high school or graduating college or simply just a parent of a soon-to-be graduate, this can be a scary transition! This month, we’re compiling some important tips and information for both our high school seniors and college seniors. Each week we’ll be posting information for each group. A list of those upcoming blogs can be found below:

High School Seniors

Week 1: Picking your college

Week 2: Understanding Financial Aid

Week 3: Housing Hunt

Week 4: You Picked a School! Now What?

Week 5: Prep some more…

College Seniors

Week 1: Applying for Jobs

Week 2: Paying Back Your Loans

Week 3: Where Do You Live?

Week 4: Prepping for “Grown-Up” Life

Week 5: You Got the Job! Now What?

Scholarship Scams

30 Mar

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator

man hiking in woods; text overlay: How to Avoid Scholarship Scams

Right about now many of you are on the hunt for scholarships for the coming school year. And why wouldn’t you be? There are great resources out there to utilize such as and!  But some scholarship resources aren’t quite as friendly. The Federal Trade Commission has investigated numerous consumer complaints in recent years about such firms and found fraudulent activity.

What are some fraud warning signs to keep your eye out for?

-You are required to pay a fee to apply

-A “money-back guarantee”

-The application requires credit card/bank account information

-Offers “exclusive” information

What are some common scholarship scams?

Phony scholarship-promises cash if you pay a registration fee

Phony scholarship matching service-pay a fee and they guarantee you will win awards

Phony educational loan-pay a fee and receive a low interest rate

Phony financial aid seminar-a high pressure, poorly concealed sales pitch

Phony grant-promises to replace loans with grant if you pay a processing fee

How do you report a scholarship scam?

National Fraud Information Center (NFIC)

File an online complaint at, call their toll-free hotline at 1-800-876-7060

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

To report suspected fraud, visit to use the online consumer complaint form, call 1-888-FTC-HELP (1-202-382-4357)

State Attorney General’s Office

File your complaint with the Consumer Protection Division in your state.

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

Report business fraud, or ask for information about a company. Visit (You must have an address for the questionable organization to file a complaint).

For complaints involving mail fraud, visit To file an online complaint, call the Postal Crime Hotline at 1-800-654-8896

Townies – Should You Live at Home During College?

26 Mar

***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.

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?


Off-Campus Life: The Good, the Bad, and the Happy Medium

23 Mar

Leah Steppe- Public Relations and Advertising, Peer Counselor

For Rent Sign

Deciding where to live while you’re in college is a big decision for most. It’s your home away from home. There are hundreds of different living options while you are in college house, apartment, duplex, or dorm. One way to narrow down your search is to answer one simple question… Do you want to live on or off campus?.

To help ease the decision let’s discuss pros and cons to living off campus.


Pro: Many housing options (house, apartment, duplex) are considered off campus but are actually within walking distance to campus.  Living within walking distance can be great for students who want to live close (especially students who don’t have a car) but do not want to live in the dorms.

Con: Living off campus can mean living OFF campus, be careful what you look for. Although, many residency options are close to campus, there are just as many that are not within walking distance and require additional transportation… Most places around Purdue University are less than 10 miles or closer to campus so the drive really isn’t bad. Check out our article “Is It Worth It to Own a Car In College?” to see if you can afford the cost of transportation or for ideas on other means of transportation, some apartment complexes even have their own shuttle service.


The cost of living off campus can be significantly cheaper than living on campus, but it’s all about how and where you live.

Pro: Living off campus can be cheaper if you live in the right place. Typically, living further off campus can save you money on rent but your transportation costs may increase.

Photo By DrJunge

Photo By DrJunge

Typically, the nicer the apartment (i.e more amenities) the more expensive it is so you have to be careful. Living in a smaller place with more roommates can also save money by spreading the costs of living with more people (not just rent, but utilities, transportation, and food too). You also have the ability to buy and make your own food which means you can save a lot of money if you shop wisely. If it is your first time on your own or you just want to learn how to cook for less check out “Suiting Up Your Kitchen” or “When Raman Just Isn’t Enough, Why you Should Cook!”to learn quick tips on setting up your kitchen and cooking more than out of a box.

Con: Living closer to campus can be more expensive because you have the luxury of living close to classes, food, and entertainment. Living in a nicer, larger apartment with many amenities can be more expensive as well. The cost is greater because the demand for those apartments will be higher and real estate is all about location location location.


Zami student housingPro: Moving out of the dorms means having a lot more space. When you live in an apartment or a house you usually have your own bedroom which means no more sharing a bedroom. You also could have your own bathroom or one you share with 1 or 2 other people, which is better than a whole floor of people. Almost all apartments or houses are going to offer more space than a dorm, just be sure to do your research.

Con: You may end up paying more for that space though if you choose to live in an apartment complex with lots of amenities. The fewer roommates you have, the more space you have, but you typically end up paying more for a 2-bedroom apartment versus a 4-bedroom apartment. Also, it costs money to heat and cool all that extra space too, something you didn’t have to account for when living in the dorms and the heating bill can really add up in the chilly Indiana winters.


Signing a lease means you are locked into living in that space for as long as the lease says, unless you sublease your place. Most leases around Purdue University are for a full year which means you are responsible for paying rent even when school is not in session.

FDR signing paperPro: This can be a good thing for those students taking summer courses, working on or around campus for the summer, or if you just want to get away from home for a while.

Con: It can be a hassle though as a lot of students will go home during the summer which means paying rent for a place you are not even living at.

Deciding where to live while you are away at college is a big decision. Make sure you do some research before choosing a place because once you sign that lease it is difficult to get out. Here are some resources to check out for help in finding the right place for you:

  • Boiler Apartments
  • Purdue Housing Fair: Takes places once a semester on campus. Several apartment complexes hand out information about their apartments and free stuff! Dates will be announced at beginning of each semesters.
  • Purdue Off Campus Housing

The right place is out there for everyone whether it’s on campus, off campus, right next to campus, or somewhere in between. Just be sure to find the right fit for you and remember there are pros and cons to living on and off campus. When you find the right place it will not be a dorm, apartment, house, or duplex it will be your home.

5 Class Schedule Fillers at Purdue

19 Mar

Recommended by Purdue students, compiled by Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum

stack of books

Scheduling classes for the upcoming semester can be stressful whether you’re brand new to the process or if this is the millionth time (exaggerating just a little bit here) you’ve scheduled classes. And if you’re struggling to find one class to fill a scheduling space, that class can make all the difference and reduce class scheduling stress. We polled our peer counselors here at the Division of Financial Aid for suggestions on fun classes. Take a look below! Maybe you will find the class that completes your schedule and reduces your pre-semester stress.

Art and Design (AD) 255: Art Appreciation

One of our peer counselors took this class not only to fulfill a humanities requirement, but because she’s also “really interested in art fields.” It’s a great base for learning about art and while it has “zero to little homework, it’s really important to keep up” to get the most out of the class. The professor was clear and really easy to listen to, so she never felt unprepared. If you’re interested in art at all and need a humanities course, she HIGHLY recommends this course.

Course Objectives:

In this course, you will:

  • gain basic knowledge of art concerning media, vocabulary, themes, and history
  • patronize art establishments, such as galleries and museums (we’ll go as a class once or more)
  • describe and analyze works of art (current chances to see art will be announced in the classroom)
  • increase your aesthetic perception

English (ENGL) 227: Elements of Linguistics

This class is being recommended by an English major.  She just found this class “super interesting” because it pertained to her major and allowed her to learn a new field in the English realm.

William_Shakespeare_1609Subjects Covered:

  • Language: General Features
  • Phonetics/Phonology
  • Morphology
  • Syntax
  • Semantics
  • Pragmatics
  • Language and Languages

Art and Design (AD) 113: Basic Drawing

“A great, but tough class to take”, stated another Purdue Peer Counselor. There are some really great professors and the class provides you with an opportunity to learn some fundamental drawing skills. (It’s also a requirement if you want to move up in any 2-D art courses).

Course Objectives:

  • To develop and strengthen your observational , perceptual skills and creative
  • drawing skills
  • To challenge those skills by providing opportunities to explore a variety of media,
  • practices and concepts.
  • To sharpen your abilities to communicate visually and verbally when making and

analyzing art.

Physical Education Skills (PES) 114: Exercise & Music

This class has been recommended as a fun (one credit hour) course for anyone to take. “You get to do new exercises each week and that makes it really fun.” There are students who help out and teach the course some weeks and that also adds some diversity to this class – you get something new each week!”Sweatin_to_the_oldies Richard Simons

Course Description:

Instruction and practice in various types of exercise programs. Students select from the activities listed in the current schedule of classes. Following is a partial list of activities: body conditioning; exercise and fitness; exercise to music; jogging and running; swimnastics; relaxation techniques; weight training; exercise and principles of weight control. Typically offered Fall Spring.

Earth Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAS) 138: Thunderstorms & Tornadoes

An interesting course! This class provided one peer counselor the opportunity to learn about practical subjects. In this course, he learned to read weather maps and radars and “actually look at the different weather patterns” in ways that you don’t get to when you see the radar just on TV or online.

Course Description:

An elementary treatment of the physical structure of the atmosphere and the dynamical conditions that lead to the development of convective clouds, thunderstorms, and severe weather (including tornadoes, hail, wind, rain, lightning, and flash floods). This course will also focus on storm climatology, the socioeconomic impact of severe weather, as well as prediction, detection, warnings, and safety procedures. Analysis of severe weather events will include tornado movies and case studies of ground/aerial surveys of storm damage


Have you had a great class you’ve enjoyed at Purdue? Let us know below!


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