What to do over Winter Break?

27 Dec

Hannah Stewart, Purdue University Student and Peer Counselor
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Santa GIF

Oh thank heaven finals are over! Let the holidays begin! The presents, the food, family, it’s a great time of celebration and enjoyment, for a while at least. I know it’s hard to believe, but there is a lot of downtime over the holidays and some of us, dare I even say it, get bored. Even if you don’t bore easily, there are plenty of actions you can take that just might make your break a little better.

The spring semester is coming. I know the fall semester just ended and no one wants to think about school over a holiday break, but you can at least prepare.

Grandmother giving stock of money for college savingsLook for books in advance; it can often be cheaper since you can order from Amazon, rent online, etc. Write out your Christmas list, you could always ask for books as a Christmas gift! Money usually is given as a gift too and it might be beneficial to save for rent or other college related expenses.  During the downtime of the holidays, it’s a good time to set and make a budget. It’s also a good time to make next semester’s schedule.

Check your grades early. I know you don’t want to think about it, because the past is past, right? However, there are timelines to contest grades. If you have any questionable grades this is the time when you should be reconciling with your professor. Double check to make sure all you grades have been entered correctly and send emails early and often if needed. Also, double check you’re making Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), it is one element to keeping your federal financial aid eligibility. You can always check your SAP status on your myPurdue or contact the Division of Financial Aid as well. Just log in, and under the “financial” tab, click on academic progress on the left, and choose the current academic year. The last tab, Academic Progress, shows your current SAP status.

I cannot stress this enough: the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) openend up October 1st and must be filed every year that you’re in school in order to receive financial aid. TheFAFSA home screen on-time filer deadline for Purdue University is March 1st every year, DON’T MISS OUT! It’s not just grants and scholarships that depend on the FAFSA; if you have Stafford loans they also require filed a FAFSA. Recent FAFSA changes have you using the taxes from 2 years before you file, so if you’re filing for the 2017-18 school year you’ll use 2015 tax information. It also tends to be easier to file the FAFSA when both parents and students can work together, and the holidays usually provide a perfect opportunity. Although filing FAFSA is not as fun as opening presents on Christmas morning, it’s fast and super important, so make sure to pencil in sometime for it.

Another really important thing about this time of year is that it’s when scholarship applications open up for the next academic year. That’s right, free money is up for grabs, so go apply! Academic advisors typically email students letting them know, but you can also check out this list of Purdue departmental scholarship information.  The Division of Financial Aid also has a General Purdue Scholarship Application that is available now and is due (along with a completed FAFSA) by January 1st. Private scholarship applications typically start opening up this time of year too. Two resources for private scholarships are FinAid and FastWeb. So research and apply for scholarships. After all, who doesn’t like free money?

So yes the holidays are here, relax and enjoy yourself! Go have fun and refresh! Just keep these things in mind as they can help for a less stressful spring semester.

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