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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The Study Drug: Why Adderall Use Is Never Worth It

For those of you on the quarter system, finals are just around the corner. You’re likely feeling stressed at the end of this long year, and only just over the hurdle of your most recent midterms. You’ve heard stories of a friend of a friend who was able to stay up all night on energy drinks and Adderall, then aced his Organic Chemistry final. Sound familiar? What you may not be familiar with are the risks of  falling into such behavior yourself, the least of which is getting caught for a disciplinary offense. 

Adderall is a widely misused drug commonly referred to as the “study drug.” It’s most commonly abused by college students, though it is rapidly gaining in popularity with high school students across the country. In fact, according to data from Monitoring the Future, “10% of high school sophomores and 12% of high school seniors take these attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) drugs without a prescription from their doctor.”

It’s unclear why many college and now high school students turn to Adderall use, but some claim it is the high expectations set upon them to get betters grades in school.  Many high school students also begin to feel the pressure to perform better on finals at the end of the year. This pressure can be from parents, academic advisors, or just the increased competition to get into the right college. No matter where the pressure comes from, students will often use Adderall to help them to focus better, have more energy and motivation or spend hours awake cramming in last minute studying.

If you or  your friends are thinking about trying Adderall to help you cram or write a last minute paper, know the facts first:

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How To Be Successful at a Large University

Success: “The accomplishment of an aim or purpose” (Merriam-Webster).  Success is what every person should strive to reach every day.  It is the backbone and motivator for all of our wants and needs.  Achieving success in college requires hard work and a little bit of knowledge about how to beat the system.  The university system differs from high school in a plethora of ways.  You don’t have the same classes every day, there are up to 500 students in your classes, there is no mandatory attendance, and your grade can be based on your performance on one or two tests.  If you just graduated from high school and are about to begin college, or are already in college and have a newfound resolve for success, read on to discover how to be successful at a large university.

columbia

1. Define your success.  What are you looking to get out of college?  Is this just the next step in your educational journey?  Do you plan on using it as a stepping stone to a particular job or graduate program?  Do you just want to have fun?  Knowing what you want to get out of college before you begin is important.  Perhaps you want to make a difference on campus and run for a position on student government.  If you want a strong sense of fulfillment, giving back to the community and volunteering can get you there.  I was recruited at UCLA to play baseball, so my goal was to be as successful as I could in the classroom and on the field.

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How to Make the Most of your Study Abroad Experience

Part 2 of  “Another Kind of Green”: 15 helpful tips from our editorial intern on how to prepare for and make the most of your time studying abroad.

“Once in a while when it’s good, it’ll feel like it should.”  In John Mayer’s Song “Stop this Train”, Mayer compares life to a train that’s moving too fast, wanting it to stop.  He acknowledges that every now and again there comes a time when everything’s grooving.  If you tuned into my previous post, part 1 of “Another Kind of Green”, then you already know that while studying abroad everything “feels like it should.”  The experience is extremely amazing and provides great value to college students.  It is the most rewarding, gratifying, adventurous, and beneficial “educational” step I’ve ever taken in my life.  Studying abroad requires careful planning before and during the trip.  Taking the right steps to prepare for studying abroad will ease your transition  and reduce the culture shock of integrating into a new environment and culture.  It can also ensure a good fit between yourself and the educational institution, and even more importantly the country.  By keeping in mind the following tips for the before and during parts of your journey, you will be able to maximize your experience and keep on riding that train.

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Another Kind of Green: How Studying Abroad Can Improve Your College Experience

To study abroad or not to study abroad? It’s a question that confronts college students on a frequent basis, introducing an inevitable flurry of related questions that plague us: when should I go? Where should I go? WHY should I go??

Well, in an attempt to help you tackle those questions for yourself, our editorial intern shares his experiences of studying abroad in Rome and lists the 5 things you will reap by the bucketload should you decide to take the leap (and take it from us, you definitely should!):

“You don’t need to lose it to know that you had it good.” John Mayer puts it perfectly in his song “Another Kind of Green,” playing off the metaphor “the grass is always greener on the other side.” How many times in your life has it taken losing something to make you realize how good you had it? Although the song was referring specifically to relationships, this is true of so many other situations: a tough job, a class that’s giving you a hard time, an initially socially awkward moment, drudging through practice for a sport…

I’ve had this happen to me many times in life. Partly because I’m a fickle person by nature and always second guess my decisions.  A girl I swore I wanted nothing to do with seemed like the greatest thing in the world the second I broke up with her. The one time this hasn’t been the case is when I studied abroad. This was the one time in my life that I knew I was having the time of my life while it was happening. That’s a really cool feeling to have. I remember FaceTime’ing my mom while walking through the cobblestone streets of Trastevere (my neighborhood) with a huge smile on my face explaining my new life on the other side of the world (between her sobs and complaints that she missed me).

Piazza Navona, Rome

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Get Your Butt Out of That Rut!

How is it possible to be too comfortable? Honestly, I don’t think you can put a ceiling on something like comfort. Being the mathematical, rational genius that I am (got an A in pre-algebra, guys), I have spent countless hours deducing a mathematical equation for this.

Where:  x = number of snuggies in your possession

             y = degree to which your house smells like   chocolate chip cookies

                   (quantified by number of cookies in oven)

             z = number of Full House reruns being played on Nickelodeon

            :) = amount of sheer happiness

:) = x*y*z     (example:  :)=5*24*6    :)=720 which means you’re winning at everything–>

                       everyone is jealous of you)

Even though this seems completely logical, I gotta tell you… I’m wrong. Because sometimes you can be too comfortable. And it has nothing to do with cookies or Stephanie Tanner’s witticisms (“…How rude).

It’s a strange thing.

On the one hand, you have no energy or motivation to do the things you normally do. The very thought of it just makes you want to nap.

On the other hand, you feel like you have millions of little energy particles literally trying to burst out of your skin but they have nowhere to go so they just kind of, you know, hang out and make you feel antsy (See Figure 1).

Figure 1.

Picture 1

You, my friend, are in a “rut.”

Your daily routine bores you. You don’t really feel challenged or motivated. Your friends are great, but maybe that one little annoying thing your friend does has now transformed into the worst, most inexcusable thing in the world and the very sight of him/her makes you want to punch something. You go to the same places when you’re out at night. You’ve probably been eating the same thing for the past week or so because you don’t have the desire to brainstorm and peanut butter is just so versatile (put it on anything and everything). This overly comfortable feeling makes your own skin feel like the least comfortable thing possible. You definitely would like to jump out of it; honestly, no amount of snuggies can remedy this.

In sum, your brain is asleep, but your soul wants to party.

Friends, it’s time to rally.

First things first, get up and dance it out. Put on some Michael Jackson and moonwalk out of that rut-hut. If you don’t like dancing, you can just wiggle a bit and flail your extremities around.

Now we can start thinking about how to remedy this little problem.

People often say that in these times, it’s helpful to step out of your comfort zone and do something new. And they say it because it’s true. There’s no reason to feel stuck- the only person making you feel stuck is yourself. There are SO many things you can do. Endless. Why limit yourself? Bet you didn’t even realize you were limiting yourself. But you were. So stop it. Seriously, stop it.

There are so many things to be inspired and motivated by in this world, and they’re all around us. We lose sight of it incredibly easily, and I think that’s one of the main challenges we all face in life. Trying new things is a great way to get yourself excited about your life again, but it’s equally as important to try and see the world around you in new ways. Gaining new perspective will help you see all the reasons you have to feel lucky, blessed, appreciative, and pumped up about living the life you’re living, in the place you’re living it.

I feel like I’m coming upon a rut in my own life. And I’ve decided I’m going to unleash a counter attack. A sneak attack. I’m a ninja.

My goal for the next couple of months? I’m going to explore the city I live in. I’m going to live like a tourist. For me, my overly comfortable place has kept me from feeling the need to travel more than 10 minutes for anything. Sorry, friends who live more than 10 minutes away, it wasn’t you… it was the rut.

So, I’m about to challenge myself to see as much of this place as I can. I’m going to talk to strangers and eat foods I’ve never eaten at restaurants I’ve never been to. I’m going to pretend to analyze great works of art at beautiful museums and I’m going to hike up and fall down hills that remind me of the Sound of Music. Basically, I’m going to try tons of new things so I can maybe gain a new, fresh perspective about this place I’ve been sitting in for so long.

Life should always be something that excites you.

Don’t you forget that, either. Make it your mantra. Repeat it over and over again until it sticks. If it helps, you can imagine me saying it to you. I read somewhere that imagining something scary helps you remember things better, I think.

So… what will you do to wake yourself up? How will you challenge yourself?

And if you’re still having trouble with this, just take a little creative advice from our old friend Harold and his best friend…the legendary purple crayon.

He definitely knew what was up.


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