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

Know Your Student Loan Servicer

KnowYourStudLnServicer

As you begin your life after college, you likely have several different responsibilities, from a new job to managing your own insurance and other activities. One important task is to get to know the servicer or servicers for your student loans.

What Is a Student Loan Servicer?

Your student loan servicer is the organization that handles customer service, including collecting and tracking your payments, for the loan. Depending on the number and type of your student loans, you may have one servicer or several.

Why Do I Need to Know Who My Servicer Is?

You need to be aware of your servicer for several reasons.

  1. You will soon need to start repaying your student loans, and you need to know where and when to send payment. You may also want to set up features, such as an online account and automatic withdrawals, that will help you manage your student loan payments.
  2. Your servicer can help you understand and choose from available payment plans. Most borrowers enter repayment under a standard payment plan that pays off the loan in equivalent monthly payments over the full term of the loan, but you may be able to choose a different plan that works better for your current situation. If you are entering the workforce at less than what you expected to earn, you may be able to make lower payments based on your income or according to a preset formula at first. If, on the other hand, you have the chance to make higher payments now before you have additional family, car and housing expenses, work with your servicer to determine the best way to pay down your debt.
  3. Your servicer may offer assistance if needed. If you don’t have or lose your income or you face another difficulty that makes student loan repayment challenging, you may be eligible to postpone payment. You will need to work with your servicer to understand your options and choose the one that works for you. Be aware that interest continues to accrue on student loans during repayment, and unpaid interest may capitalize, or be added to your principal balance, at the end of assistance. In certain cases, you may be eligible to have some or all your student loan debt forgiven, and your servicer can help with that as well.

How Do I Locate My Servicer?

Your servicer may be the entity that provided your loan or it may be a separate entity that acts on behalf of the current owner of the loan.

  1. Determine if you have federal student loans. Often called Stafford or Direct loans, these loans are provided by the federal government and were likely included in the financial aid package you received from the college you attended.
  2. Use your FSA ID to log in to the National Student Loan Data System. If you filed a Free Application for Federal Student Aid after May 2015, you probably created an FSA ID then. If it’s been some time since you filed a FAFSA, you may need to visit fsaid.ed.gov to create an ID. Then go to nslds.ed.gov to log in and view your federal loan information, including the servicer.
  3. If you have private student loans you obtained from a bank, credit union or other lender to pay remaining college costs after your financial aid, refer to the information your lender provided when you took out the loan and progressed through school. As the due date for your first payment approaches, you will likely receive communications from the lender or servicer about how to make your payment.

If you can’t locate a private student loan servicer, contact the entity that lent you the money or your financial aid office. You may also be able to see your lender or servicer name on your credit report (remember to access a free report at annualcreditreport.com).

By: Iowa Student Loan

Seven Tips for Summer Internships

7-Tips-Summer-Internships

Interning during college can help you prepare for the job market as you gain important skills and contacts. These tips will help you get started.

Cast a wide net.
This is your opportunity to explore careers and employers, or take on a dream job, before settling down to your permanent career. Consider organizations like the FBI, Disney, MGM, Marvel Comics or the Jane Goodall Institute.

Combine two of your goals.
Many college students gain a global perspective through a study abroad program. Similar work abroad programs can help you gain a new perspective on another culture as well as apply your studies in new ways. Start with your campus study abroad office to learn about reputable organizations and needed documentation or other requirements to work in another country.

Know what you want to gain.
You can use an internship to define or affirm existing goals, set new ones, earn money or academic credit, meet potential contacts or mentors, gain entry to a coveted employer, or all of the above. Define your goals for your internship so you know which potential employers and workplaces to focus on.

Know what you offer.
Internships, especially paid positions, can be competitive. Be prepared to treat the search and acquisition of an internship just like you would a job: prepare a resume and cover letters, interview professionally and sell your skills and enthusiasm.

Ask for help.
Besides searching for internships online and through your campus career office, let family and friends, former employers and teachers, and others know you’re looking for certain types of internships. These connections can help pave the way with their acquaintances if needed.

Be flexible and reliable.
Some internship providers will have set projects that will help you gain important skills, while others may not know exactly what to do with you. Be prepared to accept projects or tasks others don’t have the time or desire to complete. Use the opportunity to learn more about the inside workings of the organization, make connections and develop suggestions for improvement.

Meet the requirements for credit.
You may be able to earn academic credit for an internship. Work with your campus career office or the related academic department to determine if you need to meet certain prerequisites, complete required paperwork or turn in a project or report to earn credit.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Before the Next Big Step: What to Do After Graduation

It may seem like everyone else has it all figured out, and you are undoubtedly tired of the question “What will you do after graduation?” But, if your plans are not yet set as the big ceremony approaches, be assured you are not the first or last to be in this situation.

Whether you’re a new high school grad who isn’t sure about college or you’ve finished a college degree but haven’t been able to land the job you want, here are some suggestions for what to do until you’re able to take the next big step:

Keep Working Toward Your Goals
Don’t let inertia or rejection take over your attitude. Continue working on ways to improve your chances of getting the job you want or being admitted to your desired college.

  • Continue to send out resumes or explore education options.
  • Work on your soft skills, like communication techniques, teamwork, initiative and creative thinking.
  • Review your resume and practice interviews with a professional.
  • Clean up social media accounts.

Volunteer
Opportunities abound to provide service to those who need it. Check out volunteer options that help you expand your horizons and suit your interests. Many volunteer opportunity and matching sites are available online, including:

  • Createthegood.org
  • Dosomething.org
  • Unitedway.org
  • Volunteer.gov
  • Volunteermatch.org

Work
You may have student loans to repay or other expenses, so consider working even if you haven’t found an ideal job. You can:

  • Work one or more part-time jobs that provide skills related to your career choice.
  • Try out a type of career you haven’t previously considered.
  • Provide freelance or consulting services in a field you have knowledge in.
  • Start your own company.
  • Teach something you have a passion for, such as yoga, skiing or beginning coding.

Take a Short-Term Position
Although many opportunities are designed strictly for current college students, you may be able to find paid or unpaid positions.

  • Find an internship related to your degree or in a completely different field you’d like to try out.
  • Apprenticeships may be available to recent college graduates and can offer a good chance to break into a specific job market.
  • Research assistantships are available in both scientific and non-scientific fields.

Travel
This may be your best opportunity to explore the country and the world, before you are committed to a full-time job, settle down with a partner and children, and have social and financial obligations that would prevent it.

  • Work abroad as a nanny, an English teacher or in another capacity.
  • Get a job on a cruise ship or train as an airline attendant.
  • Join a program like Peace Corps, Americorps, GoAbroad or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
  • Become a tourist or adventure guide.

Get a Degree
Even if you’ve already earned a college degree, you may want to continue your education if you have the funds and time.

  • Retrain in a different major or field.
  • Take continuing education classes.
  • Go back to school to get an advanced degree.

Have an Adventure
Like travel, an adventure may be best experienced while you don’t have too many other obligations. Options are limited only by your imagination and come with varying levels of risk and financial commitment.

  • Fix up a house.
  • Audition for a reality show.
  • Take a commercial fishing job.
  • Become a roadie for a band on tour.

By: Iowa Student Loan

The Graduation Checklist for Parents

This milestone for your student can mean a lot of work for you. Use this checklist to bring some order to the chaos.

□ Work with your student to be sure they’ve completed the administrative steps to officially graduate.

  • Remind your student to follow through on these tips for college students and high school graduates.
  • Your student should receive information on how and where to obtain a cap and gown—along with any special stoles, pins, tassels or regalia—for the ceremony.

□ Consider mementos of the occasion.

  • Your student will have the opportunity to order class rings, yearbooks and other products to mark this important milestone. Check for deadlines.
  • Graduation is also a good opportunity for family and individual photos. Many photographers specialize in senior portraits.

□ Make any reservations required.

  • If you will be traveling to a college graduation, you may find that hotel rooms and transportation options are booked quickly and up to a year in advance.
  • Graduation party venues may also become scarce depending on location and number of other graduates on your desired date.
  • If you will order baked goods, catering, tents or other services, be sure to start that process early.

□ Invite friends and family to the party.

  • Work with your student to plan a celebration everyone will enjoy.
  • If guests ask what they can gift to your high school graduate, consider suggesting contributions to a college saving account or a gift card that can be used for textbooks and materials.
  • Don’t forget to have thank-you cards on hand for your student to send shortly after the celebration.

□ Start planning the move.

  • Whether your college student is moving to a new job or returning home for a while, he or she may need assistance. See our moving checklist for college graduates.
  • As your high school graduate prepares to move to campus, keep a copy of the college’s suggested packing list handy. Also see some items you may want to take care of before fall term begins.

By: Iowa Student Loan

Student Loan Pro Tip: First Year Salary (Video)

Borrowing more than you can comfortably afford to pay back is setting yourself up for a difficult financial future. A simple rule to follow is not to borrow more to pay for college than your expected first year salary.

To learn more about student loans and avoiding debt, check out our Smart Borrowing resources: http://www.iowastudentloan.org/smartborrowing.

By: Iowa Student Loan

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