Archive | June, 2014

Cash: The Ultimate Saver

30 Jun

Kyle Koneval – Peer Counselor, Majoring in Hospitality and Tourism Management

Twenty Dollar Bills

My high school government teacher always taught us to “spend-save”. Confusing, right? Spend. Save. How can you do one while doing the other? After some thought, and more spending experience, I have found a way to save while spending money.

Money burns a hole in your pocket

My father always told me when I was a boy, “money burns a hole in your pocket”. Unlike using a card when you pay with cash the money is taken directly from your pocket. Seeing the cash physically taken for a purchase can lead to better spending habits, and possibly more savings. The idea of seeing money literally slip between your fingers can hit home, especially for purchases that may be deemed unnecessary afterwards.

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Photo by: Raysha Duncan

Change is a beautiful thing

Anytime I see change on the street, floor, couch, etc. it is always a good day, no it is a great day! Those seemingly harmless pennies, dimes, and nickels can add up over time. When using cash, there is always a chance you will receive change. This change can be put into a piggy bank, cup, jar, or anything that will hold it for use later, but not a vending machine. Saving change can be described as a game to some people, and Danny Iny has a perfect example of this. He made it a ‘game’ to save his change. Making anything into a game brings out the competitive side in almost everyone. Who doesn’t want to win? We challenge ourselves, and when that challenge is met, or exceeded, we take pride in this feat.

…Who really misses those few coins weighing you down?

A lot of people these days do not like to carry around a pocket full of change. It can be noisy and bothersome. Some of my friends hate change so much that they give it to me when we get a late night snack somewhere. I’m never one to turn down change; I accept change knowing that I just earned more toward my current savings goal. “A penny saved is a penny earned”, as my friend Ben Franklin would say.

Goal setting for the future

counting money

U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Frankie J. Colbry

No goal is too ridiculous, but some goals can be short of what you can achieve. Set a goal with your piggy bank: a new pair of shoes, the newest video game, a vacation or even bigger RETIREMENT. Setting realistic, but difficult goals help us to challenge ourselves to win the ‘change game’ and can be worthwhile. When starting a change jar, you need to set a goal and a time frame to meet that goal. My current goal is to fill a 3 foot bowling pin and see how much change it can hold. As silly as it may seem, it is attainable, not ridiculous, and doesn’t fall short of what I can do.

There are many different ways to develop your own strategy for saving your change, so find your ‘game’ and try to get the high score. There are pros and cons to using cash. Seeing the visual transaction can help deter bad spending habits but saving the change from cash transactions can make even bigger changes overtime.

Lower the Cost of College by Spending Less on Books

26 Jun

Brandon Endsley, Financial Aid Administrator and 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 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.

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.

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.

Why You Shouldn’t Panic About Your Federal Student Loans

23 Jun

From WiseBread New Graduate Help Center: Reyna Gobel, Student Loans Expert

girl surprised by letter

Photo By WiseBread

Dear Not-Yet-In-Trouble Federal Student Loan Borrower,

You might have heard that the Department of Education will be sending out letters to millions of student loans borrowers. The letters target borrowers whose grace periods are ending, as well as borrowers who exhibit signs of trouble that could lead to defaulting on their loans. If you haven’t started repayment yet but are fretting about how you’re going to possibly repay all that money — stop worrying.

I’m writing you this letter to not only give you important details about student loan repayment, but also to help you be aware of potential issues well before trouble starts.

I Defaulted — Here’s How to Avoid My Mistakes

I defaulted on a federal student loan simply because I didn’t know it existed. I had over a dozen student loans from different lenders; I forgot about one loan and went into default. It’s easy to do, but it’s also easy to avoid. Just log in to the National Student Loan Data System. You’ll see all your federal student loans on this site, along with contact information. Either arrange to pay each individually, or consolidate them into one loan. This is also a great time to get a free credit report – it can alert you to any problems you might have, like having missed a loan or bill payment.

Then, know yourself. If you can’t keep track of each individual loan, you really need to consolidate them into one loan to streamline payments (ask your loan servicer about consolidation options). Once consolidated, you can still choose a plan where payments are based on income, such as Pay as You Earn. And if you’re interested in the public service loan forgiveness program, know that it’s only available through loans originated by or consolidated with Federal Direct Loans.

Realize That Even With the Pay as You Earn Plan, You Might Have Payment Problems

The income-based Pay as You Earn repayment plan bases payments on your income and family size, but it doesn’t fully consider your expenses if your circumstances change. For example, at some point, you may have to help support a sick parent or child. You could also have bought a home when your income was higher. After a pay cut, a majority of your income could go towards your mortgage.

If you experience a financial setback, you have three options:

  • Call your servicer and see if your Pay as You Earn payment amount can be adjusted. You have to supply your income annually, and you may have forgotten to do so this year, causing your payments to set based a higher income level.
  • Ask for a deferment or forbearance, which are temporary payment breaks. Taking a break should only be done if the situation isn’t permanent. Always take a deferment when possible over a forbearance when any of your student loans are subsidized. The government pays the interest on subsidized student loans during periods of deferment.
  • If your income is lower because you took family leave for six months, you may not want to change your plan. However, for long-term pay cuts where your income-based repayment is too high for your budget, you should ask your servicer to also calculate payment options and see which payment option offers the lowest monthly payment.

Don’t Feel Embarrassed If You Don’t Know Something About Student Loans

I wrote two editions of a 240-page book on student loans, and I still don’t know everything about them. I read articles and play with the student loan repayment calculators every day. There’s always something new to learn. For instance, the public service loan forgiveness employer verification form wasn’t created until after the first edition was released. Now, thanks to that form, you can find out if you qualify for the public service loan forgiveness program right away and register for it right after you start working or after you’ve already started repayment — the choice is up to you. Never be afraid to ask your servicer questions about any of these programs.

Talk to Your Friends Who Are or Will Be in Repayment Soon

I’m not the only person who has experience with and advice about student loans. Talking to your friends can help you figure out repayment options and possibly pick better ones based on their choices and experiences. Just remember, they might have different circumstances than you, such as income level, children, or other debt that impacted their choices. Therefore, you shouldn’t copy their decisions. But you’ll be more informed and learn questions to ask your servicer. Plus, they may have missed payments, recovered, and now have advice about that. Learn from others’ student loan mistakes and victories.

The Most Important Part of This Letter?

The help you get doesn’t end here. You can tweet me anytime — @ReynaGobel — and ask questions. My articles will be posted here every week. You can ask me questions in my CollegeWeekLive web chats or get more helpful advice in my book CliffsNotes Graduation Debt.

Finally, remember you never want to receive a “dear troubled borrower” letter. The second you think you might miss a payment, talk to your servicer about options for a payment break or new repayment plan. With federal student loans, that one call will likely save your credit.


Reyna Gobel is a writer, author, public speaker, and student loans expert.  Her financial advice appears on Wise Bread’s New Graduates Help Center, in her video course How to Repay Federal Student Loans, in CollegeWeekLive newsletters and keynotes speeches, and in her audiobook How Smart Students Pay for School, now in its second edition. Be sure to check out her website for more helpful information on repaying your student loans.

Summer Is Here! … Now What !?!

16 Jun

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alumni

Splash park

Summer is less than a week away and I am excited! Are you? I know I know it has felt like summer for some time but the first official day of summer isn’t until June 21st.  Are you looking to save money on activities, spend time outdoors, or find indoor activities when the weather isn’t stunning? The Greater Lafayette Area is brimming with outdoor activities during the summer from parks to trails to outdoor performances. You can visit the Lafayette-West Lafayette website here to get more information on all the outdoor activities this summer.  I’ve gone ahead and summarized some of the activities below.

Lafayette/West Lafayette/Tippecanoe County Parks

West Lafaeytte ParksLafayette alone boasts 17 parks. Some of these parks have trails, some parks have pools, most of them have picnic shelters, and some of them are just soccer fields with a concession stand. Not to mention there are 12 more parks just across the river in West Lafayette! There are 3 sizeable parks with hiking trails in West Lafayette (the Celery Bog Nature Area only is 195 acres!) for hikers and casual nature lovers to enjoy. But in my opinion, the most diverse parks lie outside of city limits in Tippecanoe County. The Tippecanoe Battlefield in Battle Ground, Indiana, features a lot of history, including a monument in honor of the Battle of Tippecanoe; it’s also the start of the Wabash Heritage Trail.

Wolf Park

Located in Battle Ground, this park is a sanctuary for, you guessed it, wolves. It’s also home to coyotes, foxes, and bison. They have limited Photographer taking pictures of a wolfhours (1PM – 5PM Tuesday through Sunday) but it only costs $8.00 for an adult, $6.00 for children 6-13, and free for children under 5 to get into the park. There’s a BUNCH of fascinating events happening over the summer also, including Howl Nights every Friday and Saturday where guests have the opportunity to see the wolves in the evening and hear them howl, something you can’t experience during normal business hours.

Outdoor Art Trail

If you’re into 3-D art, this is the walking tour for you. Scattered across both Lafayette and West Lafayette are dozens of outdoor art pieces that you can walk around and see. There’s even a handy online map for routing out your own personal trail for the day. More information on the art pieces (like Candy Change’s “Before I Die” murals here in West Lafayette) can be found online to give you some background on what you’re going to go see.

Prophetstown State Park

Not only is this one of Indiana’s newest state parks, it’s also full of fun activities to do this summer. You can hike, ride your bike down the bike trails, camp, or even swim for a small fee in the Family Aquatic Center. Also close nearby is the Farm at Prophetstown, where you can take a tour of a horse-powered farm and learn about agriculture.

…but what if it’s raining?

Raining on WindowThere’s still plenty to do around the Lafayette area indoors too!

-Visit some of the area’s art galleries or take an art class (glass working, anyone?)

-Check out the area’s nightlife. Whether you’re a pub or a coffeehouse kind of person there’s something for you. Most places offer live entertainment on Friday or Saturday nights too.- Love all things vintage? Head to downtown Lafayette and check out all the antique stores on the “Antique Trail”. (Or pop over to the Tippecanoe Mall to completely avoid the rain and shop both vintage and major retailers – the vintage store Hot House Market just moved in in May!)

Spending Summer $avings … the Right Way

9 Jun

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alum

tree made of money

Summer vacation has just started for some, and for others we are a month or two into the season. By now you’ve probably been able to save up a bit of money from your summer job. And if you haven’t been saving, you’re realizing now is the time to start. It’s great to save money from your job over the summer, but what exactly do you do with all that money you’ve been saving up?

Tuition Money

This is the most obvious option. If you’re working over the summer to pay for your schooling, this is one major expense your savings should be going towards. Earning money over the summer and saving a lump sum of your earnings for your tuition can keep you from taking out loans. As a result, you graduate with less debt increasing your discretionary income (income after taxes and current bills have been paid). This will save you interest over time and allow you to fund other investments like a house, car, or your retirement.  The Project on Student Debt had the following to say: “Seven in 10 college seniors (71%) who graduated last year had student loan debt, with an average of $29,400 per borrower. From 2008 to 2012, debt at graduation (federal and private loans combined) increased an average of six percent each year.” Imagine being part of the 29% instead of the 71%….

cartoon man with briefcase overflowing with moneyPut it Towards a Big Purchase

If your computer broke down on you during the school year and it’s something that you really need (not just for Facebook or Netflix) this is a legitimate expense to spend your hard-earned cash on. Other big purchases like brand-name purses, designer shoes, cologne or designer sunglasses are not really a good use of an entire summer’s wages.

Another big purchase you could put it towards would be a study abroad trip for next summer or school year (and I’m sure a summer in Paris sounds really good right about now after working the cash register for 30 hours every week). Purdue has numerous study abroad options for students of varying interests and majors. It’s also highly recommended by students and faculty that any student who wants to goes on a study abroad; it’s an experience of a lifetime.

Have Your Own Safety Net

Adults are always talking about having a 3-month, 6-month, one-year safety net of funds in case something was to happen to them. This money is the minimum that they would need to get by for a set-period of time if they were to remain unemployed for a time period. This is something college students should have too! What if you end up having to take 18-credit hours and it’s a really strenuous course-load that causes you to leave your part-time job? What if your car breaks down part way through the semester? How will your rent, water bill, cell phone, etc. get paid? You’re a student first and foremost in college, and planning ahead and saving can help keep that priority in focus.cartoon roadmap

Invest It

One thing college students typically don’t think about is investing. Investing is something you do once you’ve graduated and are bringing in a steady paycheck. But, there’s no better time like the present to start investing! It’s important to do your research before you start. You may want to look into what options your own bank has for investments and compare them to other options like Roth IRAs or investing straight into the stock market. This is a good option especially if you have a large sum saved up, already have your tuition covered, and have a safety net established.

These are just a few of your options to help you get set up for the long-term versus just satisfying you in the short-term. It’s always good to plan ahead, and saving money is one tool at your disposal. Do any of you already have plans for what you’re using your summer savings for?  Share your summer plans below.

5 Class Schedule Fillers at Purdue

2 Jun

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.

Still looking for some ideas? Check out our list of 6 more classes to fill your schedule!


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

%d bloggers like this: