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Save Money & Time: Take 15 Credits!

28 Apr

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

One of the best things you can do for yourself in college is keeping yourself on track to graduate on time. Only 3 in 10 students in Indiana finishing their Bachelor’s degree within 4 years and that creates financial challenges for students who fall behind on graduation. Not averaging 15 credits per semester puts you off of a 4 year graduation plan which comes with a host of potential issues.

15 to finish Purdue.jpg

First and foremost is the cost of attending one extra year of college. An extra year at Purdue costs an extra $10,002 for in-state tuition ($28,804 for nonresident). Not to mention the costs of housing, food, books and other school supplies, and the cost of travelling home a few times per year. All in all, the estimated cost to be a Purdue student is $23,032 each year ($41,994 for nonresidents). That’s a lot of extra money to spend for the same degree that can be obtained in four years.

Remember: tuition at Purdue is at a flat rate for anyone taking 8 or more credits hours, so whether you’re attending part-time with 8 credits or are registered for 18 credits, the cost is the same!

If the extra tuition expenses isn’t enough of a downside for taking more than 4 years, the extra year lost also gives a couple other undesirable effects:

More time for student loan interest to accrue:
If you had borrowed all the $27,000 available to you in Federal Direct Loans for your first four years your balance on those loans would increase from $1,080 with an extra year of interest to accrue (assuming a 4% interest rate). This isn’t even considering any extra borrowing for the additional time or the interest that accrues during the repayment portion of the loan.

Lost wages and retirement: NerdWallet recently did a study into the impact of taking extra years to graduate. One extra year would result in approximately $46,355 in lost income and $82,074 in lost lifetime retirement savings!

Adding up the tuition paid, lost wages and retirement savings equals an incredible $138,431 for the extra year to get the degree ($157,233 for nonresident). Obviously this is not an ideal situation, so here are some tips to help keep you on track for graduating in four years!

So what can you do?

Take 15 credits every semester! Almost all degree require 120 credits which smoothly divides into eight semesters of 15 credits. While it might be tempting to take less credits your first semester or two, you’ll have to make those up another semester which you may regret when you’re taking those extra credits along with upper-level courses. Plus, students who start out at 15 credits per semester are more likely to graduate.

It may be obvious, but it’s important to pass your classes and earn grades that allow them to count for requirements. Many courses in your major or that you need for pre-reqs require you to earn Cs or higher to count. So contrary to what people may say, Ds do not really get degrees.

If you’ve fallen off the 15 credits per semester average, you can make either make it up during the summer or by taking extra credits in a fall/ spring semester. If the idea of taking 18 credits is a turn off, plan on taking summer courses! You can receive scholarships through both the financial aid office and the Think Summer office if you qualify.

6 Easy Money Saving Tips Any Student Can Use

20 Apr

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

 

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!

Financial Aid February: Choosing a Loan Repayment Plan

28 Feb

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph.D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

Financial Aid February: How to Accept Your Aid

13 Feb

After reviewing your award notice, all that’s left to do is to accept or reject your offers for the award year. The majority of grants — free money that does not need to be paid back — are automatically accepted on your behalf. However any loans offered will require your decision, and at this point you will need to report any private scholarships you received.

While no official deadline for accepting aid exists, keep in mind that financial aid will not credit to your Purdue invoice until aid is accepted. The Division of Financial Aid recommends you accept aid no less than four weeks before the start of the semester. Each type of aid has unique requirements for acceptance.

 

Federal Loans, Purdue Loans, and Work-Study

  1. Accept the offered aid on myPurdue under the “Financial” tab > “Award for Aid Year” > “Accept Award Offer.”
  2. Follow the directions based on type of aid below.

Subsidized/Unsubsidized Stafford Loans

You will need to complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) and Loan Entrance Counseling at www.StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website with the student information and click “Complete MPN” or “Complete Counseling.”

Purdue Loans

Complete a promissory note at ECSI — a third-party servicer Purdue uses for this loan. This is done each year you borrow a Purdue loan.

Federal Work-Study

  • Find a Work-Study job by searching through job postings for student life or other on-campus departments and contacting listed employers for the application process.
  • Once you have secured a Work-Study job, visit the Financial Aid office on campus for a Payroll Authorization Form (PAF). Give this form to your employer when you begin your job. Remember you can only work during the semesters you are enrolled and can pick up the PAF no earlier than the first day of the semester.

Parent PLUS Loans

  1. One parent needs to submit a Parent PLUS Loan application at www.StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website with the parent information and click “Request PLUS Loan.”
  2. Once credit approved, the same parent, if a first-time Parent PLUS borrower, will complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at www.StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website with the same parent information and click “Complete MPN.”
  3. If credit denied, the parent has several options: replace the Parent PLUS loan with $4,000-$5,000 Unsubsidized Stafford Loan and/or private loan up to the remaining cost, reapply for the Parent PLUS Loan with a co-signer, or reapply with a different parent borrower.

Graduate PLUS Loans

You will need to complete a PLUS Loan application at www.StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website with the student information and click “Request PLUS Loan.”

Once credit approved, the student, if a first-time Grad PLUS borrower, will complete a Master Promissory Note (MPN) at www.StudentLoans.gov. Sign into the website with the student information and click “Complete MPN.”

Private Loans

  • Research your private loan options. Review our private loan information and search online for lenders. Complete a loan application with your lender. Most lenders have applications available on their website.
  • Once credit approved, contact your lender for the next steps necessary.
  • Your lender will contact the Division of Financial Aid for certification of your loan. Once certified, the loan will appear in your financial aid package on your myPurdue account.

Note that the private loan application process typically takes at least 30 days. Apply as early as you can so that funds arrive in time for the bill due date.

Private Scholarships

Report your private scholarship to the DFA on your myPurdue:

  1. Log in to your myPurdue account.
  2. Under the “Financial” tab > “Award for Aid Year” select current aid year from the drop down box.
  3. Select the “Resources/Additional Information” tab and report your private scholarships.
  4. Don’t forget to give your donor the Bursar address to send a paper check.

My Student Loan Journey Pt. 2: Climbing the Mountain of Debt

10 Feb

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue University

I knew going into college that I’d have to take out student loans to help finance my degree. While getting myself $48,600 into student loan debt was less than ideal for me, I was able to earn my degree. However thanks to the miracle of interest, my student loan debt had increased from the $48,600 that I had borrowed to $54,800 by the time that I began repayment.

The scary part? That $54,000 could have been even higher. Thankfully I had a couple of things going in my favor that helped to prevent that. A good portion of my federal loans are subsidized and did not accrue interest during school. I also had a loan which required me to make quarterly payments to help keep the interest from adding up (unfortunately these payments always hit me at the worst times in college). Had I not had either of those two factors, my loan debt would have been $59,900 when I finally started repayment.

So how have I gone about tackling this $54,800 debt? Being honest, it hasn’t been perfectly approached at all times but after a few initial mistakes I’ve come up with a plan and am paying it off as quickly as I can.

my student loan journey 2.jpgMaking mistakes early on

During my grace period of six months between graduation and my first payments becoming due, I had saved up a little money working two part-time jobs, but I never put anything toward my loans. As my grace period ended, I was able to get a full-time job along with working ten or so hours a week on the side.

So in November my repayment officially began. I had always heard people say “If you can afford to pay a little extra on your student loans, you should do it”. Getting rid of my student loans was a priority for me, so even though I wasn’t exactly swimming in money I paid extra on my loans. If my payment was $115 for a loan, I’d pay $150. The problem is that my approach of paying a little extra on every loan per month was one of the least efficient ways possible.

Pay more on loans with higher interest rates

What I should have been doing was approaching my repayment with a real plan rather than just tossing a few extra bucks at it.

I learned about the avalanche and snowball debt payment methods from some friends and after some research realized I could take my loans head-on with a plan. I started paying the minimum on every one of my loans except the one with the highest interest rate where I put all that extra money I had previously spread out between the other loans.

Using this avalanche method, I paid on the highest interest loan and then when that was finished up I took that money and started paying it to the next highest interest loan. This approach helps me pay the least amount of total interest possible.

Understand options & repayment plans

Despite the fact that I’ve been able to meet my monthly loan payments, I realized decided to enroll in an income based repayment plan. This brought my monthly payments on my federal loans down from over $300 to around $70 each month. Why did I choose an income based repayment plan when I wasn’t having troubles making my repayment? I found out that having a lower amount due each month could both help my repayment plan and allow me to be more flexible in my finances.

For my repayment, it allowed me to pay less on several of my loans and kept interest from my subsidized loans from accruing (the interest can be covered for up to three years). I took the $230 I wasn’t obligated to pay to all of my loans and rolled it into the extra I had already been putting toward my highest interest loan.

The other perk was that it gave me a lot more financial flexibility, so if unexpected events popped up I could just pay the minimum on my loans and use the money I would have paid to cover whatever emergency happened.

Luckily I never ended up needing this and I have been able to double down on my avalanche repayment and target my highest interest loan with the money I would have been paying otherwise been spreading out to my other loans.

Make payments right away… or make them automatic

Before I started making my loan payments, I felt like I was making just enough money to get by. I didn’t believe I could find $600 per month just for student loans, let alone money to pay ahead. The secret that I found was to make my student loan payments right away once I got paid. Rather than having to worry about what is left to make my loan payments, I prioritized them and made the extra payments part of my mandatory bill paying routine at the beginning of each month. I also found out that one of my private loans and my federal loans offered a small interest rate reduction for enrolling in automatic payments, which I promptly enrolled in to reduce the total interest I would pay over the loans’ lifetimes.

Roll over other debts

During my first year and a half of repayment, two things events had an effect on my debt: my college beater Jeep died on my commute to work forcing me to buy a different vehicle, and I got proposed to my then-girlfriend, now wife. This gave me another $450 per month in payments to make between the car and ring. This squeezed my personal budget to as thin as it could possibly get, but I still made sure to prioritize getting these payments in right away after getting paid. I realized I that I could make this new budget work, so after paying both off I took $350 of that and rolled it into my student loan payments helping me accelerate my impending pay-off even further.

Where I’m at Today

As of this moment, I still have $42,246.38 left to go. I’ve made great progress but I’m still paying over $200 every month on interest alone. It can be depressing to realize how much I’m losing every month to interest, but I know that my current life wouldn’t be possible without the degree I earned and the experiences I had. Rather than concentrating on how far I have to go, I prefer to reflect on how amazing it feels to know that I’ve paid my loans down more than $12,500 in student loan debt in 27 months in addition to over $9,000 between my car and wife’s engagement ring. The end might not be near but that doesn’t stop me from taking one step at a time toward being student debt free.

Financial Aid February: Applying for Aid

1 Feb

To apply for federal, state and Purdue University student aid programs, you will file the FAFSA — this is something you’ll need to do annually to be considered for aid each year you’re in school. Purdue’s priority deadline is March 1.

financial-aid-february-applying-for-aid

If you are an admitted student to Purdue and submit your FAFSA by this deadline, you can expect to hear back about your award offering sometime in late March or early April.

Before completing your FAFSA, you’ll need to create a Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID. If parents are helping in the aid process, make sure one of them registers for an FSA ID too.

What You’ll Need:

  • A computer with Internet access
  • Your Federal Student Aid ID  (FSA ID)
  • Your Social Security number
  • Income information from the prior year (2015 income information for the 2017-18 school year, 2016 for the for 2018-19) for both student and parents (unless you qualify as an independent student)
  • A current, valid email address to be contacted with important information about your financial aid

You can also print a “FAFSA on the Web” worksheet at www.fafsa.gov to complete ahead of time and help prepare your answers before entering them online.

What You’ll Do:

  • Go to www.fafsa.gov and click “Start A New FAFSA,” then login using your name, Social Security number and birthday.
  • Select “Start New FAFSA” and then input the requested information. Remember that while you use income information from the past, your other information is meant to be a snapshot of the moment that you file the FAFSA.
  • Be sure to enter Federal School Code 001825 to allow your information to be sent to Purdue University West Lafayette.

Tips:

You can submit the FAFSA late, but there may be considerably fewer funds available to you for doing so.

If you start attending in the spring or summer, you should complete the FAFSA for the prior year. Example, if you start summer 2016, you should complete the 2015-16 FAFSA. 

You can apply for financial aid prior to applying for admission to Purdue. However, you must be admitted to a degree-seeking program (or a teacher’s certification program) before eligibility will be calculated and to receive financial aid.

You may be eligible, and if so we highly encourage you to use the IRS Data Retrieval Tool within the FAFSA to update the information after taxes have been filed. Information will be transferred from the IRS directly into the FAFSA with this option. Check out a short tutorial for help with this process.

We recommend printing the “FAFSA on the Web” submission confirmation page as proof of completion to keep in your records.

One of the most commonly requested documents is a tax transcript. Get your tax return transcript from the IRS.

If you have any FAFSA filing questions, you can contact FAFSA customer service agents at 800-433-3243, get online help or you can check out Federal Student Aid’s YouTube Channel for short, informational videos on the process.

The Great Debate: Living On-Campus or Off-Campus?

11 Jan

Where you live and who you live with can be one of the most important decisions you make each year. There are benefits and drawbacks of each option, but the best choice varies for each person. Taking stock of what you want in your housing, how you’re paying for it and the various perks it offers can help you find the right spot to call home for the next year.

While residence halls (dorms) are often the go-to for first-year students, they are not mandatory to live in. Apartments and houses are available for incoming students off-campus too, but often you’ll need roommates and finding them when you’ve only been to campus once for a tour can be difficult. But no matter how long you’ve been in school, it’s a decision you have to make every year and a little comparison can only help you make the best choice for you!

living on campus or off campus22.jpg

One of the main differences between living on-campus & off-campus is the distance from your classes and buildings you need to visit. Living on-campus puts you in the closest proximity for getting to your classes, going to the co-rec, or making it to meetings with your advisor. Depending on how far you live off-campus this may or may not be an issue. If you live across the street from campus this is basically on-campus. However, if you’re a ways away you’ll have to rely on the buses, biking in, driving (if you’re quite a distance away), or just hoofing it. Unfortunately all of these options become a lot less fun when the weather goes cold.

Comparing prices between on-campus and off-campus can be difficult since there’s a wide range for both choices and difference in how you have to pay for them. On-campus residence halls and apartments are generally going to cost you more than living off-campus. However, the big difference many people neglect is how you pay for them. Payment for your housing (and meal plan) is due at beginning of the semester along with your tuition if you live on-campus. If you live off-campus in a house or apartment you will be making a payment each month. These monthly payments are typically much easier to pay out of pocket rather than having to come up with a whole semester’s housing all at once.

If you’re living off-campus, you’ll also want to pay attention to your utility bills in addition to your rent – a problem that living on-campus doesn’t have as it’s a fixed rate. Paying for things like heat, electricity and internet can bust your budget if you had not factored them in. Additionally your laundry situation can involve many things including nothing in your place, having coin-operated machines, or even the mythical free-to-use machines in a place where you don’t have to pay utilities.

One cost that you’ll have to pay for whether you live on or off-campus is your food. There’s no difference in the rates for meal plans where you live, but if you don’t live close to campus your plans to eat every meal in a dining hall probably won’t end up happening. As previously mentioned, your cost for a meal plan is due up-front at the beginning of the semester. Even if you have a meal plan it definitely won’t be your source for 100% of your food as you’ll probably buy snacks, go out to eat at a restaurant or grab food to go from another source at some point.

Possibly the biggest make-or-break part of anywhere that you live is your roommate. Rooming with someone you never met, or even your best friend, can be extremely difficult. Whether it’s sleeping a few feet from them in a dorm room or just sharing a kitchen and living room in an apartment, roommate issues are a frequent source of contention. While you do have the option to have your own place, it comes at a considerable cost both on and off campus. The showering situation in the residence halls might get a bit of flack but sharing a shower with a few of your friends and not cleaning it properly or often enough can make its own frightful situation.

The last major consideration is whether you plan on being around during the summer for classes, internships/ jobs, or just because. Most off-campus contracts are year-round so if you’re splitting back to your family’s home once classes end you’ll still be paying for your place at school. However, living in a residence hall and having summer classes can put you in a spot in having to find a sublease too. While it’s not usually too hard to find options since so many students would rather have someone sublet from them than have to pay their rent during the summer it’s not always the easiest to find a perfect situation to slide into.

Remember, you can use your financial aid to pay for living both on and off-campus! If you live on-campus you’re billed for housing along with tuition and it is due when classes start. This makes it extremely important to have your aid lined up for the beginning of the semester. If your aid doesn’t cover everything that you owe, you’ll need to find a way to cover the difference or create a payment plan with the Bursar’s Office. Any extra aid above what you are billed (whether you live on or off-campus) will be refunded to you. If you’re living off-campus it’s usually a good plan to put this toward your rent. Paying ahead can be great for lifting any worries for a while, just be sure to get a receipt if you do!

10 Steps to Prepare for Next Semester Now!

29 Dec

Okay, so it’s about time to make our schedules and pick out classes for next semester. As we move closer and closer to the spring here is a list of things to keep in mind while picking classes:

Is the work load realistic? It’s awesome you want to take 20 credit hours! Is it really that realistic to successfully complete 20 credit hours though? Be honest with yourself and only take what you can handle. Your financial aid, degree, and future job depend on you doing well so don’t set yourself up for a disaster.

What classes do you need? If you know you can only successfully complete 15 credit hours which classes are really important and get you closer to your goal, graduation? I know your best friend is in that class and you really want to be with her, but maybe that’s not the best option for you. And make sure you stay on track. Are you going to graduate on time? It can cost a lot of money if not. Make sure you are taking care of what you need to first.

What time is class? Some of us are morning people, and some of us are definitely not. No one knows you better than… you! Keep in mind part of your financial aid is contingent on participation, which for some that means attending class. If you know you’re going to sleep through a 7:30 am class, perhaps there is a better option during a later time. You just might be able to substitute the 7:30 am class for another credit altogether.  Check with your advisor for any class switches you could make.

When is lunch? When some of us make a schedule, we pack it as tightly as we can, to be done with the day as soon as we can. Others purposely leave room for a lunch. So look at what works best for you. If you have time for a lunch, packing a lunch is always cheaper. If you don’t have time for a lunch, maybe you don’t need such a large meal plan, see about switching it out for what meal plan works best for you and your needs.

feet walking upstairs with text overlay: 10 Steps to Prepare for Next Semester

How are you getting to class? Are you taking the bus? Make sure you check out the bus schedule to see when it starts, stops, if it is on-time, and plan accordingly. Difficult to tell when a bus is on time, there is an app for that. If you’re driving, are you sharing that car? Make sure you work it out with all the necessary parties.

Do you have scholarships? What are the GPA requirements for those? Most Purdue scholarships check your grades in the spring, and only in the spring. Make sure you’re on track to keep your scholarships! If you know you’re not where you need to be, consider taking some GPA booster classes or cutting your work load to get your GPA were it needs to be. Also don’t stop now! If you have a good GPA keep up the good work and don’t lose momentum.

What other financial aid do you have? State and federal aid have minimum credit hour requirements to receive those funds. Make sure you continue to meet those credit hour minimums. You can always see the requirements needed for all types of aid by going to your MyPurdue, look under the financial tab. On the left hand side there is a link that says “Award for Aid Year”. After you click the link you will want to select the 2016-2017 school year. On the award overview tab, all of your aid will be listed with links to the award requirements.

Is your enrollment changing? Typically, financial aid is based on the assumption you will be 12 credit hours or more. If you’re not, let the financial aid office know, before classes start! Re-awarding financial aid is a manual process and can take some time. Letting the Financial Aid Office know about your schedule changes in advance will save you from headaches.

What are the additional costs? Some courses come with special course fees, like chemistry labs. Can you handle that other cost? All books are not created equal. Keep in mind some textbooks will always cost more. So make sure you consider if the additional financial costs outside of the tuition will be covered. And plan ahead. Often times there are cheaper options for buying books.

Do you have a job? Most employers, especially the ones on campus, are good about working around your class schedule. They are here at Purdue and realize you are a student. That being said, they need to know your schedule. Make sure you give them your schedule and do so well in advance. The early bird gets the worm and the sooner they have your schedule, the sooner they can work around it and give you the hours you need.

What steps do you take to prepare for a new semester?

Choosing a Federal Student Loan Repayment Plan

14 Dec

All information on repayment plans is from this article by David Evans, Ph.D.
Additional info added by Casey Doten, Purdue Financial Aid Administrator

There are two main types of repayment plans you can choose from: traditional and income-driven. For borrowers that will qualify for Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF), income-driven plans may be the better option. Income-driven plans will require an annual verification of income. This fact sheet describes each of the repayment plans as well as pros and cons of each. For more information about each of the repayment plans visit the Federal Student Aid website.

Traditional Plansstudent-loan-repayment-plans

Standard Repayment Plan

The Standard Repayment plan consist of equal monthly payments over a 10-year period of time. This repayment plan is good for those who can handle making their monthly payments and make enough money to afford them. This payment plan is best for those who have minimal other debts and start working right out of school.

The Pros: You’ll pay off your loan faster compared to other plans, and pay less interest as a result.

The Cons: Your monthly payments will be higher than those made through other plans.

Graduated Repayment Plan

The Graduated and Extended Repayment plans could be an option for you if your income is low when you graduate but will increase quickly. Under a graduated plan, payments start out low and increase during the repayment period, usually every two years. This is a good plan if you can’t afford your current payments but know you will make more money in the years to come.

The Pros: Your loan is still paid off within 10 years.

The Cons: You’ll pay more interest over the lifetime of your loan compared to the Standard Plan.

Extended Repayment Plan

An Extended Repayment Plan is an option if your loan amount is more than $30,000 and you want to stretch your repayment to 25 years.

The Pros: Smaller monthly payments (since they’re spread out over as many as 25 years) and more time to pay off your loan.

The Cons: You’ll be saddled with payments for a longer period of time as well as pay more interest.

Income-Driven Plans

If you qualify for an Income-Driven plan, these are often the most attractive options if you’re willing to recertify your payment each year (it’s not very difficult). However, some of these are contingent on when you took out loans! If you’re interested in student loan forgiveness*, you’ll need to be enrolled in any one of these plans.

Income Based Repayment Plan

If you’re not making enough money to cover all of your monthly expenses the Income Based Repayment (IBR) Plan would be a good option. There are two separate calculations for IBR which are dependent upon when you took out your student loans.

The Pros: The IBR plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income** if you were a new borrower on or after July 1, 2014. Otherwise it will be 15%. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF (this is true for all loan forgiveness).

Income Contingent Repayment Plan

If you have a federal Direct Loan (other than a PLUS loan), you could opt for the Income Contingent Repayment (ICR) Plan. Your payments could be as low $5 or even $0.

The Pros: Your monthly payment will be the lesser of 20% of your discretionary income or on a repayment plan with a fixed payment over 12 years. You can have your remaining loan balance forgiven after 25 years of regular payments.

The Cons: You’ll pay more over the lifetime of your loan than you would with a 10-year plan, your payment could be lower than the monthly accrued interest and your loan principal will grow. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan

The Income Sensitive Repayment (ISR) Plan is only available for those with Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program. Payments are based on your annual income, family size, and total loan amount. You would pay the loan off in fifteen years.

The Pros: Each lender has their own calculation, but generally it is between 4% and 25% of your monthly gross income, although your payment must be greater than or equal to the interest that accrues.

The Cons: It’s only available for up to five years. After that time, you must switch to another repayment plan. You must reapply annually, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll have continued enrollment in the plan.

Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Pay as You Earn Repayment (PAYE) Plan is another option for those not able to afford their current monthly payments.

The Pros: The PAYE plan takes into account your annual income as well as your family size. Your payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 years.

The Cons: PAYE is only eligible to those who were new borrowers on or after October 1, 2007 and must have received a disbursement of a Direct Loan on or after October 1, 2011. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan

The Revised Pay as You Earn Repayment (REPAYE) Plan is very similar to PAYE. This plan was created to allow more borrowers the opportunity to have their payments lowered to 10% of discretionary income.

The Pros: Not dependent upon when you took out your student loan, the payment will be 10% of your discretionary income. Any outstanding balance on your loan will be forgiven after 20 (for undergraduate loans) or 25 (for graduate loans) years.

The Cons: If you are married, your spouse’s income will be considered whether taxes are filed jointly or separately. You will have to pay income taxes on any forgiven debt unless you qualify for PSLF.

Summary

Federal student loans offer various ways for repayment. If you are in a situation (like so many others who have taken out student loans) that is not ideal for standard repayment of your loan, consider these options. There is a lot to consider when you are trying to decide which repayment plan to choose. Using the Federal Student Loan Repayment Estimator can help you make your decision by showing you what your payments would be under each of the plans described above.

*A note about loan forgiveness: There are two different kinds of loan forgiveness, Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) and loan forgiveness from your income-driven repayment plan ending. While both plans require you to be enrolled in an income-driven plan to reap the benefits there are some key differences:
-PSLF requires being employed at a qualifying employer in public service (non-profits, government, etc.) for 10 years/ 120 qualifying payments before forgiveness takes place. Standard forgiveness is after 20 or 25 years depending on your repayment plan.

-Any loan amounts forgiven under PSLF are tax-free, but not under standard forgiveness! So if you still have a balance on your loans after 20 (or 25) years, you will owe taxes on it as if it is income. While it’s still better than paying the amount back, it’s important to know it will have ramifications.

**Discretionary income = Your income – 150% of the poverty level in your state for your family size

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