Monthly Archives: June 2010

Understand Student Loans and Which is Right for You

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With the economy still struggling, annual tuition increases, and more and more students seeking a college education, taking student loans is becoming a greater reality than ever before. The path to obtaining student loans and other financial assistance for college can be a confusing, twisted maze that can be frustrating and defeating. We can help put you on the straight and narrow toward getting your loans by clarifying the different types of student loans and the best way to get them.

Federal Student Loans

Federal student loans have guaranteed lower interest rates than a private lender and there are no credit checks or collateral required. There are a number of deferment, repayment and consolidation options available after graduation. Subsidized loans will provider a lower interest rate than a Stafford loan.

There are three types of federal student loans that you could be eligible for:

1. FFELP – Federal Family Education Loan Program, which is approved by the government and provided by a privatelender.

2. FDSLP – Federal Direct Student Loan Program is approved and provided by the government.

3. Perkins Loan – This is the best choice for students with the most financial need. This school-based loan places the school in the position of lender. Even better, it comes with an incredibly low interest rate and there are no origination or default fees.

Applying for a federal student loan requires completion of the FAFSA, or Federal Application for Student Aid.

Private Student Loans

These aren’t typically a first choice for parents or students, but rather a back-up plan when other loan options don’t fulfill financial need. These loans are provided by private lenders like banks or credit unions. Completion of the FAFSA is not necessary; instead you’ll complete a traditional loan application and your credit score will be reviewed to determine approval. Interest rates and fees will be based on your credit score.

Parent Loans

These loans do not originate with your mom and dad, but rather lenders provide a loan to the parents of college students to help pay tuition and related fees. Known as the PLUS loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students), parents maybe borrow money to cover additional school-related costs. Eligibility is based upon a credit check and it has fixed interest rates that are not need-based.

Graduate and professional students can also apply for a PLUS loan by submitting the FAFSA (not a requirement for parents); although both will have to sign a master promissory note.

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Diana’s Top 5 Summer Reading List

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Written by Diana F, staff contributing writer

Summer is approaching and as a self-proclaimed bookworm who loves to read, here is my top 5 summer reading list for you. My list covers a mix of titles for recent grads, self-improvement seekers and those who just want to relax.

I hope you enjoy my list. Leave a comment and let me know what you think after reading them. Happy reading!


1. StrengthsFinder – Discover your strengths

This book focuses on identifying your top strengths and gives you perspective on how to use and improve those strengths. If you are someone who is all about self-improvement and wants to understand how to use your strengths in career growth or team environments this is a great book.

2. Raising the Bar: Integrity and Passion in Life and Business: The Story of Clif Bar & Co.

A great read for students and recent graduates who are looking for a job. An amazing story about the growth and commitment of a company. If you aren’t a fan of Clif Bar – they make Luna bars too!, you will be after reading this book. I suggest you note what corporate values you appreciate the most about Clif Bar and create a list of these to include in your job search criteria.

3. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

The first of a murder-mystery trilogy, this page turner that kept me up well past my bedtime on a school night. You will simply not want to put this down until it is done. I am now on the second book and simply can’t get enough.

4. The Monster at the End of This Book

As a mom of a 19 month old, I love that I get to re-live my childhood by reading one of my favorite books to my son. This book is a nice reminder that regardless of what scary monsters and unknowns appear to be on the horizon, I need to continue to plug away and be pleasantly surprised with the outcomes. Plus, Grover rocks!

5. Bel Canto

Every time I go to clean out my bookcase I pause on this book and smile. Despite reading it a few times, I simply can’t bear to part with it. It is a great story that evolves enemies into friends, into much more.

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Picture Yourself With a Higher Degree

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The following post is from the blog

Why It Pays To Earn A Higher Degree [INFOGRAPHIC]

It’s no secret that school is hard. It takes a lot of time, effort, and sacrifices. But does it pay off? An infographic based on statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics says…it does.

As you can see from the infographic (below) by US College Search, the higher degree-holders not only have higher-paying jobs but they also have a lower unemployment rate. That means it’s worth taking night school towards that next degree even if its just for increased job security. Just how much money does a higher degree earn you? Take a look at the bottom left figures. Those dollar amounts are the median weekly earnings (from 2008) and show a substantial increase when you multiply those figures 52 times (the number of weeks in a year). Want to see this infographic a bit bigger? Click the image to enlarge.

Still not convinced? Let us know if you think it’s really worthwhile to spend the time and effort in getting a higher degree. Think it’s too expensive? Check out the Harvard Extension School to see how you can get a Harvard Master’s Degree for a reasonable price. Let us know what you think by tweeting us with @edudemic in the tweet!

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Summer School Positives

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School’s out for summer…or not. A recent poll of our Facebook fans showed that many students choose to take at least one class during summer. It’s not the most relaxing thing to do over break, but the benefits you reap are a good reason to keep those pencils sharpened.

Most schools offer multiple summer sessions, too, so if you’re not already registered for a class, it’s not too late.  Check out our quick and dirty list of why summer school is a good thing, it just might send you class shopping:

  1. If you’re able to take classes at a school other than your own, there’s a good chance your letter grade will be converted to a pass or fail grade once you transfer your credit.  Although this keeps you from boosting your GPA by attending an easier college, it also gives you the freedom to slack off a bit.  Just think of how much less stressful it is to focus on getting a C rather than going for an A!
  2. If your school allows you to transfer credits, you can take a summer class at a school that costs less money. Community colleges in particular are known for their low price per class unit.  Classes are so cheap that often times buying the textbook costs more than the class- another good reason for you to rent textbooks.
  3. Some classes are only offered in summer or are so popular during the regular school year that you can’t get in.  Taking a class like this, or one that’s notoriously difficult, during summer helps you manage your regular schedule better and keeps you sharp for when you start back in fall.  Summer courses are also known to have a higher professor-student ratio, so you’ll get more interaction with your teacher and classmates.

Last, but not least, is the fact that taking summer school will help you graduate faster, and who doesn’t want that? That’s when school will really be out for summer.

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Shopping for Graduate School Programs

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The below post is from guest blogger Lynn O’Shaughnessy, a college consultant and speaker. Lynn is the author of The College Solution and a new eBook, Shrinking the Cost of College: 152 Ways to Cut the Price of a Bachelor’s Degree. She write college blogs for TheCollegeSolutionBlog and for CBSMoneyWatch.

Graduate School Programs? Shopping for the Right One

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How do you shop for graduate school programs?

With the economy still floundering, more Americans are considering attending graduate school. But how do you find the best ones?

Writing in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Thomas A. Benton, an English professor at Hope College made a stab at answering that question. He observed that the  universities receiving the highest graduate school rankings aren’t always the best places to earn a graduate degree – at least in the humanities.

The graduate schools and programs that receive the highest rankings don’t always deliver when graduates are looking for jobs. The elite research universities prepare their graduates to teach at other research universities, but most teaching jobs are at non-elite colleges.

Hiring committees at the schools lower on the food chain, however, can be suspicious of candidates from top-ranked graduate school programs. They suspect that these graduates will leave as soon as possible.

So how do you evaluate a graduate program without looking at the dubious rankings? Here are some of the questions that Benton says future graduate students should ask:

  1. What kind of financial support can a student expect to receive during the entire course of the program?
  2. How much educational debt do graduates leave with?
  3. How many discussion sections and courses are graduate students required to teach in order to receive a stipend each year?
  4. What is the average annual teaching load for graduate students?
  5. How many years does it typically take to graduate?
  6. How long are graduates on the academic job market?
  7. Where is every graduate employed in academe and in what positions: tenure track, visiting, adjunct?
  8. Where are graduates working, if not in academe?
  9. Does the program lead to appealing career paths outside of academe?
  10. What percentage of students earn doctorates?
  11. How many earn master’s degrees?
  12. What reason do students drop out?

If you’re considering graduate school, this is a great list of questions to start off your search. And whatever you do, don’t believe the rankings hype.

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