Consider a Part-Time Job

Part-Time-Job-Break

Are you working while attending classes? If not, the extended winter break may be a good time to weigh the pros and cons of working part time or temporarily during the spring semester.

Why Work?
Working just five to 10 hours a week while attending college full time has many benefits:

  • The extra cash can help reduce your need to borrow for college costs.
  • A job, whether it’s in your intended career field or not, helps you obtain experience and build up your resume.
  • You will gain important time management skills by learning to balance your academic and work schedules.

It’s important to put academics first, but a job during your college years can really pay off if your schedule and classwork allow it.

Finding a Job
If you determine that you can handle the demands of a part-time job, you can start searching while on break.

  • Look for on-campus opportunities. You can use your college’s career services or job boards to see if there are any openings on campus. Because colleges understand your first job is attending classes, on-campus jobs typically offer the most flexibility with schedules. Another great idea is checking with professors or department heads in your field of study to see if they have part-time or short-term needs that may not be posted elsewhere.

Check out some ideal part-time college jobs from Lifehack.

  • Check with local staffing agencies. While restaurants and retail positions provide typical opportunities for college students, working temporary office openings through a staffing agency now can really benefit you after you graduate and are looking for your first career. You’ll have experience working in office settings, and the people you work with may be able to help you with networking and introductions to other opportunities once you’re ready to graduate.
  • Think about freelancing. Some skills and knowledge can translate perfectly to a freelance situation. If you are driven to work on projects by yourself and like setting your own schedule, consider what you can offer to businesses large and small. Smaller businesses might need someone to overhaul their website, redo their store’s layout to optimize customers’ experiences or design logos and graphics to stand out from their competition. Larger business may need help on one or two copyediting projects, translating content to a language you’ve mastered or coding smaller projects an IT team doesn’t have time to focus on.

By: Iowa Student Loan

15 Ideas for Making Money During Winter Break

Depending on your school’s calendar, you may have from two to four weeks away from school with little or no academic commitments, which leaves you plenty of time to earn extra cash which could be used to reduce your need for student loans or allow you to pay interest on current student loans to reduce your balance.

MoneyOverWinterBreak-infographic

Download a PDF of this infographic

Here are 15 ways you can make money over your break.

  1. Find a paid internship. Make money and gain valuable experience at the same time. Check with your campus career services office for available opportunities near campus, or contact companies in your field close to home.
  1. Apply for scholarships. Spend several hours researching and applying for the scholarships you were too busy to look at during the academic session.
  1. Work retail. Many retailers take on seasonal staff to help with the preholiday rush, post-holiday sales and gift returns.
  1. Turn your existing part-time job or internship into a full-time position. Your employer may jump at the chance to give you more hours to offset other employees’ vacation time or to help handle year-end projects.
  1. Babysit for busy parents. Besides the extra commitment of holiday parties and travel, many parents also seek temporary, full-time sitters for school-age children at home during winter break.
  1. Take care of Fido (and Bessie). Pet owners who will be away for an extended period of time may prefer to have a responsible person come in to feed, exercise and clean up after their furry friends. If you live in or near a rural area, don’t forget that farmers often need someone to take care of their stock every day. Advertise early to line up several commitments over break.
  1. Be a house-sitter. Homeowners will often pay a responsible person to stay in their home, water plants, set out garbage and take care of other tasks while they are away for a long trip.
  1. Sell your stuff. While you’re at home over break, take the opportunity to go through clothes, electronics, books and other belongings you no longer need. You can take them to consignment shops or sell them yourself online.
  1. Be the designated driver. With holiday parties in full swing, more and more people turn to Uber and other driving services.
  1. Promotional campaigns. Offer your tech and social media savvy to businesses who want to promote products or holiday sales. A few hours of your time can be worth a lot of money to business owners who don’t have the time or knowledge to set up their own campaigns.
  1. Put your creations up for sale. If you’re artistic or crafty, a little time designing holiday cards, decorations or gifts can pay off when you sell them online or at flea markets.
  1. Fill in on or near campus. It may sound strange to spend your break on campus, but if you have a place to stay, you may be able to find a temporary position taking shifts for other students who’ve gone home. The bookstore, area shops and campus offices may need help preparing for the spring semester while some of their regular staff is out.
  1. Teach a class. Work with local gyms, libraries and shops to set up special classes in something you know well and can teach others — a great workout for sedentary office workers, a how-to for smartphones or apps, creative cooking for the budget-conscious.
  1. Do the legwork. Do any local businesses need help distributing fliers or making holiday deliveries? While you’re doing your own holiday shopping, keep an eye out for an opportunity to offer your services.
  1. Take care of not-so-odd jobs. Advertise your availability to run errands, wrap gifts, hang holiday lights and shovel snow.

 By: Iowa Student Loan

Smart Scheduling for College

Smart-Scheduling-for-College-Oct

The freedom to spend your time however you want, without parents telling you what to do, probably sounds great. But if you don’t budget your time wisely, you may struggle academically.

In college, the amount of time you spend studying affects your grades. The more time you spend out of class studying, the better your grades. Unfortunately, many students think they will have plenty of time to study later, so they can do whatever they want right now. Then, as other assignments also become due and other commitments arise, the time they thought would be there evaporates.

To ensure you study the right things, in the right amount, at the right time, follow these steps.

1. Plot Your Weekly Schedule

Use a weekly calendar that shows the hours of each day. Then:

  1. Identify your set time commitments that occur every week and write them in the calendar.
    • Classes.
    • Work schedule.
    • Other known commitments like club meetings.
    • Meals.
    • Workouts.
    • Seven and a half to 8 hours of sleep each night.
  2. Look for blocks of time during the day to create “study blocks.” As a general rule, your time in class and your time studying each day should add up to at least 8 hours, or more if you are carrying a heavy course load.
    • Gaps between your classes. It makes more sense to stay near your next classroom than it does to walk back and forth to your dorm.
    • Days when your classes end earlier.
    • Available evenings and weekends.
  3. Block out time that you plan to hang out so that you are realistic about the time you can afford to spend not studying.

2. Plan Your Study Schedule

Next, figure out the right things to study at the right time. Use longhand and paper to do this. Studies have shown that the act of writing an action item down helps you to take ownership of it as you effectively commit to getting it done.

  1. Start by laying out all of your class syllabi side by side.
  2. On separate sheet of paper, write the due dates for all the assignments listed and all quiz and test dates, for all your classes, in date sequential order.
  3. Highlight the assignments that are big and extra time-consuming.
  4. Use a different color to highlight upcoming tests and make note of assignments that overlap.
  5. Resolve conflicts in due dates and test dates by planning to study ahead of time over the preceding weeks.

3. Transfer Your Information.

Use an electronic calendar or app that will be easy to reference and adjust throughout the semester.

  1. Input your weekly schedule and study blocks as recurring items running throughout the entire semester.
  2. Next, input the assignments and tests from the highlighted list that you created.
  3. Finally, for each study block, input details on what you should study or work on, based on due dates and the conflicts you resolved in the previous step.

4. Stick to Your Schedule

Make a pact with yourself to stay disciplined. Sure, some things will come up that will require you to change your schedule. But don’t fall into the trap of convincing yourself there will be time later to do the hard work.

By: Steve McCullough
President/CEO
Iowa Student Loan

7 Problems with Overborrowing

7-Prob-w-Overborrowing

Borrowing more money than you need to for college or for non-education expenses can jeopardize your financial future and bring you stress and disappointment. Make smart decisions when it comes to borrowing for college to avoid future pitfalls. Keep these overborrowing problems in mind:

1. You have to pay interest too. Most students delay loan repayment until after college, meaning that interest builds up during school and increases the amount that must be paid back. If you use student loan money for unnecessary things, interest will accrue on that money too before you even start repayment.

2. Repayment can take longer. If your monthly payment is more than you can afford after college, you may have to look at alternative repayment plans. These plans may reduce your monthly payment but extend over more months, which will lead to you paying more interest over time.

3. Missed payments will have consequences. The more you borrow, the more you will have to pay back every month. If you are unable to pay your bills and miss payments, your credit history will be impacted negatively, which may lead to higher interest for future loans and credit of all types.

4. You may have to limit entertainment expenses. The more money you have to pay back on your student loans each month, the less you will have for entertainment. When you look back, will you think using student loan funds for one spring break was worth it when it seems like you can never afford to go out to dinner or a ballgame with friends?

5. You may need a second job. To pay your student loans after college, you may have to find a second part- or full-time job. A second job may help with your bills, but it can impact your personal life, the attention you pay to your primary job and your overall health.

6. You might delay buying a house or starting a family. Numerous reports show that adults with high levels of student loan debt put off traditional adult milestones, such as purchasing a home, getting married or starting a family due to economic distress.

7. You may be unable to save for your future. Saving for your future, especially your retirement years, will be essential once you start your career. But if you’re unable to contribute money to a 401(k) or other retirement fund because you are repaying student loans, you may miss out on a decade’s worth of saving and have to work longer than you would like during your lifetime.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How Making Interest Payments Can Save You Big Money Later

If you’re funding part of your college education with student loans, you may occasionally receive statements, even though no payments are due. Ever wonder why?

Those statements are important, and understanding why can save you money in the long run.

They notify you that, even though you don’t have to make payments while you’re in school, interest is adding up on your loans — every single day. If this interest is not paid as it accrues or before your loans enter repayment (usually six months after you leave school), it will be added to your principal balance. If it is added to your principal balance (a process called capitalization), you will then owe more than you originally borrowed. And, the now larger principal balance starts to accrue interest on a daily basis, so you will be paying interest on the accrued interest.

How can you minimize this increase to your loan balance? If you manage to earn or save some money while you’re in school, you can make monthly payments that pay down the interest as it accrues.

Here’s an example of how making small payments every month could save you more than $1,500 over the full life of student loans.

Note: The information below is an example only. Your payment amounts will depend on the types of loans you receive and the interest rates and the repayment terms on those loans.

Making-Interest-Payments-SaveYouMoney-infographic

Download a PDF of this infographic.

Establishing Financial Habits

Making everyday spending decisions—like whether to order pizza or go to the Caribbean for Spring Break—in college, helps you establish the financial habits you’ll use in the future.

Although eating out every Friday night sounds like a good thing, it may be worth it to give up that treat in exchange for savings of thousands on your future student loan payments.

By: Iowa Student Loan

4 Ways Dropping Classes Can Cost You

It happens to a lot of college students sooner or later: You enroll for a class, without realizing until after the semester starts that it’s just not for you. Colleges and universities plan for this by building in policies that allow dropping or withdrawing from classes, but doing so can cost you more than you realize.

4-Ways-Dropping-Classes_Cost-You

1. You may not graduate on time.

  • More tuition and fees to attend for extra semesters.
  • Increased loan balances.

2. Depending on your school’s policies and how far into the semester you are, you:

  • May or may not be eligible for full or partial refunds of tuition for dropped courses.
  • Likely will not be reimbursed for related costs like registration and payment plan fees.

3. If you enroll late in a replacement class, you may end up spending more for new books and materials instead of being able to rent or buy used.

4. Your financial aid might be affected.

  • A “withdrawn” or “F” on your transcript can lower your GPA, and you may lose financial aid if you don’t meet minimum requirements.
  • If you drop below half time, you will lose aid and benefits:
    • You will no longer be eligible for federal work-study programs.
    • You may lose all or part of federal and state grants.
    • Loans may enter a grace period or repayment immediately.

Before dropping a class, speak to your academic adviser and, if necessary, the financial aid office, about your options and how to avoid financial consequences.

By: Iowa Student Loan

5 Small Changes to Save Big

5-Small-Changes_Save-Big

It’s easy to spend a couple of dollars here and there without realizing how they add up. Before you know it, finances can be pretty tight.

Use these tips to help you make small changes that can save big money over time.

1. Make your own coffee.
Day-to-day caffeine runs can add up quick. Instead of $3 or $4 dollars for a large gourmet takeout coffee, spend less than a dollar per cup to make your own. Your favorite coffee chain might even have a brew-at-home version available at the grocery store.

2. Skip the fast food.
An average fast food meal costs $5 or more. Eating at home or on your meal plan instead for four meals a month saves at least $20 a month and $240 a year outright. If you tend to order a bacon cheeseburger and fries, your health may benefit from more nutritious meals as well.

3. Stay home on date night.
Renting an inexpensive movie instead of going to the theater can save between $7 and $10 for each of you. If you and your significant other see a movie every other week, that’s about $200 a year in savings.

4. Drop the Wi-Fi subscription.
If your campus and local gathering spots offer free Wi-Fi, you may not need to pay for a separate Internet service. Even less expensive plans run around $40 a month. Drop it and save nearly $500 over a year.

5. Work part-time.
Working just 10 hours a week at minimum wage lets you bring in more than $2,400 a year. Plus, you gain valuable experience to improve your chances of landing a great job after college.

See more tips (PDF) on how to save money in college.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Interview Tips for On-Campus Jobs

Working on campus offers several benefits for college students from convenience to flexibility. In addition, you may gain valuable skills and contacts for your future career path. Use these tips to help you land the job.

Interview-InfographicDownload a PDF of this infographic.

Before Interview Day

  • Look at the department or office website to understand its mission and activities. Then, articulate how those are tied to your own goals and how you can help your employer.
  • Ask how long the interviewer expects the session to take and schedule appropriately. Plan to arrive early.
  • If you’re communicating with the interviewer, ask about the office dress code. If you’re unsure how to dress for your interview, err on the side of more business than casual, even if it means overdressing for your 8 a.m. class.
  • Know your availability. How many hours can you work during the week without affecting your studies? Do you have a regular activity or commitment that you’ll need to schedule around?
  • Ask potential references who aren’t related to you if you can give out their contact information.
  • Prepare your answers — with examples — to common interview questions, such as:
    • Name an accomplishment you’re proud of.
    • What previous jobs have you had and what did you do?
    • Tell me about an area you’d like to improve on.
  • Think of at least two questions to ask the interviewer.
  • If you’re nervous or haven’t had a job interview before, work with your campus’s career services to practice.

Day of the Interview

  • Have the interviewer’s contact information with you in case you’re unavoidably delayed.
  • Bring a copy of the resume and cover letter you submitted when you applied, as well as a transcript or other documentation that show your qualifications if the job is related to academic ability. Bring along your reference information as well.
  • Arrive five to 10 minutes before your scheduled interview time.
  • Silence or turn off your phone and put away earbuds and other electronics.
  • Dispose of any food, drinks or gum before you enter the office.
  • Introduce yourself and shake hands firmly.
  • Be friendly and relaxed (but still professional).
  • Show that you’re attentive by making eye contact with the interviewer, nodding and smiling as he or she describes situations or asks questions, and paraphrasing questions in your response.
  • Don’t feel like you need to rush every answer. Thinking for a few seconds can help you make sure you convey the impression you want to give. If you don’t understand a question, ask for clarification.
  • Before you leave, ask about the next steps and the timeline for those.
  • Thank the interviewer for his or her time and shake hands again.

After the Interview

  • Within 24 hours, send a more formal thank-you by email.
  • If you haven’t heard anything within a couple of days after the timeline you were given at the interview, follow up. Let the interviewer know that you are still interested in the job and offer to provide any additional information needed.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Fixed or Variable: Which is Best?

Fixed-or-Variable

When faced with the need to find funds to close the gap between college costs and available financial aid, many students and their families turn to private student loans. One of the first choices a family looking at a private loan needs to make may be choosing between a variable and a fixed interest rate. Which is best? The answer: it depends.

First, you should know that variable rates are typically lower than fixed rates. Why? Nobody can predict the future accurately. Because a bank is in the business of making money they must always consider the risk of lending money. One of those risks is called “interest rate risk” – the risk that in the future the bank will need to pay a higher interest rate to its lender for the money it has lent to you. A fixed rate loan, especially one with a long term like a mortgage or a student loan, offers a rate that anticipates higher future rates.

On the other hand, a variable rate loan is usually presented to the consumer as a base rate (such as Prime or LIBOR) plus a “margin”. This assures that the bank will always earn money because when the rate the bank pays to borrow money changes, the base rate will change in the same direction, but the bank will always have a consistent “margin” – that extra percentage they add on to the base. Banks love predictable cash flows – hence, the lower rate for variable rate loans. But, there is a risk to you – what if the base rate increases significantly over time? Your payments will increase to a level that may be higher than one you are able to afford.

So, in the end, the choice between a fixed and variable interest rate is a personal choice based mainly on the borrower’s long-term and short-term goals. What should you consider when weighing the decision between variable and fixed rate loans? Experts say that the answers to just a few questions can help make the decision easier.

Do you believe interest rates will increase significantly over time?

To answer that question you may need to do some research or consult with an expert, but, in general, if you imagine interest rates will increase beyond the offered fixed rate (and stay there) over the term of your loan (around 15 years if you include the time in school), you may want a fixed rate.

Do you imagine being able to pay off the loan faster than the repayment schedule assumes because of an expected windfall in the future or a very high-paying job?

In that case, a variable rate may work for you.

Do you like consistency so you can more easily create a budget?

A fixed rate is the one for you – you won’t see any gains when interest rates drop but you also won’t see any losses when they increase. And you will know exactly what your payment will be for all 120 months of your repayment term.

Do you want to start repaying your loan immediately (which is a good idea)?

Then a variable rate may be best for you as the monthly payments will generally start off lower than a fixed rate loan.

No matter which loan type you select you can choose either type for the next loan. If you follow the old saying of not putting all your eggs in one basket (what financial planners call “diversifying your risk”), you may want to consider taking out some fixed rate and some variable rate loans over the course of your college career.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Getting a Jump on Interest

If you have some extra cash from earnings, gifts or your own savvy shopping skills, you may want to invest in your financial future by making an interest payment on your student loans.

Here’s an example situation:

Private student loan amount: $10,000

Interest rate: 7%

Repayment term: 10 years

Extra payment made: Beginning of first year of a four-year college career

Interest-Rate-Chart-1

Simple interest is calculated based on a $10,000 principal balance x interest rate x term of 54 months (48 months in-school + 6-month grace period). The total repayment amount includes interest accrual over the life of the loan and is based on making a single interest-only payment before the repayment period begins. Savings over the life of the loan is equal to the monthly reduction in payment amount multiplied by the 120 payments made over the life of the loan.

Now, let’s assume you need to take out $10,000 in private student loans at the same rate for each of four years, and you are able to make one-time payments each of those years.

Interest-Rate-Chart-2

Calculations are the same as above except interest accrues over 36 months + 6-month grace period for a loan taken out the second year of college, 24 months + 6-month grace period for a loan taken out the third year of college and 12 months + 6-month grace period for a loan taken out the fourth year of college.

The information above shows how making one-time interest-only payments can help reduce your student loan burden.

By: Iowa Student Loan

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