America Saves Week: Make Your Savings Automatic

27 Feb

themed-saveautomatically

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 that you will probably just spend what’s left on something for yourself the next month.

While 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.

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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 if you are being 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 that 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.

 

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

The key to this process 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.

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 spend 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.

America Saves Week: Saving for Emergencies in College

26 Feb

themed-saveforemergencies

Emergency savings aren’t for fun. When you don’t need it, you look at a nice sum in the bank that you could be using for something fun. When you do need it, you’re going through some sort of financial crisis and probably won’t be patting yourself on the back for being prepared.

As a college student you might not have a lot of spare money sitting around, but having some cash set aside is a lot more pleasant than having to ask the Bank of Mom & Dad for funds because you weren’t prepared. Even if you need to ask for some help, you can save a lot of pride if you let them know you’re able to contribute toward whatever emergency you have.

So how much money should a student save for emergencies? There’s no answer to cover everyone other than “it depends”. The best advice is to anticipate what types of emergencies you may need it for. Things like blowing the transmission in your car, unplanned travel to be with a friend, embarrassing personal health situations, or minor legal issues (like tickets) can all be things that you might feel weird asking your parents to help cover. Even asking for help with reasonable things like food and rent can be uncomfortable if they know that you blew the money you were supposed to use.

A good goal is to save around $500 somewhere where you can’t spend it easily, but can access it when you absolutely need it. That might not cover everything, but it’s a good start on most minor situations you will find yourself in.

How do you get that $500 saved up? Here are three ideas:

  1. If you work, funnel a little bit off each paycheckor from your tips to slowly build it up. Just be sure to keep the money safe from yourself so you don’t use it for impulse purchases. If you treat your emergency fund like a bill and pay yourself first, you won’t miss the money.
  2. When your financial aid disbursement comes from extra scholarship, grant, and educational loan money, take out the $500 then and set it aside.
  3. Save up those mini-windfalls you might get from birthdays, tax returns, and holidays.

It might seem like $500 is a lot to save. But it will feel like even more when you have to pay it in a pinch and don’t have it. Whatever your goal is, set it and get after it. Consider making a pledge to save with America Saves Week as extra motivation to get started.

And remember…

Chipotle Car crash

Emergency savings are for emergencies!

Financial Aid February: Aid for the Summer

23 Feb

Financial Aid February

Taking summer courses is a great way to get ahead on credits and graduate earlier. Not to mention utilizing your rent to the fullest if you have a 12 month off-campus lease. However, summer aid is not automatically created for your account when you file the FAFSA. With a few extra steps you can get summer financial aid lined up and have it ready for summer!

How to Apply for Summer Aid for Summer 2018:

Complete the 2017-18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) no later than June 30, 2018 and satisfy all additional financial aid requirements listed on your myPurdue account. Note: although you can file the FAFSA as late as June 30, you should file it much earlier in order to have your aid ready for the summer term.

Complete the 2018 Summer Aid Application under the Financial Tab of your myPurdue account. Once your application has been successfully submitted, it could take two to three weeks to receive a Financial Aid award. Please monitor myPurdue for updates. Initial summer financial aid notifications will begin in March.

Quick Info:

Eligibility for your Federal Loans is on an annual basis, with the summer term being part of the aid year for the semesters before it. If you used all of your federal loan eligibility in the Fall/Spring semesters, you will need to utilize other sources of aid for your summer bill.

If you drop hours or do not initiate course participation at any time during the summer sessions, your aid may be adjusted and you may receive a bill.

If this will be your first time taking summer courses, check out the scholarship options at ThinkSummer- Financial Aid!

Think Summer

You can also check out the Bursar’s Office site for current tuition and fee rates. Did you know that, in the summer, you pay the same amount for 6-9 credit hours?

Be sure to notify the Division of Financial Aid if you decide to cancel your summer aid application.

Choose the location you plan to attend for summer 2018 to obtain additional information about how to apply and aid eligibility.

Want more info about summer courses, internships, housing and more? Check out Think Summer.

February is Financial Aid Month: Understanding your Award Notification

16 Feb

 

If you — as a newly accepted student — applied for financial aid and submitted all verification information that was requested you should expect to receive an award notice from the Purdue Division of Financial Aid (DFA) any time after February 16th.

Understanding Award Notice

A message will be sent to your Purdue.edu email address, which you gain access to by activating your career account. The email notification directs students to view their financial aid offer online in their myPurdue system under the Financial tab. Notifications will also be sent to parents who supplied a parent email address on the FAFSA.

While the first place that your eyes will look is undoubtedly the Free Money section (grants/scholarship), a better place to start is by looking at the estimated Cost of Attendance (COA). The COA is not your bill! Rather, it is an estimate of the costs of being a full-time student and living in West Lafayette for the school year. It also shows the maximum amount of aid you are allowed to receive for the year, not what you ought to be taking. Your actual bill will come from the Bursar Office later in the summer after you’ve signed up for courses. The only costs you will owe Purdue directly are for tuition/ fees, a meal plan (if you have one), and housing costs if you live on campus.

Now that you know that maximum amount of aid you can receive, the free money awaits. If you have any grants or scholarships, they will appear here. If you have an outside scholarship and have not reported it yet, you can do that via your myPurdue. Grants and scholarships are the ideal form of aid since you do not have to pay them back!

If you subtract your gift aid from the Cost of Attendance, you are left with your remaining “Net Cost”. You can look to cover this amount with the “self-help aid”, using money you already have, or a combination of the two. This is the amount you must cover with money you either have now or expect in the future.

The self-help aid section is where any offered educational loans and Federal Work Study (FWS) will show up. While these options aren’t as preferable as free money, they may be a better option for many students/families than trying to pay out of pocket.

It’s important to know that while FWS is a form of financial aid, it does not credit your account like the other forms of aid do! Having FWS may help open up more employer doors on and around campus who will only hire FWS eligible students. The student still needs to find a job and earn the money which is paid via a bi-weekly paycheck. If you don’t work enough hours to receive your entire work study amount, you don’t receive it. Working is a good way to be able to supply yourself with spending money throughout the year, but it is not a reliable way to pay your Purdue bill since you receive FWS wages after the bill is already due.

 

The other type of self-help aid is the educational loan. Every loan is slightly different, both in interest and in the steps you need to take to receive it. Federal loans typically are preferable to private loans and often offer more flexible repayment options as well.

As you review the award notice and look up different Financial Aid Terms, keep in mind that grants and scholarships are types of gift aid that do not need to be repaid. Loans and work-study are types of self-help financial aid that must be repaid either in money or labor.

COA - EFC = Need

One question that often comes up is where the FAFSA fits into all of this? The FAFSA’s primary job is to create the Expected Family Contribution (EFC), which reflects a family’s anticipated financial strength. The formula for financial need is made by subtracting the EFC from the Cost of Attendance. The remaining amount is the maximum amount of need-based aid a student is eligible for. This can be scholarships/ grants with a need requirement, subsidized loans, or Federal Work- Study. It is not guaranteed that your financial need will be filled with need-based aid.

Remember that even if you don’t think you will be eligible for need-based aid, you should still file the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov as some scholarships have it as one of their requirements!

Helping Students Find Scholarships

2 Feb

When many students hear the word “scholarship,” they mistakenly think it’s something reserved only for a select few. Here’s how you can discover the billions of dollars in scholarships available for individuals just like you.

  1. Complete the FAFSA

Like many other types of aid, a lot of scholarships require a completed FAFSA as part of their application requirements. Students are encouraged to visit fafsa.gov to get the process started.

  1. Secure Letters of Recommendation

A good word from the right source can go a long way in helping students stand out from the crowd when applying for scholarships. Approach teachers, coaches, employers, and advisors for a letter of recommendation at least a month before the application deadline—and be sure to include clear instructions on what’s required.

  1. Write a Unique Essay

A traditional part of the scholarship application, a written essay is a chance to shine a spotlight on an applicant’s unique situation. Take something interesting from your background and make it stand out. For example, have you had to overcome adversity in your life? Were you motivated by an awesome occurrence? It is recommended to have any drafts edited by a teacher or parent before submitting.

  1. Have All Documents Handy

Be aware of the documents you may need to complete any applications, such as high school transcripts, and keep both hard and electronic copies on hand. If not readily available, these documents may take some time to get, so it’s a good idea to get them in order early in the process.

  1. Look Locally

Check for any local scholarship opportunities in your High School guidance office or College financial aid office. Check with area civic organizations, churches, and other philanthropic groups to see what’s available.

  1. Utilize Online Scholarship Searches

There are a variety of websites available featuring extensive lists of scholarships. Here are some examples you can check out:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. Apply to Many, Focus on Few

As you dig into your searches, you may notice dozens of “no essay” or sweepstakes-type scholarships. While casting a wide net is good, narrowing the focus to the opportunities that match you best increases your chances of scholarship success.

Source: Help Your Students Find Scholarships, January 5, 2018. In Great Lakes Bulletin, January 9, 2018.  Great Lakes https://schools.mygreatlakes.org/web/FAP/index.html

 

Answering the Who, How & Why of FAFSA

25 Jan


Getting you through FAFSA, one question at a time.

  • Who
  • Who Should File a FAFSA?
    If you are interested in getting any Federal Financial Aid, including federal direct loans, you need to file the FAFSA at https://fafsa.gov/to become eligible. Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans.  In addition, many colleges’ need-based scholarships rely on FAFSA information to verify that you are eligible. In short, everyone should file the FAFSA – even if you don’t think you’ll qualify for any federal aid

 

  • Whose Information is used to File a FAFSA?
    This answer depends on if you are a dependent student or not. Unsure if you’re Dependent or Independent? Check here. (Note: this is not the same as being independent for tax filing)
    Dependent students:You need tax information for both you AND your parents. If your parents are divorced, you need the information on whoever you receive the most support (51%) from. Independent students: You only need your own information unless you are married. If so, you will need your spouse’s information as well.

 

 

 

  • What If Things Change After I File The FAFSA?
    If your family situation has a significant change after you’ve filed your FAFSA, and any time while you’re in school, stop by your Financial Aid office to see if you qualify for a “special circumstance”.  These could include job loss, divorce, and death of a parent, child birth or other unexpected situations that impact your financial status.

 

  • What Types of Federal Financial Aid are there?
    There are three main types of financial aid:
    Grants — Federal Pell Grants do not have to be repaid and are sometimes referred to as “gift aid”.  Grants are similar to scholarships, except that they are often for those who demonstrate financial need, where scholarships can be either merit-based or need-based.
    2. Educational Loans —The type you hear about most often.  Filling out the FAFSA is required to be eligible for Federal Direct loans.  Federal loans are almost always preferable to private loans from lending institutions, because they have fixed interest rates and flexible repayment options.
    3. Federal Work Study (FWS) — Work-Study may provide you with more opportunities to find on-campus jobs. Rather than being given the funds in the beginning of the semester like loans and grants, FWS earnings are distributed to you as part of your paycheck.

 

 

  • Where Do I Get the School Code and FSA ID?
    You’ll need the school code for whatever schools you are interested in applying to. They are available here. Your Federal Student Aid FSA ID is used to login and electronically sign your FAFSA.  Set it up at here.

 

  • Where Do I Get Help?
    College Goal Sunday is a program held in Indiana and it provides FREE FAFSA filing assistance to students/families.  Find a location near you in some of the other participating states by going to http://formyourfuture.org/ and scrolling to the bottom of the page.  You can always call the Financial Aid office of your prospective school to ask questions as well.

 

  • When
  • When Can I start the FAFSA?
    You can begin the FAFSA any time after October 1st of the year before you plan to attend college. The FAFSA uses the student/parent tax information from two years ago.  This allows most families to use the IRS-DRT capabilities built into the FAFSA.

 

  • When is the FAFSA Due?
    If you are a Purdue student, the FAFSA priority filing date is March 1st, so be sure to have it done by then! Other colleges (and states) have their own priority dates. Check for deadlines here.

 

  • How
  • How Do I Get my Financial Aid?
    Your financial aid is sent directly to your school and they will apply it directly toward your billing and send any excess aid to you to be used for books and other education related expenses. The exception is Federal Work-Study which needs to be earned by working, and is paid via a paycheck.

 

  • How much is the Maximum That Can be Borrowed?
    Most students don’t know this, but there is a maximum amount of Federal Loans you can take out each year. There is also a maximum amount you can take throughout your college career! If you take the maximum amount for four years, there won’t be as much left for a fifth year if needed. Plan ahead! Remember: Everything you borrow you will have to pay back with interest for the next 10 (or more) years so become a responsible borrower.

 

  • Why
  • Why Should I Submit a FAFSA?
    Other than qualifying for grants and Federal Loans? Many state grants and institutional scholarships require FAFSA information being submitted. Your family may also experience one of the special circumstances discussed earlier. Even if you aren’t sure, it is always worth submitting a FAFSA!

Have more questions? Ask them in the comments and we’ll do our best to answer them!

Is It Worth It to Have a Car in College?

16 Jan

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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

Who Owns Your Loans?

11 Jan

Carrie L. Johnson, Ph.D. | North Dakota State University

When leaving college, whether you are graduating or taking some time off, it is important to know how much you owe in student loans and who you will be paying back. You may have kept track over the years, or maybe you didn’t. There are two types of student loans: federal and private. This fact sheet will show you how to determine the amount of student loans you owe and who you need to pay.

Federal Student Loans

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) website is the best place to start when looking for history on your federal student loans (Direct Loans and Perkins Loans). To access your student loan information, you need your FSA IDto log in.

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The main page is broken down into four sections:

  1. Summary information for borrower; this includes your enrollment status and the date that status became effective.
  2. The next section will have any “warnings” that may be on your account such as nearing your aggregate borrowing limit or if you are in default on your loans.
  3. The Loans section lists every federal loan you have ever had and totals for your federal loans.
  4. Section 4 shows your Pell Grants.

To identify your loan holders and repayment amounts, focus on the third section shown below.
nslds4

By clicking on the blue button with the number in the first column you can see even more details about your loan. You will be shown the type of loan, what school you were attending when the loan was obtained, various important dates, amounts, disbursements and statuses, and your servicer information. The servicer is who you contact about repayment.

There are currently ten servicers the Department of Education uses for Direct Loans; you can find a list here. The servicer on a Perkins Loan is typically the school that extended the loan. However, some schools do have outside servicers or assign your loan to Department of Education. The example below shows what the servicer section on NSLDS looks like.

nslds3

Private Student Loans

The best way to determine information about the status of private student loans is to obtain a copy of your credit report. The credit report will include will total amount owed and the name of your lender. A free copy of your credit report can be requested by mail, telephone, or online every 12 months from each of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion).

By going to AnnualCreditReport.com you can get access to information about your credit history, including student loan payments. You will need your personal information to log on and you will also be asked a series of security questions based on your report. You can also request your credit report by calling 1-877-322-8228 or by mail using this form.

Resources

AnnualCreditReport.com 

National Student Loan Database System

Saving for College

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 !

Understanding Your Financial Aid

4 Jan

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.

Withdrawing can impact your aid.

Another component of SAP is the component called “Pace” which dictates you must receive a passing grade in 2/3 of your attempted credits. Students often run afoul of this if they drop a couple courses for a W in one of their first semesters, pick up a couple F’s early on or have to withdraw from an entire semester. In upperclassmen years, this typically isn’t an issue to drop courses and take the W, however early on these credits make up a larger percent of your attempted credits. Unless it’s absolutely dire, we generally recommend to finish out the courses you start. After all, you’ll have to take care of them eventually.

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.

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