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Thrift Shopping for College Students

16 Jun

Thrift shopping: good for needs and wants text. Laid over picture of two mannequins wearing shirts that say sale

Everyone wants to look good. Whether it’s for a professional interview or a hot date, everyone needs to put on a little more than a t-shirt and jeans at times. However, if you’re used to hitting the mall and buying designer outfits, it can be hard to adjust to having very little set aside for such expenses.

So how does one dress to impress on a college budget?

There’s an art to finding the best deals for the best look, and here I will give you the keys to a good college wardrobe.

First thing’s first: find a thrift shop. Thrift Shop by Macklemore & Ryan Lewis isn’t all that off the mark. Lots of quality clothing can be found at your local Goodwill, Trinity Mission, and The Salvation Army stores, not to mention Amused Clothing near the Purdue campus.

 

These are all good places to begin the search for professional (and entertaining) clothing for a great price. These stores can all be found in Lafayette and are only a short drive (or bus ride) away from campus. If you don’t have a car find some friends who do. It can be tons of fun to go as a group and see great deals or fun outfits you can pick.

Next, keep an open mind. When you go to thrift stores you never know what you’re going to find, which means you never know what you’re NOT going to find. It’s not a department store; you can’t go in with a set item in mind.

If you walk into a thrift shop with an open mind you will find items that you would never have looked at before that can enhance your outfit for only a few dollars. People donate all sorts of clothes that are in nearly perfect condition, but you never know what you will find until you go.

From here you simply have to keep going. Odds are you will not find everything you need all in one shopping spree. You must be diligent and give it time. Often it can take many trips to find the perfect ensemble. Just remember to have fun with it and you will be dressed without too much financial stress in no time.

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!

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.

College survival guide!

26 Apr

Useful tips from a student on the little things you can do to help yourself out in college!

My life book

I recently started college, this being my second semester. My first few weeks I kept thinking how great it was that I had friends there who let me in on all the secrets and made my time so much easier. Consequently, this post is for all of you that don’t have friends in college or you’re just afraid to ask for advice.

  • Socialize

Your first days you might feel like sitting in a corner not making eye contact with anyone. Don’t. Say hi. You are in the same school you do have things in common. It’s way easier to start a conversation!

  • Keep contacts

Getting a name isn’t enough. Facebook,twitter,phone,mail etc. Always ask for contact information. When you’ll miss class and are in desperate need of notes you’ll be greatfull you kept their numbers.

  • Utilize your agenda

Whether it’s digital or not use your agenda for everything. Homework, meetings, parties…

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Top 5 Things This Financial Aid Counselor Wants You to Know

13 Apr

 

Whether you are an incoming freshman or a returning senior, financial aid can be confusing. As financial aid counselors, there are things we really want all students to know. Here are the top five things this financial aid counselor wants you to know.

There is a limit to how much financial aid you can receive.

Every school will give you something along the lines of an “Estimated Cost of Attendance” or “Budget.” This is your limit on financial aid at your university and students cannot have financial aid over this amount. This amount will vary at different universities because it takes into account your tuition, room and board, and other estimated expenses that are specific to each university.5 Fin Aid things.jpg

There is a difference between your Estimated Cost of Attendance and your bill.

Your Cost of Attendance is a term that is interchangeable with ‘budget.’ It will include estimated costs for expenses like books and supplies, transportation, housing and food, miscellaneous costs, etc. . (Consider either using all double quotations or single quotations. Double quotations are used above for “Estimated Cost of Attendance” and “Budget” – which is also capitalized – but single quotations are used here for ‘budget’ – which is also lowercase in this instance.)

The university is not going to bill you for estimated miscellaneous costs. If you’re not living on campus, you will not be billed the amount for ‘room and board’ (quotes) on your Estimated Cost of Attendance. Your budget is a list of estimated expenses you may have for the year. Your bill is what you will actually owe. Your budget doubles as your financial aid limit, as mentioned previously, but it’s also a way for you to “budget” (quotes) for expenses that may pop up during the year.  In actuality, your bill will only be tuition and fees (and housing and food if you stay in a dormitory).

Financial aid counselors want you to understand this difference because we often see students taking out loans to cover their entire budget. In reality, these students could have saved themselves thousands of dollars had they known they wouldn’t be billed for their entire Cost of Attendance.

You can get a refund.

So why does your Cost of Attendance/budget even bother to include expenses you won’t be directly billed for? The answer is simple. It’s so you can get financial aid to help cover extra expenses, and this is done with a refund.

Since your budget includes costs like miscellaneous expenses, you may find that you have a budget of $20,000 when you only have a bill of $17,000. This means you potentially have financial aid $3,000 in excess of what you need to cover your bill. In a situation like this, the Bursar’s Office will issue you a refund check. This refund can be used to help cover any of your academic expenses that you won’t be automatically billed for such as: books, supplies, transportation, and miscellaneous expenses. If you are staying off campus in an apartment, fraternity, or sorority, instead of living in a dormitory, this refund can also be used to help cover your off-campus rent.

Your grades really matter.

Believe it or not, grades actually matter when it comes to financial aid. Students must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) in order to remain eligible for financial aid. SAP is measured at the end of every semester, even if you didn’t take classes, and Purdue notifies you by email of your new SAP status. Purdue’s SAP Policy can be found online on the Division of Financial Aid website.

There are no dumb questions.

We are here to help! We understand that financial aid is very confusing, especially if you are brand new student. It’s our job to answer any financial aid questions or help explain things that may seem confusing. Above all, we hate seeing a little issue turn into a big issue just because a student was scared or embarrassed to ask us a question. We’ll be excited that you are seeking more information, and you’ll never know unless you ask.

Are you a student at Purdue who has questions about financial aid? Please feel free to contact the Division of Financial Aid via email or phone.

Will Your Student Loans be a Burden?

31 Mar

 

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

student loan burden

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

13 Mar

www.purdue.edu/mymoney

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

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

1-4: Giant Burrito Distributors

Big Bean Burrito

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

5&6: Sub Shops

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

Both have great aspects about them:

subway sub

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

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

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

7: Dairy Queen & Panda Express

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

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

8: Von’s Dough Shack

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

9: Packing Your Lunch

paper packed lunch

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

10: KFC Buffet

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

kfc chicken

America Saves Week: Make Your Savings Automatic

27 Feb

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Saving money can be hard to do after taking care of bills, groceries, and general living expenses. This is even harder when your idea of saving money is by counting what’s left over in your checking account after paying those monthly expenses. It’s likely you will probably just spend what’s left on a treat for yourself the next month.

ASW Automatic Savings txt.jpgWhile this saving method might work for the rare individual, for most of us we really don’t think about our spending as long as our account stays above a certain number we’ve arbitrarily designated.

The easiest way to create savings and counter our instinct to spend without worry? Save your money automatically.

Saving your money automatically, or as some call it “Pay Yourself First”, is a way to siphon off part of your paycheck every time you’re paid and put it into a savings account before you do anything else. The concept is simple and doing it is quite simple too depending on if you are paid via direct deposit or paycheck. Note: Both of these methods require opening a second bank account if you don’t already have one!

  • Direct Deposit: Let whoever is in charge of your payroll know you want to add an account for direct deposit. You will need your savings account’s routing number and account number to do this.
  • Paycheck: When you go to deposit your check, you will have to let the bank teller know you would like to deposit some into your savings and the rest into checking. It may not be “saving automatically” this way, but it’ll work better than the old method.

Now that you have started saving you’ll soon join the less-than-50% of Americans who can survive for more than one month off their savings. The key to this is not only putting money into savings, but not pulling it out right away. A savings account does no good if you can use an app on your phone and be 3 clicks away from having it right back in your checking account.

Don’t make it easy to steal from your savings!

If your savings are just a few clicks on an app from being transferred and spent, consider either making it more difficult to access or making yourself wait three days between any plan to withdraw and actually doing it. This should help limit knee-jerk reactions to withdraw and give you time to properly plan how to use your funds.

While saving money isn’t the most intrinsically rewarding thing you can do, you’ll be glad one day that you put away a small portion of your pay rather than making a couple of extra fast food runs a week.

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The Real Truth About Financial Aid-Adam Ruins College

21 Feb


Reminder, Purdue’s priority deadline to file the FAFSA is March 1st! To receive maximum consideration for financial aid, you need to file before the deadline. Not sure where to start? Check out our Financial Aid February blogs for information on everything financial aid from start to finish.

My Student Loan Journey Pt. 1: Getting into debt

3 Feb

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue University

Like 44 million other Americans , I have student loan debt. Going into college I knew that student loans were necessary because even though my family cared for me, they weren’t able to contribute financially to my education. I regarded myself as one of the unlucky in-betweeners who wasn’t rich enough to have my family pay but not poor enough to have the government pay. I didn’t realize at that time even if I recevied the maximum Pell grant award it was $5,350 – much less than my costs for the year.

I knew some of the basics things I needed to do like fill out the FAFSA, which my dad did and I just signed at the end. Then I filled out and signed a few papers I realize now were my entrance counseling and master promissory note, probably one of the last before they became electronic. Like many others, I just paid minimum amount of attention needed to finish the process. My focus was on my upcoming classes and I’d pay back what I needed to later.

When my award letter from my college came there were three lines on it:

FFEL Stafford Subsidized:       $788
FFEL Stafford Unsubsidized:     $4,712
Work Study:                     $800

I declined work study since I already had a job lined up at a restaurant near campus (who ended up calling me the day before I started and let me know they didn’t actually need another worker for the year). I accepted the $5,500 in federal loans offered, but it wasn’t enough to cover the combined expense of my tuition and room & board costs which were all due at the beginning of the semester.

The answer to the question on how to pay? A private loan! Without much more thought, we took out what we could for a private loan to pay all of my costs. I even got a refund of a couple thousand dollars which I promptly used to buy a car that ended up being a money pit. While I definitely needed the private loan to help cover my costs, the extra $2,000 I borrowed above what I needed also added up to over $600 in interest before I would finish school.

All told, I ended up borrowing over $15,000 for my first year of college and all but $788 would gather interest for the next several years.

Fast forward to sophomore year when I restart the process over, but with a new wrinkle. My freshman year was 2009, when the Great Recession wreaked havoc on the economy. My father was laid off from his job, he and my stepmother were getting a separation, and our house was going into foreclosure. So the rosy picture that was painted from our previous year’s tax info on the FAFSA didn’t reflect my family’s reality.

This meant a couple of things for me: unfortunately nobody would borrow to my go-to cosigner but my financial aid office let me know that I could file an appeal with them due to my special circumstances.

After successfully appealing my aid to represent my situation ,the government let me have some of those grants I had previously not qualified for. However, even with these grants and my $6,500 in federal loans I had available as a sophomore, I still needed another private loan.

After some convincing, my mom agreed to cosign a private loan for me but only for what I needed to pay what I owed. Plus, this loan required quarterly payments on the interest. While it kept the loan from ever getting bigger, the extra $150 every three months always hit me at my poorest times and was a real budget buster several months.

At the time I was so worried about getting my bill paid that I had no worries about getting a refund, which in retrospect I’m more than happy about. But still, the total amount borrowed went up again. This time $14,300 for the year.

Two years of school down and over $29,000 in debt. The average indebtedness for my fellow 2014 graduates was $33,000 so I was on track to be well-above average in an area I’d prefer not to be. Also, I planned on becoming a teacher – a profession which isn’t exactly known for high salaries.student loan journey getting into debt2.jpg

Thankfully, being able to live off-campus and pay my rent and food costs as I went saved me from having to take out any more private loans because I could pay those costs as I went. So for my junior and senior year I took the federal maximum each year of $7,500 which with my federal grant I was able to pay my tuition and use my refund to pay a couple of months ahead on my rent. This enabled me to work part-time in college gaining great work experience and also being able to stay ahead on my monthly bills. I was finally using my loan money responsibly.

I had one more curveball thrown at me after my fourth year. Teaching majors at my school were on a 5-year program because it required 150 credits. Four years earlier, I was told of a lifetime aggregate limit on my federal loans in entrance counseling. Did I remember? Definitely not. So while I expected another $7,500 for my fifth year, my federal loans offered were only $4,000 and I came up short of being able to pay my tuition bill.

So what could I do? I had maxed out my federal loans I could take out. My mother would only cosign another private loan if I convinced her I’d explored all my other possibilities. After a visit to my financial aid office, they informed me that I could possibly qualify for a few thousand more dollars in federal loans if my parent applied for a Federal Parent PLUS loan and was denied. So I worked with my father to apply for that and to our surprise they accepted his application!

It turns out the Parent PLUS loan is more understanding about adverse situations than private lenders were. One last loan wasn’t ideal, but I took just enough to cover the remaining tuition. Plus, it was better than getting to my 5th year and having to quit with 4 years of debt accrued.

All totaled up, I estimate I borrowed $48,600 during my five years of school. But I made it through and am the first person in my family to have a degree. I’m proud of what I accomplished and I learned a few things along the way about financial aid:

  1. File your FAFSA early. If you want to be considered for the most/ best aid apply before any deadlines.
  2. Don’t borrow more than you really need. You have to pay it back, with interest.
  3. Meet with your financial aid office when things come up. They helped dig me out of a couple situations that might have otherwise left me helpless.
  4. Graduate in four years if it’s possible. Two extra years can cost you almost $300,000 lifetime.

Read Pt. 2: Climbing the Mountain of Debt

 

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