Archive | March, 2015

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.

Also be sure to check out our new list of 6 more classes to fill your schedule!

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!

15 to Finish Indiana

16 Mar

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.

Spring Break Finance PSA

12 Mar

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

Palm Trees; Text Overlay: ATTENTION This is a Public Service Announcement Regarding Your Spending Habits over Spring Break

You will be tempted to spend money because “everyone else is.” You will be tempted to buy food and drinks that are way overpriced. You will be tempted to spend money because you’re bored. You will be tempted to spend money on extending your break just one more day. DON’T DO IT. Just because you are on Spring Break does not mean your budget has taken a Spring Break. A few days of overspending can lead to a semester of Ramen noodles, no nights out with friends, and a lot of extra hours worked to make up for the excess you spent on 4 days of “fun.

So before you swipe your credit card and rack up unwanted debt, ask yourself: Is it worth it? Will spending money on this actually make me feel more fulfilled or will it last beyond this moment? Will I be able to avoid having to work harder for this extra money I’m spending?

If you can honestly answer “Yes” to those questions, then go for it! But if you have any doubts at all, just don’t spend the money. Yes, you only live once but in that one life you’re living, you still have to pay all of your debt back.

Make the Most of Your Adviser Meeting

9 Mar

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

b-w keyboard hand on mouse

Know What You Need to Take

Some of us just don’t like math, but chances are you’ll be required to take at least one math class before you graduate. Therefore, it’s a good idea to figure out what specific courses you need to take and get this plan out of the way early so you can move forward in your academic plan for the rest of your time at Purdue.

Know What You Want to Take

A lot of the time you get a choice in which of a handful of classes you can take to satisfy a general course requirement. If you’re in this boat where you get to choose a required class from a list of options, research your choice and figure out what you would be interested in taking before you meet with your advisor. It will make your meeting go much more smoothly if you have an idea of where your interests might lead you, and if you’re having a tough time deciding between two or more classes your adviser may be able to point you towards which one would be more beneficial/fun for you.

Determine When You Want/Need to Graduate

Would you like to graduate in 4 years and think that’s feasible? Strategize your semesters according to this plan! If you need to graduate in 2017, then figure out what exactly you need to do in order to get there. If that means 18 credit hour semesters for the next two years and you’re not sure you want to take that on, figure out what you can do to either make that load more manageable (such as summer classes) or if you are able to push your graduation by a year.

The myPurduePlan is a helpful tool in determining what you need to do to graduate by a specific date. All students who started after Fall 2011 have access to this tool through their myPurdue accounts and should utilize it when determining the classes they still need to take in order to graduate and their potential date of graduation. This is also a helpful tool if things do not go according to the first or second plan, as it can assist in rerouting your path to graduation successfully!

Be Prepared to Talk with Financial Aid

This is important if after your adviser meeting you realize you either need to take summer courses or you won’t be graduating on time, and are dependent on financial aid to cover costs. There are some forms of financial aid that run out at the end of the traditional four years and if you have one of those awards, you’ll definitely need to meet with financial aid about your options for continuing into a fifth year. Another thing you should talk with a financial aid counselor about is if you’ve decided to go the distance and take a Study Abroad trip! These are fun and great experience, but can get expensive, so you’ll want to see what aid you’re eligible for while on this trip.


What tips do you have for making the most of your academic advisor meeting? Let us know in the comments below!

Work Study Positions vs. Non-Work Study Positions

7 Mar

Raysha Duncan, 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 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 Federal Work Study (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.

Mastering Time Management

6 Mar

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!

Staycation Ideas

5 Mar

Raysha Duncan, Financial Aid Administrator & Purdue Alumna

table full of coffee mugs; text overlay: Staycation Ideas

Don’t have any exciting plans for Spring Break? That’s okay! Not every Spring Break can involve a trip to the beach with 20 of your closest friends. Maybe you just didn’t feel like going anywhere this year (including your childhood home for a week) or maybe you’re just trying to save money. So… Have you thought about a staycation? It’s a little like staying home by yourself, a little bit like an adventure, and a lot about saving money. We’ve listed some ideas to get you started below!

Themed Movie/TV Marathon

Mini film festival, anyone? Pick a theme or a TV show and run with it! Have a thing for spy movies? Stream Sherlock on Netflix and watch the Bourne series. Or if you’re more into historical stuff, try out some History Channel shows or Downtown Abbey and maybe throw in The Queen or Lincoln for good measure. And don’t forget to gather your favorite snacks!

Declutter/Cleaning Day

Clean out your closet, under your sink, raid your own pantry, and toss or donate anything you don’t need. Toss any empty, half-used, torn, worn-out things you find and donate anything that could use a second-life with someone who can appreciate your old things (one man’s trash is another man’s treasure!). And while you’re de-cluttering, you may as well actually clean your place too. Scrub all the surfaces you never think to scrub (shower walls, the fridge shelves, the tops of your cabinets), dust everything that can/can’t move, take out all the trash in your apartment (including the things you just purged).

Visit New Places in the Area

Is there somewhere in the area you’ve always been interested in trying or going to but just haven’t had the chance? Maybe there’s a coffee shop you see every day on the bus but just haven’t made it to yet or a diner you’ve heard a classmate rave about…go try it out! Take yourself for breakfast/lunch/coffee or invite some friends along. Take the time to finally have that mini-adventure you’ve wanted to take; you might just stumble upon a bookstore or even another coffee shop to try!

Learn to Cook Something New (or just how to cook at all!)

If you don’t know how to cook, there’s no better time to learn than when you have a distraction-free Spring Break! Start with some basics: baking chicken, mixing and baking homemade chocolate chip cookies, cooking noodles. Already know how to do all of that? Try your hand at something exciting: homemade red velvet cake, chicken cordon bleu, guacamole…maybe even a soufflé? You can find a recipe for anything on the internet!

Make Your Space Your Own Luxury Hotel

Really craving that luxurious vacation feel? Think of all the fancy things you get or could get at the fanciest hotel imaginable and re-create that for yourself. This requires a little extra work as hotels are always completely spotless and fresh. Wash your sheets and make your bed up all nice including mints/chocolates on the pillows, of course! Scrub down your bathtub and set out fresh towels and fold your toilet paper to a point, just like the fancy places. Splurge on your favorite fresh fruit and set it out, help yourself to it freely! Cook up the fanciest thing you know how to make and use plates that aren’t paper to eat it off of. And don’t forget about the robes you get at the swankiest places! Make sure to don yours at all times especially when you visit your private luxury spa (i.e. your super clean bathroom).


Have you taken a staycation before? Let us know in the comments below!

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