Wednesday, May 12, 2010

5 creative ways to earn extra cash in college

If you are like most college students, you are probably having trouble making ends meet. The price of tuition, books and board have almost depleted your income and you are facing yet another semester eating one meal a day. You are not alone but there are things you can do to put some money back into your pocket. Below are 5 easy and creative ways for you to generate some extra income while in school.
1. Learn to Blog – If you are one of those people that have a knack for writing or maybe you write for the college newspaper, online blogging may be a great way for you to turn your words into cash. Many companies are hiring freelance writers to generate articles, advertisements or any other business related material they may not have the resources to generate themselves. To be able to compete in this market you will need relatively good writing skills and some basic knowledge of blogging software. A quick Google search can turn up hundreds of companies looking for people to write for them.
2. Have a garage sale – Your dad has been bugging you to clean out the garage since before you left for college. Now is the time to surprise him next time you are home on vacation. Items like your old bicycle and sled are just collecting dust. Why not clear out some of this stuff and have a garage sale?
Make sure you get the word out. The best method to advertise your sale is to place flyers around your neighborhood. Make sure that your flyers are easy to read and use a bright colored paper to draw in attention. If you are having a yard sale, make sure you check the weather conditions for the day of the sale.
3. Become a Photographer –Do you like to take pictures as hobby? Are you enrolled in a photography class this semester? Selling your photography can generate some extra income. Advertising companies, PR firms, entertainment companies, etc. are always in need of stock photos. If you are not sure where to start, do an online search for companies looking for photographers.
Richard Wong is a freelance photographer in California.
“I live in Southern California and have spent a lot of time photographing scenic locations in my area as if they were the Yosemite Valley Overlook. As a result, I have generated a healthy revenue stream from shoots that have cost me little in the way of travel costs.”
Here’s a tip: focus more on shots of people and figures. The market is saturated with landscape images.
4. Become an Artist – Do you like to paint or draw? Maybe you do sculptures for friends or you are an actual Art major. If you think other people would pay money to own your work? Maybe it’s time show your art publicly.
Art galleries usually charge a fee to show your work but some smaller places may allow you to show your work free for a limited time. Your college may offer an art showing for student artists and faculty. It is also a good idea to show your work in one gallery for a few days then move it to another. Ebay is also a great place to sell, considering people from all over the world will see your masterpiece.
5. Sell on Ebay – There is so much truth to the saying “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” People on Ebay will buy almost anything and no matter how horrid you think that Velvet Elvis you won in Panama Beach looks, someone out there wants it.
A quick look into your parent’s attic can turn up all sorts of little trinkets that you can transform into fast money. Articles like clothing, books, you dad’s old golf clubs and VHS tapes can easily be sold on Ebay. Items including old coins, inexpensive souvenirs or old work out equipment are also good ideas.
Just about any item you can part with will eventually catch the attention of someone who cannot live without it. Even items as ridiculous as a chicken finger in the shape of a chocolate Easter Bunny have sold on Ebay, and some odd items have sold for a hefty price.
Helpful Tip: Make sure that the buyer agrees to pay for shipping on each item you sell.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Schools nationwide address textbook cost

A major financial burden to students continuing their education is the massive amount of money they must pay each semester for textbooks. Colleges across the country are taking into consideration the rising cost of tuition, higher living expenses and are finding new ways to deliver curriculum without the student having to shell out hundreds of dollars each semester for textbooks they will only use once.

Some states have appointed special task forces to investigate newer and cheaper alternatives for students. In addition to addressing cost, many universities are also focusing on making textbook information accessible to the student earlier. States like Mississippi have appointed a representative from each major university to head-up their task force.

Bill Broyles, assistant vice president for Student Affairs at Mississippi State University, who co-chairs the task force, stated that the main objective was to make information more affordable to the student. Mississippi State officials first examined the problem in 2007, where a detailed report was written with a lot of recommendations but few requirements

With the country’s current economic crisis and an upsurge in enrollment, there is a new sense of urgency for school officials to act. Some of the textbook alternatives include electronic textbooks. Students can simply download the material for a fraction of what it would cost them in hardback form. High Schools across the nation have already begun using laptops with curriculum already loaded into the machine instead of the traditional hard-cover textbook. This practice, along with online degree training has made it to the college level and has made getting an education easier and more affordable.

Textbook rental is also a newer and popular alternative. Large publishing companies, such as McGraw-Hill have are partnering with online sites that allow students to simply rent used textbooks at a much smaller cost. Also, university book stores are beginning to offer similar programs to their students, sparing them exuberant textbook prices.  Students simply turn it their textbooks at the end of each semester without having to purchase or resell any material.


Surviving your freshman year: Battle plan for first time college students.

So you’ve finally made it through high school and you are starting your first semester in college. This is a very exciting time for you but it can also be very stressful. You are lonely, broke and surrounded by strangers.
According to American College Testing, half of incoming freshman will drop out before completing their education. But, the purpose of this article is not to stress you out further. You can make your first college year a good one if you follow some simple steps.

Keep in Touch – “Call your mother!” I’m sure you have heard this a thousand times in your life. Friends and family are your biggest fans and no one wants you to succeed more than they do. Plan a trip back home for the weekend or communicate through email.
Remember, you're not away from home forever. You’ll get to spend lots of time at home during the holidays.

Get to know who is around you –It’s perfectly normal for you to feel homesick when you get to college. This is especially true for students who have traveled from other states or countries to further their education. Remember, there are lots of other people around you that are in the same boat. This is the time for you to network. Try making new friends or join a club like the campus decoration committee. Maybe you could organize a cookout for everyone in your dorm on game day. These are the people who can truly relate to what you are going through and will be there to lean on when you need them.

Get Organized – This isn’t high school anymore and you won’t have your professors hounding you for your homework. If you are taking 15 credit hours this semester, it’s not all that difficult to miss a due date or forget about an assignment altogether. It’s probably time to learn how to use that calendar app on your cell phone and keep track of your due dates.

Meet your professors. College professors are humans too. They will probably be more willing to help you throughout the semester if you make yourself known. Don’t be afraid to speak up during class discussions. If you know the answer, raise your hand. You might want to stay after class and go over the lecture. Maybe you need some pointers on the semester project and need to schedule extra time to meet with your professor. For whatever reason, you are demonstrating that you are assertive and willing to learn. .

Get involved on Campus –Are you sick of the same old routine? You go to class in the morning, spend the afternoon with your nose in a book, then stare at the television set before you crawl into bed. Most of your free time is spent watching your roommate play Grand Theft Auto. Why not participate in a campus activity or club? Get involved with a class study group or campus awareness team. Being a part of an event or project gives you a sense of purpose and helps alleviate your boredom.

Show up for class –It’s very tempting to skip class when you were out with your buddies until 3:30 a.m. the night before. One or two absences won’t make or break your college career. However, habitual absences lead to poor class performance and will eventually affect your transcript. Crucial information you may need for the math quiz was covered in class and cannot be found in your textbook. Make it a habit to attend all of your classes and to participate in class activities. If you must sleep through your 8 a.m. History lecture, make arrangements with a classmate to copy any lecture notes or announcements from the class.

Strive for Balance – College life is a delicate balance of work and play. Nothing is more rewarding than blowing off some steam with friends after you aced your geography test. Remember that college is full of temptations. There will be times when you would rather go out with your friends than open a book. Learning to balance your course work with your social life is imperative to your success.


Friday, May 7, 2010

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger pledge to California college students

In the midst of recent budget cuts and tuition hikes, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger is prepared to to dump extra money into higher education. The possibility of a bump in tax revenues and angry public protests are likely behind his decision.

Details and numbers are unclear since no one in the state legislature, including the Governor has a handle on the state budget. California's budget will be official calculated later this month when new revisions are implemented comparing spending against revenues.

The Governor wants to put an extra $2 billion into the state's higher education system - a combined student body of 3.5 million attending community colleges, California State University and the University of California campuses. The new number will be held against California's current $21 billion deficit.

Student fees have climbed 61 percent at UC and 68 percent at CSU since Governor Schwarzenegger took office in 2003. The amount of state fund money allocated for higher education has also remained at historic lows as Sacramento cut the budget amid an enduring recession.

Schwarzenegger issues a stern warning regarding the new education money. "If anyone tries to tinker around with that particular area of my budget, I will not sign the budget," he said.

The package consists of $1.1 billion per year that goes to 303,000 students who are awarded an average of $4,480 each to pay student fees, tuition costs and living expenses.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Sallie Mae reduces rates on private student loan programs

The largest private student loan lender in the nation announced Tuesday that the Smart Option student loan rate will be lowered to between 2.88 percent and 10.25 percent. That is down from the 4.38 percent to 12.88 percent range.

Effective Monday, the new rates are based on the current London Interbank Offered Rate, or LIBOR. Under the Smart Option private student loan program, students pay interest while in college and graduate with debt, but with the prospect of paying off the loans faster, claims Sallie Mae.
"Sallie Mae's Smart Option Loan is a favorable option for families who need to fill the gap in their college funding," says Scott M. Kahan, Certified Financial Planner practitioner and president of the wealth management firm Financial Asset Management Corp. in New York City. "By paying the interest while in school, families can save a lot of money and pay off their debt much sooner. This goes a long way in managing your finances responsibly." 

Sallie Mae’s Smart Reward program will allow Smart Option borrower to eliminate 2 percent of their scheduled in-school interest payments by making a series of on-time payments. Cosigners can now be released from the loan in as little as 12 months after the borrower’s graduation for customers who make their payments on time.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Student Loans Will Fund Health Care Reform

 The recent passage of health care overhaul legislation makes the federal government the primary piggy-bank of student loans for prospective students, erasing the subsidies paid by the federal government to private student loan providers who previously had been involved in the lending process.

According to Sen. Lamar Alexander, (R-TN) the real purpose of the Obama administration’s plan is to “overcharge 19 million students on their student loans, to help pay for the Democrats’ health care bill.

Under the current FFEL system, banks make loans to students. While the student is in school, the federal gov pays the interest on those loans. After graduation, the lender collects on the loans. If the loans are in default, the gov picks up the tab. This is great for bankers but bad for the taxpayer.

Under the new system, all new federal student packages will originate through the Direct Student Loan program, moving the loans out of the FFEL program. The Committee on Education and Labor estimates the new program will enable 500,000 students to keep their Pell grants, avoiding the 60 percent cut that was previously expected. However, proponents of the legislation say this is a way to nationalize the student loan industry and to fund health-care reform.

Sen. Alexander said, “This is how it will work: The federal government will borrow money at 2.8 percent and then lend it to students at 6.8 percent—spending the difference on health care and new government programs. In Tennessee, 200,000 students have student loans, so what this latest takeover means is that those Tennessee students will, on average, pay $1,700-1,800 more in interest over 10 years—to pay for the Democrats’ health care bill.

Financial experts who oppose the new bill say the federal gov, instead of lowering costs for students, will use the revenue to fund other gov programs. According to the preliminary CBO estimate produced this morning, the new bill will take $9.1 billion over 10 years from students’ interest payments to fund recently passed health care legislation.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Difficult Economic Times Increase The Need For Private Student Loans

While the nation is still recovering from a massive financial catastrophe and credit crisis, families have watched their savings and home values shrivel away. The thought of sending their children to college has become a great source of despair - considering these are the two biggest contributors families use to fund their child's education.

Adding to the problem, college grants and scholarships are down, while tuition costs continues to rise, creating a large gap between federal student loan caps and the finances required to fund an education. The federal PLUS loan may help bridge this gap, but families are still looking to private funding so they can afford their child's education.

Over the last 15 years, the gap between what grants, scholarships and federal loans cover, and the actual cost of attendance has increased by more than $30,000 for public or state schools and $100,000 for private institutions.

Families who are looking for extra money need to do some research first. Private student loans have a higher interest rates but often have more incentives for the borrower. It is a good idea not to borrow more than you need. A student loan calculator can help families estimate their child's overall financial needs

Local community banks and credit unions are more willing to provide private student loans if you're already in good standing with them. Also, smaller lending outlets may offer a smaller interest rate, so it's a good idea to shop around