Usually, students in college have little experience with credit cards. They don’t have much of a credit history, but they can use student credit cards to build positive credit history while they are in school. Finding credit cards that report to the credit reporting bureaus and making on-time payments can set you up for when you graduate. Here are a few of the best options out there.
According to the DC think tank Bipartisan Policy Center, student loan debt has increased dramatically since 2007. In fact, more than 45 million people owe around $1.7 trillion in debt, and the likelihood of default is increasing. If this happens, the federal government is left on the hook. It is important to understand this crisis and how it impacts people, as well as how it can be repaired.
Greater Access to Student Loans
When more people have access to student loans, more people can get a college education. However, colleges and universities are aware of it and can raise their tuition. People aren’t likely to walk away from an overly expensive school because they can get the money to pay for it. The interest is the same for all students, no matter what their credit rating is, and these loans aren’t given based on an ability to repay.
State Support Has Declined
One of the reasons why student loan debt has increased is that state support for tuition and room and board has been declining for years. When there isn’t an option of grant money or other state assistance, students have little choice beyond borrowing the money. This has also led to an increase in student loan debt.
It’s Easy to Get a PLUS Loan
PLUS loans for undergraduate and graduate programs aren’t based on an ability to repay; they are based on the cost of tuition. These loans are available to parents who want to pay the tuition and other school costs. They have a higher interest rate than other federal loans, and they are too expensive for some to repay.
No Restrictions for Low-Quality Institutions
Unfortunately, poor-quality schools that are under performing have access to these loans. The problem is that if students are getting a subpar education, they will have a harder time getting a job. Then they will have a higher likelihood of defaulting on the loan. Institutional accountability could make a difference.
The bottom line is that the students and their parents need to assess the loan, its value, and their ability to repay.
Since the mid-1990s the Internet has had a resounding impact on the way parents and students obtain knowledge about planning post high school education. It’s also been a valuable resource for college admission counselors and the colleges themselves.
It’s possible today, to visit colleges thousands of miles away without ever leaving the comfort of your own home. Do you want to know what the entrance requirements are for a given college, don’t despair, with a quick Google search, your can have the information right at your fingertips. Do you want to apply to a college? No worries. You can download the college application in a matter of seconds. What if you want to apply to more than one college? Presto, open up the Common Application and you’re able to apply to hundreds of schools with a simple click of the submit button.
If searching, visiting and applying to colleges online isn’t enough to keep you busy for hours and hours on the Internet, I am happy to tell you that there’s more. Without even breaking a sweat, you can find Podcast, Blogs, Social Media Sources, Financial Aid and Scholarship information all pertinent to the college admissions process. But wait, there’s more! You can even find SAT and ACT test preparation courses on line. Some are even free. And, after you’ve studied to do the best you can on those standardized college entrance exams, you’ll want to search for all that free money out there via a private scholarship search. Yes, there’s free money out there to help pay for you to go to college. So, stop reading this blog now, go open a web browser and start surfing the worldwide web.
Though both the SAT and the ACT help colleges assess your academic accomplishments, the two tests are structured a bit differently from each other. The ACT measures scholastic proficiency in English, mathematics, reading, and science, while the SAT focuses on logic and reasoning in math, critical reading and writing tests. The ACT has an optional essay question, whereas the SAT has a mandatory essay question.
As expected, the tests have their own scoring methods. The ACT awards up to 36 points for a given section and the SAT awards points up to 800 per section. The SAT also subtracts partial points for incorrect answers, and the ACT does not.
Whether a student'’s standardized test score is considered good will depend on the caliber of schools that he or she applies to. A good overall score at one school may not even be in the middle fifty percentile of the incoming freshman class at another school. It's a good idea to research the scores at the colleges you're interested in attending to determine whether or not you need to up your scores. Refer to the resources tab of this website for links to free online and fee based SAT/ACT study prep courses.
The SAT is given seven times each year and is typically held on a Saturday morning. All students set on taking the SAT must register with The College Board. Registration for the SAT can be done online at www.collegeboard.com.
The upcoming SAT test dates are as follows:
• January 24th, 2015
• March 14th, 2015
• May 2nd, 2015
• June 6th, 2015
Depending on the state, the ACT Test is given about six times a year, also on a Saturday morning. In order to register, it is recommended to create an ACT student account online through the official ACT Web site. This site allows students to select a test time, test center, and pay for exam fees with a credit card.
The upcoming ACT test dates are as follows:
• February 7, 2015
• April 18, 2015
• June 13, 2015
Colleges will accept either the SAT or ACT. So which should you take? It’s really all about the numbers. The majority of students will score higher on one exam. In lieu of a crystal ball, Ivy League Wealth Strategies offers a SAT/ACT diagnostic exam & report. A test designed to help you determine which test is better fit with your abilities.
The SAT/ACT Diagnostic
• Identifies whether you’re stronger on the SAT or the ACT
• Gives you first-hand experience on both exams
• Is the first step to successful prep
The SAT/ACT Analytics Report
• Provides side-by-side comparison of SAT and ACT performance
• Pinpoints the topics and concepts that need attention
• Helps to create a road map for excelling on the actual exams
Contact Ivy League College Planning Strategies, Inc. for additional information or to schedule your diagnostic exam.
Adjusting To College Life.
Nearly every college freshman encounters a few surprises as they adjust to college life. Understanding the most common challenges can make the transition to college life go more smoothly for both students and their parents. Some common freshmen challenges include:
Academics. Even strong students can be blind-sided by college academics. Classes are often more demanding than high school classes, and may require new skills and approaches. Unlike high school teachers, college professors won’t check that you’re keeping up with the workload. How to cope: The course syllabus is your best friend; before each class, make sure you’ve completed the reading for that day. Don’t skip classes! If you’re struggling with the course work, get help earlier, rather than later. For parents: If your child seems to be struggling, suggest that he or she talk to the professor during office hours. The college’s tutoring and writing centers can also help students ad-just to the academic demands of college.
Time management. In college, how you spend your time is up to you. That sounds great, until you realize just how hard it can be to balance studying, socializing, and juggling new responsibilities like a job or doing your own laundry. How to cope: Your first three priorities should always be attending classes, study time (allow three hours for every hour you’re in class), and taking care of your health (i.e., sleeping, eating, and exercising). Get a personal planner and block out time for those priorities first, then figure out how much time you have left over for socializing. For parents: Making mistakes man-aging time is part of the college learning experience.
New people. Most freshmen look forward to meeting new people in college, but being surrounded by strangers can also take some adjustment. New friends may have different ideas about behavior and relationships than your family and friends back home. Rooming with a stranger (or strangers) can also be a challenge. How to cope: The first few weeks of college are usually a social whirlwind. Remember that strong friendships need time to develop. Roommates don’t always end up being best friends; try to talk out any issues that crop up with your roommate as soon as possible. For parents: Before your child leaves for college, discuss how to stay safe on campus, and where to get help should they encounter challenges.
Homesickness. No matter how excited you are about college, it’s normal to have moments where you miss home, your family, or your friends. Adjusting to a new environment and being surrounded by new people can feel overwhelming at times and make you long for familiarity. How to handle it: When homesickness hits, don’t panic. A phone call to family or friends can help, as can talking to others in your dorm or classes. Chances are you’re not the only person feeling home-sick. For parents: Freshmen homesickness usually passes quickly. The best way to help is to be there to listen and suggest ways that your child can connect with others on campus.
Michael Rappa Rocklin CA
That fact that billions of scholarships go unawarded every year may be more myth than fact. However, thanks to the power of the Internet, finding outside private scholarships and college-based merit scholarships has never been easier.
If you're a family with a demonstrated financial aid need, meaning that your expected family contribution (EFC) is less than the cost of attendance (COA), most of the free money you receive to fill the gap between what your family can supposedly afford to pay for college and the cost to attend, will come from the federal and state government, in the way of grants and loans.
But, I can hear you asking, what are the evil one per centers to do? Your family makes too much money to qualify for need-based financial aid. For example, perhaps you're the son or daughter of public college employee. Public colleges regularly pay their employees hundreds of thousands of dollars a year. Before being fired after the 2012 season, the best-paid University of California employee was Jeff Tedford, with a salary of $3 million a year coaching football at Cal Berkeley. Practically every single Top 25 head coach in football and basketball makes multiple-six figures. However, these high salaries aren’t limited to head coaches. The UC’s last President earned $900,000 and UCSF’s Chancellor; Susan Desmond-Hellman reportedly made $450,000. Gee, I wonder why college is so expensive! If this scenario describes your family, don’t despair. I am here to help you find free money for college.
The best source of free money for “full pays” is going to come from the colleges and universities themselves. Excluding the Ivy League colleges and a handful of other elite colleges who don’t award merit money to students from wealthy families, these colleges have sources of funds outside of the federal and state governments to award students they want to attract to their school. It’s not unusual for these colleges to award merit-based scholarships and institutional aid in the tens of thousands of dollars per school year. You’re also more likely to find that there is a lot more money available from the private colleges than the public colleges because they’re more expensive and there’s a bigger gap to fill. These private colleges also want to be competitive with the lesser-priced colleges and will do what’s necessary to fill seats.
To save you an enormous amount of time and to share with you just how easy it can be to find college-based merit scholarships, I am going to share with you my favorite websites, www.collegetreasure.com. Using College Treasure.com is one of the quickest and easiest ways to find merit based scholarships and academic scholarships for college! Simply use their quick search and enter in your SAT score, your GPA, and the states where you want to go to school, and then you will have a list of colleges where you are eligible for merit based scholarships.
Do you still need money for college? If you do, the next place to turn is to outside private scholarships. Be forewarned, the amount of money available from outside scholarships is actually quite small. Don't waste your money on the private scholarship searches that you get through the mail, it's not something you should spend your time, or money, or energy on. To begin your search for private scholarships, I recommend you check out the following websites.
College Answer Scholarship Database
The College Answer database is one of the elder statesmen of the scholarship database world. In fact, several individuals who worked on the development of this database were later involved with some of the other databases. This particular database uses a matching system to help you locate appropriate scholarships. Filling out the required questionnaire takes about 20-25 minutes and involves quite a few pull-down menus and browser reloads to get at the exact numerical codes used for matching.
College Board Scholarship Database
Created by the College Board (the same folks who administer all those standardized tests), the scholarship listings in this database are based on the College Board’s Annual Survey of Financial Aid Programs. The online version of this database is drawn from a portion of ExPAN, a guidance software product sold directly to schools. The free online database includes fewer scholarship listings than many of the other scholarship databases profiled here, and the search mechanism is fairly simple and straightforward, making it quick and easy to use. The database is updated only annually, with the information contained in the online version lagging one year behind the College Board’s printed directory.
Fastweb Scholarship Database
Fastweb is easily the most “commercial” of the scholarship database websites, with consumer product offers interwoven into its scholarship results lists. The database features an easy-to-use interface, a personal user mailbox, and a regular stream of e-mail that advises the user of “new” awards (even though these are more likely awards that have been previously withheld). Because Fastweb is one of the better known scholarship websites, the database benefits from the fact that certain scholarship administrators and sponsors take the initiative to send the latest information on their scholarships directly to Fastweb. The questionnaire used for scholarship matching is one of the lengthier ones—on the order of 20 minutes or more to fill out.
College-based merit scholarships have an advantage over private scholarships in that they are often renewable for all 4 years, assuming the student meets the GPA requirements. Whereas, an outside private scholarships will need to me won each and every year. Additionally, if you do happened to be a family with a demonstrated financial aid need, the outside source of funds would most likely be counted as a dollar for dollar reduction against any free money that the college was going to give you. My advice to you is to spend those hours studying and preparing for the SAT and or ACT tests, and not searching for those outside scholarships. Increasing your scores on either of those two standardized tests will not only increase your chances of getting accepted to the college of your choice, but possibly increase the amount of merit money you receive from the college by hundreds, if not thousands of dollars per year.
Michael Rappa Rocklin CA
Have you ever wanted to visit a college campus but found that you just couldn’t find the time to get away, or couldn't afford to pack up you bags and travel the hundreds of miles to your destination? Especially, when you don’t even know whether or not you’ll even be accepted. Is it really worth the trip? Fortunately, for all of you current college bound students there are plenty of ways to visit a college campus today without ever leaving home. You do however have to travel over to your computer and open up a web browser. For fun, you can pretend that you’re actually on an airplane flying to your destination. If you try this, I’d recommend that you grab a small bag of peanuts in tear resistant packaging before sitting down to surf the web. You might need a little snake.
No website will be able to replace an actual campus visit with boots on the ground, but a great place to start exploring college campuses is at the CampusTours website. www.campustours.com/. CampusTours was founded in 1997 as a way for students to take virtual tours of colleges and universities. This is a very easy website to navigate and you’ll find an enormous amount of valuable information. Be sure to take notes on the colleges visited.
eCampusTours.com at www.ecampustours.com/default.aspx, is another helpful website for getting a feel for a college without actually leaving home. eCampusTours.com is a free college planning website offering virtual college tours with 360° x 360° views of over 1300 different schools.
While a simple Google search for “College Tours” will turn up over 37,000,000 results, I’d like to save you a little time by encouraging your to begin your journey with the two websites listed above. Have a safe trip and I am looking forward to receiving your post card.
Have you ever wanted to visit a college campus but found that you just couldn’t find the time to get away or afford to pack up you bags and travel the hundreds of miles to your destination? Especially, when you don’t even know whether or not you’ll eve be accepted. Fortunately, for all of you current college bound students there are plenty of ways to visit a college campus today without ever leaving home. You do however have to travel over to your computer and open up a web browser. For fun, you can pretend that you’re actually on an air plan flying to your destination. If you try this, I’d recommend that you grab a small bag of peanuts in tear resistant packaging before sitting down to surf the web.
No website will be able to replace an actual campus visit with boots on the ground, but a great place to start exploring college campus is at the CampusTours website. http://www.campustours.com/. CampusTours was founded in 1997 as a way for students to take virtual tours of colleges and universities. This is a very easy website to navigate and you’ll find an enormous amount of valuable information. Be sure to take notes on the colleges visited.
eCampusTours.com, http://www.ecampustours.com/default.aspx is another helpful website for getting a feel for a college without actually leaving home. eCampusTours.com is a free college planning website offering virtual college tours with 360° x 360° views of over 1300 different schools.
While a simple Google search for “College Tours” will turn up over 37,000,000 results, I’d like to save you a little time by encouraging your to begin your journey with the two websites listed here. Have a safe trip and I am looking forward to receiving your post card.
Have you ever considered using social media to explore your colleges of interest? If you haven’t, I’d encourage you to do so. Using social media, whether that consists of reading student blogs to see what social life, news, and events are like on campus, or tweeting the news of your recent campus visit, these can all be extremely beneficial in learning more about the college. It can also be a great way to connect with other students interested in attending the same college.
While some universities will have a stronger social media presence than others, many universities a doing smart, innovative, and interesting things via social media to reach out to students. While social media platforms such as those mentioned previously and others such as Facebook, can give you a sense of what life would be like as a student at a particular college, don’t forget to check out the colleges own website. College websites are still the best source of information on academics, cost, admission deadlines, and news and events.
YouTube can also be a great source of information about the college you’re considering. Many colleges produce their own YouTube videos that can be not only informative but also entertaining.
Overall, taking advantage of the various social media platforms available to you can give you the opportunity to connect with the college community and help you become better informed before you make a final college admission decision.
Well, should you? Perhaps a better question is should I be including podcasts as part of my overall digital marketing strategy? I am glad you asked! Before spending all of my free time and energy towards becoming a college planner podcaster shock jock, I thought I’d do a little research into whether or not people even listen to podcast. Drum roll please… my research concluded that yes, people do. The percentage of Americans who have ever watched or listened to a podcast is 45%, up from 43% one year ago. According to a recent Edison Research Study on the Podcast Consumer, (http://www.edisonresearch.com/the-podcast-consumer-2012/) awareness of Podcasting has grown 105% since 2006 from 22% in 2006 to 45% in 2012. Likewise, the percentage of consumers indicating they have listened to an audio podcast has grown 163% from 11% in 2006 to 29% in 2012.
Podcasting attracts people who want the ability to choose their own content with the ability to listen to the topics that are of special interest to them. Many people also like the convenience of downloading podcast to their iPods or personal music players. This provides them with the flexibility to listen to their podcasts throughout the day. Personally, I find this feature particular appealing as I can listen to an episode or two while I am working out at the gym, or commuting to and from the office. I’d much rather listen to a podcast on a topic that I am interested in learning more about, then tuning in to commercial radio. This gives me the ability to turn my car into a university on wheels.
From a marketing standpoint, my research also turned up that podcasts have a longer shelf life than blog posts. Furthermore, that podcasts can expose new audiences to your company and consequently provide an opportunity to reach new buyers.
I was surprised to learn that virtually anyone with a computer and recording capabilities can create his or her own podcast. Consequently, with such ease and affordability, I believe the independent college planner should consider adding podcasts to their overall list of informational services offered. Podcasting is an easy yet powerful way to communicate one’s message to anyone with an Internet connection looking for specific information. My final conclusion is that I’ll be developing a podcast soon.
Michael Rappa is a nationally recognized college-funding expert, and a Certified College Planning Specialist (CCPS) through the National Institute of Certified College Planners (NICCP). He is the president and founder of Ivy League Wealth Strategies, a fee based full service college and financial consulting firm covering all aspects of the college application and funding process. Since starting his local college funding practice, he has helped hundreds of parents send their children to college without spending their life’s savings or jeopardizing other important financial goals like a secure retirement. He is a firm believer that any parent, regardless of their background or financial circumstances, can send their child to college if they know how to play the financial aid game properly.