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5 Tips For Finding Scholarships

A college education can cost tens of thousands of dollars to attain. The struggles that may come with student loans can especially become a burden to your life. Therefore, you have to find financial aid in order to help you keep the cost down. The best way to do this is through a scholarship.

Scholarships are given to all sorts of students who meet particular qualifications. These will cover a sizeable part of the cost of an education. They are also given out to a variety of students for various purposes that vary by each option available.

The odds are there is a scholarship out there right now that you can qualify for. However, you must find such a scholarship to make it work for you. There are many great tips to follow when it comes to finding scholarships that you can qualify for.

Start Early

You have to start looking for scholarships as early as possible. It is easier to find scholarships when you do it earlier as that means you won’t have to worry about too many of them being taken.

This is especially ideal if you are about to go to college. Starting your search for scholarships before your senior year of high school is always a good idea as it gives you time to find what you are looking for.

Check Local Groups

You should look to see what local groups in your area have to offer when finding scholarships. Many local groups like churches, civic groups, business unions and even local banks may offer scholarships to people in your area. You might have an easier time finding a scholarship from a local entity than anywhere else, what with the competition for those scholarships being substantially less than what you might find elsewhere.

Look At the Requirements

There are various requirements that deserve to be seen when it comes to finding scholarships. Some might be based on the field of study you are in or the GPA you hold. Others might be focused on people who engage in community service activities. Others can focus on people who hold certain hobbies. The requirements for a scholarship will vary so make sure you look at them and see if you qualify for them.

Check Online Regularly

There are always new scholarships being posted online every day. These include many scholarships that are easy to search through on many databases. Be advised that many of these scholarships are available throughout the country but it never hurts to get your name in for consideration for one of them.

Put In Enough Effort

The last tip is to always put in a strong effort when trying to get a scholarship. You might feel down at times in the event that you cannot get the scholarships that you want. However, that does not mean you should give up. Put in a strong effort no matter how many times you are turned down for scholarships. Remember, there are so many options out there that there is certainly one out of that can be of benefit to you and your studies.

Scholarships can be rather easy to find if you simply know what to look for. Make sure you get out there to take a careful look at the different scholarships that are available for your use as you might be surprised at the options that you could potentially qualify for.

How to Get a Graduate Assistantship at a US University

Graduate assistantships are a boon to students who cannot afford to pay the full cost of their tuition fees. Foreign students especially aspire for an assistantship as it takes care of their tuition fees and provides a stipend for living expenses. So they only need to shell out the airfare to go to the US and begin their academic life. In this article we offer valuable tips on how to get a graduate assistantship at a US university.

Complete Your Application with Care

Fill your application carefully and ensure you answer all the questions. Do not leave out any question as it may be important to the reviewers. Include your resume and a statement about your interest in the assistantship position and the skills you can offer to the position. Strengthen your case by expanding on your qualification and experience.

Avoid Errors

Your resume and application should be free of errors. Proofread them thoroughly to weed out all grammar and spelling mistakes. Format and present your resume in a professional manner to impress the reviewers.

Do Your Homework

Hit the Internet and research on which universities are more likely to offer you a graduate assistantship. Typically, public universities offer more assistantships compared to private ones. Do your homework thoroughly and calculate your chances of getting an assistantship before you start sending out applications.

Tips for International Students

International students should work hard and get good scores in their GRE and TOEFL exams to impress the universities. We recommend taking the Test of Spoken English (TSE) also to strengthen your case. If the university is reassured you can speak good English, it will certainly improve your chances a great deal. If you do not get an assistantship with your admission, we advise you to go the campus a month early to find out and apply for available assistantship positions in all the departments of the university.

Be Prepared for an Interview

If you have started classes without getting an assistantship, you should take care to maintain a good GPA and be prepared for an interview. Convince professors about your abilities and skills to impress them. Keep up your motivation and research all available opportunities on the campus.

How to Find Assistantships

Unlike graduate fellowships and scholarships, almost all colleges and universities offer assistant programs at the master’s and PhD levels. Do not be disheartened if you do not get an assistantship in the first quarter or semester. Directly contact staff members who manage assistantships in various departments to get details of available openings and how to submit applications for them.

How to Apply for a Graduate Assistantship

Find out the exact requirements for each opening. Prepare a document that lists all the requirements and deadlines for each position so that you do not miss out on applying to any one inadvertently. A strong statement of purpose as well as recommendation letters can strengthen your application greatly. Some departments may even ask you to complete a research or teaching task before selecting you for the role. So prepare yourself well to deliver what is required to get the assistantship.

Summary

Remember that though assistantships are intensely competitive, they are easily attainable for a well-prepared candidate. There are many benefits of working as a graduate assistant for a university. The experience will look good on your resume especially for foreign students who can boast of working for a US university. You can also get references and recommendation letters from professors and the university which can help you further your academic and professional career. Last but not the least you can develop your communication and leadership skills and build a network with students and professors to boost your career opportunities and social life.

Ways to make money while in college

Going to college is expensive. For many students, simply covering the cost of tuition, fees, and room and board is a challenge. After paying those expenses, there may be little left in your budget. You need some spending money to fully enjoy the university experience. Going out with your friends, or just having pizza delivered to your dorm, requires cash. There are many ways students can make money while in college.

On Campus

An array of part-time jobs is available on university campuses. They may not pay much, but usually can be crafted around your schedule of classes and school activities. You can work in an administrative office, the cafeteria, the library or another university facility. Sign up to be a residence assistant, in the dorms; or a professor’s assistant, grading papers and doing research. Find out if a custodian job is available. Fraternities and sororities often hire students to do housecleaning and other chores. Take part in a research study, or take notes in class and sell them. Some colleges hire students to give campus tours to prospective students, or conduct orientation sessions for incoming freshmen.

Parents are increasingly hiring tutors to help their children. Many university students also need assistance with their studies. There are always students, in high school and college, who require individual instruction in math, science or other subjects. You also may be able to give music lessons or assist kids with other artistic pursuits. Determine your strongest subject, then post flyers and perhaps advertise in a college publication. Check to see if there are any local tutoring services that hire students. Check out the Sylvan and Kumon tutoring services, and visit tutor.com.

In the Community

Other types of jobs may be found off campus, in the community. If your college is in a small town, you have fewer opportunities. You have to be creative, patient and persistent. Prepare a resume and learn good interviewing skills. You need to sell yourself to an employer, so do not be bashful about emphasizing your knowledge and skills.

Retailers frequently hire students for sales clerk, cashier and other positions. Many are willing to work around students’ schedules. Start by speaking with owners of stores selling things that you find interesting. Emphasize your knowledge of the products or services, as well as your customer-service skills. Check help-wanted advertisements in local newspapers and shoppers, as well as on Craigslist. Look at postings on bulletin boards and in college publications. Keep in mind that sales jobs that offer commissions pay better than standard part-time, minimum-wage work. Sales positions may be in shops, on the telephone or door-to-door.

Other ideas for working in the community include paid internships, work-study programs, delivering newspapers and donating blood. Among the jobs at private homes are babysitting, dog walking, lawn mowing, snow shoveling and house painting. Some students make money by running errands, like grocery shopping, for people. An elderly resident of the community may need a driver. Create an eye-catching flyer advertising your services, and post it in prominent locations around town.

Online

Some students use their computers to earn money. Various websites offer opportunities to review products or services, and take part in focus groups or other market research. There are companies that will pay you to fill out opinion surveys, or evaluate products and services as a mystery shopper. Sites like Odesk and Elance list a range of online jobs, including article writing, web design and programming.

Back home in your old bedroom, or the attic or garage, you may have possessions with some value that you no longer want. Sell them on eBay or Craigslist. You also can make money by buying stuff at garage sales, yard sales and thrift shops that can be resold online. Sell other people’s items, too, and keep a percentage of the profit. If you are good at taking pictures, check out websites that pay for photographs. If you enjoy shooting videos, come up with an original idea for a YouTube channel to showcase your work.

You need to assess your strengths to determine the type of part-time work that is best for you. Your financial needs and college schedule also are factors. A part-time retail job is a good idea for those with strong communication and people skills, while more introverted students may prefer online work. Consider all the available options and see which ones match your interests. You just may find an enjoyable way to make money while in college.

Understanding Tuition and Other Costs

Selecting the right college for yourself or your child entails numerous factors. High on the list of considerations is the cost, which varies widely among schools.

If you are looking to apply to a college, you first need to find out how much it charges for tuition and fees. You also have to know the price tag for room and board, as well as books and supplies. Here is some information to aid you in understanding tuition and other costs involved in a college education.

Tuition

Tuition is the fee charged for the actual college education, charged by the semester or quarter. It is the sum you pay to sit in classrooms and be taught by qualified professors. Students who live in the same state as the school usually pay about half the tuition rate charged to out-of-staters.

Private schools typically have steeper tuition rates than those charged by public colleges. Students pursuing majors in science, engineering, computers, medicine, and the fine arts often are assessed higher tuition.

While the rate of increase in the cost of tuition slowed in 2013, the price continues to rise. Average in-state tuition that year in the United States was $8,893 at four-year, public universities and colleges; and $30,090 at private post-secondary schools.

The highest tuition rates in 2013-14 were at colleges in New Hampshire and Vermont, while the most affordable institutions were in Wyoming and Alaska. Half of full-time students at four-year institutions paid less than $10,300 in tuition and fees in 2012-13, according to the College Board.

Remember that those figures represent the initial cost, before financial aid and student loans are factored into the equation. Pell grants and other federal programs are available. Colleges and universities offer scholarships, as well as reduced rates for low-income students.

U.S. News & World Report compiled a ranking of “best value schools,” taking into account academic quality and tuition rates. The top five were Harvard, Yale, Princeton, Stanford, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. While these universities charge relatively high tuition rates, significant financial aid is available.

Fees

In addition to tuition, colleges and universities charge a wide array of fees. The first ones you have to pay are the registration and orientation fees. There are also fees for parking spaces, library access, student union membership, recreational facility use, laboratory supplies, access to computers, and student activities.

This is a partial list, as each college has different fees. Waivers for certain types of fees are sometimes available. Speak with the college’s financial-aid administrator about any assistance for which you may be qualified.

Many colleges total their fees and charge a single sum, along with tuition. The College Board reported that the average cost of tuition and fees in the 2012-13 school year was $8,655 for in-state students at public colleges and $29,056 for those attending private schools.

Room and Board

Another significant expense involves student housing and food. The amount varies widely, depending on the sort of housing and meal plan you choose. For instance, simple dorms are cheaper than large apartments. Your room may have a bathroom, or you could have to share bathing facilities down the hall. You can save money by living with more than one roommate.

Colleges and universities generally lump the cost of housing and meals, also called room and board, into a single expense. The average amount in 2012-13 was $9,205 at public schools and $10,462 at private institutions.

An option is to buy a meal plan, but live off campus. You may want to commute from your old home, or rent an apartment (by yourself or with other students).

Books and Supplies

Students also have to come up with money for books and supplies. They must buy textbooks, reference books, and other printed materials. Required supplies include notebooks, file folders, pens, and pencils.

The average cost of these items in the 2012-13 school year reportedly was $1,200 at public colleges and $1,244 at private schools.

Total Cost

According to the College Board, in-state students at public colleges paid an average of $22,261 during the 2012-13 school year for tuition, fees, supplies, meals, and housing. The organization reported that a “moderate” budget for a private college that year was $43,289.

In deciding which colleges to consider, you need to know how much they charge for everything. Then, find out about the financial aid you might be able to get. Understanding tuition and other costs may help get you into the best college you can afford.

Personal Finance for the New Graduate

Although money management skills are important, many people have a problem handling their personal finances. This issue is even more important for new college graduates. As they leave school they will be faced with repaying student loans while dealing with other expenses like rent and healthcare. Many new graduates do not find the jobs right away, making it even more important to manage their money.

With some planning and good financial advice, the new graduate can cover bills and save money for the future. Here are some tips that can help in managing your personal finances:

Create a Budget

This is probably the most important aspect of money management. It will take a few months before you get a sense of your spending patterns and expenses if you are new to budgeting. When you look at your income and expenses, this will give you an idea of how much you can save. If you are unable to save, examining the budget can help to decided where you can cut some costs.

Never use more from your credit card than you need to, and try to clear the balance each month. This will help you to avoid additional interest. Do not go shopping for clothes if you don’t need them, and avoid eating out unless you absolutely have to. Ultimately, your main goal is to keep your spending below the level of your income. This is the only way you will be able to save.

Reduce Living Expenses

This can mean getting a roommate and sharing the rent or moving in with your parents. Either way you can save a lot of money that you can put towards savings. For some grads, their parents’ home might be the best option since they can live there rent free. It is a good idea to contribute towards expenses such as food, but the bulk of your money should be saved.

Set aside Money for Emergencies

Some people save in a special account for emergencies. This savings is not used for daily expenses or other living expenses. At any time, a crisis may arise, such as a major health problem. Putting money aside in an account that yields high interest, such as a market mutual fund is a good idea. In an emergency you can pull from these funds without putting a strain on your budget. Note that it will take some time to create this sort of fund, so it is best to start early.

Get Books and Information on Money Management

You can search the Internet for used books that cover this important topic. Some of these books actually target new college graduates, so you will find that much of the information applies to you. Do some research on the author of any book you are thinking of buying. This will help to ensure that you are getting advice from a qualified person.

The Internet has lots of information on money management that will come in useful to you now and later on in life. Learning what you can and applying some of these tips to your own life will help you become financially independent.

Avoid New Debts

Do not create any new debt unless it is for something vital. This is even more important if you have student loans to deal with. If you are struggling to get by, that is not the time to buy new furniture or a new TV, even if these items are on sale. You should also try to clear your existing debts as quickly as possible.

College students and recent grads need to be smart in the way they handle their money but they don’t have to be experts. Personal finance involves common sense decisions such as putting extra money towards their student loan. This is a smart move as it helps to clear your loan quicker.  Aside from saving money, it is wise to invest money in mutual funds and similar investment instruments. With discipline, you can end up with enough money to help clear debts or make a down payment on a house.

6 Tips for saving money at college

College can be quite expensive even with financial aid. Students and recent graduates often find themselves with enormous debt. However, it is possible to avoid the predicament by managing expenses and money responsibly while at college. Given below are a few tips that will help you live cheap and save money:

1- Track your expenses

The first thing to do at college is to get a good checking account with a bank. Most banks today provide free student checking accounts. A checking account will allow you to keep track of all your purchases and manage cash better. Understanding the nature of your expenses is the best way to stay within your budget.

2- Get a job

Most students have a job today to support their expenses at college. Working part time does not ideally affect grades. In fact, a job will allow you to be engaged in activities that will further your career and provide you practical experience that will make you stand apart from others at an interview. More importantly, it will provide you a good source of income to manage your expenses at college.

3- Buy used textbooks

One of the biggest expenses at college is textbooks. New textbooks tend to be really expensive since new editions often cost up to $300. The best alternative to this major expense is to try and find bookstores in your town that sell used textbooks. College campuses often have several used bookstores and their prices tend to be considerably reduced. You can also check online for textbooks. The prices tend to be much cheaper even when you include shipping charges. Another option is to ask friends and past graduates if you can borrow their books.

4- Student discounts

Being a student has its own perks so make the most of it. A student ID can get you discounts on just about everything from computers and movies to travel tickets. Use your student ID to get discounts on your leisure activities and even for Greyhound and Amtrak tickets if you plan on traveling anywhere.

5- Accommodations

Although living an independent life outside the campus with a few friends sounds very promising, it can turn out to be a very expensive affair. Compare all your accommodation options carefully. Living in the dorm may actually turn out to be cheaper. However, if you decide to rent an apartment, get a few roommates so you can share the expenses. For furniture and appliances, ask friends or parents for their old furniture or appliances they do not use. Heating, water and electricity bills tend to be quite expensive so learn to live frugal. Turn off the lights, use water carefully and use heat and air conditioning sparingly.

6- Transportation

A car can turn out to be very expensive at college considering the money you will have to spend on gas, tickets and parking passes. Instead, take the subway or local bus. Your student ID will generally get you good discounts on public transit. If public transit is not available, consider carpooling with friends. You can also bike or walk to your classes.

What Not to Do When Apply for Financial Aid and Scholarships

Applying for Financial Aid and scholarships can be tricky at times, and downright confusing. There are many lists on tips on how to successfully apply for such aid but there are even fewer lists on what NOT to do. So, the following is a list on what NOT to do:

DO NOT apply late

Applying late can drastically hurt your chances at obtaining a scholarship. Many schools have their own financial aid deadlines. The official application deadline for the Free Federal Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) is June 30th but students living in certain states have different deadlines to meet. Many other countries also have similar programs with similar deadlines.

What is worse is that if you are applying for a scholarship being late in your application indicates that you may not be hardworking or deserving of the scholarship. This is exactly the opposite of what you want them to think!

DO NOT forget to check all sources for a scholarship

Scholarships can come from many unlikely sources. Thoroughly check all of these sources. Many religious schools will offer ‘matching scholarships’ where the school will agree to match all funds donated by the student’s congregation. Unlikely scholarship sources also include banks. Also, many companies offer scholarships to the children of their employees. If you are a part of a minority or a disabled person there are scholarships available that can be used to your benefit.

DO NOT forget to check application for any potential errors

Nothing says “do not give me a scholarship or grant” like handing in an application with bunches of errors and mistakes. You want the scholarship committee to see the best side of you. You want them to see the polished, professional side of you.

Also, if you make a mistake on your financial aid application packet it could mean that you may miss out on money. It helps to have a family member or friend look over your application to see if there are any obvious mistakes being made. If you are dependent upon your parents for financial aid it is important to have your parents check to see if their section of the application is correctly filled out.

DO NOT forget to have the necessary paperwork available

Having the necessary paperwork available means that you can successfully avoid some of the common mistakes that people make. Applications like the FAFSA can be tricky and remembering the detailed numbers and codes can be a challenge. Having your paperwork organized, ready, and available will greatly reduce the stress associated with submitting the application.

DO NOT forget to be creative!

Okay, so it may be impossible to be creative when filling out the FAFSA but when it comes to individual merit or achievement based scholarships you can truly let your creativity shine through! Do not be afraid to talk about the strange and unusual experiences that you have dealt with in your life. No matter what the scholarship is for, the scholarship committee loves seeing things that prove that you are bright, witty, and creative. Everyone has some sort of quirk that helps them stand out from the crowd!

DO NOT be afraid

Applying for scholarships can be very daunting at times. It is important to remember that you are not the only one going through the scholarship and financial aid process. There are millions of students who have gone through this process unscathed. Chances are, you will do just fine and you will come out of it with great life experience even if you do not get any grants or scholarships.

Five Frugal Living Tips for Students

As a student you do not have to lead the life of an ascetic to make ends meet, whereas it is imperative that you are financially comfortable, to be able to better focus on your college coursework, indulging in a few luxuries does not have to break your bank account. A key contributing factor is the amount you manage to save on your daily expenses. Keep in mind no saving is too small, and every bit adds up. Below are some broad guidelines to help you keep on top of your expenses and make your money go further.

Student Discounts

Availing student discounts is a great way to save money. For example, the campus restaurant usually provides the best value for money in terms of price and quality. If you live in a college town, there are regular student discounts on offer for shopping, pizza delivery, event tickets and even laundry services. You can find details in the local magazine or the campus newspaper. Travel discounts for students are valid for airfares, trains and buses, as well as group tours. Amtrak, for example, offers a Student Advantage Card that gives students 15 percent off the lowest price offer.

Get Group Discounts

You can get group or bulk discounts – for shows, exhibitions, concerts and even restaurants – by buying in a group rather than individually. Many venues offer larger group discounts on certain dates or during specific hours of the day.

Books and Stationary

Your student card makes you eligible for a host of discounts on textbooks, stationary and everyday items at various stores on and off campus – your seniors will definitely know about them- keep a tab on such stores. Make optimal use of public and university libraries. These are free but excellent sources of books and other research and study materials like computers and the internet. Make extensive use of the internet in the libraries if you have a limited budget and would not like to pay for a subscription. There are several online websites offering used textbooks in good condition, so you do not have to spend money on material for each course. Don’t hesitate to ask students who have taken same courses before if they would sell you used textbooks. Computer shops also have regular student deals. You can find help with finding an affordable laptop in your area on the Lenovo website.

Get the Shopping Done Together

If you are sharing an apartment and are keen on saving money by cooking and eating at home, you can shop in groups. Find a person who has a car, or if nobody has one, get a taxi to the closest discount store together. This will save you money, as you can get BOGOF offers, as well as discount vouchers on the next shopping trip.

Get Your Coupons Together

Some people think that coupons are only for housewives, and students would surely not have enough time to collect them. The key is to “divide and conquer”. Designate teams to hunt down coupons and offers for a specific product or service. E.g. you might be in charge of “eating out” offer hunt, while another team could be in charge of supermarket or book offers. This is an effective way of stretching the dollar.

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