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Posted April 23, 2016 by

Financial aid secrets for college students

Financial aid web browser sign concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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With graduation season looming, high school seniors throughout the country are receiving their college acceptance letters and celebrating their impending sense of freedom. At the same time, parents are studying financial aid options and scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pay for the upcoming four (or more) years.

As the costs of attending college rise, it’s important to consider scholarships, grants, and student loans to assist with the hefty fees. There are also some innovative tricks that can help reduce this cost. Here are some insights gleaned from real university financial aid employees, parents, and former college students all high school seniors and their families should know.

Use your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important financial aid document college students shouldn’t skip. Even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for any money, it’s important to fill this form out annually. This is how the federal government and schools determine what type of aid to give students. There are many subtle things that can impact the grants offered, many of which are unknown to the average person, and may change the amount a family qualifies for.

Attend class

Many universities have strict attendance and truancy policies to prevent abuse of the grants offered. If a student withdraws from a class due to non-attendance in the first few classes or consistent unexplained absences, their course load may drop below the mandatory credits needed to qualify for certain grants. If you have a scholarship or grant already, make sure you know the terms and what’s expected from your end.

Become a Resident Advisor (RA)

Aside from tuition, room and board are the most expensive costs incurred during college. With the average college student paying $8,535 a year just for a place to stay, it makes sense to try to skimp on this fee. Students who work as a Resident Advisor often wind up with free or significantly reduced room and board in exchange for their services, making this one of the most lucrative student jobs available.

Learn to cook

While Top Ramen may be students best friend those first few months, anything prepared at home is bound to be more affordable than college meal plans and eating out at restaurants. Even if a student’s cooking skills need some brushing up, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen.

Find freebies

So much of an average college student’s budget is spent on personal expenses, which often includes entertainment. Seek free options available through the university instead. Campuses are loaded with free amenities, from swimming pools and libraries to dorm dinners, guest lecture speakers, and student clubs.

Join a credit union

Since credit unions are run as cooperatives, they can afford giving customers extra perks that wind up saving them a lot of money. They typically feature lower credit card interest rates, higher interest rates paid out on savings accounts, and reduced-fee ATMs and online banking services.

While the term “starving student” has origins in truth, it doesn’t need to be a reality for all. Instead, research financial aid opportunities and spend wisely to save money and stick to a good budget throughout your academic career.

If you’re interested in more information on financial aid, please visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information on first time budgeting, see what a Bountiful Utah Credit Union might recommend. Brooke is available via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Posted April 28, 2015 by

Fun And Inexpensive Outings For Students

Mark Westerman photo

Mark Westerman, Chief Marketing Officer of CareOne, Inc.

Let’s face it, college is expensive and your part-time job only gets you so far. When it comes to hanging out with friends on the weekends, the more ways you can find to have free or inexpensive fun, the better. With that in mind, here’s a look at 10 budget-friendly activities to consider!

1. Find Free Events: Most cities host free events, so pay attention and make the most of them! Then, to keep yourself from overspending on pricey fair food or tourist trinkets, bring your own drinks and snacks, and/or try to eat before you go, says Sarah Deveau at Stretcher.com. (more…)

Posted March 24, 2015 by

First Apartment Necessities

Sarah Landrum photo

Sarah Landrum

If you’re just moving in to your first ever apartment or home of your own, you’re probably pretty psyched right now. All of that newfound independence to do what you want when you want it: what could be better than that? If you’re used to your parents picking up the groceries and other house necessities, or if your old college roommates always reminded you when you were getting low on toilet paper, being on your own might come as a bit of a shock.

There’s a lot you’re going to need to take care of on your own, so get organized. Keep one of those notepads on your fridge so you can scribble down when you’re out of eggs. Nobody likes getting back from the store only to realize they’ve forgotten something. And keep a calendar. Seriously. This will keep you on track and remind you to do all of the things on time. (more…)

Posted October 09, 2013 by

Cooking Schools- Head Off Towards a Tasty Career

Culinary students being taught how to chop vegetables in a kitchen

Culinary students being taught how to chop vegetables in a kitchen. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

If you wish to pursue a lucrative culinary arts career, getting a degree from a top-notch cooking school is a must. Securing a culinary arts degree is the best path to follow for a couple of excellent reasons. First, you will receive the expert skills required for a career in the food industry. Second, you will also be primed to secure a profitable and, yes, tasty culinary arts career position, where the competition can be very fierce. (more…)

Posted July 19, 2013 by

Interested in a New Entry Level Job and Career? 4 Questions to Answer Before Going Back to School

There is nothing wrong with going back to school, if it’s what you really want to do.  If you do desire landing a new entry level job and pursuing a different career, the following post has four questions for you to answer to determine if a return to school is worth it.

Here are three truths: One, it’s still a miserable economy, and the competition for sought-after jobs has risen to bloodsport levels of cruelty. Two, when we’re 18, most of us have a pretty lousy sense of self-knowledge and limited wisdom about what careers actually entail and how to build one. Three, grad school

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4 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Go Back to School to Change Careers

Posted May 10, 2013 by

Tips for Choosing the Right Culinary Arts College

The Culinary Institute of America in New York

The Culinary Institute of America in New York. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

People interested in pursuing a career in cooking will need to attend a culinary arts program. These programs can often be found at culinary arts colleges; however, in some instances, they may be found at vocational schools. Some people believe that real-life experience is what makes a person succeed in a culinary arts career, and while this experience is very valuable, there is no underestimating the value of a formal education. When choosing a culinary arts program to attend, it is important to keep the following in mind: (more…)