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Looking for a Part-Time Job During the School Year?

13 Jun

broadcast-purdue

Are you worried you won’t have enough money to have fun while you’re on campus this fall? If your parents have finally gotten sick of you asking them for money, you might consider getting a part-time job on campus. I know, I know, being a student is a full-time job, but how else are you supposed to keep up with the random expenses that pop up, let alone some money for fun? Especially without racking up more debt than you may already have from student loans?

Earning a little extra cash during the school year not only helps you financially, but as reported by Student Employment Services at Purdue University, working 8-12 hours per week may actually help in academic performance and student retention. Probably because working students learn better time management skills.

Now that you’ve decided (or have been bullied into by your parents) to get a part-time job during the school year, START EARLY! Employers often start lining up their new hires for the fall around late June, so the time to apply is approaching quickly. This will give you an edge on everyone else searching for part-time jobs near campus. If you want to work on-campus you have a variety of options, or if you’re willing to go off-campus, you will have even more options! To start your search for on-campus employment I would recommend you start here:

Start here for specific student employment options. Purdue University’s Student Employment website is a comprehensive job posting website with on and off campus opportunities. This site is especially helpful if you need to search specifically for a work-study position.

Are you looking for other employment opportunities on campus? Check out the different employment websites listed below.

Other options for employment near campus include the bookstores (either Follett’s or University Bookstore.) Also, there are plenty of restaurants and stores around campus that hire students. Just walking down the Chauncey Hill or the Levee opens more options for employment. There are plenty of restaurants there and a few shops that prefer to hire students. Make sure you get there early though; they often have to wait and see if their regular employees will be returning in the fall, so it’s good to get your name and face in their brains.

Remember, you can use the city bus service for free as a Purdue student! Even if a job isn’t within walking distance, it may be on a convenient bus route.

Can’t find anything there? If you are looking through alternative resources to search for jobs online be careful! Some online job postings sites may not screen their job postings and it could lead to a scam. You can research the company’s track record and see if any complaints have been made through BBB.

A safer option would be visiting a particular company’s website to see if they are hiring or you could even call or stop by and ask for an application. Both West Lafayette and Lafayette have companies that hire part-time workers, and most of them are often hiring.

If your job search isn’t going as well as you would like, don’t give up! Maybe you could work at Starbucks instead of that little coffee shop on Chauncey. If you have a close friend who works somewhere, ask if they can get you an “in” and have them tell their boss how great you are.

Good luck in your search! Feel free to post any openings you know of in the comments.

Scholarship Tips for College of Agriculture Students

7 Jun

Sherre Meyer, Assistant Director Office of Academic Program, College of Agriculture
Career Development and Scholarship Coordinator

Ag Scholarships2222.jpg

Indiana and National Scholarships are still available to College of Agriculture students for the 2017-18 academic year!

More information on the scholarships can be found at the College of Agriculture’s scholarship page. While scrolling down the webpage, look on the left side of the screen for “Indiana Agriculture Scholarships” and also for “National Agriculture Scholarships“. It takes a little more time to apply as each has their own scholarship application. Every year, many of these scholarships go unawarded, as students do not take the time to apply. Be sure to be mindful of the application deadlines. My advice is to read through each scholarship listed, and for those a student meets the criteria for – apply, apply, and apply!

The application for College of Agriculture Scholarships for 2018-19 will open in November, 2017. Go to the webpage listed above for the application. A common question is “Do I complete an application for each scholarship?” The answer is no, you only need to complete the one application.

One online application puts the College of Agriculture students into a pool for each scholarship for which they meet the criteria. Applications must be completed in their entirety to be considered. Partial and incomplete applications are deleted, so be sure to finish if you start!

Any questions or concerns about the College of Agriculture Scholarships can be directed to me at meyer10@purdue.edu, or call me at 765-494-8482.

 

How to Have a Successful Move-in Day at Purdue

23 May

By Bryttani Watson, Residence Education Coordinator for the Honors College & Residences

MainJourney

move in day gateway-arch.jpgSummer goes by faster than you might imagine, so it’s important to start thinking about move-in before August rolls around. You’ve elected to be a Boilermaker, and to live on campus, which is a wise choice. It’s been proven that those who live on campus adjust to college life and persist to graduation at a higher rate than those who live off campus. All that’s left is to pack your bags, move in, and embark on a wonderful year at Purdue University.

Whether this is your first year living on campus or your fifth, move-in can be busy, and stressful if you’re not prepared. Here are some helpful hints to make your move-in a success:

1. Label Everything. From the box of books to the bags (and bags, and bags) of clothes, label everything with your first initial, last name, and room number. Having your items properly labeled will provide Boiler Gold Rush team leaders (if you’re a first-year student) with the information they need to deliver your belongings to your room, thereby avoiding any doubt or forgetfulness.

2. Pack Light. More than likely, you won’t be able to fit EVERYTHING from home in your new residence hall room, so don’t overdo it. You shouldn’t need a 26-foot U-Haul. You can stock up on toiletries, snacks, and other necessities after you’ve moved in, so we suggest only bringing the essentials.

3. Review A Campus Map/Download the Purdue App. It’s important to know where you’re going as best as you can. You can check out University Residences’ Facebook page for updates on traffic and construction around town, especially the State Street Project. There will be several signs, police officers, and staff members who can help point you in the right direction if you get turned around.

You can also download the Purdue app on your smartphone. It’s complete with a campus map, access to your myPurdue account and email, and other useful functions, as well.

4. Be Early. Be Patient. With nearly 40,000 students attending Purdue and 13,000 living on campus, West Lafayette and surrounding areas will be busy, so getting in ahead of schedule can’t hurt! Traffic can be horrendous, so try your best to be patient and allow yourself plenty of time to arrive on campus. At the end of the day, you can kick back knowing that you’re all moved in.

5. Eat Breakfast/Lunch Before You Arrive. With the time spent waiting in lines and moving everything into the residence hall, you will be tired and hungry, maybe even hangry. Eat a good meal before embarking on move-in and bring snacks, because before you know it, you’ll have missed second breakfast, lunch, and maybe even diner.

6. You Check-In. Don’t Send Your Parents or Guardian. University Residences needs you to be present. We have a lot of information to give you and it’s not your mom or grandma who will be living with us all year, it’s you! Plus, someone needs to stay with the car.

7. Bring Your ID. Ideally, we ask that you bring your Purdue ID with you, but if you have yet to receive your ID card, a driver’s license or passport will be sufficient. Be sure not to leave your purse or wallet in the car, or worse, pack your ID in a box somewhere.

8. Communicate. If you separate from your parents, make sure you have a game plan for meeting up later. Nothing is more frustrating than a full cart and nobody to tell you what room to go to (although, this shouldn’t be a problem because you labeled all of your items, right? See tip No. 1).

9. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions. Staff could not be more excited that you are moving in and all they really want to do is help. From resident assistants to hall administrators, we want to make the move-in experience as stress-free and wonderful as possible, so if you need anything, please let us know.

We’ll see you in August!

Budgeting for College Students

4 May

Keys to Successful Budgeting Step 1: Not simply to make a budget but to use critical thinking and analyzation. Ask yourself these questions. What are the highest priorities in your life? What’s most important to you? What kind of life do you imagine for yourself? Your priorities are personal Successful Budget is your deepest-held […]

via Successful Budgeting — PennyPinchers

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.

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