Tag Archive: college

Making Learning Materials Affordable in the Golden State

An Introduction to Our Two-Part Series About How California’s Major University Systems Have Been Tackling the High Cost of Textbooks and the Larger Issue of Learning Inequality

The last several years have seen lots of discussion and debate about the need to make textbooks more affordable in order to combat the high-cost of college that all too often leaves young people saddled with lifelong debt — or worse, which prohibits them from getting the education they need in order to live up to their academic, personal, and financial potential.

In the coming weeks, we’ll present part one of two-part series where we look at California, my home state and the home to some of the largest colleges and universities and state school systems in America, to see exactly what has become of those discussions — and the subsequent efforts and results — about the cost of learning materials and the larger questions about unequal access to education.

Stay tuned, this will be a must-read series that goes well beyond California in terms of relevance.

Spring Break tips for students: Saving money, and staying safe

Springbreak

It is officially the mid-semester season of increasing temperatures, mid terms, and job recruiting—and obviously, Spring Break is right around the corner. ‘Tis the season for college students to create those embarrassing memories, soak up the sun, and have the best times of their young lives. Unfortunately, the huge hype of Spring Break comes with a fat price tag and dangerous risks. Here are a few tips to keep your wallets fat and your face not on the 6 o’clock news.

1.     If you go abroad, know the exchange rates

 Luckily for most American students, the prime foreign destination for spring break is Mexico, where the peso is fiscally dominated by the US dollar. However, if you are passing more than ten time zones, the US dollar may not stand so strong. Avoid exchanging currencies at the airport where they are notorious for ripping off travellers. You are best off exchanging at the local bank, through your credit cards, or an ATM (which may be subject to a fee). Regardless, check the newspaper or a currency converter to at least gain the accurate information, and always do a mental double check before buying anything, to make sure you’re getting a good deal.

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Cash-Strapped College Part 3: Now what?

Cash

This is the last of a three-part series on how to save money on your education. Find the first post here, and the second here.

 

I believe more congratulations are in order if you are reading this section. You’ve suffered through 4-5 years of undergrad and you’re looking toward the future. Maybe you are a bit more weathered and a bit less bright eyed and bushy tailed about the future, but you’re here and you’re going to make the best of it.

 

Dealing with huge loan payments in an already dismal employment market can be back breaking. On top of the car payment, credit card payment(s) and cell phone bill, you now have to start paying for that sheet of paper on your wall that says you learned something. But don’t fret too much—you do have options.

 

STAY IN SCHOOL: This is the first option many consider and as counter intuitive as it may seem, the idea has some merit. While sticking around for grad school or another BS/BA may easily double your debt, it also allows you to defer your payments until you graduate. While this tactic obviously digs the hole even deeper, it buys you time. Time to get more education, more internships and presumably a competitive edge in the job market. It also buys you time outside of the job market in the hopes that when you are finally forced from the warm cocoon of college life into the unforgiving “real world” that the job market will have improved.

DEFERMENT: Instead of staying in school to defer your debt, among other reasons, you can also defer your debt for other reasons that don’t come with more student loans. Besides student enrollment, deferment comes in two other flavors that you should know about: economic hardship and unemployment.

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Cash-Strapped College Part 2: Once you’re there

Cash

This is the second of a three-part series. Find the first post here.


Congratulations, you’ve been accepted to college and secured enough scholarships, loans and savings to enroll. Now you get to explore the large and exciting (and parent—free) world that is college life. Chances are this will be your first time living away from your parents and it’s probable that you’ve never managed your own expenses before. With all the freedom that college offers, it can be easy to forget that you don’t always have the finances to explore all of that freedom. 

 

By this point hopefully you’ve sat down with your parents, or at least had a serious discussion with yourself, and created a monthly budget. It’s important to not only plan for your known expenses but to have enough wiggle room to accommodate unforeseen expenses like car repairs, replacing stolen property or even late night pizza for your “study group.” With that in mind, it is important to cut corners where you can because every penny you save is a penny you don’t have to borrow and pay back later at 12% interest.

 

Here is your guide to pinching your pennies at college.

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Cash-Strapped College Part 1: Before You Leave

Cash

Next to purchasing a home, paying for college is one of the largest investments in a lifetime. Obviously, saving money is on the top of the priority list. Having wealthy parents is the first money-saving strategy. If that’s out of the question, there are still a few things you can do before, during and after your college years to save money. This is the first of a three-part weekly series, and going in logical order, will outline some strategies for both parents and students to cut costs and reduce loans before you even get on campus.

BEFORE COLLEGE

The earlier you start preparing for college the better. For parents, starting a college fund earlier rather than later is always advisable, even if you feel you can’t contribute very much to it each month. One option is a 529 savings plan, which is especially beneficial if your student is aiming for a state school. These plans  “are operated by the state government, [and] allow you to lock in future tuition costs at participating schools at today’s prices, providing a guarantee against tuition inflation” says Rachel Grumman, in her Mom’s Guide to College Savings.

 

Things like having an after school job to put money away can help too, but one of the most valuable things a student can do is learn how to budget. Learning about money goes hand in hand with earning money, and high school students who are responsible for their own expenses are often more financially responsible when they reach college.

 

Lisa Belkin, at New York Times blog Motherlode, says that “being the parent of an 18-year-old means second guessing a lot of choices made over 18 years, and one that I might have done differently is the decision not to have him get a job until the end of high school.” Her regret isn’t unique, as any parent slammed with a credit card bill or a pleading phone call can attest. Over the course of a four-year undergraduate study, the ability to budget their income and avoid expenses can save a student more than many scholarships award.

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