12 Ways to Get Involved

12-Ways-to-Get-Involved

You may have heard that you’ll have plenty of things to do outside of class once you get to know others in your dorm or classes, but if you’d like to be more involved or if it’s been hard to make connections with other students, think about trying something new.

1. Join (or start) a club

Your school may offer an activities fair or have a special office or website where you can see what clubs exist and get connected with members. Check postings around campus as well. If you don’t find an organization that interests you, consider starting one. It might just take a faculty sponsor or manifesto.

2. Work for the school paper or social media sites

Even if you don’t have a writing background, these organizations are often looking for correspondents and bloggers.

3. Participate in student government

You can choose a level you’re comfortable with — from a floor representative in the dorm to student body president. Explore opportunities to test your leadership skills.

4. Become a tutor or teaching assistant

Put your skills to work and earn some money while meeting other students and faculty.

5. Participate in intramural or club sports

Never played dodge ball? Been awhile since you swung at a softball? Don’t worry; you’ll find all levels of competition and you may find a new activity to love.

6. Look for opportunities to serve your campus and community

Blood drives and classroom outreach are common activities on college campuses and may help you establish connections in the larger community.

7. Join a sorority or fraternity

Greek organizations exist for a variety of purposes, from community service to academic excellence to social and professional aspects.

8. Attend campus events

Go to the big game on Saturday afternoon or the picnic on the quad. If you don’t want to go alone, ask someone from a class or your dorm floor to go with you.

9. Get a campus or community job

Serve coffee in the union or pancakes at the diner.

10. Join a preprofessional organization

Many professional organizations have student societies that can help you achieve experience, network and meet mentors in your field.

11. Participate in research

Whether you become a lab assistant or agree to participate in surveys or studies, research involvement can help you meet others and gain valuable insight.

12. Go to lectures, performances and presentations on campus

Many schools offer special events like author discussions, professional panels, comedian or theatrical performances and guest lectures.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Building Good Credit as a Student

Credit is a tool and, similar to wielding many other types of tools, using credit can have both positive and negative results. Using credit positively can help young adults build a history that may enable them to get better terms for future credit, such as car or home loans.

Federal regulations limit the amount of credit available to teens and young adults. But, it’s difficult to qualify for loans or other consumer credit without a credit history. Here are some tips for students who want to ensure they’re building good credit.

Opt for a student card

Many national credit card companies offer a student credit card for college students, or those soon to be in college. These cards often carry more lenient requirements and low annual fees, and they may offer incentives for certain actions. For example, you may qualify for cash back for achieving certain grades or discounts on purchases.

Don’t go it alone

Work with your parents to become an authorized user on an existing credit account, like a credit card. This means you have a card with your name on it, but the account holder is still responsible for paying the bills. Be sure you understand the card issuer’s policy for reporting credit for authorized users.

Alternatively, look into credit cards that will allow a cosigner. A cosigner would be responsible for any debt if you don’t pay your own bills, so parents or other close relatives are generally the best people to ask. The cosigner must also have good enough credit to qualify on his or her own.

Create a solid work history

A steady record of income from employment indicates that you‘re more likely to repay debt over time. Generally, you need to demonstrate full-time or near-full-time employment to qualify for a credit card or other credit before the age of 21.

Make a deposit

A secured credit card allows you to make a deposit to secure a line of credit. Even if the deposit must be equal to the credit limit, using the card instead of cash and then making regular on-time payments will build credit. Some credit card issuers may offer an unsecured credit card after you demonstrate good use for a period of time.

Take on bill paying

If you share housing with other students, consider holding a lease or utility in your name. This means you will be responsible for collecting your roommates’ share of the bill each month and making the full payment from your checking or savings account. Demonstrating your ability to pay bills on time each month will help build a positive credit history.

Pay early and pay often

Once you qualify for a credit card or other consumer loan, be sure to make payments. Although you may be required to make only a minimum payment, it’s better to pay a credit card balance in full each month to minimize interest. Making more than the interest payment is also a good idea for other types of loans. To help ensure you can make payments, limit your use and carry a low balance.

Check your results

As you build credit, monitor your credit reports and scores for errors and signs of fraud. Each year, you qualify for free credit reports from the three national consumer reporting agencies from www.annualcreditreport.com. (Never pay for a credit report.)

Educate yourself

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) provides resources to learn more about credit reports and scores, building credit and what to do if you suspect fraud or identity theft.

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.

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

3 Tips to Limit Borrowing for School

Pro-Tip-Image-hashtag

Before you apply for additional student loans, make sure you’re not borrowing too much. Doing so can make repayment painful. Use the tips below first and then only borrow what you need. *

And if you determine you’ve borrowed too much for this year already, you may be able to cancel part of the loan before all the funds are sent (or “disbursed”) to your college. Check in with your financial aid office to see if you can still cancel part of the loan.

Don’t Borrow for Extras

You should only borrow money that you need to pay college costs, not for incidentals or other items you want.

Check out these big money savers for college students.

Student loans should be used for any education-related expenses such as tuition, room and board, meal plans, book and even transportation costs. Those loan funds shouldn’t be used to decorate your dorm room with the trendiest items when you may already have most of what you need at home. The newest gaming equipment, spring break trips and pizza for all your friends on a Thursday night also shouldn’t be paid for with student loan funds.

Think about it. Do you really want to be paying back that money, plus interest, in 10 years when the pizza is long gone and the décor and gaming items are out of date?

Work a Few Hours a Week

If you want to pick up the latest multiplayer game for a break from studying or want to head to the beach for spring break, think about getting a part-time job during the school year. Working just 10 hours a week can help put some extra cash in your checking account and may help your grades by forcing you to budget your time wisely.

It would probably even be better to use your paycheck to buy needed supplies like books or pay some of the smaller fees charged by your school so that you don’t have to use loans for those expenses. And don’t forget, you can always use any money earned to make monthly interest payments on your current student loans to prevent the loan amount from increasing while you’re in school.

Maximize Your Course Load

Want to do one more thing to keep your loan balance from getting out of control? Be sure you’re taking as many classes as you can so that you graduate on time. Does your college consider 12 hours full-time enrollment but allow you to take up to 18 hours at the same tuition cost? If so, try to make the most of that time. If your grades and schedule allows, consider taking 18 hours at a time. If you can’t manage 18 hours effectively, taking 15 hours can help you stay on track for graduating in four years better than 12 hours will. And graduating in four years instead of five or more can significantly keep your loan costs down.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How Working Can Help Your College Student

Wking-Help-College-Student

The financial, networking and training benefits of working part-time while in college can seem pretty obvious. Students earn cash that can be used to offset loans, pay college costs and fund other expenses. They learn to value money and to budget. They can connect with professionals who may be able to help them locate and succeed in future jobs. They learn how to navigate the workplace, gain skills they can use in their careers and put classroom lessons into practical use.

What may not be so obvious is how working part-time during the academic year can also boost a student’s grades. Although a student’s first job is performing well in school, working for pay a few hours a week may help the student achieve more academically.

The most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) demonstrates that the academic performance of students who work 1–19 hours a week was better than all other students’ performance, including those who worked more or less and those who didn’t work at all.

According to 2016 NCES data:
  • The average GPA for all full-time college students is 2.94.
  • Those who worked 10–19 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.02.
  • Those who worked 1–9 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.08.
  • Those who did not work earned an average GPA of 2.94.

GPA Per Hours Worked

Estimated Hours Worked Per Week

Average GPA

0–40+ (overall) 2.94
0 2.94
1–9 3.08
10–19 3.02
20–29 2.88
30–39 2.86
40+ 2.95
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2015–2016 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 16)

Why Working Works

The reasons for the grade boost may vary widely by student, job and college, but researchers often conclude that the busier schedule forces students to better manage their available time.

Hanna, a graduate of an Iowa high school attending Kansas State University, agrees. “Having the extra responsibility of a part-time job forces me to study more efficiently,” she said. “I know I won’t have the time to keep procrastinating.”

Another possible reason for the higher average GPA may be that students who work to pay for part of their education expenses are more invested in the outcome. Students who are likely to succeed because of their own goals and motivation may also be more likely to look for and obtain part-time work.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Big Money Savers for College Students

College expenses encompass more than tuition and room and board. Items like transportation, fees, books and supplies, and personal expenses are often rolled into the total cost of attendance, or COA. If you’re looking to reduce your overall cost, and the amount you need to borrow to pay for college, here are some large-ticket items to consider.

Big Money Savers for College Students

Each of the following strategies can save hundreds of dollars each semester.

Books and Supplies

The traditional advice of buying used textbooks instead of new still applies, but you also have other options. Consider the following example for the same textbook with a list price of $257.60.

 

Buy new from university bookstore: $173.40
Buy used from university bookstore: $81.75
Rent new from university bookstore: $164.40
Rent electronic version from university bookstore: $47.57
Buy new online: $110.00
Buy used online $96.00
Rent online: $30.49
Rent electronic version online: $29.99
Use library copy as needed: $0.00

As you weigh your text book options, keep these tips in mind.

  • Think about whether you are likely to want to use the book again after the class is over.
  • Talk to your professor and students who previously took the same class to see how much the text is used. Online reviews and college sites can help you make an informed decision about whether you even need a copy.
  • Ask your professor if an older edition of the same textbook would provide the information needed for the class.
  • Many textbooks now come with access codes or supplements that are not available or not guaranteed in certain formats. These may sometimes be purchased separately.
  • While college libraries generally stock copies of required textbooks, remember that availability may be limited during crucial times.
  • If you decide to rent books, pay careful attention to usage and return guidelines as you may be required to pay full price for books not returned on time.

Lower costs more by purchasing needed supplies in late summer and early fall when discount stores stock up for back-to-school. Compare this list of similar supplies. (Opting for generic items saves even more.)

Item University bookstore Big box retailer
2” ring binder $6.99 $3.55
5 one-subject wirebound notebooks $14.95 $1.25
300 3×5 Index cards $9.00 $1.24
4-pack dry erase markers $8.00 $2.63

Transportation

If you can possibly get by without a car on campus by using public transportation, catching rides home and biking or walking to class, you save in multiple ways.

  • Car insurance. Check with your insurance provider on resident student or occasional driver discounts for college students who don’t have a car on campus and attend college at least 100 miles from home. Discounts can vary but may be as high as 35%. Also consider whether you will be driving while at home over breaks and how that might affect your coverage.
  • Parking fees. The cost of a student parking permit can be well over $100 per year. Add to that the cost of any tickets for parking in unpermitted spaces or exceeding time limits, as well as the cost of metered parking.
  • Fuel and maintenance. Besides the cost of gas, which increases the more you drive, think about the cost of oil changes, tire repairs and other maintenance costs.

Health

Some college and universities charge students a fee for health or dental coverage while they attend school. Carefully review your billing statement or contact your financial services or cashier’s office to see if you’re paying for this insurance. Then, speak with your parents or guardians about any existing coverage to compare cost and benefits.

In addition, cut habits like smoking, vaping or drinking. These products are expensive to purchase and may result in additional costs for doctor visits, fines and more.

Classes

If you took advanced classes in high school or are otherwise academically prepared, check out the testing options. You may be able to test out of or transfer credit for required general education courses, saving you the cost of tuition for those classes.

Also work with your academic adviser to stay on track academically. Repeating classes or taking unnecessary ones costs you money for every credit hour.

In addition, streamlining your coursework can help you leave college earlier, allowing you to save on housing and other costs associated with attending school.

Daily Expenses

Avoiding or reducing daily expenses can also save you upwards of $100 per academic year.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Contacting a Student Loan Servicer (Infographic)

ContactStudentLoanServicer-inforgraphicDownload this infographic as a PDF.

Once you know who your student loan servicer is, you need to know your servicer is there to help you successfully repay your loans at no additional cost. It’s important contact your student loan servicer for any of the reasons listed below.

1. Your contact information has changed.

If you have a new mailing address, phone number or email, or if your name other demographic information has changed, you need to advise your loan servicer. Remember that you are responsible for repaying your student loan debt, even if you don’t receive bills because your servicer does not have your current contact information.

2. You want to make extra or reduced payments.

Your ability to pay may change according to your circumstances. Work with your servicer to make sure extra payments are achieving your goal or that you don’t face unnecessary penalties for reduced payments.

3. You want to apply your payments in a specific way.

If you have several loans with the same servicer, you may want payments to apply more heavily to certain loans within your account, such as those with higher interest rates. Find out your servicer’s policy for payment application across loans and how to direct payments differently.

4. You don’t understand your billing statement or the way previous payments were applied.

If you don’t understand how your payments are being applied to your account, any fees you are charged or have other billing questions, ask your servicer for an explanation as soon as possible. This will help you better understand the most beneficial way to make future payments.

5. You have fallen behind on your payments.

Student loan servicers may report late payments to the national consumer reporting agencies, and nonpayment will eventually lead to default. If you are not able to make your full monthly payment, work with your servicer to determine your options and see if you can avoid negative credit reporting or default.

6. You want to understand borrower benefits.

You may be eligible for benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Talk to your servicer about potential benefits as soon as possible to learn how to maintain eligibility.

7. You want to consolidate your student loans.

Your ability to consolidate your loans depends on your servicer and the types of loans you have. You cannot include private student loans in a federal student loan consolidation under federal loan programs, although private lenders may allow you to combine both types of loans in one consolidation. Some private servicers offer consolidation while others don’t. If you’re considering consolidation, work with your servicers to determine your best options. If you are considering consolidating federal loans into a private loan consolidation, be sure you understand what important federal loan benefits you may lose before applying.

8. You want to align your payment dates.

If you have several different loans or more than one servicer, your payment due dates may be different as well. If it’s easier for you to manage a single due date, call your servicers for information.

9. You are close to paying your loans in full.

Because student loans accrue interest every day, your principal balance does not equal a payoff amount. If you want to pay your loans in full, contact your servicer for an accurate payoff amount and date to avoid any surprises.

10. You have any additional questions.

Each borrower’s circumstances are unique, and you may not be able to find accurate, updated information from your specific servicer online. If you have any questions, call your servicer directly. Your servicer is invested in your ability to successfully repay your loan and wants to help you.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How to Conquer Student Loans with Extra Payments (Infographic)

Infographic titled how to conquer student loans with extra payments

Download this infographic as a PDF.

Many student loans have a standard 10-year repayment plan, where borrowers make a set monthly payment that is applied to interest and principal to pay the loan in full at the end of 10 years. If you are able to make extra payments, though, you may be able cut your repayment period in half and save money along the way.

The following examples are based on average debt from the College Board Trends in Student Aid 2017 report for three types of degrees, and assuming loans with a 10-year repayment term, a 6% interest rate and extra payments beginning with the first payment.

Master’s Degree

With debt totaling $41,300 to obtain a master’s degree, a borrower who pays an extra $100 each month will save approximately $3,329 on interest payments and repay the debt in seven years and nine months.

A borrower who pays an extra $200 each month on the same $41,300 will save about $5,341 on interest and pay off the loans in six years and four months.

Bachelor’s Degree

The average total debt to obtain a bachelor’s degree is $28,400. An extra $100 payment each month will save the borrower approximately $2,994 in interest and repay the loan amount in seven years.

Paying an extra $200 a month on the $28,400 debt will save a borrower about $4,530 in interest and pay off the loan amount in five years and five months.

Associate’s Degree

An associate’s degree holder with the average debt of $13,000 making an extra $100 payment per month will save about $2,168 in interest and pay the debt off in five years and three months.

Making an extra $200 payment each month on that $13,000 will save approximately $2,876 in interest and pay off the debt in three years and six months.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Contacting a Student Loan Servicer (Infographic)

ContactStudentLoanServicer-inforgraphicDownload this infographic as a PDF.

Once you know who your student loan servicer is, you need to know your servicer is there to help you successfully repay your loans at no additional cost. It’s important contact your student loan servicer for any of the reasons listed below.

1. Your contact information has changed. If you have a new mailing address, phone number or email, or if your name other demographic information has changed, you need to advise your loan servicer. Remember that you are responsible for repaying your student loan debt, even if you don’t receive bills because your servicer does not have your current contact information.

2. You want to make extra or reduced payments. Your ability to pay may change according to your circumstances. Work with your servicer to make sure extra payments are achieving your goal or that you don’t face unnecessary penalties for reduced payments.

3. You want to apply your payments in a specific way. If you have several loans with the same servicer, you may want payments to apply more heavily to certain loans within your account, such as those with higher interest rates. Find out your servicer’s policy for payment application across loans and how to direct payments differently.

4. You don’t understand your billing statement or the way previous payments were applied. If you don’t understand how your payments are being applied to your account, any fees you are charged or have other billing questions, ask your servicer for an explanation as soon as possible. This will help you better understand the most beneficial way to make future payments.

5. You have fallen behind on your payments. Student loan servicers may report late payments to the national consumer reporting agencies, and nonpayment will eventually lead to default. If you are not able to make your full monthly payment, work with your servicer to determine your options and see if you can avoid negative credit reporting or default.

6. You want to understand borrower benefits. You may be eligible for benefits, such as a reduced interest rate for making automatic electronic payments. Talk to your servicer about potential benefits as soon as possible to learn how to maintain eligibility.

7. You want to consolidate your student loans. Your ability to consolidate your loans depends on your servicer and the types of loans you have. You cannot include private student loans in a federal student loan consolidation under federal loan programs, although private lenders may allow you to combine both types of loans in one consolidation. Some private servicers offer consolidation while others don’t. If you’re considering consolidation, work with your servicers to determine your best options. If you are considering consolidating federal loans into a private loan consolidation, be sure you understand what important federal loan benefits you may lose before applying.

8. You want to align your payment dates. If you have several different loans or more than one servicer, your payment due dates may be different as well. If it’s easier for you to manage a single due date, call your servicers for information.

9. You are close to paying your loans in full. Because student loans accrue interest every day, your principal balance does not equal a payoff amount. If you want to pay your loans in full, contact your servicer for an accurate payoff amount and date to avoid any surprises.

10. You have any additional questions. Each borrower’s circumstances are unique, and you may not be able to find accurate, updated information from your specific servicer online. If you have any questions, call your servicer directly. Your servicer is invested in your ability to successfully repay your loan and wants to help you.

By: Iowa Student Loan

How Working Can Help Your College Student

Wking-Help-College-Student

The financial, networking and training benefits of working while in college can seem pretty obvious. Students earn cash that can be used to offset loans, pay college costs and fund other expenses. They learn to value money and to budget. They can connect with professionals who may be able to help them locate and succeed in future jobs. They learn how to navigate the workplace, gain skills they can use in their careers and put classroom lessons into practical use.

What may not be so obvious is how working part-time during the academic year can also boost a student’s grades. Although a student’s first job is performing well in school, working for pay a few hours a week may help the student achieve more academically.

The most recent data available from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) backs up earlier research performed by Lauren Dundes and Jeff Marx of McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. Dundes’ 2006 study found that the academic performance of students who work 10–19 hours a week was better than all other students’ performance, including those who worked more or less and those who didn’t work at all.

According to 2012 NCES data:

  • The average GPA for all full-time college students is 2.99.
  • Those who worked 10–19 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.07.
  • Those who worked 1–9 hours per week earned an average GPA of 3.10.
  • Those who did not work earned an average GPA of 2.98.

GPA Per Hours Worked

Estimated Hours Worked Per Week

Average GPA

0–40+ (overall) 2.988
0 2.981
1–9 3.105
10–19 3.065
20–29 2.972
30–39 2.895
40+ 2.971
Source: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, 2011–2012 National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS: 12)

Why Working Works

The reasons for the grade boost may vary widely by student, job and college, but researchers often conclude that the busier schedule forces students to better manage their available time.

Hanna, a graduate of an Iowa high school now attending Kansas State University, agrees. “Having the extra responsibility of a part-time job forces me to study more efficiently,” she said. “I know I won’t have the time to keep procrastinating.”

Another possible reason for the higher average GPA may be that students who work to pay for part of their education expenses are more invested in the outcome. Students who are likely to succeed because of their own goals and motivation may also be more likely to look for and obtain part-time work.

By: Iowa Student Loan

1 2 3 4 10