Tag Archives: Prep for College

Freshman Boot Camp: Last Minute Packing Tips

11 Aug

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator

Believe it or not, it’s almost time to move in to your new home at Purdue!

Depending on how far you’re travelling, forgetting something at home could be a quick trip home on the weekend or it could be “looks like I have to sleep without blankets until they can be shipped here”.

If you are feeling panicked because you haven’t started yet, don’t worry! Take it from someone who didn’t actually pack until the morning he left, it can be done in a pinch but that’s also a great way to forget a bunch of important items like I did. So don’t be like me and have to sleep without a real pillow for the first night.

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Because move-in day and the packing leading up to it can be stressful even for those who plan ahead, it’s good to be prepared with a few last checks to make sure you have everything you need!

Label everything – This first tip comes from University Residences’ Tips for a Successful Move-in Day. Put your first and last name as well as your room number on everything. There will be people helping to bring your stuff into the residence halls but don’t leave any room for question in where it is going.

Pack light – Another great tip from University Residences article. Dorm rooms aren’t huge and trying to fit everything from your bedroom at home just isn’t going to do. If you’re doing anything more than filling an SUV with your stuff, you’re going to want to cut back. This might mean only bringing clothes that are in-season and leaving the winter parka at home (for now).

Buy it here – Believe it or not, West Lafayette is more than just Purdue! There are plenty of grocery stores and other shops like Wal-Mart, Target and Meijer where you can buy most anything that you need. Whether it’s something replaceable that you forgot or you don’t have room for, consider buying it once you arrive.

Don’t forget it – Remember to bring along any items that can’t be replaced or it’s unnecessary to have extras at home! Some ideas:

  • Laptop charger
  • Pillows, blankets, and sheets
  • Personal care items like tweezers, bandaids, etc that you’d rather not have to run to a store when you need them
  • Scissors
  • Tape and command strips
  • School supplies – you could buy these before classes but you might be too busy
  • Clothes hangers
  • Long (6′ or longer) phone charging cord
  • Water bottle
  • Fan – these sell out quickly at the local stores
  • Towels

It may not be everything you’ll need but there’s a few things that are easy to forget that you’ll regret. So finish up the packing, have one last weekend with your high school friends, and download the Purdue app.

We’ll see you on Monday!

Freshman Boot Camp: Money Saving Tips for Students

10 Aug

Jim Wang, Wallet Hacks
wallethacks.com

College is a fantastic time of exploration, freedom, and growth.

It’s also a time when many of our habits are formed, especially those about money and saving. These habits can have a ripple effect on your life so solidifying a few good practices today can help you better manage the future.

I have a list of 40+ money tips for college students, which cover the basics like emergency funds and budgeting, but today I wanted to share an extra set of just money saving tips every college student needs.6 Easy Money Saving Tips

Avoid credit card debt at all costs

It’s so easy to charge everything to plastic. Whether it’s textbooks, equipment, or a pizza, make sure that you pay off your credit card bill in full each month.

It’s so tempting to pay the minimum and push the debt off another month, but that will result in you paying hundreds of dollars (if not more!) in interest for nothing. If you don’t believe me, you can use this calculator to do the math yourself and find out how much that $20 pizza will cost you!

That’s money you can use to save for your retirement, for a new car, or your first house. Avoiding debt, especially high interest credit card debt, is priority number one after graduation.

Start budgeting

Budgeting isn’t the most fun thing to do but getting in the habit early is a good idea. When you budget, you have a better sense of where your money is going.

You can use tools like Mint or Personal Capital to help automate the process and when you’re older, you’ll appreciate the wealth of historic information you’re recording now.

Cook more, eat out less

Your studies and your social activities will probably take up a big chunk of your time, so you’ll be tempted to eat out more than you cook if you’re not on a university meal plan.

Resist the temptation! Eating at a restaurant, even a quick service one, is far more expensive than cooking at home. In the beginning, you’ll be terrible at it. Everyone is.

But stick with it and try to cook as much as you can. It’s healthier, cheaper, and you’ll get better the more often you do it.

Take advantage of student discounts

Businesses give student discounts all the time. They know that students don’t make a lot of money and they still want your business, so they’re willing to give you a break if they know you’re a student.

Always keep your student ID on you and ask if a student discount is available – you might be pleasantly surprised.

Use your student loan for tuition only!

Some student loans are deposited directly into your student account and some are deposited directly into your bank account. If you have one of the latter, do not use the money for anything other than tuition and school related expenses.

If you have no other choice, you can use it on necessities but your goal should be to avoid debt as much as possible. Sometimes you don’t have any other options, and that’s understandable, but make sure before you saddle yourself with student debt.

Earn a little cash in your spare time

We all have downtime during the day and on weekends – try to find a way to turn that time into money.

Whether it’s taking on a side gig, earning some cash online through surveys, or something bigger – building a side hustle that earns a little extra money can pay dividends in the long run. There are a lot of sites online that will pay you money for small segments of work, or gigs, and you can easily finish them in 5-15 minutes of down time.

Jim Wang writes about money on his personal finance blog, Wallet Hacks. Get his strategies and tactics for getting ahead financially and in life by joining his free newsletter.

Freshman Boot Camp: How to Get Around Campus at Purdue

8 Aug

After arriving on campus and getting settled into your new place, you’ll inevitably get a little antsy to check out the new community you live in. While the West Lafayette area is quite walk-able, there are many times where your destination is beyond what you can reasonably travel by foot. So if the Tippecanoe Mall is calling you, or there’s a cool place in Lafayette you want to check out here are some tips for each method of transportation!

Driving your own car

The main issue to get out of the way if you’re bringing your own car to campus is where are you going to park it? If you live off-campus, it’s good to know if you’ll have your own parking lot and how plowing will work with that in the winter. If you are parking on the street, you’ll want to know the applicable plowing rules as well!

For freshmen living on campus there is a lottery for parking spots. These permits cost $150 and you can’t start parking in these spots until October 2, so plan accordingly! Be sure to check out Parking’s Website for any additional info if you have special circumstances such as off-campus classes or regular off-campus medical visits.

Other than parking you’ll want to be cognizant of the cost of insurance, gas, and the other expenses your car will rack up. I’d heavily recommend leaving the car at home unless it’s absolutely necessary for some reason. You can always use one of the other options to get around!

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City Bus

The City Bus is free for students! Just be prepared with your Purdue ID in-hand and you can use it to get anywhere that the bus goes. Be sure to check out what route the bus is on by looking at the sign at the top of the bus. The buses run 24/7, but with varying times depending on the time of the day so you will want to check out the different resources available on your phone to check times.

Don’t forget that you can combine the bus with biking! If you just want to bike to the bus stop and then take your bike on-campus there are rack on the front of the bus you can use to hang your bike while you ride the bus.

Biking

Purdue is a pretty large campus, so going by foot isn’t always practical. Bikes are one of the best ways to get around campus and the many bike lanes and parking stations reflect that. You can bring your own or even look into the rental bikes available all over campus (and some in downtown Lafayette). Be sure to register your bicycle to help protect against theft or provide contact info if it is believed your bike has been abandoned.

Don’t have a bike or don’t want to transport it here? Purdue Surplus has tons of bikes that were abandoned previously begging for a new owner. Quality bicycles can be had for around $10!

Related to bikes, skateboards and rollerblading are popular options to get around. It’s very common to see plenty of students longboarding between their classes throughout the day.

Driving a car that’s not your own

Purdue has partnered with Zipcar to provide a way for students who don’t have their own vehicle on campus to rent a car for a relatively reasonable rate. There are about 6 locations around campus to acquire a Zipcar. The cost of insurance and gas is included in the rental so you just have a flat rate to take care of!

All in all, there’s plenty of different ways to get around both campus and the Greater Lafayette Area. By combining the options above you can get pretty much anywhere in a quick and efficient manner.

Saving Money in the Residence Halls

27 Jul

Casey Doten, Financial Aid Administrator – Purdue Financial Aid

There’s no doubt that attending college is a significant investment, but a little bit of planning can help you save a lot of money. Whether you decide to live in one of the University Residence Halls, or in an apartment off-campus, there are definitely many options that can help students reduce their daily college expenses. I’m going to cover five ways you can save money while living in a residence hall (or your apartment).

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Taking Advantage of the Meal Plan

Students living in most of the University Residences are required to have a meal plan. Choosing the most appropriate meal plan can be an important factor in a student’s college expenses.

Sometimes it can be hard for students to be able to go to any of the 5 dining courts in between their busy schedules. Whenever I would have a short lunch break in between my classes, I took advantage of the On-The-Go options.

On-The-Go is a great alternative for students with limited time, where they can grab a quick bite on their way to class, without letting their meal swipes go to waste.

It’s important to eat as many meals as possible from your meal plan since you’ve already paid for them!

Making Use of the Alternatives

Alternatively, most meal plans offer Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can be used anywhere on campus such as cafes, restaurants at Purdue Memorial Union, some food trucks, and the markets, to name a few. I would save on my snacks, milk and other personal necessities by using my dining dollars at on-campus markets like 3rd Street Market and Tarkington Market. Plus Dining Dollars save on these items compared to other payment methods!

Microwave and Mini-Fridge

Not every student needs a microwave or fridge in their room. For me, however, that was a necessity. During my freshman year, my roommate and I decided to rent out a mini-fridge and microwave so we wouldn’t have the hassle of moving it out at the end of the year, or splitting it up.

I realized later how investing in a microwave and fridge at the start of college was a much better choice than renting it out. Renting it for a year is just slightly cheaper than buying a new one for the first time; but in the long run, it’s actually more expensive!

Saving on Dorm Room Essentials

Another way to help save money while living in the Residence Halls is by limiting the number of things you have in your room. Coming to college for the first time can be very overwhelming, and students aren’t too sure what they will and will not need in their dorm room. Buying too many “dorm room essentials” is one of the most common mistakes a freshman can make. I’ve made this mistake too!

I bought myself a night lamp for late-night cramming sessions while my roommate was asleep; however, I never even used it because the desks provided in the dorms have a tube-light for that. Even though many “college check-lists” say this is essential, Purdue students living in the residence halls can take advantage of the one on their desk.

Most residence halls offer cleaning supplies that the residents can use to clean their room, such as a vacuum or mop, so a student could benefit from the offered cleaning supplies instead of purchasing them. I took advantage of them and never had an issue with availability or functionality.

Purdue’s Residence Halls offer Wi-Fi in the rooms! Students do not need to worry about getting their own router. The rooms also offer Ethernet cables for students! There are a lot of computer labs and printers (color printers too) available all over campus, including in each residence hall, so students can save on printer, ink and paper too. A small part of the students’ tuition is put towards printing so utilizing the university printers is a great option.

If you’re living in an apartment, don’t feel like you have to have it outfitted like your family home! You’ll only need the bare essentials and if you can find them on the cheap you’re even further ahead.

Pull out the Student ID

Don’t forget to use your Student ID to it’s fullest extent. Pull it out for free use of the city buses, paying for your meals, access to your residence hall, and all of those discounts!

You never know what places might offer free deals just for flashing your student ID card!

Whether you live on or off-campus, you can make use of the options offered to help reduce daily expenses. It all comes down to the your choices and preferences.

Do you have any tips on saving money while living in the residence halls? Share them in the comments below!

City Bus, Free for Students!

25 Jul

http://www.purdue.edu/mymoney

Lafayette CitBus

Don’t want to bother with biking? Is it too far or just too cold to walk? Say hello to City Bus, the Greater Lafayette area bus system. This bus system is free for all Purdue students. All you need is your Purdue ID and you’re good to go.

The buses have different colored names with a sign at the top of the bus and a colored route on the bus map matching the name to help you determine if that’s the bus you want. Even though you’ll mainly just use the campus and regular loops in West Lafayette, this is not the limit of your map!

You can take the bus to Lafayette as well. And if you’re out late at night, there’s no need to fear, there are actually two campus loops that run really late at night so you can take the bus home (or back to your car) when it gets dark.

students catching the bus

Catching the bus is easy. Just figure out which stop you need to get you where you want to go, stand at the sign, and when you see your bus approaching stick out your arm so the driver sees you. The bus will stop for you and you can be on your way!

We all have those days where we are running a bit late, but that is alright! There are several ways to see when your bus is coming and when to be at the stop:

Text: There is a bus stop ID on the signs. You just need to text RT4 followed by the bus stop ID and Route to 41411. They will send you the next three departure times via text.

Double Map: Like the Marauder’s Map in Harry Potter, double map lets you see a bus’s location in real time. You can use this through the CityBus website or download the Double Map app on your smartphone.

MyRide: This smartphone friendly search allows you to enter in the bus stop number or street names to access information on your bus’s arrival time.

There are some stops where pulling the ‘stop’ wire just isn’t needed. So you don’t have to hear that annoying ring, the Ross-Ade bus always stops at the top of the hill for the parking lot. The Silver Loop bus almost always stops at Class of 1950. It’s like magic! All buses will stop at the transfer station across the bridge in Lafayette too.

Nervous about taking the bus for the first time? Here’s a wonderfully cheesy video that helps demystify how it all works!


So the next time you’re in for an adventure (or quick, free transportation), try out City Bus. It’s much easier to use than you’d think!

 

What’s a Purdue ID Good For?

20 Jul

example Purdue student IDWhat is your Purdue ID good for?

It’s your personal identification number, it’s how you get into your residence hall, it’s your meal ticket if you have a meal plan, it’s your verification when turning in an exam, it’s what offices require to see your student account information, and it’s how you ride the bus for free.

Not to be dramatic, but you can hardly without your Purdue ID! Although memorizing the number is highly recommended, there are other reasons to carry around the card with you.

Housing:

If you live in the residence halls, this is how you swipe into your building, and potentially even the wing you live on.

Meal Plan: 

If you have a meal plan, this is how you swipe into the dining courts. Each swipe counts as a meal. Some dining courts offer premium “double swipe” meals, like steak or other higher quality options. Double swipe meals count as two MEALS, so be careful how often you partake!

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On-the-Go! uses swipes in a similar fashion. On-the-GO! is your carry-out option for dining. Located adjacent to Earhart, Ford, and Windsor Dining Courts, On-the-GO! provides a variety of hot and cold sandwiches, salads and snack items. Signs are posted in the On-the-Go! locations stating much each item is worth. You add up all the items until it totals one meal swipe.

Dining Dollars: Dining Dollars are additional meal swipes on top of the meal plan that can be used. These are used more for eating out or in the mini marts around campus. Cary Knight Spot and Harrison Grillé are restaurants on campus that accept student’s Dining Dollars. Restaurants in the Union also accept Dining Dollars. Dining Dollars can purchase other items besides food though. Mini marts also accept Dining Dollars, and while they have food items, school supplies, shampoo, etc. It’s similar to a small convenience store.

If you have any questions on how meal swipes, dining dollars, and BoilerExpress work, be sure to check out this article from Purdue Dining and Catering.

Boiler Express:

Boiler Express is like a pre-paid debit card. Please note: Boiler Express must be set up separately, I repeat Boiler Express is separate and your refund does not automatically go into a Boiler Express Card. Boiler Express can be used at the same places as Dining Dollars. It can also be used in the laundry facilities. Each residence hall has a laundry room and you can swipe your Purdue ID to use your Boiler Express funds instead of quarters. They do offer a discounted price if you use Boiler Express instead of quarters! Click here, for more information regarding this program.

Discounts and Freebies:

You can ride the bus for free with your Purdue ID card. Did you also know that many places offer discounts to students? Not sure how the bus system works? Check out this article.

You never know, flashing your Purdue ID might give you the unexpected, but oh-so coveted discount. So be sure to show it any time you make a purchase around town. Also, many Purdue-sponsored functions (Convocations, Union activities, sporting events, or even resident hall activities) often offer discounts to students which is a good reason to keep your ID on you to verify that you are a student.

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Is Having a Car in College Worth It?

1 Jun

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

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