4 Ways to Pay for College

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A college education is worth the investment, but paying for college may be the reason why many individuals do not attend. By no means is it cheap, but that does not make it any less important. There are many ways in which you can pay for college without that dreaded, overwhelming feeling of looming debt.

1. Always Apply for Financial Aid (even if you think you do not qualify)

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Financial Aid (FAFSA) is a helpful funding program to assist students in paying for many college expenses. Luckily, many students do qualify. The online application doesn’t take too much time to complete and it’s free.

2. Apply for Grants

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Grants are a great way to help pay for college. This is aid the does not need to be repaid and is often based on one’s financial need. You can apply for grants from the federal and state government.

3. Apply for Scholarships

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Scholarships are a bit different than grants. Grants are need based assistance and scholarships are merit based assistance. That means it’s awarded when an achievement is met. Your college of choice will have access to all scholarships offered.

4. Work While in School to Help Cover the Costs

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Working while earning your degree is a great way to help pay for small college expenses. Ecampus.com has great, affordable rates on textbooks or other items needed. If loans have been taken out, many times you can pay the interest while attending school.

If paying for college is still too much of a burden, the next best thing would be to attend a local community college. That would offset the cost at a much cheaper rate until graduation. Then complete your degree at a four year institution. Staying at home can also help, as you wouldn’t need to pay for room and board.

Saving Money During the School Year: Tips and Tricks!

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1. Get a job over the summer to save up some extra cash!   Even a part time summer job can save you a decent amount of money for the school year and anything helps.  This can be your spending money for your time at school!

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2. Stock up on essentials before you leave for school.  Go to places like Walmart and Target for your shampoo, soap, other toiletries, and cleaning supplies.  Or try wholesale stores like Costco and BJ’s—buying in bulk will save you money in the long run and you won’t have to worry about buying those things when you’re at school.

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3. Right before heading off to school, figure out exactly how much money you have saved up so you can plan out your budget.  Then, set a weekly or monthly budget for yourself and stick to it!

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4. If you have a meal plan, take advantage of it!  Limit yourself to only going out to eat or ordering in a couple times a week so your cash doesn’t disappear too quickly.  Going out to eat too often will start to add up so be careful!

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5. Live off campus.  Room and board is often very expensive and living off campus can save a lot of money.  Splitting rent and groceries with roommates will be cheaper in the long run.

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6. Buy or rent textbooks online (www.eCampus.com is a great option!)  The books at your school’s bookstore will set you back a lot of money and the amount of money you can save buying or renting online is astronomical!  Do some research and find your cheapest option.

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7. If you need furniture, kitchen supplies, or other apartment essentials, ask family and friends if they have anything they’re not using or plan on getting rid of to save some money.  Once you’ve done that, see what else you need and go shopping online or at discount/budget friendly stores.  You don’t need to splurge on your college apartment!

Is College Worth It?

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Some say college may not be for everyone, but it’s certainly worth your time and money. Granted, the rising cost of tuition and other college expenses isn’t cheap, but there are far more benefits to earning a degree than not. Not only will there be a greater increase in economic mobility after graduation, but college is also perfect for meeting new people, networking and landing that dream job.

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Statistically, those who graduate with at least a bachelor’s degree made  98 percent more  than those who only had a high school diploma. Those are some good odds! One study also found that those who finished at a four year institution were expected to earn 1.2 million more than those who didn’t.

The advantages of college doesn’t just stop at higher pay grades. It has overall life benefits as well. They are said to be happier and healthier due to better access to healthcare and the ability for more leisure activities.

If paying for college is an issue, there are many avenues you can take to make the situation less of a burden. There are a whole range of scholarships offered to incoming freshman based on what you are majoring in or your age. Checking the colleges’ webpage will give you a better understanding of what is being offered.  Another route is through loans that can be found with low interest and financial aid. If you are working during the school year, many loan companies will allow you to pay the interest on the loan; cutting the price upon graduation.

In the end, college is an investment and with all investments, there are possible risks. But what can be more important than an investment in yourself?

Advice for Every Year of College

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It’s officially August! We all know what that means: classes will be starting before we know it. No matter what year of college you’re entering this fall, keep these little tokens of advice in mind.

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Freshmen: Welcome! I am so excited for you. Even if you loved high school, try not to hang on to it too much. Also, get to know your professors and advisors! They are only there to help and want to see you succeed. Finally, don’t be afraid to try new things. This is the best time!

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Sophomores: So you’ve got a year under your belt and you’re not so new around campus anymore. Approach each opportunity with the same enthusiasm that you did as a freshman. Use this year to get a few internships under your belt or study abroad before you have to start taking your upper level classes.

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Juniors: The past two years flew by super fast and the next two will fly just as fast so don’t miss a minute of it. Classes are going to get harder this year and you’ll get incredibly sick of people asking you about grad school. Hang in there.

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Seniors: Is it senior year already?! Make sure you’re keeping your GPA up even though senioritis is surely kicking in. Make sure your resume is in tip top shape for the job search that is quickly approaching. Some companies will even hire you before you graduate. Wouldn’t it be nice to walk across the stage with a diploma and a job waiting for you?

 What advice would you pass on to incoming students? Share your advice in the comments below!

5 Important Skills to Learn Before You Graduate

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There are some things you are definitely going to want to master before you finish college.  Finding a job after college is harder than ever and you want to be as prepared as possible.  You’ll likely start in an entry-level position and this list will prepare you for what lies ahead!

1. Photoshop

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The world is becoming increasingly digital.  Any company you end up working for has a website and one or more social media accounts.  Photoshop is a great skill to have in your arsenal because it will likely come in handy for a great number of future projects.  Photoshop can help you create/adjust logos, flyers, newsletters, etc.  This is an excellent skill to have on a resume because potential employers will see it as a great asset!

2. Microsoft Office

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This may seem obvious, but knowing all the ins and outs of Microsoft Office is essential.  Don’t just know how to use the basics of Word, PowerPoint, Excel, and Outlook, know how to use every feature of each program.  You’ll likely be using Microsoft Office a lot in whatever job you have and you’re going to want to know everything you can; it’ll make your professional life much easier!

3. How to Use a Copy Machine Extensively

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When you’re first starting out in your professional life, the Copier is going to be a big part of your routine.  The last thing you want is to be the person that breaks the copier or needs help using it; to avoid this, take the time to learn how to use all of the features of one of the copy machines on campus—it may not be the exact machine you will have at your future job but it is a great start.  Also look over the machine to know how to fix it when it jams and how to change the toner!

4. How to Write a Professional Email

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 This is extremely important.  In most jobs, you will be corresponding with many different people and you want to always make a good, professional impression.  Whether it is an email between you and a co-worker, you and your boss, or you and a client/affiliate of the company, you want to make sure you come across as intelligent, organized, and professional.  This is also an important skill when you are emailing with a potential employer about an interview!

5. Social Media

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Learn the ins and outs of several social media platforms.  Most companies several social media accounts, so having a lot of knowledge about Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, YouTube, etc. is really important.  Having these skills is also great for your resume.  If you notice that your company has yet to make an account for a social media platform that is or is becoming very popular, suggest that they make one and maybe even offer to create and run it for them.  This shows initiative and can lead to more opportunities and responsibilities!