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Seven Tips for Repaying Your Student Loans

May 22, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

If you're a recent college graduate, chances are you’ll have to start paying off your student loans sooner than you think. And even with the economy in a slump, don’t expect a free pass on not paying your loans. Are you starting to panic? Well, don’t! There’s a ton of advice out there to help students stay on track and courtesy of the U.S. News and World Report, here are seven tips for repaying your student loans.

  • Repay you student loans automatically. Make things easier on yourself by setting up automatic withdrawals from your bank account. This reduces the chance of late or missing payments.
  • Aim for 10 years. The traditional repayment period for student loans is 10 years and ideally you'll be able to pay off all your debt within that time period. If you end up struggling with your monthly payments, however, you could stretch out your loans to 20 or even 30 years. Your monthly payments will become more manageable but you will end up paying a lot more in interest.
  • Stay organized. Having multiple student loans can be a challenge to keep track of but with the government's National Student Loan Data System, you’ll be able to track all your federal student loans in one place.
  • Pay off the loans with the highest interest rates first. A high interest rate costs you every month and compounds that amount you owe every month you aren’t paying off the entire balance.
  • Consider IBR. The IBR is a federal Income-Based Repayment program that allows a borrower to repay his or her federal loans based on what is affordable and not what is owed.
  • Keep abreast of student loan developments. Staying informed is just as important as making your payments. Familiarize yourself with websites that are devoted to college debt issues like Project on Student Debt and the National Consumer Law Center's Student Loan Borrower Assistance Project.
  • Contact the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman. Sometimes your relationship with a lender can go belly-up. If you end up in a dispute, the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman may be able to help resolve the issue.

Are there any tips you'd like to add? Share your suggestions in the comments section.

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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10 Elite Schools Where Middle-Class Students Don’t Pay Tuition

Apr 3, 2015

by Suada Kolovic

Despite the hefty sticker price associated with all elite institutions, estimated costs are actually quite affordable. In fact, Ivy Leaguers graduate with less debt than their peers who attended less prestigious schools. But how? It turns out that healthy endowment funds play a huge role in aiding low-income, middle-income and even upper-income students with tuition (and sometimes also room and board) costs. Check out 10 schools where some students pay little to nothing to attend:

  • Princeton University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $43,450
    Policy: Families making less than $54,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making less than $120,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Brown University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,272
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Cornell University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,880
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Columbia University

    Tuition for 2014-15: $51,108
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Duke University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,650
    Policy: Families making less than $60,000 don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Harvard University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,278
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Yale University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $47,600
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board.
  • Stanford University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $45,729
    Policy: Families making less than $65,000 a year don't pay tuition, room or board, and families making between $65,000 and $125,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • MIT University

    Tuition for 2015-16: $46,704 (includes mandatory fees)
    Policy: Families making less than $75,000 a year don't pay tuition.
  • Dartmouth College

    Tuition for 2015-16: $48,120
    Policy: Families making less than $100,000 don't pay tuition.
  • With acceptance rates hovering at less than 10 percent at many of these schools, gaining access to the funding above is fiercely competitive. Do you think it's fair for students who don’t meet the Ivies' steep admissions standards to be saddled with crippling debt or should the ones that do be rewarded with an affordable, brand-name education? Let us know what you think in the comments section. And don’t forget that even affordable college tuition can still be expensive! Try and fund your education with as much free money as possible – a great place to start is by visiting Scholarships.com and conducting a free college scholarship search, where you'll get matched with scholarships, grants and other financial aid opportunities that are unique to you!

    And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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10 Gifts College Students Will Love

Dec 23, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Newsflash: Christmas is just two days away and if you haven't found the perfect gift for that special college student in your life yet, the pressure is definitely on. And if you're looking to spread some Christmas cheer – yes, even "mature" students love presents! – check out our top picks for gifts they might actually enjoy.

  • Cash
  • GoPro
  • Wireless Bluetooth speakers
  • USB rechargeable battery
  • Fitness tracker
  • Cards Against Humanity
  • Stainless steel water bottle
  • Amazon Kindle
  • Netflix membership
  • Single-serve coffee maker

Any gifts you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And for information on finding money for college and how to properly fund you college education, check out Scholarships.com’s Financial Aid section and conduct a free scholarship search today!

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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18 Year Old Makes History in This Year’s Election

Nov 7, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With this year’s midterm elections behind us, have you ever wonder: “Man, I could do a better job than [insert disappointing political official’s name here]”? Only to realize almost immediately that crushing sense of defeat given the fact that you’re too young and inexperienced to run… or are you?

Saira Blair, an 18-year-old West Virginia University freshman, won a seat on the West Virginia House of Delegates after defeating her Democratic opponent 63 percent to 30 percent. Doing the majority of her campaigning out of her dorm room, Saira will be the youngest state lawmaker in the nation. She campaigned on a pledge to work to reduce certain taxes on businesses and holds anti-abortion and pro-gun positions. "When I made the decision to run for public office, I did so because I firmly believe that my generation's voice, fresh perspective and innovative ideas can help solve some of our state's most challenging issues," she said. Studying economics and Spanish, Blair will defer her next semester so that she can attend the legislature’s 60-day session in the spring and will resume her coursework in the fall. (For more on this story, click here.)

What do you think of an 18 year old becoming the youngest state lawmaker in the country? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And as always, don’t forget to create a free profile Scholarships.com to get matched with awards that reflect your interests and attributes.

And don't forget, you should pay for your college education with as much free money as possible! Find as many scholarships and grants as you can before turning to student loans. Visit the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today where you'll get matched with countless scholarships and grants for which you qualify, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Department of Defense Supplying College Campuses with Military-Grade Equipment

Sep 11, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Grenade Launcher? Check. M-16s? Check. Armored Vehicles? Check. No, this isn’t an artillery checklist for a high-ranking general but rather the stockpile that could be located on a college campus near you.

According to reports, at least 117 colleges have acquired equipment from the Department of Defense through a federal program that transfers military surplus to law enforcement agencies across the country. Through the 1033 program, participating colleges don’t have to buy the equipment but are responsible for the cost of delivery and maintenance. They are prohibited from reselling or leasing the gear and are required to provide updates on the location of tactical gear, like armored vehicles and weaponry. To date, at least 60 institutions have acquired M-16s through the program: Arizona State University has the most with 70 in its arsenal, followed by Florida International University and the University of Maryland with 50 M-16s each. (The University of Central Florida received a grenade launcher in 2008.) “What was once the unthinkable has become the inevitable,” said UCF’s chief of police Richard Beary. “These bad guys have plans and are heavily armed, and law enforcement needs to be able to keep up with them. In order to do that, police officers need to be highly trained, well equipped, and ready to respond to any scenario.” (For more on this story, click here.)

Participants in the program argue that it provides departments – particularly those with limited budgets like campus police forces – with necessary gear at very little cost. Meanwhile, detractors contend that the procurement of tactical gear doesn’t help with the types of crimes that occur more frequently on college campus, like alcohol-related incidents and sexual assault. What are your thoughts on having military-grade artillery on campus? Let us know in the comments section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Professor Shoots Himself in the Foot...Literally

Sep 5, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The ongoing debate to allow guns on college campuses took an awkward turn on Tuesday when a professor at Idaho State University accidentally shot himself in the foot.

The incident comes just two months after a bill was signed by Governor Butch Otter (R) allowing those with concealed carry permits to carry guns on state and college campuses. The bill – which made Idaho the seventh state to allow concealed guns on campuses – prohibits guns in dorms, arenas, stadiums or theaters. And while it is still unclear what cause the firearm to discharge, Lt. Paul Manning of the Pocatello Police Department told the Daily Beast the unnamed professor’s handgun was in the professor’s pants pocket and was not visible during class. The professor (who possesses an enhanced concealed carry permit) was treated for non-life threatening injuries and an investigation is currently underway to determine if he will be charged with a misdemeanor for discharging a firearm within city limits. “When they passed this law, it was bound to happen," ISU President Arthur Vailas told the Idaho State Journal; an opponent of the bill, he described the incident as "scary and embarrassing.” (For more on this story, click here.)

What are your thoughts on having concealed weapons on campus? Do you agree with gun advocates and the stance that more firearms would increase campus safety or do you think it would do the exact opposite? Share your thoughts in the comments section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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MIT Becomes Dopest College Yet, Offers “Credit for Reddit” Course

Aug 29, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

The average college student can easily spend the better part of their day on Reddit...where just one more link quickly turns into another sleepless night. Hey, we've all been stuck in this inescapable web before (no one’s judging!) but if you're one of the lucky students attending the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), you'll have the option to receive credit for your Reddit addiction starting next spring.

MIT researcher and admissions officer Chris Peterson, along with his co-instructor and the head of MIT Comparative Media Studies/Writing Ed Schiappa, built the course's curriculum in part with help from other Reddit users. (The post received 121 comments from users eager to contribute to the class material.) The class invites students to explore why the site works and compare it to other social media networks. According to Motherboard, Peterson explained the importance of Reddit to MIT faculty during his efforts to create the course. "Nobody disputes that something's important if it's on the front page of the New York Times," he said. "If something is on the front page of Reddit, now it matters. It tells you something about that community and what they find important." (For more on this story, click here.)

While classes rooted in popular culture are not new phenomena, what's your stance on the educational value of offering such courses? Do you think colleges are pandering to students' wants verses needs? Share your thoughts in the comments section. And don't forget to fund your own college education the right way – free! Create a profile on Scholarships.com today to find financial aid that's personalized to you!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Tech Mistakes to Avoid as an Online Student

Aug 20, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Say what you will about Generation Y but one thing's for sure, they are one tech savvy group. Armed with smartphones, laptops and tablets, they are plugged in and on the go 24/7. And yet, so many students make the same tech mistakes repeatedly. (I’m looking at you, student who hasn't saved their work once in the past hour!) Luckily, U.S. News and World Report has compiled a list of mistakes to avoid when starting school as an online student, check them out below:

  • Not backing up your data: "If I had a nickel for every time a student came to me crying to me, I wouldn’t have to teach," says Margaret Reneau, an instructor in St. Xavier University's online graduate nursing program. Reneau recommends using the online file storage service Dropbox, which offers free accounts of at least two gigabytes. Other options include regular back-ups to an external hard drive or uploading homework to cloud-based Google Docs.
  • Not asking what browser is recommended for your program and courses: Check if your browser is compatible with the learning management system that your program uses and with the technical features in your courses.
  • Not checking your email: Check your school email regularly for important announcements or forward your school emails to your personal account if that's the account you rely on.
  • Not using apps: If your school offers an app, download it. Other apps such as Evernote can help with managing class work deadlines and projects.
  • Not downloading a free reference manager: Free academic software programs like Zotero and Mendeley help students save, manage and cite research resources. This can save students a lot of time by making it easier to collect, organize and share research.

For the full list of tips, head over to U.S. News and World Report. What do you think of the suggestions? Are there any you'd like to add? Share your thoughts in the comment section. And for more information on preparing for college, head over to our College Prep section!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Understanding Obama’s New Student Loan Plan

Aug 15, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

With the final month of summer rapidly slipping away, now is the time to buckle down and finalize how you're going to fund your college education. Whether that entails a full-ride scholarship (way to go!), an impressive financial aid package or even necessary loans, it's important to understand your options. Some of you might even be considering President Obama's Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan...if you can figure out what it involves or if it's even an option. If you're confused about this plan, you're in luck: U.S. News and World Report has broken down the big questions you need answered below:

  • Will these updates help me? If you have federal student loans, maybe. Starting in 2015, borrowers who took out loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011 will be eligible to take advantage of the Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan. Government officials estimate this includes an additional five million people.
  • How much could I save? Now, most federal loan borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment – a different repayment plan that has the same premise as Pay As You Earn. Unlike Pay As You Earn, however, IBR caps payments at 15 percent of one's disposable income and forgives the balance after 25 years of payments. Those differences could mean a lot, both in monthly payment amount and in the total amount paid over time.
  • Didn't the president mention loan refinancing too? He did, but in relation to a bill that Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren introduced last month called the Bank on Students Emergency Loan Refinancing Act. This legislation would allow federal and private student loan borrowers with older, higher interest loans to consolidate them within the direct loan program at today's lower fixed interest rates. That bill still has to pass both the Senate and the House, something that may not happen because Republicans are opposed to paying for the bill with a gradual increase in tax rates for those in the higher income brackets.
  • What else should I know? There is still a long way to go before the president's executive action takes effect: December 2015 is the target implementation date. The overall plan includes quite a few other ideas that will make a difference to student loan borrowers, like improving financial incentives for federal student loan servicers to help borrowers stay out of default, making it easier for active-duty military to receive benefits and increasing communication partnerships with entities such as the IRS and tax companies to ensure consumers are aware of their higher education rights and benefits.

What do you think of the president's attempt to ease the financial burden associated with student loans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section. And for more information on federal funding, visit our Financial Aid section.

And remember, there’s no need to rely on expensive student loan options to pay for your college education. For more information on finding free scholarship money for college, conduct a Scholarships.com free college scholarship search today, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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Ten Surprising Celebrity College Majors

May 16, 2014

by Suada Kolovic

Due to the stagnant economy, students are flocking to majors considered “safe” (economics, engineering and computer science) and steering clear of ones that develop creative thinking and imagination (the humanities). It makes sense: The objective after graduation is to obtain a lucrative career to pay for that prestigious college education and the best way to do that is to select a major where the potential for a generous return on your investment is high. Interestingly enough, that same thought process applied to some of our favorite A-listers way back when they were considering college majors! Don’t believe us? Check out some of the more surprisingly “safe” majors chosen by celebrities below:

If you’re struggling with choosing a major, head over to Scholarships.com’s College Prep section for tips on things to consider before making a definite decision. And while you’re there, we invite you to do a free college scholarship search to find financial aid opportunities that are tailored to you!

Going to college doesn't have to break the bank or saddle you with tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. Check out the Scholarships.com free college scholarship search where you’ll discover you qualify for hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships in just a few minutes, then apply and win! It’s that easy!

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