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Is It Worth It to Have a Car in College?

16 Jan

car in college.jpg

Having a car in college can lead to some really fun times. Cross country road trips in the summer, getaway weekends and nights out on the town are all easier for students who bring a car to campus. However, maintaining a car as a student probably costs more than you think. So, when is it worth it?

The Privilege of Car Ownership

There are many advantages to owning a vehicle as a college student. First and foremost is the flexibility and freedom a car affords. You’ll no longer be dependent on other drivers when you’re making plans – simply by having a car you have more say in what it you can do and what you want to do.  And, of course, your commute to campus is likely to be a bit shorter; so hitting the snooze button a few times won’t ruin your morning.

Owning a car in college can help you make and save money, too. Since you can commute a little further, you’ll be able to consider a wider selection of off-campus jobs. And with all that carrying capacity, you can tackle a week’s worth of grocery shopping in a single day. If your kitchen is stocked, you’ll cook more and eat out less (and all without hauling groceries on foot or by bus).

Car ownership in college also has benefits beyond daily usage. When you really want to get out of town, having a car will make it happen. This is especially true given how difficult it can be for college students to rent cars at affordable rates.

Important Auto Considerations

gas prices are expensive

Despite all the benefits, however, there are some important financial factors you should consider before you decide to own a car while in college.

Gas is expensive, and it’s going to stay that way. The average car in the U.S. consumes around $1,000 worth of gas each year. If you drive your car regularly, you can probably expect to fill your tank once a week. Before you commit to bringing a car to college you need to determine how much it costs on average to fill the tank and how often you expect you’ll fill it up. If possible, you’ll of course want to bring a car with good gas mileage.

Car insurance is another major cost you’ll need to factor into your budget if you drive during college. Premiums are higher for anyone under the age of 25, whether or not they are enrolled in college. The good news is that, on average, Indiana auto insurance premiums are among the lowest in the country.

You’ll also want to consider the cost of campus parking before bringing your car to school. Here are the Purdue rates for parking permits. You should also make certain you are eligible; this is determined by the distance between your home and the campus.

Finally, when deciding whether or not it’s worthwhile to bring a car to college, you have to budget for damages and repairs. The average car needs just over $400 a year in repairs, not including oil changes. You can save some money changing your own oil and rotating your own tires, assuming you know how to do so safely.

Cost-Effective Alternatives

So what are the alternatives to keeping a car at college? There are a number of great ways to get around in West Lafayette:

  • Public transportation: The bus system in West Lafayette is very interconnected with Purdue and free for students to use. The university is central to the area, meaning the bus system can get you to the campus Lafayette CitBusfrom almost anywhere.
  • Bicycles, skateboards and so on: Bicycling is a great alternative in West Lafayette, and many people make it their main mode of transportation. Skateboarding, rollerblading and walking are also options, especially if you live on or close to campus.
  • Zipcar: The local branch of this car sharing service is available to anyone over 18 and caters to Purdue students, faculty and staff.

The Bottom Line

Because car ownership is such a complex financial commitment, you’ll need to do extensive research before you know whether or not it’s a sensible investment. In a nine-month academic year, AAA reports that the average small car costs more than $3,000, including gas, insurance and maintenance; this doesn’t factor in parking costs and non-standard repairs. As a college student, you can’t afford to gloss over such a pricey and important decision.

Karla Lant is a life insurance writer for The Simple Dollar. She helps everyday people understand and master life insurance issues and questions. Lant has dealt with related regulatory issues in her work as an attorney and has researched and published on life insurance and estate planning. She has also taught subjects related to life insurance as an adjunct professor. Here is her Facebook page

Making the Most of Your 21st Century Scholarship

9 Jan

Sarah Kercher, 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist

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As the 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist at Purdue, I often get asked about scholarship requirements, and resources available to 21st Century Scholars. After serving a year in this role, I’ve come up with four recommendations for 21st Century Scholars to maintain and make the most of their scholarship:

Know the Requirements

In order to make the most of your scholarship, you have to keep it! There are a few basic requirements that all scholars have to meet to renew their scholarship each year:

  1. Credit Completion

Starting Fall 2017, you need to earn 30 credits per year to renew your scholarship for the following year. If you started school in the fall, you have until the end of that summer to meet credit completion for the year.

  1. Full-Time Status

You must be enrolled in a minimum of 12 credit hours each semester to be considered full time.

Pro tip: Take at least 15 a semester to help you meet credit completion. This will keep you on track with your plan of study and gives you a buffer in case you need to drop a class for any reason.

  1. File Your FAFSA On Time

To receive 21st Century funding, you must file the FAFSA by April 15th. The FAFSA is available from October until April, so don’t wait until the last minute and risk losing out on a year of financial aid. Make sure you’re aware of Purdue specific deadlines to maximize the aid you’re eligible for, and file early!

Helpful Hint: You don’t have to go it alone! There are lots of opportunities to get help with your FAFSA- You can attend a local College Goal Sunday or get help from Junia McDole, our Financial Aid Administrator (see below)

Know Your Resources

Making the most of your scholarship is about more than meeting the requirements. It’s also important to take advantage of the resources available to you so that you can stay on track for four-year graduation, minimizing debt, and increasing your earning potential post-college.

  • Your 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist

My goal is to help you succeed! I’m available to answer scholarship questions and refer you to resources based on your situation, and I also offer individualized coaching to help you work through any barriers to your success. Throughout the year I provide workshops related to career exploration, academic success, and financial literacy and send monthly reminders about scholarship requirements, deadlines, and opportunities to get involved on campus. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost your scholarship, I’m here to help you navigate the appeal process.  My office is on the fourth floor of Krach, and you can schedule an appointment with me here.

  • 21st Century Scholars Financial Aid Administrator, Junia McDole

Junia can assist with the FAFSA, scholarships and grants, loan counseling, debt counseling, budgeting, work study, and other financial aid issues. She is located on the fourth floor of Krach as well, so you can visit us both in one trip! Contact Junia here.

  • Federal Work Study

If you’re looking to make some extra money to put toward your educational costs, look no further! 21st Century Scholars are eligible for the Federal Work Study program, which helps you secure a part-time job on campus where you can gain skills and experience for a future career while also earning money for your education. Click here to learn more about Work Study and use both the Student Life jobs website and the Financial Aid Office’s job posting site to search for opportunities at Purdue (make sure to click “work-study required” in the search criteria).

Note: You must check the box that indicates interest in Work Study on the FAFSA to be eligible for funding for that academic year.

Get Connected

Get to know your Support Specialist and other professionals on campus like professors and advisors. Being proactive about getting to know these people off the bat makes it easier to know where to go and feel comfortable asking them for help when you need to. Having an established relationship with campus professionals can be especially helpful if you need someone to advocate for you in the event that you have to appeal for your scholarship down the road.

Stay on Top of Purdue Email

This one may seem like common sense, but we all know how easy it is to let email pile up! Your Purdue email account is the primary way the University will communicate with you about your financial aid and 21st Century Scholarship, so it’s important to check it regularly and take action as necessary.  You’ll also get regular emails from your 21st Century Scholars Support Specialist reminding you of important dates for your scholarship and opportunities around campus that you don’t want to miss!

Insider Advice: It can be tough to switch from the email you used in high school to your Purdue account, but don’t take the risk of forwarding your Purdue email to another account. Too often messages get lost this way, and missing important emails can have serious financial and academic repercussions. Make it a habit early to check your Purdue account directly and often –soon it will become second nature!

Still have questions, or just want to get connected? We would love to meet you!  Call Student Success Programs at (765) 494-9328 to be connected to a Purdue 21st Century representative or visit our website.

Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook and Twitter !

Decking the Dorm for the Holidays

7 Dec

Homesickness really does get the best of us sometimes. And as we get closer and closer to the holidays, sometimes it can feel a little, well, lonely. Even if we aren’t getting home sick, sometimes we just want more holiday cheer!

Decorating your dorm room can be a great way to feel more festive and lift your spirits. It can also help relieve some of that homesickness. Decorations don’t need to leave you broke though, there are several ideas out there to decorate cheaply.

The residence halls don’t allow candles. But, scented things without a heating element like wall plug-ins are okay. Sometimes you can get really nice ones at places like Bath and Body Works, and then all you would need is refills. They last a really long time as well. Walking into a room that smells like fresh cinnamon apples in the fall or a sweet tropical smell near spring break really makes a person feel at home.

snowman door decoration

You, or maybe your roommate, might have a mini fridge that could be decorated. Magnets are a fun and colorful way to create a cheerful environment. Magnets are just about everywhere! They go on sale in the bookstores, sometimes they are in the dollar section at Target, so just be on the lookout. You could be surprised with all the locations you can find magnets.

You know that loft bed that some of us in the dorms have? It’s pretty easy to hang decorations from under the bed. Ask your parents if they have a couple of extra ornaments they wouldn’t mind sparing and start hanging! Cut out some paper hearts and hang them under the bed for Valentine’s Day, or four leaf clovers for St. Patrick’s Day, really whatever you would like.

As a general rule, most dorms (and other places) won’t let you hang things from the ceiling as it can be a fire hazard, but if you don’t have a loft bed don’t fret. Command Strips to the rescue! Hanging things on the wall is also a great way to add visual appeal. Cut out any design you want and put it on display. Hanging items on the wall also means less clutter on your desk and more space to do other things. A pack of construction paper is not too expensive either so let your creativity show.

paper snowflakes on window

Lights are always a plus! Nothing is quite as magical as those twinkling lights. If you have a roommate, it would be a good idea to ask their opinion, but who doesn’t like lights? Just get some of the indoor, or tree decorating kind, and use command strips to safely hang them on your walls. Sometimes people have extra lights in the house, so feel free to ask around before you buy. Even if you have to end up buying them, decorative/strand lighting is pretty inexpensive. For those of you who are really savvy, you can actually change out the bulbs on some the strands for different holidays and occasions. Most strands require just a pair of pliers to switch the bulbs.

When decorating for the holidays, it doesn’t need to break the bank. There are lots of options out there. Decorating for the holidays is fun, easy, and can be a great way to help with homesickness. And, what’s nice is that as the seasons and holidays change, so can the decorations. Besides, a change of pace can help you feel refreshed and spread the holiday cheer!

Renewing Trustees or Presidential Scholarships at Purdue

5 Dec

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If you’re one of the lucky Purdue students to receive a Trustees or Presidential Scholarship, the thought of what you need to do to keep your scholarship may have come up. While these awards do renew automatically, there are some criteria you should know to keep your eligibility.

For starters, you need to complete at least one full academic year in the program (major) that you were originally admitted to. If you decide that you want to change majors, you will have to wait until after the spring semester of your first year or your scholarship will be lost

In addition, you need to maintain continuous full-time enrollment each semester (excluding the summer) with 12 or more credits or you will lose your eligibility. If you are taking 12 credits and drop a class to go below, this will put your scholarship in jeopardy.

While taking 12 credits keeps you full time, there is another credit completion mark you must hit. You must have completed a total of 30 credits at the end of your first year, 60 by the end of your second year and 90 by the end of your third year. Important to note is that transfer and AP credits both apply to this 30/60/90 goal as well as the courses you take at Purdue. This can give you a bit of a cushion, especially in your first year, to hit your 30/60/90 benchmarks. If you started at Purdue before Fall 2014, the 30/60/90 rule does not apply to you.

Along with maintaining full-time enrollment, you need to maintain a cumulative3.0 GPA. These grades are checked at the end of each spring semester and if your cumulative GPA is below 3.0 at that time, you will lose it. However, if you have lost it for one year you can regain it at the end of the next spring semester if your cumulative GPA rises above 3.0 again (assuming you meet all the other renewal criteria).

If you made it through your freshman year without transferring and you’re hitting your 30/60/90 goal while keeping your 3.0 cumulative GPA you’re probably well on your way to graduating in four years. Which is good, because the scholarships are good for up to four years (8 semesters) of eligibility. If you take an extra year or semester past that, you won’t have the scholarship to help out.

If you are participating in a Purdue approved co-op or internship that takes you away from Purdue, that semester will not count against your semester usage, credit hour completion totals, or 12+ credit rules. Due to your different pattern of enrollment, you may appeal to use a semester of your award during the summer. Summer appeals should only be used when you will not be on campus a total of eight fall and spring semesters.

Now, if you have been doing your best but fell short of one or more of these requirements, there is the option to appeal if you have extenuating circumstances. Keep in mind that high school was easy and college wasn’t so you got really into Netflix and sleeping instead is not considered an extenuating circumstance.

Looking for renewal information about other Purdue scholarships including the Emerging Leaders, Marquis, Purdue Achievement, Purdue Hispanic, or Purdue Merit Scholarships? Check out this link with details on maintaining those scholarships. You can also find more information on the Trustees and Presidential Scholarships as well as other Freshman Scholarships here.

Choosing the Right Loan Repayment Plan For You

28 Nov

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 Aidwebsite.

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

Throwing a Great Friendsgiving

21 Nov

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Thanksgiving may be one of the few times of the year that you and your friends are going to be somewhat near each other. This makes it an opportune time to get a ‘Friendsgiving’ together and enjoy each other’s company for possibly the only time during the year. If your friends don’t already have this tradition, you’ll probably have to host the first one to get the ball rolling. But don’t fear, done correctly Friendsgiving can be a fun and low-stress opportunity to get together with your best friends.

The best way to optimize the fun-factor while keeping your actual work level low? Make it a pot-luck where everyone has to bring something. Whether it’s a side of green beans, a box of wine, or someone wants to volunteer to make the main course, everything is welcome! Be sure to coordinate who brings what though, so that four people don’t all bring those canned cranberries. This could be done with a Facebook event, or just keeping a spreadsheet of what people tell you. Typically there is far more than enough food to go around, so if one person shows up empty handed for some reason try not to lay into them too much.

If it’s your first rodeo (or even if it’s not), avoiding turkey is probably a good plan. Most people are getting their annual fill on the day of Thanksgiving and don’t desire any more. Plus, the amount of people who aren’t that crazy for turkey is pretty high considering we have a day that’s reserved for feasting on it.Friendsgiving1.jpg

Something you do not want to forget is dishes and glasses. If you don’t have enough plates for people to eat off of, you’re going to have issues. An easy workaround? Paper plates! You don’t have to buy extra plates just for this one event and, more importantly, there are less dishes for you to do. Just be sure that you have enough drinking glasses for people as they might use more than one if they switch up their drinks.

Speaking of drinks, make sure you have plenty of ice! What’s in your two ice trays isn’t going to cut it. Whether people are drinking water, lemonade, or even a mixed drink, having ice is important. So go to the gas station, spend $5.00 for a couple bags of ice and call this one good. Have someone coming who is a terrible cook? Let them be in charge of bringing the ice.

Another important, and possibly awkward part, is figuring out who your invite list will include. Depending on the size of Friendsgiving you are having, there might just be your core group of friends or it might get larger. Either way, be sure to include people’s significant others. If you don’t, you’re putting them in a spot where they have to ask you if they can come or your friend will just skip so they aren’t ditching their boy/girlfriend. If your invite list is getting larger, just make sure there aren’t any obvious interpersonal conflicts you’re creating or that there is anyone you are totally missing from the invite list. You can’t have everyone over, but there might be some people upset they didn’t get the chance to join.

Another important group to keep happy is other people’s parents. How might you fail to do this? Not letting your friends know of Friendsgiving ahead of time. If you spring this idea up last minute and a friend comes over when one of their parents had planned for super special bonding time, it doesn’t matter if there was a lack of communication. Parental wrath will ensue in some fashion. So avoid this, and other potential conflicts, by planning it out ahead of time.

The most important thing? Have fun! Friendsgiving is supposed to be a time to see your pals and catch up while reminiscing on that embarrassing thing that happened 3 years ago. The more stress you can avoid while putting this all together, the better. As host your job is to provide a location and some planning but don’t feel like everything is on your shoulders. Just remember that you don’t need to be replicating a massive family-style event to have a successful time with your best friends.

Stay Eligible For Your 21st Century Scholarship By Taking Enough Credits!

16 Nov

How Does the PLUS Credit Check Process Work When There Is a Credit Freeze?

14 Nov

The following is from the November 3, 2017 COD Processing Update:

Credit Check Processing for Borrowers who have requested a “Credit Freeze”
As a result of recent data breach events and heightened security concerns, many consumers are understandably taking steps to protect their personally identifiable information (PII). One of those steps may be placing a “credit freeze” on their credit profile at one or more of the credit bureaus, which prevents further credit activity from occurring without additional consent.

Because a credit check is part of the process when a borrower or endorser completes a Direct PLUS Loan Request or an Endorser Addendum on the StudentLoans.gov website, borrowers or endorsers with an active credit freeze may not be able to fully complete either process and may receive an error message when the credit check is run. The borrower or endorser must remove the credit freeze first; this action cannot be done by the school or Federal Student Aid. Note: Federal Student Aid can process an inquiry at two of the three main credit bureaus (currently Equifax and TransUnion). If a borrower or endorser places a credit freeze at only one credit bureau, Federal Student Aid could still receive a credit determination based on information provided by the secondary credit bureau.

Federal Student Aid implemented additional messaging on the StudentLoans.gov website on October 29, 2017. The messaging informs borrowers and endorsers that those who have a credit freeze on their credit profile will need to remove it before completing a Direct PLUS Loan Request or the Endorser Addendum. Federal Student Aid encourages schools working with borrowers and endorsers who may receive an error during the credit check process to ask about a credit freeze as a possible cause for the error.

Schools using the “Quick Credit Check” on the COD Web Site could experience an error or “timeout” response as a result of a borrower’s credit freeze. In some cases, Federal Student Aid will not be able to return a credit check response with the origination record and will reject the record with COD Reject Edit 996 (Invalid Value). Again, when troubleshooting a credit issue with a borrower or endorser, schools may want to see if the credit freeze situation may apply.

If you have additional questions about credit check processing, contact the COD School Relations Center. ”

COD School Relations Center
1.800.848.0978 for Direct Loans
Email CODSupport@ed.gov

13 Must-Haves for Off-Campus Living

7 Nov

You’ve finally done it! The lease is signed, and you step into your first off-campus place, surveying your home for the next year or more. The boxes are all unpacked, but even though your dorm room was brimming with “stuff”, your new digs look barren. Here are 13 things you might be missing from your original packing list!

13 Must Haves.jpg

 

1. Kitchen Odds & Ends

You know those miscellaneous things that are always just there in the back of a drawer or cabinet? You don’t realize you need them, you just find yourself in a pinch one day because you don’t have them. Things like a colander, wire whisk, spatula, mixing bowls, measuring cups, can and bottle openers, pot holders, and food storage containers. Picking them up now will save a lot of hassle later!

2. Pantry Staples

Having a kitchen means experimenting with new recipes (and let’s admit it, setting off the smoke detector once or twice), but it also means facing an empty pantry. It’s best to start off with some staples: spices, oil, salt and pepper, chicken broth, sugar, flour, pasta, rice, eggs, bread. Don’t forget those non-food staples, like aluminum foil and sandwich bags. With those out of the way, you can start filling in your pantry with ingredients for specific dishes. Staples can be different for different people, so think through your favorite meals, and write down reoccurring ingredients. Personally? Cheese and bacon are my two biggest kitchen must-haves.

3. Small Appliances

It’s pretty hard to make your go-to breakfast of waffles if you don’t have a toaster. An iron and ironing board, coffee pot, electric mixer, and blender are some of the many things that you might use (and probably never have had to buy before).

4. Paper Products

Believe it or not, off-campus bathrooms aren’t automatically stocked with toilet paper and tissues. If you’ve got these packed to bring with you, make sure you put them on top where they’ll be easy to find. While you’re at it, throw in some paper towels too!

5. A Shower Curtain/ Rod/ Rings

A lot of apartments will have a shower curtain rod already, but you’ll probably be on your own for the rest. Be sure to check the curtain you buy to see if it needs a liner as well. There’s nothing worse than realizing you can’t shower on day one without drenching your new bathroom.

6. Trash Can & Trash Bags

Sometimes the most obvious stuff is the easiest to forget.  You’ll thank yourself when you have a place to toss all that packing material on moving day! Relying on cardboard boxes just won’t cut it.

7. Cleaning Supplies

Coming from home, or a dorm, you might not have needed your own vacuum, toilet cleaners, mop, or shower spray. When you move off-campus, you’ll suddenly miss having a broom and dustpan, or even a couple of sponges handy. Start off with some other basics too: like hand and dish soap, laundry, and dishwasher detergent.

8. Furniture

The single futon that was crammed into your dorm room won’t look like much in an otherwise empty apartment. Identify your needs, and start looking early! Think about work space – do you need a desk? Or entertaining – do your friends normally crash on the couch, or should you have a table for dinner and games? Do you have a TV or gaming consoles? If so, where will they go? Get the measurements for your apartment and furniture before you buy, so you know each piece will fit and work for you.

Pro tip: Don’t forget to measure the doorways, and bring tools to remove the doors, or take furniture apart if needed. Legs often come off of couches for easier fitting.

9. Lamps/ Lighting

Check out the lighting situation before you move in. A lot of apartments and homes for rent, especially those near campus, don’t have overhead lighting. Look for lighting that isn’t highly directional, so that the whole room will be well-lit. Lamps with transparent or light-colored shades are a great choice!

10. Shelving/ Storage.

A lot of off-campus housing has limited storage. Make sure you pay attention to details when you’re touring housing options. Are there cabinets in the bathroom? Is there a pantry? Do the closets have shelving? Is the shelving solid? Some apartments have tons of shelves, but they’re all made of wire that smaller items can fall through. You may need baskets, multi-level hangers, a towel rack, or even a bathroom caddy if you’re looking at limited storage. You can also check out Buzzfeed and Pinterest for tons of clever storage hacks.

11. Internet Router

Most internet providers give customers the option to rent a router from them on a monthly basis, or use their own. Often, providers will allow you to purchase a router from them as well to avoid the extra monthly fees.

12. Curtains

Curtains aren’t just decorative. They also keep in a lot of warmth during the colder months. Check out what any bedroom windows face as well. If there are street lights or a busy road outside, you might want to pick up some blackout curtains so your sleep won’t be interrupted by lights and traffic.

13. Hardware, Thumbtacks & Command Hooks

Leasing offices have differing policies when it comes to hanging things, but chances are you won’t want your walls to be completely bare. Whether it is curtains, mounting a TV, or just some favorite posters, keep some hardware options on hand!

Preparing for Your First Indiana Winter Pt. 2

3 Nov

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 an older vehicle that would have a carburetor (which is quite rare nowadays), 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

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