College Advice

3 Tips to Afford College in the 21st Century

Affording College

(Photo Credit: Iowa Lakes Community College)

It’s expensive to attend college in the 21st century.  The average cost of tuition and fees at a four-year public university was $8,893 for the 2013-14 academic year, according to the College Board. Average private school tuition was $30,094, while out-of-state tuition at public schools averaged just over $22,000.  None of these figures include room and board.  Unless you’re a great athlete, a 4.0 student with a near-perfect SAT or ACT score or independently wealthy, you’re going to need to find funding sources beyond Pell grants.  In this piece, you’re offered ways to help you to afford college that you may not have considered.

Participate in Medical Studies

Research for new drugs, psychological treatments and other medical procedures are mostly performed on university campuses.  University of Nebraska journalism student Elias Youngquist told Al Jazeera America he needs money for college expenses and to buy his girlfriend an engagement ring.  He discovered that Celerion, a clinical research firm in Lincoln, Nebraska was in Phase 1 testing of a new anti-depressant and needed human subjects for the trials.

Youngquist spent a few hours at the company’s laboratories for two weekends, despite being warned of side effects ranging from psychosis to suicide.  He ended up earning more than $1,000 for a few hours of time and a little discomfort.  Tommy Dornish, another University of Nebraska student, said he’s earned $20,000 in four years being a guinea pig for Celerion.

Check with your university hospital for upcoming paid research trials on campus.  You can also inquire with the psychology, chemistry and biology departments.  Just Another Lab Rat and ClinicalTrials.gov can help you find paid trials in your area.

Become an Egg or Sperm Donor

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 12% of married couples have fertility issues in one form or another.  Groups such as Single Mothers By Choice advocate passionately for sperm and eggs from donors.

Sperm donors can earn as much as $1,000 per month by simply donating three times per week at places like Northwest Cryobank in Spokane, Washington and Missoula, Montana.  Generally, the only requirements are that you’re STD-free, above a certain height (generally 5’10 or above) and drug-free.

Due to the fact a vast majority of recipients are white couples, most donors must also be white.  The largest sperm bank in the world, Cryos International, is even more picky.  It stopped accepting sperm from redheads in 2011, The Atlanta Journal Constitution reported.

Egg donors can earn significantly more.  The Center For Human Reproduction in New York has a total compensation package of $8,000.  The process takes about one month and can produce anywhere from five to 35 total eggs.

Bootstrapping

This term, bootstrapping, is generally applied to entrepreneurs exhausting every avenue to come up with startup capital for their new business.  College is a de-facto business investment, and students can use many of the same methods entrepreneurs do.

Use websites like Scholarships.com and Fast Web to search for demographic and major-specific scholarships you may qualify for.  Students who inherited annuities from their grandparents may be able to sell their future payments to J.G. Wentworth or a similar company.  You can even create a campaign on crowdfunding sites like Campus Slice and see what happens.

College is getting more expensive with each passing year.  By thinking creatively, you can experience greater success in reaching your financial goals.  This will require you to think beyond the traditional funding sources, however.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

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The 4 Best Time & Money Savers for Busy College Students

Black Students and Care Packages

(Photo Credit: NWI Times)

Managing classes, exams and special projects makes it difficult to find any “me” time, and according to a recent survey conducted by Citi Group and Seventeen Magazine, almost four out of five college students work while attending school, making personal time just about impossible.  Save time and money by taking advantage of the following four resources—you don’t have to go off-campus for these services, and they’ll help you get it all done with some down time to spare.

Wellness Around the Clock

Studying for finals might seem more important than tending to a cold, but sometimes you need to receive input from a medical professional.  If you get sick but aren’t sure if you should take time off from classes to see a doctor, schedule a consultation with an online healthcare provider at MeMD. You’ll get high-quality, affordable healthcare from a board-certified doctor right from your mobile device.

A Workout You Can Do Anywhere (and It’s Free)

College involves a significant amount of time sitting: you sit through lectures, sit to study and sit to type papers.  If you don’t have the funds to join a gym or the time to spend working out at one, download the free Tabata Timer app.  In Tabata training, you do 20 seconds of high-intensity exercise followed by a 10-second break for four-minute increments.  The routine, commonly referred to as high-intensity interval training, offers optimal results when performed three to four times throughout the day or over the course of 20 minutes, according to the American Council on Exercise.  You can easily set the timer from anywhere, bust out the moves and be back to studying in less than 10 minutes.

Join a CSA

If money is tight, you probably already do your own grocery shopping instead of eating out.  Join a Community-supported Agriculture (CSA) to save even more on food.  In this system, consumers buy seasonal, locally grown fruits, vegetables, herbs and often meat and fish directly from a farmer.  Boxes are delivered on a bi-weekly basis, and many CSAs deliver right to college campuses.  Not only does this type of service support a well-rounded diet with just-picked produce, it conserves time and money; no driving to the store every week.  Split a box with your roommates or neighbors to save even more.

Tell Your Family What You Need

If your grandmother and aunt send you random assortments of cakes and knitted sweaters, tell them what you really need the next time they ask.  Supplies such as reusable water bottles, lotion, shampoo, snacks and other personal care items add up.  A subscription care-package service such as PijonBox is a cool way for your family to help you get the supplies you need sent right to your door every month.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

How to Use the Internet as a Reliable Research Tool

Online Research

(Photo Credit: Exponential Programs)

Postmodern college students have a research tool not available to students decades ago: the Internet. While the Internet is a boundless source of useful information, it is also littered with less than reliable sources. Another issue many college students face is figuring out how to do in-depth, college-level research, according to Project Information Literacy (PIL). PIL’s online survey of nearly 2,000 college and high school students found that Google was the research tool of choice for nearly 90% of students. While Google can be a beneficial tool, it shouldn’t be your only option for research at the college level. This piece offers some tips about how to use the Internet in more useful ways to conduct research.

Explore Databases

Your high school librarian might have shown you how to access a research database from a workstation in the library.  Once you get to college, the number of online databases available to you increases exponentially.  PIL’s study found that college students today have 19 times more databases available to them than their high school counterparts.  Locate higher education institutions near you along with online resources associated with those institutions.

It’s important to know what database to employ to obtain information that’s actually relevant to your project.  Temple University’s Research Guide recommends that instructors suggest specific databases to use, noting that a 2010 PIL survey revealed that only about 14% of college handouts recommend specific databases.  If your assignment fails to specify, it never hurts to ask your instructor.

Review Individual Sites

The Internet grows larger every minute.  Not only is more information available online every minute, college students can get home internet access for less money than in the past.  A 2012 infographic from Domo divulges that nearly 600 new websites pop up online every minute.  As a student doing research for a credible academic paper, it’s your job to sift through websites to find the ones that provide information that’s accurate.

Luckily, myriad websites give clues as to whether or not you can trust them to offer reliable information. One way to judge the reliability of a website is to look at its domain or URL.  If you’re tracking down health statistics from a government agency, for example, a site that ends in .gov, such as CDC.gov or FDA.gov is going to provide you with accurate information from the actual Centers for Disease Control or Food and Drug Administration.  A website such as CDC.com or FDA.com isn’t necessarily connected to the federal agencies.

You can also discover more about the person who penned the article on the site.  Typically, a credible author will be an expert in his or her field, such as a doctor or a professor.  The article should ideally cite sources and direct you to those sources so that you can verify the information or learn more.

Connect with Your School’s Library

Although the Internet is full of information, there are other resources.  Print books and journals are still excellent sources when writing a paper or working on a project.  You don’t have to trudge to your campus library to track down the books you’re looking for, though.

You can locate books that might be relevant using your school library’s online card catalog.  Some schools let you put the books on hold or check them out online, and then pick them up the next time you’re on campus.  You can also download e-books from the digital collections at some campus libraries, meaning you don’t even have to pick up the books in person.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

College is Expensive So Cut Costs and Save More

College Expenses

(Photo Credit: Original People)

Nearly 20 million Americans attend college each year, according to The Chronicle of Higher Education. Of that number, 60% borrow money to cover the costs.  Footing the bill for a higher education can be daunting, and the last thing you need to be worrying about while blazing your career path is how to fund the next four years.  This piece offers some fairly painless ways you can cut costs and earn extra money while remaining on top of your already overflowing to-do list.

Start a Business

Starting your own business can help you manage costs while you’re in school and if done well, could even become your full-time career.  A funding site like Kickstarter can help generate interest and funding for your product without having to go door to door peddling your wares.  To date, the site has helped fund 55,000 creative projects with $950 million in pledges.  Therefore, depending on your craft, you can obtain substantial support to finance your venture while keeping ownership over your creativity.

You can also secure funding for your business through other means.  Look for assets you can liquidate. For example, if you receive regular structured settlement payments, you may be able to sell your future payments for a lump sum of cash now.  You could then use the money to build capital toward your enterprise.  You can learn more about selling your future payments at J.G. Wentworth’s Facebook page.

Create a Budget and Stick to It

CNN reported in June of 2013 that 76% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck, but financial analysts recommend everyone build a six-month cushion of savings.  A budget will aid you in saving for your future.

Start by calculating all your expenditures for a month.  Once you’re aware of what you spend, you can resolve where you can cut costs.  For example, instead of indulging in eating dinner at restaurants every Friday, consider having more candlelight dinners at home with tasty appetizers.  Use a budgeting app like Mint.com to help you track your spending.

Cut Costs

  • Instead of purchasing brand new textbooks, take advantage of used bookstores and e-books. Sell your books once the semester is finished.

  • For transportation, carpool, take the bus or subway or check out whether Zipcar services are available in your area.  Check if the Student Services office offers students who commute any options to reduce their gas bill.

  • Food costs can be tackled by thinking ahead.  Clip coupons, make shopping lists and stick to them—this way you won’t impulsively buy food you don’t need when you get to the store and blow your budget.  Thinking ahead will also help when you are deep in the throes of a cramming session the night before an exam and hunger rears its ugly head.  Instead of ordering takeout, you can rely on your well-stocked refrigerator for a perfect snack.

Begin to transform your spending habits to save money and become the fiscally conscious citizen you aspire to be.  In time, you will be able to spend more extravagantly, knowing you have a thriving savings to see you through the tougher times.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison

Keep Your College Student from Becoming a Victim of Identity Theft

Identity Theft

(Photo Credit: Identity Theft Protection)

Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the country, according to the FBI.  College students are especially vulnerable to this type of fraud for a couple reasons: They lack an understanding of how important it is to keep personal information safe, especially in this era of excessive sharing through social media, and because they come with clean credit histories which they are unlikely to monitor.  We have a responsibility to educate our college-age students about identity theft and how to prevent it.

Prevention Tips

  • Tell your children what identity theft is and how it could affect them if they are not careful. It is vital that anyone going away for college has a clear understanding of the issue and the consequences if certain measures are not taken.

  • Despite having a clean credit history, it’s necessary for college students to check their credit regularly. This is a good way to keep an eye out for fraudulent activity and accounts opened in their name.

  • Explain to your children that when shopping online, they must only use secure websites. This must be the rule if they are going to use a bank or credit cards online. The best way to recognize a secure website: There is an “s” on the end of “http.” This provides customers with peace of mind that payment information will be kept confidential.

  • Teach your college students to always use a firewall and a quality antivirus and malware program. This program should be updated regularly to ensure the latest version is being employed and the maximum protection.

  • Consider signing the whole family up for an identity theft protection service such as LifeLock. This is the ideal way to keep personal information secure. Such services monitor their clients’ accounts and offer them fraud alerts, guidance and resources on how to keep personal information safe.

Basic Security Measures

  • Your children should have a secure place to store their Social Security card, personal documents, credit cards and mail.

  • Teach your children to keep their campus apartments or dorm rooms locked to stop people from going through their personal belongings.

  • Invest in a paper shredder. This is the best way to eliminate documents no longer needed.

  • Instruct your college students to create a separate list of all their account information and banks’ phone numbers. This makes it easy to report a card as misplaced or stolen. They should also keep the phone numbers of the three major credit bureaus handy in case anything suspicious happens.

We are responsible for sending our children out in the world armed with good facts about protecting themselves. With these simple tips, we can educate these young adults so they don’t fall prey to identity thieves.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison