The Ins and Outs of Renting a House in College

The transition from lower classman to upperclassman, for most college students, means moving out of dorms or Greek life and into a house off-campus with a group of friends. This is the first time that most students lease a house, and without the experience means a lack of knowledge towards the subject. Questions arise such as: What can I expect to pay for the first month, how does sub-letting work, when I sign a contract what am I agreeing to, are there refundable and non-refundable deposits and is the rental period month to month or a 6 to 12 month period? Look no further than this guide on the how-tos of renting your first house, unless you have a property manager for an uncle that I don’t know about.

Finding the perfect place. Or, ‘Finding the perfect place that will fit your budget.’

The first priority in finding a house is to know your budget, and then to search. This means checking newspaper classifieds daily, bulletin boards around campus, telephone poles plastered with ads for jobs, concerts and possibly your future home, and flipping through house hunter publications. Talk to students older than you to see if they can pass on their house after graduation. Once you know whom you are living with, you will know what size of house to look for, with a certain idea of bedrooms, bathrooms, etc.

Making the phone call.

Once you’ve found a house that you and your future housemates like, call the landlord to get more details on the price, rental period, deposits and other information that he or she will inform you of. The first payment is usually the largest one because most landlords require the first and last month’s rent as well as a cleaning or security deposit. Ask if the deposit is refundable. It would be unfortunate to not get that $300 back if you are expecting it at the end of the lease.

Checking out the house.

Next step is to schedule a walk through. As you tour the house look for any damage and ask questions. You and your housemates don’t want to be held liable for a hole in the wall that you didn’t make, or a stain on the floor that has house party written all over it. The landlord may have you fill out a sheet, documenting the damages that exist prior to moving into the house. Ask about any interior changes that can be made to the house, regarding putting nails in the walls, adding shelving, painting, etc.

Ask about the neighbors and their tolerance. If they are elderly they may not be thrilled about high noise levels. Make sure the house feels safe. If a bedroom window is at ground level on a main road, check for functioning locks on the window as well as other doors and windows around the house. This will also be a time for the landlord to address any special rules about the house, such as no high heels on the hard wood floors or no indoor furniture allowed on the porch.

Finalizing the details and signing the lease.

Most homeowners who lease out their homes near college campuses understand that the majority of college students haven’t built their credit scores, so the homeowners don’t require a credit check but you may be asked to fill out an application. They may ask for a co-signer to sign the lease who does have a credit history, which is usually a parent of one of the lessees. The co-signer will sign the lease with the renters and the landlord prior to the move in date.

Once you move in, treat the property like you own it (pride of ownership) so you are more likely to get all of your cleaning deposit returned. Happy hunting and enjoy your new space!

Top 10 Best Credit Cards for College Students

College is the perfect time to start building a credit history, and credit card companies have made this easy for college students by creating programs that cater to the typical post-high school student’s needs. Students can receive cash back for using their credit cards on school needs such as books, food and sometimes clothes or music. Offers like no-cosigners and 0% APR during the first year are tailor-made for college students who want to build credit but have none. Here is a list of the top ten credit cards for college students.

1. Discover Student Card allows students to earn 5% cash back during their first year on items that change every few months. For example, card members can sign up to earn 5% cash back bonus on up to $300 in purchases at gas stations, hotels, theme parks and movies from July through September, and up to 20% back at over 175 retailers through ShopDiscover, Discover’s exclusive online shopping site.

Key features:

  • 0% Intro APR for 9 months. After 9 months it will be 12.99%-19.99% variable purchase APR.
  • No annual fee. Receive the benefits of using the Discover Student Card without paying anything except your bills on time.
  • Earn 5% cash back in various categories during certain months. In October through December, receive cash back for eating at restaurants and shopping for clothes. Back to school shopping, anyone? Make sure to enroll before each quarter to receive these benefits.
  • Earn unlimited 1% cash back on all purchases after spending $3,000 annually. Receive .25% cash back before spending $3,000. This means that credit card holders are receiving cash back for all of their purchases, and once they spend $3,000 they receive even more money back.
  • Redeem your cash back bonus in any of the three ways: merchandise, gift cards, Discover gift cards or cash. Card holders are able to set up direct deposits to their bank accounts if cash is preferred.
  • Rewards have no expiration date, but if an account is closed or inactive for 18 executive months, or if the card holder fails to make any minimum payment for two consecutive billing periods, then any cash back bonus points in the person’s account will be forfeited.
  • Choose from over 30 card designs. Why not spend money in style?
  • 0% Fraud liability.

The Discover Student Credit Card is a great option for students looking to build credit, while earning cash back rewards at the same time on purchases through Discover’s rotating list of categories. Students who are financially responsible and will not put off paying their credit card bills will enjoy using this credit card, because it gives cardholders benefits for making financially responsible decisions.

2. Citi mtvU Platinum Select Visa Card for College Students is designed for students who are in college, want to build credit, and want to receive points for maintaining a good G.P.A. That is exactly what cardholders are getting when they sign up for Citi’s mtvU Platinum Select Visa.

Key features:

  • No annual fee. Enjoy Platinum benefits and participate in the card’s great rewards system for no cost at all.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for the first 7 months. After 7 months, the variable APR will 12.99% to 20.99%, depending on your creditworthiness.
  • Earn up to 4,000 thank you points every year for maintaining a good G.P.A. Thank you points can be earned by submitting a proof of your grades up to two times a year.
•  GPA •  ThankYou Points
•  2.50 – 2.99 •  250
•  3.00 – 3.49 •  500
•  3.50 – 3.99 •  750
•  4.0 •  2,000

  • No co-signer required, so students are able to build their own credit history.
  • Earn 5 thank you points for every $1 spent at restaurants, bookstores, music stores, video rental stores and movie theaters.
  • Earn 1 thank you point for every $1 cardholders spend on other purchases.
  • Thank you points can be used for a variety of rewards such as gift cards, CDs, a VIP mtvU Spring Break Pass, tickets to the MTV Music Awards and airline tickets.
  • Earn 25 thank you points every month for paying your credit card bill on time. Be rewarded just for being a responsible credit cardholder.
  • 10% discount when shopping at the online MTV store and at the NYC MTV store.
  • 0$ liability on fraudulent charges. If your card is lost or stolen, you as the cardholder will not be held liable for unauthorized charges.
  • Receive virtual card numbers, so that you don’t run the risk of giving out your real card number while shopping online.
  • Travel accident insurance. When cardholders use their Citi mtvU Platinum card for their tickets, they receive automatic travel insurance.
  • Auto rental insurance when cardholders charge their car rentals to their citi cards.

The Citi mtvU Platinum credit card is designed with college students in mind, with a generous rewards program and plenty of opportunities for cardholders to receive additional benefits.

3. Citi Forward Card for College Students is a card designed for college students with fair credit and want to build it up for the future when applying for jobs or loans. With plenty of extra rewards and perks, Citi Forward Card is a popular choice among college students nationwide.

Key features:

  • Up to a 2% purchase APR reduction when cardholders make a purchase, stay under their credit limit, and pay on time 3 billing periods in a row. Cardholders are eligible for up to 8 reductions of .25% each, adding up to 2% in total APR reduction. This is an uncommon offer and a great benefit to those who choose this card.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for the first 7 months. After 7 months the APR will be between 13.99% and 22.99, all based on creditworthiness. It’s important to pay bills on time, even during the intro period.
  • No annual fee. Use this credit card and receive all of its benefits for free.
  • No co-signer required. Students can sign up on their own, as long as they have fair credit.
  • Earn 5 Thank You Points for every $1 spent at restaurants, on books, movies and music, and 1 thank you point for every other dollar spent.
  • Earn 100 Thank You Points at the end of each billing cycle when the cardholder makes at least the minimum payment on time.
  • Earn 1,000 Thank You Points by signing up for paperless statements within 3 months of opening up an account with Citi.
  • Thank You Points can be redeemed for rewards such as merchandise and travel, gift cards to a variety of stores and restaurants, movie tickets and more. Cardholders can also redeem their points in cash of $50 and $100 increments.
  • Earn a $75 statement credit after spending $150 on back to school items at apparel, book or electronic stores during the first 3 months of opening your card.
  • Extra protection for your credit card. Identity theft protection, $0 liability on fraudulent charges and cell phone protection.

The Citi Forward Card for students is a card designed to take care of students by paying them for using their credit card on certain purchases and by keeping them protected from high interest rates and lost or stolen credit cards.

4. Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card for College Students has a great cash back program that rewards students for being responsible credit cardholders, and for using their credit cards on anything.

Key features:

  • No annual fee. Here is another card that allows college students to earn rewards and cash back just for using its services.
  • 0% Intro APR on purchases for 7 months and 12.99% to 20.99% thereafter, depending on creditworthiness.
  • This card’s generous rewards system allows cardholders to earn 5% back on all purchases made at supermarkets, drugstores, gas stations, convenience stores and utilities for 6 months, and 1% thereafter. This sounds like a rewards program that takes care of a typical college student’s expenses.
  • Earn 1% cash back on all other purchases.
  • Earn at least 2% back in a rotating list of categories that change each quarter. Remember to enroll for this program at the beginning of each quarter.
  • No co-signer required, so students are able to build their own credit history.
  • 0$ Fraudulent charges, so the cardholder will not be held liable if his or her card is lost or stolen.
  • Earn 5% cash back with no limit on the cash back you earn, when you make a purchase through Citi’s online shopping mall that has over 400 retailers.
  • There are many opportunities for coverage and security. Buyers Security Coverage keeps cardholders safe from any accidents. Extended warranty on items that cardholders purchase with their Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card. Auto Rental Insurance when cardholders use their card to rent the car, and automatic travel accident insurance.

The Citi Dividend Platinum Select Card for College Students is a good choice for students who want to build up credit and earn cash back on items they would spend on a typical day.

5. Discover Open Road Card for Students is a card that rewards students who frequently go out to eat and spend money on gas. It’s for students with fair credit, who want to build credit for the future when applying for real jobs and big loans.

Key features:

  • 0% Intro APR for 9 months and 12.99% to 19.99% thereafter.
  • $0 Annual fee. Pay nothing to use this credit card and receive its rewards.
  • 2% cash back bonus at any gas station or restaurant during the first $250 cardholders spend with their credit cards. 1% cash back on stations and restaurants thereafter.
  • Receive 1% cash back on all purchases after spending $3,000 for the year. For the first $3,000 cardholders spend, they will receive .25% back on all purchases.
  • Get cash back bonuses from 5% to 20% when shopping in Discover’s exclusive online mall with over 175 retailers.
  • Rewards have no expiration date. If your account is closed or has been inactive for 18 months then your rewards will be forfeited. But if you are a lively card user, then say hello to never expiring rewards.
  • Earn cash back rewards for paying your monthly house bills with your Discover card.
  • 0$ Fraud liability means never having to pay for unauthorized payments on your Discover credit card.

The Discover Open Road Card for Students is a great card to use and earn rewards with while not even paying attention to what you are buying. Set up your telephone bill to the card, pay for gas, and earn rewards while living a normal life.

6. Journey Student Rewards Credit Card by Capital One is a credit card designed to help students build credit while in college, while simultaneously rewarding them with 1% cash back on all purchases and giving a cash back bonus to those who pay their bills on time.

Key features:

  • 1% cash back on all purchases. This allows students to spend money on anything and receive money back, just by using this credit card. While one month’s cash back may not be a lot of money, it will add up over time. If a student spends $250 a month on their Journey Student Rewards Credit Card, they will receive $2.50 in rewards at the end of the month.
  • No annual fee. Students are able to use this card and receive all of its benefits for free.
  • Free text and e-mail alerts keep credit card users aware of their spending, enabling them to never miss a payment.
  • 25% bonus on the cash back you earn each month, just for paying bills on time. The company is rewarding spenders, just for being responsible credit card users. On a $250 budget each month, a student will receive an additional $0.63 each month, adding up to $3.13 for one month. Annually the credit card user will earn $37.56 in cash back rewards.
  • Cash rewards are unlimited and do not expire. They can be redeemed in three forms: account credit, check or gift cards.
  • 0$ fraud liability if your card is lost or stolen. If someone steals your credit card and makes payments, you will not be held liable.
  • No balance transfer fee. If your existing credit card has debt that you would like to transfer over to your Journey Student Rewards Card, there is no charge for transferring this debt. But be aware that this card has an APR of 19.8%, so only transfer your debt if your existing interest rate is higher than 19.8%.
  • Automatic travel accident insurance. When you use this credit card to pay your travel fares, you automatically receive accident coverage at no extra charge.
  • Auto rental insurance. If you rent a car with this credit card you are able to receive collision, damage and loss insurance.
  • Extended warranty program. Items that are purchased with this credit card receive additional warranty protection at no charge.
  • There is NO introductory APR on purchases. Credit card users start off with an APR of 19.8% on purchases and balance transfers, if they do not pay their bills on time. To avoid this, pay your bills on time.

This is a good choice for college students who have never used a credit card before, because it rewards them in little ways and has additional offers while helping build credit little by little. If students are responsible and pay their bills on time, Capital One rewards them as they use the Journey Student Rewards Credit Card.

7. State Farm Student Visa Credit Card is a card for college students who want to establish good credit while receiving additional rewards for buying groceries or textbooks. State Farm is committed to helping students establish a good credit history, which is why they’ve developed this credit card.

Key features:

  • No annual fee. Use this card for FREE.
  • An APR as low as 11.24%, which is lower than most of the other credit cards, but it does not offer 0% Intro APR for the first few months like many of the other credit cards.
  • Select your own card design.
  • Cash access worldwide through ATMs.
  • Worldwide Visa credit card acceptance. Never get turned down when you have this credit card.
  • 24-hour fraud protection with zero liability. Cardholders will never have to pay for an unauthorized transaction.
  • Auto rental collision insurance with your Student Visa credit card.
  • Save with Visa online student discounts. Get free shipping and additional coupons at a range of different retailers online.

The State Farm Student Visa Credit Card is a good card for students who want to establish good credit and who don’t care as much about receiving additional points or rewards. This is a simple Visa credit card by State Farm that gets the job done when it comes to making credit purchases.

8. U.S. Bank College Visa Credit Card is an easy-to-use, convenient credit card for college students who want to practice good money management while receiving all of the benefits of having a credit card.

Key features:

  • No annual fee. It has a certain ring to it, doesn’t it?
  • Pay your bills online. U.S. Bank has set up a quick and convenient way to take care of your bills through an online account.
  • Use your free online account access to view your credit card information at anytime or check on purchases and advances. Cardholders can also sign up for online statements only and account alerts to make sure they never miss a payment.
  • Zero Fraud liability. Cardholders will never be held liable for unauthorized payments made on their U.S. Bank Visa credit card, and replacement cards can be sent within 48 hours.
  • Never be denied with your Visa credit card. Visa is internationally accepted, and cardholders can access cash at millions of ATMs worldwide.
  • Use your U.S. Bank College Visa credit card at hundreds of retailers and receive special deals and offers at the Visa Partner Advantage mall.
  • U.S. Bank overdraft protection ensures that cardholders never overdraw in their checking accounts by transferring money in $25 increments from your Visa credit card to your U.S. Bank checking account.

The U.S. Bank College Visa credit card is a convenient and accessible credit card that helps students build good credit history while offering extra advantages to using their credit card.

9. Citi Forward Card for College Students-$75 statement credit offers students the option of building up their credit history without a co-signer and rewards them when they pay off their bills on time.

Key features:

  • No annual fee.
  • $0 Introductory APR for the first seven months
  • Earn a $75 statement credit when you spend $150 on back-to-school items within the first 3 months of setting up an account.
  • No co-signer is required to set up an account
  • Wise credit management is rewarded with reducing your credit card’s interest rate. Reduce your APR by up to 2% over the course of 2 years.
  • Earn 100 Thank You Points for paying your bill on time and under budget.
  • Earn 2 Thank You points for every dollar you spend on purchases at book stores, record stores, restaurants, movie theaters and video rental stores. Earn 1 Thank You point for every dollar you spend on anything else.
  • 0$ Liability. Cardholders will never be held accountable for fraudulent charges.

This is a good credit card for students who are looking to build credit and receive additional benefits for buying back to school items and everyday needs.

10. Wells Fargo College Visa Credit Card is a credit card that works with the college student’s budget, is easily manageable and comes with built-in benefits like 24-hour customer service and automatic car rental insurance.

Key features:

  • No annual fee. Free free free.
  • Introductory APR of 5.9% for 6 months on purchases, and 13.15% to 20.15% thereafter, depending on creditworthiness.
  • Customize your card with whatever photo you choose!
  • Make payments with your credit card quickly with the Visa payWave feature.
  • Manage your spending online in an easy and accessible layout. View charges, transfers and easily track your expenses. If the credit cardholder has a Wells Fargo checking account as well, he or she is able to see spending across both accounts in one place.
  • Cardholders can choose their monthly payment due date and sign up for automatic or online payments.
  • Cardholders are able to stay up to date with their account activity by signing up for email alerts when they approach their credit limits, payments are due and more.
  • Zero liability for fraudulent charges.
  • Automatic Car Rental Insurance.

Wells Fargo College Visa Credit Card is a card that helps students, who’ve never had a credit card, build good credit. There isn’t 0% APR for the first few months like many other credit cards, but as long as students pay off their bills on time the APR isn’t an issue.

Rent Textbooks? The Pros & Cons of Chegg & More

Gone are the days of being limited to buying pricey textbooks from university bookstores. Today there are numerous ways college students can avoid buying expensive textbooks, mainly through online textbook rental services. Websites like Chegg promote renting textbooks so that college students can afford everyday living and simple tasks like washing laundry. Every dollar counts that students can save on textbooks, and why not save a few dollars if all it takes is a little research? Here is a list of pros and cons for five major textbook rental websites along with three popular textbooks with price comparisons across all five sites.

Rent textbooks? Heck yes.

Rent textbooks? Heck yes.

1. Chegg

Chegg is a popular textbook rental site, serving the needs of college students all over the country. Students rent the books off of the website and return them for free via airmail once the term ends. One of the site’s incentives for students to use their services is the tree that is planted for every time a student rents. More Chegg Coupons…

Pros:

  • Students can customize the site to popular books used at their universities. A sliding menu on the home page shows the titles, covers and rental prices of popular book. Additionally, a “Pick Courses” tab lays out the university’s courses with the required book lists, course reviews and students are able to write course reviews and plan course schedules.
  • The 21 day any reason guarantee policy allows renters who are dissatisfied in any way with the books they’ve received from Chegg to be returned within 21 days for a full refund.
  • The site is plentiful with textbooks, and rarely will the site
  • If students need the same textbook for an additional period of time, they can buy an extension for 15, 30, 45, 60 days, a quarter (85 days) or a semester (125 days).

Cons:

  • There is only one rental length period, as opposed to other sites where students can choose a quarter, semester or summer term which each have varying numbers of days, meaning varying prices. The rental length for Chegg is 180 days, with one rental price for each textbook, but renters can return the books whenever they are finished using them.
  • Depending on what book a student is looking to rent it may be cheaper to buy it if it’s a paperback novel, for example. On sites such as Chegg, the rental price can be exponentially more than the price to purchase the book.

Norton Anthology of American Literature 7th Edition: $36.49

Common Sense by Thomas Paine: $11.99

Intermediate Accounting: $59.99

chegg coupons

2. Barnes & Noble

Mmm...books.

Mmm...books.

Barnes & Noble allows students to rent textbooks according to various subjects and choose how long of a rental period they would like. The site promotes giving students the option of renting, instead of buying, because they know students don’t need (or want) a spare business and finance textbook on their shelves.

Pros:

  • Like Chegg, returns on rentals to Barnes and Noble are free, using their UPS shipping labels.
  • There is a 30-day return policy if the renter is unsatisfied or decides to drop a class, along with a full refund.
  • Three options for rental periods: 60, 90 and 130 days. Renters are able to extend their time for 15, 30, 45, 60, 90 or 125 days. There are plenty of options.
  • Orders over $25 qualify for free shipping on the way to renters.
  • B & N has an easy system for selling back your textbooks for cash.

Cons:

  • If textbooks are late or in worse condition than when a renter received them, the renter will be charged extra fees.

Norton Anthology of American Literature 7th Edition: $25.88 for 90 days

Intermediate Accounting: $48.86 for 90 days

Common Sense by Thomas Paine: Not available for rent; a used copy costs $3.20

3. Amazon Kindle Textbook Rentals

Amazon Kindle Textbook Rentals are a new way to access textbooks on almost any electronic device, and students don’t need a Kindle to rent. The service offers unbeatable prices to students who need them, and are delivered wirelessly for no charge. Students can save up to 80% just by renting a Kindle version of a textbook as opposed to buying it. Sign me up.

Pros:

  • Because of the free, automatic, wireless delivery, renters don’t have to deal with the hassle of sending books back in the mail or waiting for books to arrive to their mailboxes.
  • Rental length ranges anywhere from 30 to 360 days, so that students are paying for exactly what they need. Nothing more and nothing less. Renters can also extend the rental length or purchase the textbook at any time.
  • Renters of kindle textbooks are able to access their notes and highlights online at any time, even after their rentals have expired.
  • Kindle textbook rentals are usually cheaper than the print version, and sometimes they’re even free!

Cons:

  • Because this is new technology and it’s just starting to catch fire, not as many textbooks have been converted to e-books. Therefore, it is more difficult for students to find books in their electronic formats.
  • Without a physical copy of the textbook, students may have a hard time navigating back and forth from pages around the text while studying.

Norton Anthology of American Literature 7th Edition: Not available on Kindle, but whenever this happens renters can click the, “I’d like to read this on Kindle” button, which will inform the publisher. It may not happen instantaneously, but maybe it will be available for those in the future.

Common Sense by Thomas Paine: $0.00

Intermediate Accounting: $60.84 for 90 days

4.Campus Book Rentals

Campus Book Rentals prides itself on having great customer service, with staff that will respond to emails and send customers their books on time. With “nearly every book available to rent,” their library of books is quite vast.

Pros:

  • Free shipping on the way to renters and back to Campus Book Rentals. They provide a prepaid return envelope with each rental.
  • The site allows a 30-day risk free return with each rental.
  • Renters are allowed to highlight in the textbooks, without damage fees.
  • There is a 15-day grace period for returns, in case an exam comes up later than a student expected at the end of a quarter, or any other reason. These beloved 15 extra days are given at no cost.
  • There are three rental periods: Summer (55 days), Quarter (85 days), and Semester (130 days). Or renters can choose their own return date.
  • If students need to reuse their rented textbooks, they can be re-rented at a price 30% less than the original price, so it’s still cheaper than buying the book (if it’s a pretty hefty and expensive textbook.)
  • If the renter decides to buy the textbook from the site, the difference will be subtracted from the book’s price so that he or she is never paying more than the textbook price.
  • If renters refer Campus Book Rentals to a friend, they can save more on textbooks.

Cons:

  • Renters should use caution when looking to rent a novel or cheap textbook, because renting it on a site like this could end up costing more than buying the book in used condition.
  • There are limited shipping options, which will hurt a renter if he or she procrastinates. The options are 4-7 business days for $2.99 or 7-14 business days for free.

Norton Anthology of American Literature 7th Edition: $27.63 (quarter, 85 days)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine: $38.71 (quarter)

Intermediate Accounting: $36.41 (quarter)

5. eCampus

eCampus “knows you’re broke. [They] make you less broke.” Enough said.

Pros:

  • This site has a lot of options for shipping, so that renters can get their books as soon as they want. The options are 1 day shipping, 2 day shipping, UPS Standard Shipping (2-5 business days) and USPS (4-8 business days).
  • The eCampus entourage program allows renters to make money when they refer their friends to the site. It’s $5 when friends sell a book, $5 when friends rent a book, $3 when friends buy a used book, $2 when friends buy an ebook and $1 when friends buy a new book. This sounds too good to be true.
  • Free shipping on orders of $59 or more.
  • Free return shipping back to eCampus from your home.
  • There are three rental periods: Semester, Quarter and Short Term.

Cons:

  • Unlike many of the other sites, eCampus has shipping fees when the books are sent to you, so renters should keep this in mind when comparing prices.
  • Renters are unable to customize the date for the books to be returned, there are only fixed rental periods.
  • Renters are only able to extend the rentals of 15 and 30 days at the time their orders are placed.

Norton Anthology of American Literature 7th Edition: $34.20 (quarter)

Common Sense by Thomas Paine: $5.64 (quarter)

Intermediate Accounting: $81.60 (quarter)

Comparing prices from major rental textbook services is worth it, and students can save up to 80% of the print book price by renting instead of buying.

Photo Credits: LifeSupercharger

So where will you rent your textbooks this year?

My #1 choice? Chegg!

chegg coupons

Delayed Rule to Protect Student Borrowers

A recent article in the New York Times reflected the ongoing frustration of graduates who are unable to pay off their student loans because of insufficient incomes after graduation.

The original draft of the gainful employment rules has made some delays as far as deciding on some regulations.

New York Times writes, “Consumer advocates and many education groups say that the rules will protect students and taxpayers alike from expensive programs that eat up billions of dollars of federal money, and leave graduates struggling in dead-end jobs.”

This means that the new regulations will protect students of non-profit institutions who are accepted into programs, and sometimes wheedled despite G.P.A., yet have no chance at paying back federal aid. Therefore the rule would only support students who are highly eligible while also requiring for-profit colleges to distribute each program’s “job-placement rates and graduation rates.”

Keep Up in a Foreign Language this Summer

Requirements can be a pain in the you-know-what. Math, foreign language, physical science. I thought this was college, doesn’t this mean I can choose my own classes? Apparently not. While math, science and English classes can be easy to pick back up after summer, foreign languages can get pretty dusty if you leave them alone for three months. Unfortunately during the summer, our native Spanish speaking professor isn’t speaking to us in fluent Spanish at 8 am on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. That way we would be able to keep up on our verb tenses, conjugations and vocabulary. But instead we get stuck with sleeping in and long periods of time where there is little brain work involved. Does this sound like a fair trade off? It definitely isn’t a balanced trade off. To keep our French, Spanish, Russian, Japanese, Mandarin, Greek, Latin, and German in tip top shape, here are some little ways to keep our foreign languages dust-free this summer.

Online Resources

There are a multitude of web sites that value language, and understand the need for foreign language competency as an important trait to anyone in our global society. Here are a few of them that concentrate on vocabulary, verbs, along with giving learners opportunities for social networking in their foreign language.

Byki – This website offers 74 different languages to learners, which includes the site’s desktop software, online applications, free

Photo by El Monstrito

Photo by El Monstrito

content, articles and games. The site seeks to go about teaching language from a different angle, that appeals more to the comprehension of adult learners. If you’re seeking to begin learning a language, or pick up where you left off on a language, this site is for you.

Lingolook – This web application was especially designed for English speaking travelers to foreign countries. The guide features basic vocabulary that travelers need, in an easy, user-friendly way. The application uses flashcards to test users, and when travelers are in a hurry for “Where is the restroom?” in French, users simply click on essentials, which leads them to a list of questions that are deemed “essential” questions, then click on “Where is the restroom?” which leads the user to a screen with the written English phrase, the written French phrase, and when clicking on the French phrase a voice says it aloud so the user knows how it is pronounced. To see for yourself, check out the site and see the demo.

vocabfish – A site that allows users to learn over 2000 words in 10 languages. With a scorecard, the site allows its users to track their progress, while the site goes back to the words that the user misses in order to test the weak spots. This site was created to master vocabulary not only through recognizing words but “recalling and pronouncing them.”

italki – This unique site connects people from around the world to learn from each other. The site is used to help connect people online to do free language exchanges, while even setting students up with teachers for paid online lessons. italki also has materials for self-study, along with questions & answer tools and group discussions.

Get Connected

Though we’re living in the 21st century, not all learning has to be virtual. Look up organizations in your area who promote the culture of your desired foreign language.

Alliance française is an organization that seeks to promote French culture and language outside of France. With organizations

Photo by Karen Horton

Photo by Karen Horton

like this, who’s primary concern is teaching French as a second language, it is great to get hooked up with a membership so that learning a language isn’t simply just reading flashcards and memorizing automated foreign voices from online. But rather being a part of a community of people who are embracing the culture of a particular language, that is what is going to matter and be most valuable.

Get connected with a pen pal who is a native speaker of the language you are learning, and start writing letters! Or start emailing, if that’s your thing.

Get Rid of Student Loans Starting NOW!

An analogy for college students and Monopoly lovers

I was never a fan of handing over those yellow paper dollars to my opponent because I landed on his piece of property on Illinois Ave. Just like handing over those fake paper dollars in Monopoly, paying off student loans will feel the same way. But in the game of Monopoly, it does feel better when I make an investment by buying a piece of property. And paying off student loans should feel like making an investment in Monopoly. Though at first all you see is money being taken from your bank account, later you will see the results when people start paying you for landing on your square… Or rather when your student loans diminish. There are positives to making those monthly payments. The burden is being relieved.

Photo by Mikael Miettinen

Photo by Mikael Miettinen

Payment Options for Student Loans

There are 4 options that can all be negotiated with your lender, whether it was a private lender before the law on private student loans changed, or whether your sole lenders are companies backed by the government. After graduation there will be a 6-9 month grace period where graduates will not have to pay off student loans, so they have time to look for a job (so they can afford the payments). Unless the graduate is in forbearance with their lender, which allows more of a grace period, he or she will start paying off loans with an amount that is negotiated with the lender. The minimum is usually about $50. Graduates are able to switch their payments to larger payments monthly. The most important thing is to stay on the same page with the lender.

Payment Option 1: Standard Payment

Graduates who have found a well-paying job soon after graduation will start paying off loans in the form of standard payment. This is the best option because loans will be paid off after 10 years, and it has the best interest rate. While this is the quickest payment option, it is also requires the highest monthly payments.

Payment Option 2: Graduated Payment

Writing a check

Writing a check

This option is for graduates who have found a job that starts off with a decent wage that will steadily increase over time. The loan payments will start off by mirroring the small wage and over the next couple of years for the next 10-30 years the payments will increase like the graduate’s wage.

Payment Option 3: Income-Based Payment

This payment option is set up so that monthly payments will be based off of what the graduate is making in their current income. This is for those who have seasonal jobs, or jobs that fluctuate with seasons. With this option, graduates will have 15 years to pay off their loans.

Payment Option 4: Long-Term Payment

This payment plan has the worst interest rate, because the payer has chosen to pay the least amount per month. This means that by the end of the 30 years it takes to pay off the loan, the loan payer will have paid almost double than they initially borrowed.

If you have questions about any of these options, contact your lender. Or ask your mother, she usually knows.

Make Money by Recycling

Right now is the perfect time to do some post-spring deep cleaning out of closets, bookshelves and garages. School has just ended for those on the quarter schedule, and behold it is summer. Whether your closets are bulging with clothes, your bookshelves are bending from too much weight, or you’ve got an unused bike in the garage collecting dust, think about recycling your stuff to businesses that would buy them from you. Some extra cash and extra room sounds nice, does it not?

Selling Clothes

When selling clothes there are a couple of things to look for, before taking them directly from closet to store. Most shops only take clothes that are in good condition. Which means:

Photo by apreche

Photo by apreche

  • rip and tear-free
  • no loose seams
  • stain-free
  • good condition

Some shops may only take clothes that are ‘in season.’ This means during summer season they will not take winter jackets, and during winter they will not take shorts and tank tops. Keep these things in mind, so you aren’t rejected for all of your winter clothes when you go in during July. You can call certain stores like Buffalo Exchange and ask what kinds of items they are currently buying from sellers. Some other places you can sell clothes: Plato’s Closet, Ebay, Crossroads Trading

Selling Books

Depending on where you sell your used books, there are certain things that buyers look for. It is most likely that buyers will not buy a book if it has these qualities:

Photo by Rob Enslin

Photo by Rob Enslin

  • Rips, tears, stains or odors
  • Tape repairs
  • Beaten up, in worn-condition
  • Covered in stickers or price markings from other stores
  • Writing or highlighting (with the exception of owner’s name in front)
  • Pages falling out
  • Broken spines/bindings

These are the qualifications for Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. It is also mentioned that the prices they pay for books, online or in-store, are based off of what they think it will sell for, as well as the ‘desirability, current and historic market values, in-print prices, conditions, and [their] current stock levels.’ Some other places you can sell your books: Cash4books, Half.com, Barnes & Noble, Amazon

Selling Bikes, old furniture, televisions, etc.

When selling old bikes, furniture, televisions and other things that are stowed away in the garage, there is usually more leeway when it comes to pricing, because it’s the seller who sets the price. Selling these items is usually done online so the price is comparable to the quality. Here are some websites where you can sell your stuff: Craigslist, Ebay

Photo by jayhay312

Photo by jayhay312

16 Ideas to Savor this Summer

Summer 2010. We are moving back home, some to our parent’s houses, some to an independent and cheap apartment. So begins the vacation that has been looked forward to for the past 13-15 years of life. There are so many possibilities for what this summer holds, and there are ways of holding onto it longer than the short 3 months that the big guys in administration give us. So to make it go by as slow as possible, here are some ways to savor this summer, whether you are working at the gas station or within a close proximity of cleaning products that your mother has bestowed upon you. A job is a job, and with or without one you can take advantage of copious amounts of sun and a lack of nagging professors.

Hold onto it with two hands, fists clenched.

  1. Take a lot of pictures. Whip out that D60, disposable, point & shoot, or iphone. That’s probably the most tech-savvy option.

    Road Trip

    Road Trip

  2. To take pictures, you first need some kind of adventure. Take a road trip and visit a historical landmark that’s nearby but has always been too touristy for your taste. Fanny packs and ugly sandals aren’t that bad.
  3. If you are working this summer, enjoy working while you do. I say, no excuses for monotony unless you are Will Ferrell in Stranger than Fiction.
  4. Have a garage sale for some quick and easy money. Getting rid of stuff and slapping a price tag on it is one of the easiest ways to make money, especially during this time of year. ‘Tis the season to go garage sale-ing.
  5. Remember that place called college? Forget about it, at least for the approximate 3 months that we have. You will have plenty of time to go back and think about it all you want. But for now, think summer and no school.
  6. If you’re in summer school, take a deep breath and say, “I’m getting ahead.” Repeat 3-5 times.
  7. Do as many things outside as possible. Help your grandmother with her garden, play Frisbee in the park, read in a hammock.
  8. Listen to summer music and watch summer movies. Personally, nothing sounds more like summer than country music which is my guilty pleasure. And no movie says summer more to me than Stand By Me. And while we’re on the subject, nothing smells more like summer to me than Aloe Vera.
  9. Learn something. Even though it’s summer, it doesn’t mean we have to remain stagnant. Brush up on a foreign language, check out a book on Russian history, learn how to cook Cajun cuisine or how to do East Coast Swing.
  10. Go to a music festival with a group of friends. Camp out, stay up all night, listen to tons of music.
  11. Take plenty of trips to large bodies of water i.e. ocean, lakes, rivers. Any beach you can find will suffice. Lather up on the sunscreen too.
  12. BBQ your heart out.
  13. Stow away those winter scarves and sweaters and bring out the shorts.
  14. Sell those old books! Half.com is a great place to sell books if you don’t end up selling them at your school’s bookstore.
    Photo by umjanedoan

    Photo by umjanedoan

    And you can usually get more for your books when selling online or in stores that buy used books.

  15. Take a bike ride. If you don’t have a bike yet, look for one on craigslist.
  16. Drive with the windows rolled down and the music turned up loud. This is the epitome of summer.

The Perks of an Unpaid Internship

When there is no money attached to a job, it is hard to be enthusiastic about it. But internships have a lot attached to them that college students should be optimistic about. Unlike a job at a gas station or department store, internships are interesting and most of the time geared toward what YOU are interested in. We are usually only employed at those other places because we need cold hard cash. And while unpaid internships don’t give that opportunity, they are pleasing to the soul (and to the resumé). Here is a list of reasons why you should consider an unpaid internship, because experience can be more valuable than minimum wage.

Fun Without the Funds

  1. I will say it again, experience is more valuable than a job that pays minimum wage. Doing something that you love and is relevant to your intended field of interest is appealing to your future employers. Thinking of the future is so important during these times when there is still time to gain experience. Time is valuable, and if you have the time to take an unpaid internship before you graduate, it would be a great opportunity for you to gain that credibility that is harder to gain once you are out of school and there aren’t as many chances to take unpaid internships. Because loan bills will be sent to us as soon as our diplomas are handed to us. But we don’t have to talk about that yet…

    Intern

    Photo by lululemon athletica

  2. While a paid internship would be great because it does pay, think of how good it will feel to do something that you enjoy and want to take time out of your schedule to do while not getting paid. There is something that is selfless and fulfilling about volunteering, and that is what unpaid interns are doing, while getting rewards in return that are more valuable to your future. Because while there may be no current benefits, there will definitely be future benefits.
  3. Gain skills that are relevant to what you love doing. There are tons of opportunities through universities and the areas around them that offer internships to college students that specifically target students of particular majors. There may be an opportunity for biology majors to do lab work, or an editorial job for English majors. The possibilities are honestly endless, and finding out where these opportunities are comes through networking. Talk to your professors and advisers. They know people who want a student like you to be their intern.
  4. Learn how to work in a professional setting, without the pressure of being fired because you are being paid. Depending on who you are working for, unpaid internships don’t carry the weight and pressure of being a paid intern. If anything, the employers will be thankful that you are volunteering your time to work for them. Think of flexible hours, easy-going
    Photo by NewsPhoto!

    Photo by NewsPhoto!

    coworkers, and enjoying going to work. Work should be fun, and this could be a way of learning to love the work without the money.

There has some controversy about unpaid interns in the past few months, like in this article in the NYTimes. But I think that there is still a lot of positive things that we can take from them, even though there is no pay. You can make the call, based on your financial need and your desire for experience. But it’s something to definitely consider, while we have the time during these college years to do something that is beneficial to others and our futures.

16 Ways to Stay Motivated Before Summer Hits

We are coming along the home stretch. Whether you are on the semester schedule and you have a few more days of finals, or whether you are on the quarter schedule and enduring these last four weeks of classes, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. And it is visible! It has been very difficult for my peers and I to stay motivated in classes while the weather has been so wonderful. I am looking forward to a day of May showers, so that I will be forced to stay inside and get things done. But wherever you are in the context of finishing up this year of college, it is important to take a step back and gain perspective, so that the term isn’t wasted on late night fourth meals and full days of playing Frisbee in the quad. Though both of those things are quite nice. I’ve thought of a few things we could all do to withstand this last stretch of classes, projects and exams. I hope it is of great use to you.

The List that leads to Summer

  1. Let the competitive spirit within you come out. Being competitive can be of great use, and you can trigger those feelings of ambition and zeal towards doing well in your school work.
  2. Make a list of fun activities that you are excited to do this summer. Writing out that list should get you so pumped for hiking and star gazing and beach laying that you will want to hurry through these last projects and exams.
  3. Photo by xb3

    Photo by xb3

    Limit your consumption until completing x amount of pages. When my roommate is reading or writing for a class, she won’t let herself make any tea (and this girl loves tea) until she has finished a certain number of pages. Hey, it works for some people who have the self-control.

  4. Limit fun time with friends until you have all worked hard for a period of time. When doing homework together as a group, tell yourselves that if you are satisfied with your productivity, then you will be able to go do fun things. This might help you crank through some work you’ve been putting off for a while.
  5. Make a to-do list everyday. Number each task in order of its priority compared to the other tasks, in order from the most important to the least important.
  6. Designate a rest-time during the week. By taking out this one period of time during your entire week, you won’t have the excuse to relax more than you should. Because we all should relax, we just tweak that to mean resting whenever we want. What we should do and what we want to do aren’t always the same.
  7. Have homework parties. Host it in your dorm room and tell people to bring simply two things: Food and their homework. Voila, you are socializing while being productive.
  8. Take off Friday nights. This is my personal general rule, but I recommend it to everyone else. It’s a great time to go out with friends, stay up late and not have to worry about waking up too early for class.
  9. Remember how much you are paying for tuition. If that isn’t motivating enough, I don’t know what is.
  10. Take a walk during study breaks. Regain your mental strength for a while and then come back to work feeling refreshed.
  11. Remember where your passions lie. If they are in chemical engineering and you feel like you’re in a dry season, go talk to your professors. If there is anyone who is passionate about their work, it them. And hopefully they can rub off some of that passion onto you.
  12. Photo by jurvetson

    Photo by jurvetson

    Remember how close you are to the end. And how far you’ve come this year; all that you have experienced. The end is touchable.

  13. Set some goals outside of your work. For example, asking an old friend out to coffee, running a couple miles a day, or practicing good eating habits.
  14. Think about home cooked meals. This is self-explanatory.
  15. And your bed at home. Yes.
  16. Get 8 hours of sleep. Anything less will put you in misery in these last weeks. But then again, we’ve been doing it the whole year… So why not get 4 hours?