How to Pick the Right College for You

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Congratulations high schoolers! Another school year is over and summer has just begun! While we’re certain that you’re all out to have a good time and unwind, the summer is also an opportune time to start thinking about next steps, and it’s likely that a good number of your summer vacations revolve around touring college campuses. Do you know where life will take you after high school, and what might be the right college for you? If the answer to that question still eludes you, we know a great resource to help you figure it all out.

Imagine if there was one simple infographic that pointed you to the exact college for you: one in the right state, that offers the right major, and comes at a great price. Choosing the right campus would be a breeze, right? Well, you’re in luck! Because Affordable Colleges Online is just that:

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The High Cost of College

How to decide whether a four-year degree is right for you.

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In a post from May last year we pondered the question, should everyone go to college? And what might still be surprising to some, the answer was a resounding no. As eNotes editor and college professor Jamie described it then,

I believe anyone who wants an education should  pursue one. But I also see many incredibly gifted students who have skills that they are actively discouraged from mastering because they are supposed to have a Bachelor’s degree.  I see young people who have no real interest or desire to stay in school another four years who are miserable and many who are racking up debt when they could be doing something they enjoy, avoiding debt, and making money.

The prevailing opinion in America is that every student must go to college; if they don’t, they’ve somehow failed, or been failed by the system. Yet the cost of an American college education is among the highest in the world. So, if that college degree does you no favors in the job force, or if you drop out before completing your four years, you’re burdened with a mass of student debt to shoulder for the next twenty years.

That’s why it’s important to look at the costs of a college education, weighing out the pros and cons of each side and determining what’s right for you. If you plan to spend your life in academia, of course a university education is a necessity. But if you’d be better suited to a skilled trade, would the debt and time spent out of the workforce pay off? Here’s an excellent infographic from affordable-online-colleges.net to help you weigh your options. You might be surprised by what you find, like the high success rates of those who choose a two-year college over pursuing a Bachelor’s degree.

Read on and let us know your thoughts and questions!

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What the $$$$ Just Happened to My Student Loans?!!

Paying for college is tough enough, but have you heard about the recent hikes in interest rates for student loans? Read on to find out how this affects you as either a current student or someone in repayment, plus how government officials plan to resolve the issue of crippling student debt.

As of yesterday, Stafford Loan interest rates doubled from 3.4% to 6.8%. Congress did not pass an alternative measure before the July 4th break, which will end at 2:00pm on Monday, July 8th. However, it still has the option to pass a measure that will retroactively affect the rise in interest rates, altering the Stafford Loan rates for this year’s students and perhaps others. This article will outline a few of the options Congress faces, what changes may be made, and how those changes might affect students with Stafford Loans.

Student Loans Crippling Many

Protestors advocate against increased interest rates.

What is a Stafford Loan and how does it work?

Stafford Loans are the most common kind of federal student loans available. They are available to students at accredited institutions

in the United States, a category to which most colleges and universities in the United States pertain. Stafford Loans can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. Of these, subsidized loans tend to have lower interest rates, and the federal government pays the interest that the loans accrue. Contrastingly, the interest that accumulates on unsubsidized Stafford Loans is capitalized, meaning that it is added to the part of the loan on which interest is paid.

Subsidized Stafford Loans are available to those who demonstrate financial need via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form, which must be renewed each year a student wishes to apply. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are available to all students who meet the Stafford Loan requirements, which can be found here.

In addition to Stafford Loans, the government gives out PLUS Loans, which are unsubsidized loans and in the past have had higher interest rates than Stafford Loans. PLUS Loans are available to graduate students and parents of students.

The Option Proposed by President Obama:

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Would You Tattoo for Education?

Private schools, well-known for their tolerance of the off-beat,  surely welcomed Kari Smith’s son into their fold (sarcasm). In 2005, unable to afford the pricey tuition, Kari did what…well, almost no one, I had hoped… would do. She offered her forehead as advertising space online and soon had a taker, the virtual casino “Golden Palace.com.”

Like me, you may have hoped that this was a random act of desperation but alas, it was just the beginning. While mobile marketing like wrapped cars are a frequent sight, they just aren’t able to get into tight spaces, like Wal-marts. Did I mention Ms. Smith collected a cool $10,000? That fact motivated dozens of other people to go under the tattoo gun.  If you think this sounds like a dandy idea, check out http://leaseyourbody.com. The website promises you will get “novel attention.” And for those of us who are writers, any attention, especially the “novel” kind, gives us pause.


New Student Aid Package: How Can You Benefit?

Reuters reports that President Obama will today sign into a law an overhaul of the nation’s student loan programs. The new rules cut banks out of the equation, which the President says will benefit students and taxpayers. From the article:

The White House said the change would save taxpayers $68 billion over the next decade. The money saved will help expand and strengthen the federal Pell Grant program for students.

The change will cap college graduates’ annual student loan repayments at 10 percent of their income, spends more at community colleges and awards $2.55 billion to historically black colleges and universities.

Obama’s fellow Democrats in the Senate and House of Representatives got the measure through Congress by tucking it into a package of changes approved last Thursday to the sweeping U.S. healthcare overhaul.

So how can you benefit from the overhaul? Most of the benefit will come in greater availability of student loans and Pell Grants. Pell Grants are need-based grants made to low-income students and you can apply online. Also, if you have an existing student loan, you will benefit from only having pay a maximum 10% of your total income to service the loan payments.


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