Archive | March, 2017

Will Your Student Loans be a Burden?

31 Mar

 

Whether you’re an incoming freshman looking into financial aid or in the midst of senioritis ready to graduate from college, student loans have probably crossed your mind. Even if you know how much you will/ already do owe, it still ends up being an abstract figure in how it will impact your life.

student loan burden

A pretty simple rule of thumb to estimate your minimum monthly repayment without using a student loan calculator is to assume you’ll be repaying 1% of what you owe per month. That doesn’t sound like much, but that’s $100 every month for every $10,000 that you owe. So while the average 2016 graduate has $37,712 in debt that means they are paying about $377 every month to their loans.

And then there are people like me who borrowed a little more and are paying almost $550 for borrowing $48,600 ($54,800 thanks to interest).

If you’re not sure how much you’ve borrowed, you can check out the National Student Loan Database System (nslds.ed.gov) to double check how much in federal loans you’ve borrowed.

Even knowing what your repayment amount is doesn’t mean much unless you consider your future salary. A common problem here is that people overestimate their starting salary. Nearly half of 2015 grads thought they would earn $40,000 or more, but in reality only about ¼ of grads actually made it.

So if you’re earning a starting salary of approximately $35,000, your take home pay after taxes will be approximately $2,230 per month (depending quite a bit on your tax withholding and state you live in).

While there’s no hard rule about what a comfortable proportion of loan repayment is, we generally advise students that they are getting into a difficult territory if their monthly minimum repayment is over 20% of their take-home pay. So for the previous $35,000 salary that’s about $44,600 in debt according to this rough formula.

If you’ve ended up in a situation where your minimum amount due is a financial burden then you will want to explore the different repayment plans available to you. Just remember that the standard 10-year repayment plan that you are placed into automatically allows you to pay the least amount of interest and finish in the shortest time frame.

Additionally, if you seek out an income-based repayment plan with the hopes of earning public service loan forgiveness, keep in mind that it could be on the chopping block if politicians continue to see the program costs exceeding their original budget.

Understanding Your Financial Aid Award Letter

28 Mar

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Did receiving your financial aid award letter raise more questions than answers? Take some time to check out the slideshow above for a little bit more information. Keep in mind that you can pause it to read more thoroughly, or view it in PDF format with clickable links by clicking here.

If you have any questions about your financial aid, remember that you can contact the Division of Financial Aid a few different ways: stopping by in-person, giving us a phone call, or sending us an email.

Typically the quickest way to get answers to questions or solve problems is to stop by our office in-person. We always accept walk-ins as long as we are open Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.! Our office is in room 305 in Schleman Hall.

If stopping in-person isn’t an option, phoning in is usually a good choice too! Just call (765) 494-5050 during our open hours (Monday-Friday, 8-5) and we will be glad to help you out whether it’s just a quick question or fully advising you on your aid!

If you can’t stop or call in during our open hours, you can always send us an email to facontact@purdue.edu. While you won’t get the immediate assistance you might otherwise by visiting or calling, this works best if your schedule doesn’t match up with our open hours.

6 Classes to Fill Your Schedule at Purdue

23 Mar

class schedule fillers at purdue.jpg
It’s that time of the year! Making your schedule for next semester and not sure what you should take for those last few credits to get you to full-time? Since our first article for 5 Class Schedule Fillers at Purdue is one of our most popular blogs, we figured it’s time to offer up a few more student suggested courses for those making their schedule for next semester.

Quick information: full-time can mean a lot of different things for undergraduates. For financial aid, full-time is 12 credits in order to have a full award. For academic purposes, the Registrar also goes off a 12-credit rule for full-time. These two are the same for both fall/spring and summer.  However, for billing purposes flat-rate/ full-time billing begins at 8 credits. So whether you take 8 or 18 credits, your base tuition price is the same (unless you have course fees). Graduate student full-time changes fall/spring versus summer, so this information doesn’t apply to them.

Whether you’re looking for something to fill elective credits, general education requirements or just figure you’ll toss another class in to broaden your horizons, there are tons of course options at Purdue. Here is a sampling that other students have suggested:11082590_10153256154614271_7166009571184015507_n.png

PES 115 (Bowling): You may think Physical Education courses were left in the dust in high school, but the 1-credit PES 115 comes as one of the more highly recommended courses from students. The grading doesn’t go off your actual bowling scores, but rather off your attendance and performance on assignments and quizzes. Extra bonus? You can have Pappy’s delivered to your lane since it’s in the Union.

ENG 232 (J.R.R. Tolkien): Feel like you don’t have time for any fun reading during the semester? Well, this class can combine for-class reading assignments with your favorites! Explore Middle Earth by the books during the week and maybe spend your weekends studying up by watching the trilogies.

HIST 371  (Society, Culture and Rock & Roll/ History of Rock & Roll): Not only is the subject matter exciting, but the real sticking point for this class is that the instructor has incredible passion about the subject and makes it fun for the students. The course usually fills up quickly so if you’re thinking about this one, you’ll want to jump on it!

HORT 360 (Interior Flower Arrangement): While arranging flowers might sounds like it could be sneaky difficult, it comes highly recommended by those who have taken it. Remembering a few facts from high school biology will come in handy, but prior knowledge is not needed. In addition, you end up with an apartment full of fresh flowers and house plants at the end of the course. Note this class has an extra fee so it will cost you extra!

COM 212 (Approaches to the Study of Interpersonal Communication): A communication course that can be taken online may sound strange but it is reality. While it might not sound up your alley, this course doubles as both being enjoyable and being one of the more useful courses post-graduation. For better or worse, being able to communicate well in front of other people is a big part of life after college.

CSR 105 (Personal Finance): One of the courses many people often think should be mandatory in high school due to its importance in everyday life. CSR 105 teaches you about how credit works, paying back student loans, and tax information. It might be the most useful course you take in college for your financial future.

While the courses listed have all been endorsed by current and past students, it’s always worth doing some checking on your end as well. Sometimes instructors or the course material changes can make a big difference. You should also take some time to check out how your potential instructor rates on Rate My Professor and see what comments are left there from other students. While individual reviews aren’t always a fair summary of an instructor, seeing several along the same lines can give you a good idea of what to prepare for.

Have a class you’ve taken that was memorable in a good way? Help spread the word in the comments!

5 Personal Financial Management Tips

21 Mar

Financial freedom can help reduce your stress levels immensely. That doesn’t mean you need to be living a life of luxury, but you do need to ensure that your finances are under control. According to Will Smith, “Too many people spend money they haven’t earned, to buy things they don’t want, to impress people they don’t […]

via 5 Personal Financial Management Tips  — Stay Strong, Daily Warrior!

Spring Break is Here, What Now?!

15 Mar

Splash park

Spring Break is here and I am excited! Are you? Even though it has felt like spring for most of the winter, finally time off from classes is here.  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 (which are awesome) 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 Window
There’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!)

-Enjoy one of two indoor trampoline parks in Lafayette at either Get Air Lafayette or Elite Air Trampoline Park.

What are some of your favorite things to do in the Greater Lafayette Area during the summer? Let us know in the comments below!

Top 10 Places for a $10 or Less Lunch during Spring Break

13 Mar

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Purdue Dining Courts will be CLOSED during break, so here is our Top 10 list of ways to feed yourself if you are eating your lunch out.

I love having other people make me food, but I hate the price that comes with it. When I go out to eat I want good food and a lot of it, but I like to keep the price as low as possible. I’m sure all of you college students can relate to not wanting to pay a lot for food but still getting to enjoy your food.  My Top Ten restaurants in the West Lafayette area list is focused on what I enjoy: massive quantities of delicious food for cheap.

1-4: Giant Burrito Distributors

Big Bean Burrito

Here in West Lafayette alone we have 4 burrito restaurants (ranked in order of my personal favorites) Qdoba, Moe’s, Chipotle, and La Fiesta Burrito. The best thing about a burrito restaurant is that you get A LOT of food for a pretty good price. The big bonus at Moe’s and La Fiesta Burrito is the unlimited free chips and salsa with your purchase. Qdoba and Chipotle offer chips and salsa as separate side items, but will give you a free small drink with your student ID.

5&6: Sub Shops

There are a lot of sub shops in the area, but I only really like two of them: Subway and Jimmy John’s.

Both have great aspects about them:

subway sub

Subway: $5 foot-long months, huge variety of sandwich combinations, and unlimited topping choices. Be sure to get 10% off your sandwich with your student ID!

Jimmy John’s: that SMELL, delicious giant pickles, classic sandwiches, and their freaky fast service.

Subs are a pretty generic food option; but, there are lots of sub choices, lots of flavor, and lots of food. As college students, we are focused on getting the most bang for our buck, and you definitely get this at either of these delicious sub shops.

7: Dairy Queen & Panda Express

DQ – Right in the Chauncey Mall and great for more than just ice cream. My personal favorite is their $5 Buck Lunch with a burger, fries, drink and, of course, ice cream sundae. It’s not a $5 deal but the Flamethrower Burger is huge and incredibly delicious.

Panda – Something I never tried until I went to college (true story). Now I can’t get enough of their orange chicken. If you’ve never had it, do yourself a favor and stop by this week.

8: Von’s Dough Shack

Located right next to Von’s Book Store, this tiny shack serves up HUGE calzones. They have 40 different options listed on their menu and a variety of sides to choose from. The last time I ate lunch there, I was so full I didn’t eat supper that night. Now, that’s a restaurant that’s worth paying for.

9: Packing Your Lunch

paper packed lunch

It’s not very cool, but it is economical, and it’s what I do almost every day. Packing your lunch costs you what you would usually pay in groceries, a few extra minutes in the kitchen, and possibly the price of a lunch box and/or portable food containers. The start-off cost is more than ten dollars, sometimes, but if you divide it over every day that you pack your lunch, you are saving a TON of money. This is even easier if you have leftovers from dinner the night before. Just reheat the next day and you just made the effort/ cost of one meal into two.

10: KFC Buffet

The lunch buffet on Mondays is even cheaper than the rest of the week! Plus, it’s an all-you-can-eat buffet; you can literally eat until you are completely stuffed. The Colonel’s chicken really is the best too. One sneaky student even pointed out that you could potentially sit there all day and eat while studying…  Just an option to keep in mind…

kfc chicken

7 Things You Need to Think About When Planning a Spring Break

9 Mar

Spring Break leader

With less than a week until spring break, now is the time to get into gear if you are planning a trip this break. While there are several websites available that will arrange packages for you, it is possible to get a great experience without having to pay the premium fees associated with those arrangements.

Planning is the most important part of making sure your trip is one of your best college memories. If you plan properly, you can avoid having to spend your way out of an emergency situation.

Things to think about:

1. Plan on a Budget: With a little bit of searching you should be able to estimate the costs of various things from transportation, lodging, food, and what you are planning to do while you’re there. This will help make sure you don’t throw caution and money to the wind when you first arrive and have to sit in your room because you ran out of money day one. Work with your friends you are going with to make sure it is a reasonable amount for everyone.

2. Traveling Companions: Make sure your group has similar expectations. Mixing friends who want to go sight-seeing at historic places with those who want to party will probably result in the group splitting up for most of the trip. If you all agree on the budget beforehand, then everyone can be ready to pay their own way so you don’t have to help cover someone’s expenses unexpectedly.

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3. Destination: Beaches and tropical locations are always popular, but don’t be afraid to think outside of the box. Many parts of the country are beautiful this time of year and significantly cheaper than the traditional destinations.

If you’re thinking about international travel, you need to be sure you have your passport. Passports typically take 4-6 weeks to process, unless you want to for expedited service fees to get it sooner. (https://travel.state.gov/content/passports/en/passports/information/fees.html)how you travel spring break tips

4. Planning: Depending on the type of trip, work with your friends to create a list of a few can’t-miss activities and places to visit. This can be during the drive or at your destination. Do some internet searches for tourist attractions in the area since you are, after all, a tourist!

5. Travel Method: The spring break road trip is a classic, and will cost you a lot less than airline tickets would. Just be sure the vehicle you take is reliable. Nothing will derail your plans (and budget) quicker than an unexpected car breakdown.

If you do decide to fly, remember that you will need transportation when you arrive! This means either having someone there with a car, renting one, or relying on public transportation and taxis (which can be expensive).

6. Hotels: While you aren’t traveling to see the walls of your hotel room, where you stay can have a huge impact on your trip. If you’re looking to save money on eating, rooms with a kitchen (while usually more expensive) can save you from eating out for every meal.

When booking your rooms be sure to compare rates not just between hotels, but between booking methods. If you call their front desk, that’s not always a guaranteed best price. There are plenty of websites that may be able to reduce the room rate for you.

7. Food: You may think that you are destined for fast food, restaurants, and gas station food, but with preparation you can save a few dollars on food and still eat well. If you have a long trip, you’ll need to eat in the vehicle. Grocery stores are full of food to eat on the go, but don’t buy anything that needs refrigerated. You can’t refrigerate anything so it needs to be okay without and that leftovers are mostly a no-go. Don’t worry too much about bringing food to last the trip because your destination will have grocery stores (the locals do have to eat). Be sure to pick out foods that fit your situation. If you’re relying on a microwave for cooking tailor your choices toward that.

Smart Money Moves for your Internship Paycheck

7 Mar

Nathan Carmany, a Purdue Alumnus, is a Certified Financial Planner for Watermark Wealth Management

The spring semester is underway. Companies are recruiting and having conversations with
your professors about ideal candidates. You attend networking events, purchase new interview clothes, and hopefully land the perfect position for the summer. To stay ahead of your finances, you need to make a conscious plan for your earnings.internship txt crop.jpg

  1. PAY HIGH INTEREST RATE CREDIT CARDS 

The average balance for a college student in 2013 was $499. The average interest for student credit card interest is 13.42% stated as an APR, however, the effective rate after compounding daily is actually 14.34%. What better way to cut expenses than eliminating high interest obligations?

  1. CREATE A SPENDING PLAN

Consider creating a spending plan for the summer and school year to stretch the duration of the funds. Paul Arden stated, “Don’t look for the next opportunity. The one you have in hand is the opportunity.” Think about what opportunities you may put into your own hand with a well thought out spending plan.

  1. PAY FOR YOUR SUMMER CLASSES

Don’t overlook that your credits for the summer internship can cost money. Why not use some of the funds to possibly pay for those? Reduction of your total amount borrowed before interest is capitalized and recommended for faster loan payoff.

  1. PREFUND YOUR LIVING EXPENSES

Seniors, set aside as much as you can. When you find your first apartment or home, somewhere the move will create an unplanned expense. Inevitably it happens, an extra day rental on the moving truck, needing kitchen utensils, towels, or boxes. The money will help cushion for the unplanned expense. Do not forget about the extra cost of hooking up utilities, cable, or the internet.

  1. BUILD AN EMERGENCY FUNDgraph spending plan final.jpg

Traditional financial planning calls for 3-6 months of living expenses set aside for an emergency fund. Most people will experience at least one significant financial emergency in a three to five year period. It can be difficult for college students to save a full 6 months of living expenses, but setting aside a modest amount may prevent you from making a call to your parents when something comes up. Like my grandmother taught me, place the money in a zip lock bag and freeze it in a container of water, then see how easy it is to impulse spend!

  1. CONTRIBUTE TO A ROTH

The sooner retirement savings start; the less you have to save over the rest of your life. The compounding of gains and interest early on are difficult to make up if you delay contributing until later in life. By saving it in a Roth IRA, the earnings are tax free after age 59.5, as long a Roth account was opened 5 years ago or longer. That 5 year clock begins with the first contribution to your Roth. If you need access to the money, contributions are removed first without any penalty.

  1. PAY DOWN STUDENT LOANS

Hopefully, you have been informed about the inability for most borrowers to ever declare this type of debt in bankruptcy and that prolonged periods of missed payments will lead to wage garnishment, a much larger loan balance, and the destruction of your credit score. The grace period on most student loans expires 6 months after graduation. Interest is capitalized (meaning that it is added to the loan balance) at that point unless you qualify under a different exemption. Paying down unsubsidized loans (make sure your loan servicer allocate it properly) with your earnings before the end of the grace period is a great way to cut the overall cost of the loan.

Wrap Up

Think about your upcoming needs for the summer, school year, or beyond graduation. Pick one of the ideas to best suit your needs and work on an implementation plan. No matter which idea you execute, a well thought out plan will serve you well.

America Saves Week: Saving for Emergencies in College

4 Mar

AmericaSaves-Leaderboard-728x90-static-rainyday.jpgEmergency savings aren’t for fun. When you don’t need it, you look at a nice sum in the bank that you could be using for something fun. When you do need it, you’re going through some sort of financial crisis and probably won’t be patting yourself on the back for being prepared.ASW Emergency 2 TXT.jpg

As a college student you might not have a lot of spare money sitting around, but having some cash set aside is a lot more pleasant than having to ask the Bank of Mom & Dad for funds because you weren’t prepared. Even if you need to ask for some help, you can save a lot of pride if you let them know you’re able to contribute toward whatever emergency you have.

So how much money should a student save for emergencies? There’s no answer to cover everyone other than “it depends”. The best advice is to anticipate what types of emergencies you may need it for. Things like blowing the transmission in your car, unplanned travel to be with a friend, embarrassing personal health situations, or minor legal issues (like tickets) can all be things that you might feel weird asking your parents to help cover. Even asking for help with reasonable things like food and rent can be uncomfortable if they know that you blew the money you were supposed to use.

A good goal is to save around $500 somewhere where you can’t spend it easily, but can access it when you absolutely need it. That might not cover everything, but it’s a good start on most minor situations you will find yourself in.

How do you get that $500 saved up? Here are three ideas:

  1. If you work, funnel a little bit off each paycheck or from your tips to slowly build it up. Just be sure to keep the money safe from yourself so you don’t use it for impulse purchases. If you treat your emergency fund like a bill and pay yourself first, you won’t miss the money.
  2. When your disbursement comes from extra scholarship, grant, and loan money, take out the $500 then and set it aside.
  3. Save up those mini-windfalls you might get from birthdays, tax returns, and holidays.

It might seem like $500 is a lot to save. But it will feel like even more when you have to pay it in a pinch and don’t have it. Whatever your goal is, set it and get after it. Consider making a pledge to save with America Saves Week as extra motivation to get started.

And remember…

Emergency savings are for emergencies!

America Saves Week: Pay Off High Interest Debt

3 Mar

In 2012, 71 percent of students who graduated 4-year colleges took out student loans. Debt isn’t fun, but education is one of the better reasons to take on debt. While you may not enjoy paying back student loans there are some steps you can take to save yourself some money and make your payments hurt a little bit less.

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  1. Prioritize high-interest debt: While Federal Direct student loans are capped at 6.8%, private loans are not. Even worse interest rates? Credit cards. If you have credit card debt, prioritize paying it off before your student loans. 6.8% interest is no fun, but credit card interest rates 20% and higher can be crippling.
  2. Income based repayment: If you qualify for an income-based repayment (IBR) plan, do yourself a favor and apply for one. Generally if your debt is higher than your income you will probably qualify. Even if you are able to make your payments without much issue, an IBR can still save you money. How you may ask? If you keep paying the same amount you did before, you can target your payments toward either your highest interest or smallest loans depending on which repayment style fits you. Not to mention, if you are one of the approximately 50% of people who work in public service, you can qualify for loan forgiveness after 10 years.

Pick your payoff: There are two main methods for paying off debt when you have multiple balances to pay. The snowball and the avalanche method.

The snowball method entails taking the extra money you have and paying off your smallest debts first while paying the minimum on the rest. Then once that is taken care of, you roll that payment into the next smallest and knock off your obligations one-by-one. This is best for those who like the reward of seeing their different loans disappear the quickest and can help you stay on track easier.

The avalanche method is similar to the snowball where you make minimum payments on all loans but one. The difference is that you target the highest interest rates first. While you may not experience the visual rewards of seeing the small debts disappear quicker, you will save the most amount of money in the long run this way.

One way to not repay is by spreading out the extra you pay to all debts and pay a little bit additional on everything each month. This provides neither of the advantages that the avalanche and snowball method have while still costing you the same amount. You get less savings than the avalanche, and less of the reward that the snowball offers.

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