Posts Tagged ‘higher education’

An Alternative to Traditional Community College

March 31, 2011

Are you about to graduate high school or do you have a child who is close to graduating?  If so, you may want to consider the following option.  College is an important step to take; therefore, you want to make the right decision in choosing a school.  Community college, while affordable and convenient, might not always be someone’s top choice.  Luckily, there are alternatives, such as online universities.  There are pros and cons to choosing this type of schooling.

If you or your child is graduating high school but traditional community college offerings fall short of your expectations, attending an online university may work for you. Higher education is just a click away.Pros

  • Learning at your own pace. With online college, you can either finish a course quickly or slow down and really analyze your courses.  Having this option can be very beneficial.
  • Fits any lifestyle. Whether you are busy or have a lot of time on your hands online college can work both ways.  If you have multiple jobs and responsibilities (e.g. family life), online college is great because there is no time requirement as long as you get your courses done, and you stay on track.
  • Attend class anywhere. If you decide to go on a trip with some friends or visit family in another state, your classes basically go with you!  As long as you have access to a computer and an Internet connection, you’re set.

Cons

  • You must be self-disciplined. Even though you may be busy with other things, you still have to find time to finish all your coursework.  If you don’t this, your grades will suffer and you may even have to withdrawal from the course, forcing you to retake the class next semester.
  • No social interaction. This might not be a problem for some but if you are the type of learner that needs to work with people to grasp a certain concept, online college might not be the best choice.
  • Waiting on virtual assistance. In a classroom your teacher is right there, so when you have a question, they are ready to answer it.  For online college, you might have to wait a few hours or days to get your answer because you would need to e-mail your teacher with the question, and wait for their reply.

This is just one of the alternatives to community college but this is the one that I feel would be helpful.  Online college, though it requires more effort, helps build discipline and good problem-solving skills you will need in your future career.  It also gives you the control to shape and manage your own schedule.  Whether you feel this is a good option or not, consider online college as the key to your success.  For help finding the right online college for you, go to this website.

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Joie Montoya

 

Saving Money for College

February 11, 2011

College tuition, books, supplies and the basics needed for living can cost a lot of money when you go to college.  There are a few things you can do to start saving up for your education such as having a savings account started by your parents when you are young, having a job, and spending your money wisely.  Learning to budget your spending in college is a great way to take control of your personal finances.  I’ve noticed that one of the most stressful things people experience is not having the money to support themselves.  You can avoid that by saving your money ahead of time.  Planning your budget every month is another great tool you can use while in college.  At the beginning of each month, you should decide on how much money you will need for basic necessities.  If you have extra money at the end of the month, you can take out a little for an occasional luxury.  It isn’t smart to spend without a carefully planned budget.  The best thing to do is save money each month.  You never know what unexpected expenses could come up.

The financial responsibilities your parents take up while you are growing up include saving for your college education.  Once you go to college, you start taking on some of those responsibilities.  What better way to learn about money than by budgeting your spending while you go to college.While you are in college, it could be hard to stick to your carefully laid out budget.  Buying food and alcohol, as college students are wont to do, could cost you a lot of money.  Coffee runs, especially during midterms and finals, can add up fast as well.  The best thing you can do to combat impulse buying is to buy your food at the supermarket, using coupons and club discount cards whenever possible.  If you make your coffee where you live, you will save money in the long run.  With regards to alcohol, drink only on occasion or go to parties that supply the drinks.  Avoid drinking at bars or restaurants, since alcoholic beverages tend to be pricey.  Saving money can be a difficult task, but if you learn to do it right early on, it will become second nature.  Think of it as doing yourself a favor that you will appreciate for years to come.

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Taylor P.

College Aid Opportunities to the Rescue

May 6, 2010

Parents often find the first bill from their child’s college a real eye-opener.  When they do the math, they realize their current cash flow and financial aid insufficient.  Where can parents and students alike turn to make up the difference?  Here are six college aid options to consider.

Where can parents and students turn to when their cash flow and financial aid are insufficient? Some options include Stafford Loans and PLUS, among other options.Federal Government Stafford Loans

You can apply to borrow money for your school until May of the current school year.  Undergraduates can borrow $2,625-$5,500 per year, while graduate students can borrow up to $18,500.  For the 2008-09 through 2011-12 school years, subsidized Stafford loan interest rates for undergraduate students drop to 6.0%, 5.6%, 4.5% and 3.4%, with a return to 6.8% in 2012-13.  Loans for graduate students throughout the same period remain at 6.8%.  The government will pay interest on the loan for students who can demonstrate need. Students who do not demonstrate need can defer interest payments until after graduation, but interest will be added to the principal balance.  If you must borrow from a bank, consider Sallie Mae, a bank affiliated with the Student Loan Marketing Association.

Parent Loans for Undergraduate Students (PLUS)

PLUS allows parents to borrow the total cost of tuition less the amount of financial aid the child is eligible to receive from the school, with a fixed interest rate capped at 8.5%.  Unlike the Stafford Loan, the interest on a PLUS cannot be deferred.

Deferred-payment

Although most colleges bill students twice a year, Academic Management Services offers a monthly payment plan to spread out the cost.

Home-equity loans

When applying for this type of loan, your bank will charge the prime lending rate plus one-and-one-half points.  The interest on the loan is fully tax-deductible.  Furthermore, the equity reduction in your home improves your chances of receiving more financial aid in the future.

Borrow against your pension

According to federal law, you can borrow against the assets in your tax-deferred pension, profit-sharing and 401 (k) plans if you need money for college.

Borrow from your IRA

Consider this your very last option if possible.  According to federal law, you can borrow funds against your IRA on the condition that you can replace the funds within 60 days.  If you cannot replace the funds within 60 days, you will be taxed on the amount withdrawn, but you won’t incur a 10% penalty because the funds went towards qualified higher education purposes such as tuition.

Families should become aware of the options they have at their disposal towards paying for the college education of their children with the understanding that they’re not alone.  The federal government provides loans with manageable interest rates and terms for students and parents alike.  Even if they don’t turn to the government for help, they have additional options.  Children should not be denied higher education opportunities just because of a perceived lack of funds or insufficient financial aid.  Families just have to know where to look.

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Francis M. Unson