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Phishing, other kinds of tax scams rank No. 1 — don’t fall victim 

19 Jan

Kirsten Gibson, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP)

If you receive an email, text or social media message from someone claiming to be affiliated with the IRS, it’s almost certainly a scam. Question phone callers claiming to be IRS representatives, too. If you remember only one thing this tax season, other than to file your return, it’s this: the IRS will not contact a taxpayer asking for personal information via email, text message or social media.

Senior Woman Giving Credit Card Details On The Phone

Tax season is ripe for scamming. As taxpayers figure out how to file their taxes in accordance with federal student loan rules, President Barack Obama’s health care law and a myriad of other complications, scammers gear up to take advantage of a period of confusion. The Better Business Bureau consistently ranks tax scams as the top type of scam in the United States by a wide margin.

“Identity theft is always a huge concern,” says Greg Hedrick, Purdue’s chief information security officer. “Criminals who acquire enough of a person’s information, including a Social Security number, may attempt to use those details to fill out a false tax return and claim a refund under another person’s name. Of course, this could also lead to the rejection of a person’s real return.”

Should you find yourself engaging with someone who claims to be from the IRS, pause to assess the situation. The person writing the message or on the phone will probably be insistent that it’s an emergency and action must be taken immediately. They might also threaten you with arrest, deportation or loss of driver’s license.

The callers who commit this kind of fraud often:

  • Use common names (like Jones or Smith) and fake IRS badge numbers.
  • Know the last four digits of the victim’s Social Security number.
  • Make caller ID information appear as if the IRS is calling.
  • Send bogus IRS emails to support their scam.
  • Call a second time claiming to be the police or department of motor vehicles (and the spoofed caller ID again supports their claim).

If you get a call from someone claiming to be with the IRS asking for a payment, here’s what to do:

  • If you owe Federal taxes, or think you might owe taxes, hang up and call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you with your payment questions.
  • If you don’t owe taxes, call and report the incident to Treasury Inspector General Tax Administration (TIGTA) at 800-366-4484.
  • You can also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission at www.FTC.gov. Add “IRS Telephone Scam” to the comments in your complaint.

According to TIGTA, since 2013 more than 1.8 million people reported calls from scammers and more than 9,600 victims paid the impostors a total of more than $50 million.

Individuals also might want to sign up for a credit freeze with each of the three credit reporting agencies – TransUnion, Experian and Equifax – to further guard against fraud this tax season. The freeze can be initiated for free within minutes online at the Indiana Attorney General’s website. Once a freeze is initiated, you can temporarily lift it anytime to apply for new credit or a loan.

Students, faculty and staff should contact the police if they think they have been a victim of identity theft.

 

3 details you should know while preparing for tax season 2017

12 Jan stocksnap_hbmxo40weg

Tax season can be an exciting time for savers. This year, more Americans are opting out of a tax time splurge and focusing on getting ahead with their tax refunds.

Early filers can still file as they normally would, but we’ve got a couple tips in mind for how your household can use this information to make the most of your tax time preparations:prep-for-tax-season

  1. File a tax return, even if you do not owe any tax or are not required to file.You can’t get the EITC unless you file a return. End of story. Since the IRS estimates that about 25 percent of taxpayers who are eligible for the EITC fail to claim it, this is a vital first step in determining your eligibility.Bonus? If this is the first year that you are claiming the credit, you can use the EITC Assistant to see if you qualify for tax years: 2015, 2014 and 2013. You can file any time during the year to claim the EITC. Something to know: A new tax law will delay refunds that claim the EITC or the Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) until February 15. Learn more here.
  2. Decide where and how you will file your taxes and know your free options.Unless you know your return is going to be complicated this year, paying someone to file a tax return should always be a last resort. Decide whether you’d rather file online or in person, and then check out these free filing options:
    • Use Free File on IRS.gov– This free software walks you through a Q&A format to help prepare your return and claim every credit and deduction for which you may be eligible.
    • Try the Free File Fillable Forms– If you’re comfortable preparing your own returns, this option is for you! It allows you to file electronically using online versions of IRS paper forms.
    • Visit a free tax preparation site– If your total household income is less than $54,000 a year, you can seek free tax prep at one of thousands of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA), Military Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (M-VITA), and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites. To locate the nearest site, you can search online or call the IRS at 800-906-9887.
  3. Make a plan for your tax refund that accounts for the EITC/ACTC delay.We know it can be hard to come up with alternative funds if you already had plans for your refund early in the year, but don’t be suckered by refund anticipation products provided by many commercial tax return preparers. The loan fees will have you seeing red.If you start your planning by dedicating your refund, or at least part of it, to savings, you can get ahead of your savings goals. Enter  the SaveYourRefund promotion with $35,000 in cash prizes and 101 chances to win simply for saving a portion of your refund. For more information and how to commit to saving prior to filing your return , visit saveyourrefund.com.

Tammy G. Bruzon works for America Saves, managed by the nonprofit Consumer Federation of America (CFA), which seeks to motivate, encourage, and support low- to moderate-income households to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth. Learn more at AmericaSaves.org.

Becoming Credit-Wise: What Students (and You!) Should Know

5 Dec becoming-credit-wise

Note: The following article was written for Financial Aid administrators, but has information that is useful to anyone looking to learn about credit.

By Jeff Hanson, Director of Borrower Education Services, Access Group Published by the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators (NASFAA)

becoming credit wise.jpg
As a financial aid administrator, you know your students need to understand their student loans and manage their spending well. Understanding how credit works is an essential part of that, especially for students who must supplement their federal loans with private, credit-based loans.But do your students— and you—really know enough to be truly “credit-wise”? Students may know the basics, such as having the highest credit score possible will help them get credit at an affordable price. But do they know what it takes to get a high credit score (say 800 or more)? And that most students probably score far below this number? Do they know that their credit score can impact the cost of credit, their ability to obtain other financial products such as auto insurance, or their employability? And what happens when they miss a payment or start accumulating credit card debt—how much can this lower their score? Students should never underestimate the value of good credit. Those who need private education loans, as increasing numbers of students do, will find that their credit history is likely to affect their ability to obtain the needed funds, and can even affect the cost of their loans. The better the student’s credit, the greater the probability that he or she will get the loan, and the lower the cost of that loan. Good credit does count! Building up a good credit history comes from understanding how credit reporting and credit scoring work, and from practicing sound financial habits.

Credit Reports

A credit report is a summary of the information contained in an individual’s credit history, which creditors use to evaluate the likelihood that the individual will repay future loans. A credit history is generated from credit account information and payment records that creditors have reported to authorized credit reporting agencies, so anyone who has at least one credit card, a consumer loan (such as a car loan), student loans, or any other form of personal credit should have a credit history with an authorized credit reporting agency (see the list at the end of the article). In essence, credit reports provide a sense of an individual’s willingness to repay a loan, based on his or her past credit performance. Students can think of their credit report as their “credit transcript.” Whether students think they have credit problems or not, it’s a good practice for them to review their credit reports from each of the three national credit reporting agencies at least once a year to be certain that all reported information is accurate. In fact, the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003, Pub. L. 108-159, 117 Stat. 1952 (FACT Act) entitles all consumers to obtain a free copy of their credit report upon request from each of the three agencies once every 12 months. More information about obtaining these free reports is available from the Annual Credit Report Request Service at www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 887-322-8228.

Credit Scores

If the credit report is the credit transcript, the credit score is the “credit GPA,” and just as with grades, the higher the better. The credit score is a numerical value based on credit account information in a person’s credit report that focuses on individual borrower behavior. Unlike the credit history, which consists of raw data, credit scores are measures of future credit risk based on an assessment of that raw data. Credit scoring is a quick, accurate, consistent, and objective method that helps lenders’ quantify how well individuals have managed their credit. The higher the credit score, the greater the statistical likelihood that an individual will repay a future loan on time. Credit scoring was first developed by Fair Isaac Corporation, which created the credit scores used most widely by the credit industry and are often referred to as FICO® scores. Credit scores are calculated using a statistically derived mathematical formula that provides a numeric prediction of credit risk. The formula itself, which is proprietary, was developed by examining the credit reports of millions of people at two points in time (typically 24 months apart).

Factors Affecting Credit Scores

Paying your credit card bills on time each month has the greatest affect on your credit score. However, contrary to popular belief, a flawless payment history is not sufficient for good credit. A number of factors impact your credit score, including:

  • promptness in paying bills;
  • total debt;
  • amount owed on all credit card accounts;
  • age of credit accounts;
  • number of credit card accounts including number of credit inquiries;
  • the proportion of credit card balances to total available credit card limit;
  • number of credit card accounts opened in past 12 months;
  • number of finance accounts; and
  • occurrence of negative factors such as serious delinquency, derogatory public records, past due accounts that have been turned over to collection agencies, bankruptcies, student loan defaults, and foreclosures.

FICO® scores assess all such negative factors in three ways by evaluating:

  • how recently they occurred,
  • their severity, and
  • their frequency.

The more recent the occurrence, the farther the score will drop. The larger the balance affected (severity), the farther the score will drop. And the more frequently such negatives appear on one’s credit history, the farther the score will drop. Two factors that warrant further review are credit inquiries and student loan debt:

Credit Inquiries

Requests for your credit record can also affect your credit score. Only “hard” inquiries made during the past 12 months, however, have a potential negative affect on your score. Hard inquiries are those made by creditors when you apply for a loan or a new credit card. In such cases, you must give permission for your report to be “pulled” (provided to the creditor). All other credit inquiries are “soft” inquiries and are not a factor in scoring. Soft inquiries include:

  • Self inquiries—your requests for a copy of your own credit report or credit score;
  • Promotional inquiries—those made by companies wanting to offer you an opportunity to apply for credit;
  • Administrative inquiries — inquiries made by your current creditors who want to monitor your credit activities, as well as inquiries from the credit-reporting agency that’s maintaining your credit history (this typically occurs when you have disputed an item that’s contained on your credit report); and
  • Inquiries from prospective employers— although they have the right to obtain your credit report with your permission, these inquiries are not for the purpose of obtaining new credit and so do not impact your score.

Student Loan Debt

Student loan debt affects credit scores, but it does not necessarily result in a low credit score unless the borrower has a “thin” credit file. A “thin” file is one that contains three or fewer “trade lines” (credit cards, car loans, etc.). These files are more susceptible to lower scores because they contain less positive information to offset any negative impact of increases in student loan debt. (Note that the majority of Access Group private loan borrowers have more than three trade lines.) As installment debt, student loans typically are viewed more favorably than revolving debt (credit card debt) in credit scoring. However, although increasing installment balances (for example, because of additional student loans) can have a negative impact on credit score, as students advance from year to year in their program of study, payment delinquencies and increasing credit card debt appear to have the greatest negative impact.

Weighing the Factors

The factors affecting credit scores are not equally weighted in the scoring process. As Fair Isaac reports at www.myFICO.com, payment history has more impact—about 35% of the score—than the other factors. Thus, making payments by the due date is very important. Missed payments, one or more delinquent accounts, and serious derogatory items such as student loan defaults, bankruptcy, charge-offs of accounts, etc., can have a significant negative impact on the score. The amount of debt, especially credit card debt, is the next most significant factor, typically accounting for about 30% of the score. Total debt is important, particularly the percentage of revolving credit (credit cards) being used. Utilization is the amount of credit card debt you have as a percentage of your total available credit card limit. The smaller a person’s credit utilization rate, the less likely it is to have a negative affect on the person’s FICO® score. Thus, it is important to keep credit card balances low, since lower is better. But this does not mean credit cards should not be used once in a while. In fact, some minimal use of credit cards can be beneficial to establish a positive payment history. This does not require the accumulation of credit card debt, however. Rather, simply using a credit card occasionally each month for small purchases and paying the credit card bill in full each time will achieve this goal. The other three factors—length of history as measured by the age of your oldest credit account, new credit as measured by the number of new accounts opened and the number of “hard” inquiries made within the past 12 months, and account mix (relative proportion of installment accounts, revolving accounts, finance accounts, etc.) generally have a lesser impact on scoring, but cannot be ignored when managing your credit.

What’s the Score?

Although there are no well-established statistics regarding the average credit scores of college students, 60% of all consumers with established credit histories have FICO® scores above 700 (using a scale of 300 to 850) according to Fair Isaac. Scores above 700 generally are considered to be “good,” and scores above 775 are viewed as “very good” to “excellent” by most lenders. It is possible to estimate what the credit score might be for a typical student. Fair Isaac Corporation and www.Bankrate.com have joined forces to offer an online FICO® Score Estimator, which provides a credit score range, rather than a specific score, at no cost to consumers at www.bankrate.com/finance/credit/what-is-a-fico-score.aspx. Using the basic Fair Isaac methodology, it provides an estimate based on the answers to a brief series of questions about credit use and payment behavior. We used the FICO® Score Estimator to predict likely credit scores for a typical third-year undergraduate, who has both education loans and credit cards, using four scenarios. For the first scenario, this hypothetical student’s credit characteristics are as shown in the table at left.

  1. “No payments missed” scenario. The estimated FICO® credit score range for this individual is 715-765. Lenders would probably consider this person to have a “good” history, and although they might not offer their best interest rate, they are unlikely to deny credit based solely on this credit score. Of course, before extending credit, the lender might also require the borrower to meet a minimum income threshold or provide loan collateral.
  2. “Missed payments” scenario. What happens if the hypothetical student’s credit characteristics change? In this second scenario, suppose the student suddenly becomes delinquent on an account and is 30 days late in making the payment. Assuming this is the only change, the estimated score range drops to 620-670. This would represent an average drop of 90 points, and the borrower’s credit would now be considered only “fair.” The individual would be more likely to have trouble getting some forms of credit, such as a private student loan, on his or her own signature. If credit were granted, it probably would be at a higher interest rate and have other restrictions and/or costs.
  3. Higher credit use scenario. By contrast, suppose the record showed greater utilization of credit cards. Starting from the original “no-payments- missed” scenario, suppose in this third scenario that the amount of credit card debt was at 50% of the available credit limit. The estimated score range drops to 645-695—a “fair” credit rating. This is better than the missed payment scenario, but would still cause an average drop of 70 points in the score from the original scenario. If credit card utilization increases to 90% (credit cards are nearly “maxed out”), the estimated score range drops to 620-670—the same impact as a 30-day delinquency.
  4. Both 30-day delinquency and 90% utilization scenario. If this hypothetical student had both a 30-day delinquency and was at 90% utilization of credit cards, the estimated score range falls to 565-615. This would create serious credit issues for the student and would make it very difficult to obtain most kinds of credit. Thus, two simple missteps— missing a payment and maxing out credit cards—could take our hypothetical student from having good credit to a situation where credit (particularly private education loans) might be very difficult to obtain and much more expensive.

Obtaining Your Credit Score

The easiest way to obtain your FICO® credit score is to go to the Fair Isaac consumer Web site at www.myFICO.com. From this site you can request your FICO® credit scores calculated by the three national credit reporting agencies—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—and can purchase your FICO® credit score from one, two, or all three of these agencies.

You will receive an explanation of the score, a copy of the credit report that was used to generate that score, and an explanation of the positive and negative factors that are affecting your score. Be aware that your credit score may vary from agency to agency, because the information on your credit report at each agency may differ. More information about credit scores and the scoring process can be found at www.myFICO.com. In addition, the Federal Trade Commission provides consumer information about credit scoring at www.ftc.gov.

Good Credit Really Counts!

To sum up, to get the credit needed, when it’s needed, at an affordable cost, it is essential to understand credit reporting and credit scoring. But knowledge alone is not enough. Being creditwise also requires practicing good habits. The credit tips listed below provide a framework for practicing those good habits and can help students avoid the types of pitfalls illustrated in the hypothetical credit score scenarios presented here. This will help them avoid the frustrations, anxieties, and fears associated with credit problems.

Tips for Maintaining Good Credit

You can use the following tips to help students develop and maintain a strong credit record; one that should allow them to borrow the funds they will need to fulfill their educational dreams and successfully achieve their other long-term goals. In fact, many of these tips probably are good ideas for everyone, not just for students.

  1. Develop and follow an affordable monthly budget.
    Live below your means while you’re a student; learn to stretch your dollars; be thrifty.
  2. Pay all your bills on time.
    Just one late or missed payment can have a noticeable negative impact on your credit score.
  3. Notify your creditors immediately whenever your address changes.
    Typically you can provide information updates by phone or via the creditor’s Web site. But remember, it’s your responsibility to keep them informed.
  4. Minimize your credit card debt.
    Keep credit card balances as low as possible. Do not exceed 30% of your available credit limit.
  5. Avoid charging more on your credit cards than you can afford to repay in full each month.
    Get in the habit of using cash, not credit cards, whenever possible. Credit card debt that carries over from month to month can be very costly and may lower your credit score.
  6. Record every credit card purchase you charge just as you record every check you write.
    Tracking your charges is important so that you always know exactly how much you must repay.
  7. Limit the number of credit card accounts you maintain.
    You probably don’t need more than three major credit card accounts. Avoid opening new department/retail store charge accounts; they typically can only be used at the store that issued the card and they tend to have the highest interest rates of any credit cards.
  8. Be careful about opening new credit card accounts and closing older ones.
    It’s beneficial to have the longest possible credit history to show that you’ve maintained your credit accounts responsibly over time.
  9. Maintain accurate records of your credit accounts. 
    Keep copies of all documents relating to your credit accounts. These documents should include the application, promissory note, account terms and conditions, disbursement and disclosure statements (if applicable), and lender correspondence.
  10. Obtain a copy of your credit report from each of the three national credit-reporting agencies at least once a year and review it for accuracy.

Promptly notify the reporting agency of any errors; it can take several months to correct those errors.

Credit Resources

Credit Reporting Agencies
For more information on credit reporting or to obtain a copy of your credit report, you can contact a credit reporting agency. The three national credit reporting agencies are:

Annual Credit Report Request Service
This service was established by the three national credit reporting agencies in response to the requirements of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions (FACT) Act of 2003, which provides consumers with the right to obtain a free copy of their credit report from each of the three national credit reporting agencies once every 12 months. Visit www.annualcreditreport.com for more information.

Bankrate.com
For information on all aspects of credit and personal finance, visit www.bankrate.com.

Fair Isaac Corporation
For more information on credit scoring or to purchase your credit score and report, visit Fair Isaac’s consumer Web site at www.myfico.com.

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)
For help with credit reporting problems, call 877-382-4357, or visit www.ftc.gov for information and free publications about credit.

Consumer Credit Counseling Service (CCCS)
For help managing your budget or your debt, call 800-388-2227 for the CCCS office nearest you or visit the national Web site at www.nfcc.org.

Note: Contact information for the above resources is provided for information purposes only. This does not constitute an endorsement, by the author, Access Group, or NASFAA, of these entities or the information and services they provide.

Jeffrey E. Hanson is director of borrower education services for Access Group, Inc., in Wilmington, Delaware. Transcript wishes to thank Craig Watts, public affairs manager for Fair Isaac, for his assistance with this article.

Preparing for Your First Indiana Winter (Pt. 2)

10 Nov cydhhkswaaa47bo

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Counselor & Native Minnesotan

While autumn may be far and away my favorite season, it also marks the approach of easily my least favorite time of the year: winter. If you’re from one of the many places in the world that Hoosiers dream about for 5 months of the year, your first Indiana winter can be a rough ride if you’re not prepared. However, with a little bit of preparation and proper clothing you won’t just survive, but thrive!preparing-for-indiana-winter-portrait

First things first, how you dress is going to determine how you feel for much of the day. So be sure that you have all the proper gear you need for any weather. Some days it will be in the 40’s, some days you might be hovering around 0 (Fahrenheit of course)! The key here is checking the weather in the morning, and there are several phone apps you can use for this. Don’t just look outside and see it’s sunny and assume you’re fine; some of the coldest days come when the sun is out since there are no clouds to help insulate.

A weather change you might not have ever thought of is the change in moisture in the air. Winter is extremely dry. Chapped lips, dry skin and nosebleeds can all be caused from the cold, dry air. Stock up on lotion and lip balm, because at some point you will need some. Just like the lack of sunlight (less than 9 ½ hours per day at times), you can’t change much about the humidity except how you deal with it.

Something you might have already put thought into is driving. After a month you might come to the reasonable conclusion that cars were not invented for winter driving. However, making sure that you have tires with reasonable tread will go a long way toward your ability to drive safely in the snow. Tires make even more of a difference than four wheel drive in snow and ice. A few things you might not have realized are important for driving safety in the winter are your wiper fluid and windshield wipers. Getting dirty snow tossed up on your windshield from the road can make visibility terrible without good wipers and fluid.

prep-for-indiana-winter-leader2

In regards to warming your car up, it is actually a common myth  that you should do it for the benefit of your car. Unless you’re driving a vehicle with a carburetor, you don’t need to worry about it. The only reason why I let my car warm up is to give the heat time to get warm. The longer you let your car idle, the more gas you waste, not to mention opportunities for it to be stolen since the keys are in the ignition. Also remember to have a window scraper! If your windshield is iced over and you don’t have one, it’s not going to be fun to get it off.

Even though the weather can be a hassle, don’t use it as an excuse to skip class. You pay for your courses whether you are there or not, so not going wastes some of that money. Snow days are rare and few between, however instructors cancelling courses isn’t that uncommon. So if you expect that might happen, keep your eyes on your email as that’s the most likely way they’ll let you know (unless they are a monster who just puts a note on the door so you don’t find out until you arrive). You can burrito yourself in a blanket and watch Netflix later.

For a little bonus, here are some other blogs that help cover information about surviving in the winter if you’re new to it:

http://nyulocal.com/entertainment/2011/11/01/how-a-southerner-should-prepare-for-winter-in-new-york/

http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/entry/how-to-survive-your-first-winter-a-college-students-guide

http://lifeinleggings.com/winter/qa-tips-on-surviving-your-first-winter-season/

http://lifeinleggings.com/moving/what-ive-learned-living-up-north/

https://www.michigandaily.com/opinion/01jesse-klein-michigan-winters-suck20

6 Tips from ITap to Help You Detect Phishing Emails

27 Oct phishing-image22

Phishing image22.pngKirsten Gibson, technology writer, Information Technology at Purdue (ITaP), 765-494-8190, gibson33@purdue.edu

Falling for a phishing scam or accidentally downloading malware can be expensive. It could result in identity theft or ransomware taking your files and data hostage. Your personal information, time and money are all, obviously, valuable to you.

Taking the time to review tips and advice about cyber-security could end up saving you money and a headache.  purdue it phishing security.jpg

In the past month alone, Purdue’s security team diverted campus users 2,537 times from a known phishing site to a Purdue-supported educational page about phishing. And those are only the known phishing sites students, staff and faculty were exposed to from scam emails.

“The primary purpose of phishing is to collect sensitive information and exploit it to gain access to otherwise protected data,” says Franco Cappa, director of information security services for ITaP. “Everyone who works for Purdue is vulnerable to phishing scams.”

The most important thing to remember is that anyone can fall victim to phishing if they’re not paying attention and taking proper precautions. Here are some warning signs that you’ve received a phishing email:

  • The message contains general salutations and signatures. Most phishing attempts begin with generic phrases such as “Greetings valued customer” or “Dear account user.”
  • The URL link is an unsecure address. Emails containing Web links should always be scrutinized. One way to verify a link’s legitimacy is to hover your mouse cursor over embedded links and make sure the link uses encryption (https://).
  • The sender requests personal information. Messages soliciting passwords, Social Security numbers and other personal information are most likely scams.
  • The message asks you to take immediate action. Hackers want you to respond without thinking. Watch out for language directing you to update an account, download an attachment, visit a website or give out personal information.
  • The message contains a suspicious attachment. Legitimate organizations, including Purdue, rarely send attachments via email. Opening attachments can cause automatic malware downloads or lead to compromised personal information.
  • The email promises something too good to be true. Any message offering a cash scholarship or an increase in email storage quota with a single click is a scam.

When you see suspicious email in your Purdue inbox, report it to abuse@purdue.edu with the email included as an attachment.

To attach an email in Windows using Outlook with Purdue’s Exchange service, create a new message and choose “Attach Item” from the drop-down list on the message menu bar. Then select “Outlook item,” and attach the email in question.

On a Mac, right click or control click the suspicious message and choose “Forward Special” and “As Attachment” from the drop-down list.

For additional cyber-security information, and free anti-virus software, check out the SecurePurdue website.

For more ITaP news, follow us on Facebook and Twitter.

Preparing for your First Indiana Winter

20 Oct prep-for-indiana-winter-leader2

The leaves on the trees are starting to change and that means a few things in order of awesomeness: Halloween is coming, pumpkin spice fever is in full pitch, and winter is coming. For all of the amazing things that autumn has, it always means winter is next. For those who are encountering their first winter that will be fraught with freezing temps and snow, the winter can be daunting. However, there is plenty of fun to be had if you’re not shivering the whole time!preparing for indiana winter portrait.jpg

If you have looked into building a cold winter wardrobe from scratch already, you’ve probably realized it’s not cheap. The keys are knowing what you actually need, how to find it cheap, and where you can’t cut corners. The only real difference between the locals who can shrug off the cold and those who freeze is in how well you prepare! Oh, and experience winter driving too but that can’t really be bought.

Remember, winter is long and you’ll probably be spending four of them here throughout college. A few timely purchases now can save you a whole lot of misery over the long haul.

The biggest key is layering. You might hear that over and over again, but it means a whole lot more than just tossing on a jacket and calling it good. The key to good layering is being able to remove what you don’t need when the time comes. We’ll start at the feet and work our way up:

Socks & shoes: Sorry, but flip-flops are going to go the way of the dino during the winter. Depending on how cold it is, you might be able to get away with a normal pair of socks and boots. However, as it gets colder you might want to toss on some thick wool socks underneath your footwear. If it is slushy out or there will be snow on the ground, wear some waterproof boots! If you don’t, you’ll regret it the first time you step in a puddle and walk around with soggy feet all day. Just remember not to over-do it on a day that’s not cold because sweaty feet in wool socks aren’t fun either. If you’re buying boots, select a pair that’s a little large because you’ll be wearing thick socks underneath.CYdHHksWAAA47bO.jpg

Pants: Typically just tossing on jeans or another pair of pants will do it. If it’s a colder day, wearing tights or leggings underneath your pants will help immensely – and no one can tell if you’re worried about that. Going to be stuck outside for an extended period in extreme cold? Layering leggings, jeans & sweats will keep you from being too miserable. Just keep in mind you’ll be very warm when you get inside.

Torso: You’ll have the most freedom here, but it’s also one of the most important areas. Tossing on sweaters, hoodies, vests & anything else you need can make you look fashionable and keep you warm. Big bonus is that you can take them off once you’re inside if you need. On top of all this, it’s all about the jacket you buy. Once autumn starts to fade, your fleece and other light jackets are going to go to the back of the closet. You’re going to want a heavy coat. There are tons and tons of options on what you do here depending on your style. Just remember that two of the biggest factors in staying warm are the material the coat is made of and how much air that it can trap. The more air, the more cushion between you and the cold.photo-1425100599170-85ec4f00a6ee.jpg

Others: Having a hat, scarf and gloves will make a world of a difference. Feeling your ears slowly freeze while walking to class is no one’s idea of a good day, so wear a cap! Maybe you have a family member who knits who can make one for Christmas. I personally didn’t start wearing a scarf until my last year of college and know I have no idea how I survived until then. It keeps wind from blowing down the front of your jacket, gives you a place to bury your face if it hurts to breath and can even provide another place for your favorite knitter to give you a gift! For your hands, mittens are going to be warmest but renders your hands basically useless. Personally, I wear a pair of string knit gloves and keep thick mittens in my pockets. That way I have the best of both worlds ready if I need.

Now how to find all of these cheap? Maybe you have a crafty friend or family member who can help you out?  If not you’ll probably have to buy them. One method is not relying solely on brand names. Your hat, gloves, and scarf don’t really matter too much where you get them from. However, for boots and your winter coat these can make a big difference. You can probably find a good selection of winter coats at various thrift stores as these are an often-donated item. Boots you’re probably going to have to buy new. Don’t be afraid to check out cheaper department stores for these.

Whether you’re a local who loves winter, or a transplant from a tropical paradise anyone can enjoy it if you’re bundled up properly!

If you have any comments or advice, be sure to leave them in the comments.

Purdue Construction – Will it EVER stop?

26 May

Raysha Duncan, Purdue Alumni
www.purdue.edu/mymoney

It’s that time of year again…construction time. Since all (or most) students have left for the summer, it’s time for Purdue and West Lafayette to shut down the roads, paint, erect new buildings and tear old ones down.

Purdue’s Physical Facilities department has an entire webpage dedicated to Construction Notices and Maps letting those of us living and working on campus know what to expect over the summer. There’s even a friendly map that’s updated (monthly!) letting us know what areas will be impacted, traffic-wise. This summer alone there are 5 major projects taking place…  And if Purdue knows the level of inconvenience these projects cause to faculty, staff, and students… then why do the projects?

These large construction projects have to be completed over the summer months. During the academic year, there are 40,000 plus people running around campus and over the summer most of those people go home. Anybody who’s on campus today can see that there is almost zero foot traffic and the cars that are driving around are mainly Purdue vehicles. One of the big projects taking place this summer is the demolition of the Engineering Administration Building (ENAD). This will continue into the fall semester as well (prepare to see a real-life wrecking ball!).

sidewalk closed sign

 

New buildings can go up while school is in session, but buildings can’t be torn down. The Center for Student Excellence and Leadership is finally finishing up construction and is going to provide a new home for student organizations, student success programs, and academic services – all under one roof.  The Student Success Office moved into the Center for Student Excellence and Leadership on May 13th, just a week after finals ended and right after students went home. All of Purdue’s construction projects are centered on the students. While it may be kind of icky for the three months that school is out, at least traffic isn’t backed up year-round like the road construction in other areas of the state.

Okay, so the timing makes sense…but why so many new buildings? It’s simple really – to bring new opportunities to campus and improve what we already have at such a great university. The new Active Learning Center is breaking ground in Spring 2015, right where ENAD used to be. So, the offices from ENAD get a new home and we get a whole other building right where ENAD used to stand. This new building is going to provide a new learning environment that combines the classroom and the library. This building is just a stepping stone into creating new ways for Purdue students to engage in active learning.

The battle of construction at Purdue may never end, and we may sigh deeply each time we see a fork lift or crane on campus…  But, it’s really all for the benefit of the students at Purdue.

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