Tag Archives | planning

Image by GotCredit, Flickr

Image by GotCredit, Flickr

When preparing to apply for colleges and choose your major, it’s important to consider what kinds of debts you are getting into and how you are going to get out of them. Of course, for many, money will be a huge obstacle to obtaining higher education. With tuitions rising higher than inflation, there is cause to worry that many students get in over their head in debts that are near impossible to pay back.

It’s important to understand all the options available to you as far as paying back your loans, even before entering college your first year. There are certain fields and professions that make it easier for new graduates to wipe away debts in the long term at a fraction of the total repayment rate. If you prepare for those jobs ahead of time, and know what you are getting into, you can make the most of your college education to ensure you have the skills needed to succeed in those areas after graduation.

For example, most federal loans can be forgiven after 10 years of graduation and also offer low monthly minimum payments if you consistently work in the public sector or are working at either a Title 1 school, or elementary or secondary school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE). If you are planning to be an educator of any kind this is something to consider ahead of time.

Also, if you know you are going to be working in one of these situations after graduation then you can plan your studies accordingly, giving additional focus and attention to skills that will help you where you are going. In this way you might minor in ethnic studies so as to be more informed and sensitive to the issues facing the population you are planning to serve after graduation. Or choose to take language classes that might help you better communicate with students and parents.

In the case of doctors and dentists there are similar programs that help wipe out your student debts if you serve in underprivileged areas for certain amounts of time. The programs vary from state to state which is why it’s important to study up ahead of time and make a plan for yourself post-graduation.

You may not be able to work in a school or hospital in your hometown to start, but if you’re prepared to travel and are ready to live and work in new communities that you’ve worked hard to understand, then it will make the transition easier and the payback of loans that much more efficient.

Be aware of these loan forgiveness programs before you sign up for your student loan. Often times private bank loans are not forgiven so be sure you know what your options will be post-graduation.

Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program
In 2007, congress created the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program to reward citizens who have chosen relatively lower paying jobs in the public sector, or work at non-profit organizations. This program forgives the remainder of a loan after 10 years of regular monthly re-payments. As an example, here is how the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program might work:
“Borrower is earning $40,000/year with a family size of four. The loan balance is $48,000, with an interest rate of 6.875%. Borrower could qualify for an income based payment of $52/mo. After making 120 qualifying payments, borrower would have paid $6,240 in student loan payments, and the balance of $48,000 – $6,240 = $41,760 would be forgiven. This does not include interest that would also be forgiven, and assumes that the person’s income and family size will not change for ten years.” ~Student Debt Relief

Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program
Arguably the most beneficial of all the forgiveness options is the Teacher Loan Forgiveness program – as certain qualifying teachers are eligible for both full forgiveness of the remaining balance after a 10 year term and principal reduction of up to $17,500. As mentioned above, an eligible teacher is one who is not currently defaulting on their loan and who is also working at either a Title 1, elementary or secondary school operated by the Bureau of Indian Education (BIE).The ten year Teacher Loan Forgiveness program is part of the public service loan forgiveness program, but in most cases teachers qualify for and receive benefits of both programs.

State-specific Debt Forgiveness Programs
In addition to federal student debt forgiveness programs there are also numerous state-specific programs that will alleviate all or part of your debts for certain types of service. Everything from volunteer firefighting, to dentistry, to volunteer work can help pay down your student debts.

Where loan-forgiveness is not an option, it may be suitable to consolidate loans into one lower monthly payment to at least avoid defaulting. This will put student borrowers in the position to seek out better employment and other opportunities for loan forgiveness in the long term.

Always read the fine print on any loan you are considering and consult with professionals regarding your long-term options before making any decisions about forgiveness or consolidation. Weigh the pros and cons of any option and also prepare to utilize the creative ways to pay off the loans after graduation so you’re not saddled with debt for the next three decades.

This article was contributed by guest author Barney Whistance.

Image by malan10, Flickr

Image by malan10, Flickr

Once fall semester ends, you may want to think of nothing more than the upcoming break. Winter break is an excellent time to rest, recharge and prepare for the coming year. However, to productively prepare for the next semester, take a little time during break to organize your upcoming agenda.

Evaluate Your Fall Semester
This may be your best opportunity to evaluate your academic plan and overall progress. Everything is still fresh in your mind. Before winter break makes all the good and bad experiences fade a little, ask yourself a few questions:

  • How did I meet my goals this semester?
  • Did I take too many/too few classes?
  • Do I make adequate time for study?

The answers to these questions can help you assess what to do differently next semester. If you have yet to see your academic adviser this school year, winter break is a good time to make an appointment. Discuss the classes you still need to take and ensure you are still in the right major for your career plans.

Plan for Next Semester
Make a list of the classes you would like to take next semester, with a few alternates in case you cannot get into one or two of them. This is also an important time to evaluate other needs, like work, sleep, recreation and family life. Be sure to find a healthy work/life balance. Remember, it is better to need one more semester of classes than to register for a large load, get overwhelmed and fail half of them.

Organize Textbooks
If you do not get a chance to sell your textbooks at the end of the semester, take a moment to sort through them now. Keep the ones you intend to use in future studies or as a reference. Sell or donate the ones you do not want to keep, to earn money for books needed for next semester. Books are usually easiest to sell a month or two before the next semester begins. Upon receiving your class list for spring, consider the many ways to save money on textbooks, including renting books or buying them used.

Apply for Education Financing
Your finances may be set for this academic year, but each year is different. The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is not technically due until June 30. However, to get your share of grants and other non-student loan aid, apply as soon as possible after Jan. 1. If you do not already have a full scholarship, look at the thousands of available scholarships online. If you’re still overwhelmed with college finances, speak with your parents to develop a plan.

Review Ongoing Educational Concepts
Thankfully, most items on this to-do list shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours. Though this one may take a little longer, depending on your educational goals. There is always a bit of a regression when taking more than a week off school, especially if you are moving from one level to the next on the same subject. If you understand concepts relatively quickly, you might not need more than an hour or two the night before school starts again. However, if the mathematical concepts you once mastered now seem like a mystery, or if you forgot more French than you learned during the last semester, consider reviewing concepts a week or two earlier.

Enjoy winter break as much as possible. However, by spending a couple of hours each week getting your school responsibilities in order, you will start next semester refreshed, less stressed and ready to learn.

This article was contributed by guest author Alison Blankenship.

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Image by Jamaila Brinkley, Flickr

Life is always go, go, go for college and university students. Between classes, extracurriculars, homework, and socializing, healthy eating is often pushed to the wayside. It is much easier to grab a quick snack, or to buy a meal while out of the house. This is especially true during busy periods such as midterms and exams.

However, healthy eating is extremely important for students. Taking the time to improve your eating habits will make you feel better, as well as improve your performance in many areas of your life, scholastic or otherwise. Meal planning is a simple strategy that can help save you time grocery shopping and cooking, and make healthy eating much easier. Here are some tips to assist you with your personal meal planning:

  1. Get inspired – Spending some time each week looking for new recipes, or finding old favourites, is a good way to get yourself motivated to cook. There are many resources available to help you find recipes: cookbooks, food blogs, Pinterest, and recipe apps are all great places to start. These resources offer a variety of recipes for different preferences and diet types.

  3. Don’t overwhelm yourself – Don’t go overboard on the number of recipes you plan to cook in a week. This is very easy to do, especially if you are just cooking for yourself. You’re likely to have leftovers that will last you for a few meals after cooking. Over-planning will leave you with excess ingredients, which is wasteful and costly.

  5. Choose healthy meals – Planning out your healthy meals will make clean eating that much easier and practical.

  7. Choose a favourite meal each week – Having a favourite recipe in your meal plan will make you excited to cook your meals for the week. It acts as a reward for choosing healthy meals, and for cooking.

  9. Make a grocery list – Having a list will make your trips to the grocery store much more efficient, as you can grab what you need, and get out as quickly as possible. It saves you time meandering through the aisles, contemplating what to purchase. It will help you save money as well, since you will avoid buying unneeded ingredients.

  11. Set time aside – Take a few hours on the weekend, or in the evening to prepare certain components of your meals. For example, you can cook your meat, chop your veggies, or make sauces. This will shorten cooking time throughout the rest of the week.

  13. Assign theme nights – Assigning certain types of meals to specific nights of the week makes meal planning easier and more fun since you’ll already have a framework of what recipes to choose. Monday can be Indian, Tuesday can be for tacos, Wednesdays for salads, etc.

  15. Make enough for leftovers – If you plan to have enough food for leftovers, it often means you will only have to cook once a day. You can also freeze leftovers for future meals on especially busy days.

Meal planning requires some time to execute properly, but will save you time and money in the long run, and is ultimately a rewarding process. Happy cooking!