Loan Repayment Tips for Recent (and not-so-recent) Graduates

18 Nov


Whether you’re a recent graduate whose loans are just entering repayment or you have been making payments for several years, there is a very real chance that educational loan payments may be causing you a financial hardship. For recent graduates, there is a lot of info covered in federal exit counseling and it would be easy to have missed some of it.  While there isn’t much that can be done about the amount you owe since you’ve already borrowed it, you can still choose from several different options for repayment.  The Institute for College Access and Success created a Top 10 Tips for recent graduates, a handy reference for borrowers.

Unless you chose otherwise, you’re probably enrolled in the Standard Repayment Plan which spreads your payments evenly over 10 years. This is both the default plan as well as the most aggressive repayment option available. However, there are several other options a borrower can choose which can limit the repayment per month to 10% of  discretionary income and reduce payments to as little as zero dollars per month (depending on income). For more information, check out Acacia Squire’s piece in NPR about her experiences and what options may be available to you.

DIY Costume Ideas

26 Oct

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

zombies on the street

Photo by: rampant

As fall winds down and Halloween approaches, so does the need for costumes! (But if you’ve been participating in Breakfast Club, you probably have at least one good outfit tucked back somewhere.) There are several different kinds of costume parties from come as whatever (including yourself) to themed parties (like hillbilly or dress as your favorite Star Wars character) to wear whatever you can make at home (human lamp, anyone?). No one wants to shell out a bunch of money on an outfit that’s going to be worn once. Below are a couple cheap staples to have on hand (and that you probably already own) that can work to make a cool (and cheap!) costume.

90s doodle bear

Photo via Pinterest

Bleach Pen

Bleach pens are great because you have pin-point precision to draw with. If you have an all-black outfit, draw stars on it and you can be a galaxy. All-pink? You can be one of those doodle bears from the 90s that you washed and doodled on again and again. Fabric markers work very similar to the bleach pens. Draw whatever you want! One of the nice things about fabric markers is there are different colors. They are also great for ironic/sarcastic tee-shirts. Tee shirt costumes are pretty simple, and tee shirts are really cheap! Besides, it can ripped up for more bloodied looks too.

Cardboard Boxes

Most of us living in apartments have these lying around just from the moving process. Youcan be a Rubic’s Cube, a robot, a Lego, or any other creation you can dream up. Need a pair of wings? Just trace the outline on the box and cut it out.

cardboard robot

Photo by:

An Old Sheet

And I emphasis an old one because who wants to sleep on a sheet with an old spill stain on it? You can be cheesy and go as a ghost, or it can be a cape for an impromptu super hero (waffle man, anyone?), It could even be your next toga.

Thick Black Eyeliner

While girls probably have this on hand, guys may not. It’s the perfect tool to draw an animal mask on your face. For a more masculine approach, draw tire treads on your face and have someone run over a tee shirt and you can be road kill.

Plaid Shirt

Maybe you want to be a lumberjack. Maybe you want to be a hipster Disney princess. Maybe you’re a picnic blanket. Your plaid shirt never looked so versatile.

Green Tights

Oddly specific, but a costume essential. You can be so many things: Peter Pan, a woodland faerie, Link (from The Legend of Zelda), mother nature (or something nature-esque) Robin Hood… Green is everywhere!!

Footie Pajamas

Footie pajamas are warm. Most people think of “adult child”, but itcan be far more than that. Wantto be an animal? You have a neck to toe covering! It also works for mythical creatures. Maybe you’re a person hunter and that’s your “kill”.

Flo & Mayhem insurance costumes

Photo by:


Now if you’re going to the party of the century, maybe your best dress clothes are not a good idea. Do you have dress pants that are just a little too short, a shirt with a hole in it, something that just isn’t quite doing the trick anymore? That would work! You can also go to the Salvation Army or Goodwill. Suits are great for historical figures, for costume pairs like a runaway groom and a controlling bride, “monkey suits”, and Mayhem costumes.


And if none of these work for you, Goodwill and other thrift stores are always awesome places to find costume goodies. Grandpa/granny clothes, 80s prom dresses, scrubs, mom jeans, Daisy Dukes (in the men’s section)… I mean the possibilities are only as limited as your imagination (or your Pinterest searching abilities). So regardless of how many parties there are to attend and no matter how over-the-top your idea, you don’t need to break the bank to create an awesome costume.

Your Federal Loan Repayment

19 Oct

Honest businessman

photo by:

Alanna Ritchie is a content writer for, where she writes about personal finance and little smart ways to spend (and save) money. Alanna has an English degree from Rollins College. Join our Google+ Community


As you fill out your intent to graduate forms and begin looking into the post-college future, your stomach might start to turn. You might start to panic and it may become difficult to breathe as you start imagining your monthly student loan payments. Stop, take a step back, BREATH, and let’s think about the situation.

But guess what? There’s good news!

Not only do you have a six month grace period after you leave school or drop below half-time attendance for your federal student loans, you also have numerous options for repayment plans. A grace period is a period of time after borrowers graduate, leave school, or drop below half-time enrollment where they are not required to make payments on certain federal student loans. Some federal student loans will accrue interest during the grace period, and if the interest is unpaid, it will be added to the principal balance of the loan when the repayment period begins. Repayment plans are designed to accommodate the needs of graduates entering the job market and receiving introductory salaries, while carrying the responsibility of handling additional bills, like rent, insurance, gas and groceries.

You do have options. If the standard ten-year plan with fixed payments is too much for you to handle, contact your lender to negotiate payments that match your budget. Not sure who your lender is?  You can view all your federal loans and their lenders online from the National Student Loan Database.

Which Plan Meets Your Needs?

Cartoon Family Portrait

photo by Yesenia603

Federal student loans come with a variety of repayments plans that are offering based on requirements such as income, family size, or loan type. Examples of federal loans include Direct Loans or Federal Family Education Loans, which could be Subsidized Stafford loans, Unsubsidized Stafford loans, or PLUS loans. There are three main categories of repayment plans for you to consider.

First, the Graduated Repayment plan will allow you to begin making lower payments. Although, like the Standard plan, this plan must be completed in ten years, the lower payments gives you time to increase your salary. Every two years, your monthly payments will increase.

Second, if the Graduated plan is still more than you can afford, the Extended Plan allows you to take up to 25 years to repay loans. There is more flexibility with this option, as you can choose between a fixed or graduated payment.

Finally, there are four different repayment plans that consider your income as a factor. Some of these plans also consider factors like family size, spouse’s income, and total amount of loans. Although these have similar-sounding names, each has specific requirements and formulas which influence the monthly amount you will owe.

Four plans with income factors:

Federal Loan Consolidation

While you are researching different payment cycles and methods, you should consider a Federal Loan Consolidation.  A Federal Loan Consolidation allows you to merge all your Federal Student Loans into one loan.  This can include your Subsidized Stafford Loan, Unsubsidized Stafford Loan, and Perkins loans.  Once all your Federal Student Loans are merged into one loan, you will only have one monthly payment and one interest rate attributed to the loans.  As you can see, a Federal Consolidated Loan allows for an easier way to manage monthly repayment.

How Can You Prepare Now?

cartoon roadmapGet in the habit of putting a portion of your paycheck in savings now, before you start paying back your loans. This will force you to make a budget and spend less every month, so when the time for repayment comes, it will be easier to part with this percentage of your paycheck.

The money you save up during your grace period can also be used as an emergency fund of accessible cash for unexpected situations. This cushion can enable you to afford your loan payments even when you have unexpected expenses such as a flat tire, broken arm or speeding ticket. Preparing yourself for the future can protect your loan debt from growing any larger.

Make sure your loan servicer has updated information, including your phone number and email. Your servicer will need this information in order to communicate any new information on your loans, including when your next bill is due.

Choosing a plan and taking a proactive approach with your finances can help you smoothly adjust into your repayment period.

Frugal Date Ideas for Fall

12 Oct

Dayna Jones, Peer Counselor

So, you’ve met the boy or girl of your dreams here at Purdue and you’ve finally struck up the courage to ask them out. The only problem is that you’re a college student and money is tight! Fortunately, there are plenty of low to no-cost date options that won’t make you look like a cheapskate. And they’ll probably be flattered by your creativity.

Have a picnic

A picnic is a great alternative to having dinner at an expensive restaurant. You can purchase food on campus (at Fresh City Market, perhaps?) or take the bus to Meijer or Wal-Mart for your picnic needs. Get creative! If you have food lying around your dorm or apartment, make a meal out of it! Don’t let it go to waste. Then, all you need is a cozy blanket and a shady spot to share a meal.

Take a walk or bike ride together

The campus is beautiful this time of year and there are plenty of grounds to explore. You may also want to branch out. Happy Hollow Park in West Lafayette has plenty of trails. Taking a walk together is a great way to spark up a wealth of conversation. If you both have bicycles, you may consider riding your bikes together.

allen leaves on dirt path  text overlay: Frugal Date Ideas for Fall


Exercise together

This option may not be everyone’s cup of tea; however, the Co-Rec has plenty of fun options. You don’t have to lift weights or run on the treadmill if you’re not up for it. Explore the rock climbing wall together or go for a swim. You don’t have to break a sweat if you don’t want to!

Share a group date

Pizza, anyone? Group dates are a great way to cut costs because you can split the bill. This is also a good way to get to know one another without the awkward silences, as you will have friends there to help you out!

Plan a study date

If you met your dream guy or girl in a shared class, perhaps you could schedule a study date. Not only is it free, it’s beneficial to your academic career! You could find a nice spot outdoors and enjoy the sunshine, or hit up a library together.

Volunteer together

Who could say no to cuddling with cute animals on a first date? Volunteering together is a great way to give back to the community and get to know one another. It also looks great on a resume. Almost Home Humane Society and Natalie’s Second Chance are great places to volunteer, but maybe puppies and kitties aren’t your thing. That’s okay! There are plenty of ways to get involved in your community and give back. You may want to contact the Lafayette Urban Ministry, as they are always looking for willing volunteers!

You don’t have to break the bank to win over your soul mate. Asking someone out is nerve-wracking enough without worrying about how you’re supposed to afford a five star meal. Being a college student will pay off eventually, but right now, we all understand the struggle. Do you have any foolproof frugal date ideas? Let us know below!

Should I Buy These Shoes?

5 Oct

Amy Ledman, Financial Aid Administrator and Purdue Alumni

A common statement you hear people say is “live like a college student.”   To most, this means live cheaply or live within your means.  Trying to live within your means might be difficult when it’s your first time living on your own.  When you’re out with friends and shopping here are a few questions to ask yourself.

Do I need this or do I want this?  Keep in mind that it’s insanely easy to convince yourself a want is a need if your want is strong enough.  If you need something it means you cannot survive without it.  That means water, food, and preferably shoes without holes.  So if you’re on the fence of buying your 5th pair of sandals it’s time to step back and think if you really need a rainbow choice.  Or just maybe you should save this money for a weeks worth of groceries.

Will this be practical?  A good way to save money is by spending it wisely.  Say your professor states you need to dress up for a day and you only own flip-flops.  Clearly nice pair of shoes is needed.   This would be classified as something you should own, but be practical.  Look for a pair that is versatile enough that they can be used for different situations.  While the jazzy hot pink shoes might look fun a less expensive black pair would work and be more useful in the end…which will also cause you to not have to go buy another pair later.

sparkly high heeled shoe

sparkly high heeled shoe

Is this crazy or a good buy?  Even while you are being a cheap college student you also need to be not overly crazy cheap…or frugal if that sounds nicer.  There will be times when being cheap won’t pay off in the long run.  An example would be buying shoes that are $15 but end up giving you 20 blisters.  Finding something that’s low in price doesn’t always make you thrifty.  This comes back to being practical.  If you get 20 blisters you’re going to need to go buy another pair of shoes causing that $15 to sit in your closet.

These are just some quick questions to consider the next time you are out spending your hard-earned money.  If these questions don’t help solve your shoe dilemma then you should go walk around.  Leave your possible purchase behind and around the mall.  If the wish to buy your new shoes is gone then clearly the purchase wasn’t meant to be.

Work Study Positions vs. Non-Work Study Positions

28 Sep

Raysha Honsowetz, Financial Aid Administrator

keyboard and a hand on computer mouse

I’m sure at some point in your search for a job on campus you’ve stumbled across jobs that require ‘Federal Work Study’ but you’ve probably also seen plenty of jobs that don’t require it. In order to have a Federal Work Study (FWS) job, you have to have FWS eligibility in your financial aid awards. Being awarded FWS does require that you file a FAFSA and have a low Expected Family Contribution. Therefore, not everyone is eligible for FWS.

Don’t have FWS eligibility? That’s okay! Jobs that don’t require FWS are open for any student to apply for (as long as you meet their job criteria, of course). There are plenty of options for employment on campus for students!

So, what’s the difference?

The biggest difference really comes down to how you’re getting paid. If you’re working a regular job, then your employer is paying 100% of your paycheck. If you’re working a FWS job, you’re typically at a federal, state, local, or non-profit organization and your employer is paying about 30% of your paycheck (or 0% if you’re a reading/math tutor at an elementary school!), and the FWS program funding is paying the rest of your paycheck. It’s a huge benefit for non-profit employers because since they’re only paying a portion of their students’ paychecks, they can hire a more students.

But, how does having a FWS job affect ME?

Students who work FWS jobs report the income they made from FWS job, just like any other job, on the FAFSA but there is a second question that asks, “How much of the money you earned was from a Federal Need Based Program?” Reporting your FWS earnings on this question deducts it from your wages so it doesn’t count towards your Expected Family Contribution!


If you’re curious about whether or not you are eligible for Federal Work Study, you can log in and check your financial aid eligibility on your myPurdue account.

Is That Apartment Actually Affordable?

24 Sep

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum

It’s almost October! You know that means? It’s time to start signing for apartments for next year. That’s right, you just got all settled into your dorm or current apartment and everybody’s already asking about your plans for fall 2016.

As you’re bombarded with information about the newest and best apartments available, you’ll want to keep in mind whether or not you’ll actually be able to afford the amazing deal they’re offering you (or that your friends are trying to talk you into). Here are some things to consider before jumping into the pool of possibilities!

feet going up stairs; text overlay: Is That Apartment Affordable?

How much is your portion of the rent?

This is one of the first things you’ll want to look at – do you have an individual lease or a group lease? If you’re on an individual lease, you’re responsible for just your room/portion whereas with a group lease, you and all of your roommates are responsible for the whole rent. This means that if you have three roommates and one of them doesn’t pay, the rest of you are expected to pick up the slack.

How much is the deposit?

Do you have enough right now to pay the deposit? Will it set you back and deplete your emergency savings? If you don’t have any savings right now, you should think about building some up before signing onto such a big expense every month.

What utilities do you have to pay for?

Many apartments include at least some of the utilities, but you’ll want to find this out at the beginning so you can factor utility payments into your monthly expenses. Utilities at an apartment can include: water, sewage/trash, electric, gas, cable, etc. Cable is most likely optional, but if your roommates decide it’s necessary, then you’ll have to pitch in and pay for that as well.

What happens if one of your roommates doesn’t pay their portion?

If you have an individual lease, you’re probably fine. But if both of your names are on the lease or on a utility bill that’s not paid, then you’ll have to either convince them to pay it or just pay it yourself. Missing a payment could affect your credit score, and definitely your relationship with your landlord if it’s the rent.

How far away from campus are you?

Is there a bus route? Do you need a car? These are two of the biggest factors when deciding how far away from campus you’re going to live. The Greater Lafayette Area has a great bus system, so chances are that you’re on a bus route, but you’ll want to double-check. You’ll also want to see how long it would take you to get to campus every day. A 50-minute bus ride to and from campus every day may not be the most convenient!

If you do need a car, that’s a whole other expense you’ll need to take into consideration: insurance, gas, parking pass, and buying the car/monthly payments.

Do you have everything you need to move in?

What necessities do you still need to live on your own? Do you have the means to acquire those things? How much do your future roommates have that they’re going to be bringing along? If you don’t have anything you need to move into an apartment, those are things you’ll need to save up for and purchase before moving.

How much will your groceries cost every month?

So your budget can cover your rent, but can you still feed yourself every month? You could potentially eat on just $50/month…but you probably won’t be eating very healthy or very well. You need to make sure you’ll have enough to eat every month too, and the dining courts won’t be a convenient option for you anymore once you’ve moved off campus.

Mastering Time Management

14 Sep

Angela Petrie, Multimedia Writer – Purdue Marketing & Media

Grades. Sleep. Social life. Work. As a student, you’ve got a lot going on and sometimes it can be overwhelming. But fear not, here are some tips to get you on the right track.

2015 Planner

Use a calendar.

You know that Mortar Board you bought at the beginning of the semester? Get it out and brush off the dust, or better yet, get out your phone and open the calendar app. Add your class schedule, work schedule and any standard time commitments — like your bi-weekly lacrosse practice.

Add your assignments and a time estimate to finish them.

As you get syllabi and homework, put it down in your calendar or planner. Having all your assignments and commitments in one place will make your life a whole lot easier. Plus, if you know how long it should take to finish your homework in an evening, you’ll know whether you have time to pick up extra hours for work or whether you need to request off certain days due to your workload. Do this at the beginning of the semester so it’s easy to work out plans with your boss.

If you have a lot going on this week, make a list.

Take the mental chaos of what you have to do and write it down. Your head will be clear so you can focus on one task at a time. Maybe it’s on paper, in your email task list, your phone or on individual sticky notes. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment when you cross things off and watch the list shrink before your eyes.

Remember to relax.

Plan time to relax and reboot. You know what they say, all work and no play makes Jack really stressed out. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep and fun in your life. Remember, it’s all about the balance.


Are there some tips we missed? What other things do you do to manage time effectively as a student? Tell us in the comments below!

What to Do Over the Long Weekend

3 Sep

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum

steaming coffee mug; text overlay: long weekend ahead...

Staying on campus for Labor Day weekend? Still have no idea what you’re going to do? We’ve outlined some frugal ideas below!

Go on a fountain run

It’s only going to be warm for a few more weeks! And this way you won’t have to sit through class in soggy clothes.

Walk the trails at one of West Lafayette’s parks or the Celery Bog

Explore a little bit and enjoy the nice weather! Take a friend or two and maybe pack a picnic to enjoy before/after your trek!

Take the bus to Walmart for the first time

You’ve got to try it out sometime…and where else can you stock up on your favorite snacks for cheap? There will be lots of other lost souls on the bus too, so you won’t be alone in your journey!

Do your laundry

Yes it’s only been a week or two…but you know you need to do your laundry. Do it while you have the time, your sock drawer and your future self will thank you.

Get yourself organized for the semester

Pull out your Mortar Board, highlighters, syllabi and post-its and get everything mapped out and planned for your semester. Get your books all organized, set up a file system on your computer, and get all your pencils nice and sharp. This is going to be a great semester!

Hit up Global Fest

Global Fest is a one day, free event at Morton Community Center right off campus happening this year on September 5th. Take some friends and enjoy some cultural entertainment, art and food from all over the globe!

Hit up Mosey Down Main Street

Mosey happens all summer long and will wrap up the summer season with a final event Saturday, September 5th, from 6PM-11PM. Head to Main Street to listen to bands, eat some food, and learn more about Lafayette’s downtown businesses.


What are you up to this long weekend? Let us know in the comments below!

Cooking 102

31 Aug

Heather Kessler, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor

orange tree

Now you have your healthy food items, a recipe that you are willing to try out, but what do you use to cook? Some recipes call for a food processor or five spices and herbs in one dish. What is necessary and what can you do without? After all college students are on a tight budget!

Some cooking necessities include:

  • Pots and Pans – cooking on the stove is easy, and you don’t necessarily need a twelve or twenty-four piece set to get started. A skillet, frying pan, and pot with a lid should be enough to begin.
  • Knives – invest in a well-sharpened knife, and again ten knives are not needed to start. Get a couple different loans varying in size.
  • Cutting boards – get one for meat only, and another one for everything else.
  • Cooking utensils – a couple spoons for stirring, a spatula, a rubber scraper, and a whisk should get you started
  • Food storage containers – they will be helpful for leftovers and taking food to campus or work
  • Mixing bowls – one big and one small would be great to start
  • Colander or Strainer
  • Can opener
  • Anything that you are passionate about and will use often. I LOVE my crockpot! My dinner is able to cook all day while I am at school or work, and I come home to a meal ready to go. If you love baking and will do it a lot, you may want to invest in a hand-held electric mixer for those cookies and cupcakes. Or maybe you love smoothies and would like a cheaper alternative to Freshens at the Co-Rec. A blender is an easy and cheaper option for making delicious smoothies and drinks just to your liking.

This list is not exhaustive. If you have more suggestions for students on different cooking essentials, or something you use regularly, let us know in the comments below!


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