May 2, 2014

Insurance Options for Students and Recent Graduates

Posted in Graduate Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , at 10:00 AM by InsuranceGuru


Now that summer is coming, you might want to consider insurance options for your son or daughter who is heading off to school next fall.  Your best bet to start, read this article on GradInsurance.com:

Choosing a Student Insurance Plan

There are many factors to consider.  Start with listing out your priorities, needs and special circumstances.  Talk with your school officials, your insurance agent and friends.  Then do your research.  Most importantly, read the terms of the policy you are considering buying very carefully.  Many policies will appear to cover one thing but when you read the exclusions, that one thing is excluded…

Some sites for student insurance to help in your research:

If you choose a plan that is not one offered by your school, you ill likely be asked by the school to complete a waiver. To be eligible for waiver of the university-sponsored insurance, the student’s insurance plan must meet some or all of the following criteria.  You school’s list may be different so check with them…

To be eligible for waiver:

  1. The plan must cover a minimum of $500,000 US in medical benefits due to illness, accident, or injury per plan year.
  2. The plan must have a deductible of no more than $5,000 US per covered person per plan year. (Note: Plans without a deductible meet this requirement.)
  3. The plan must cover prescription medications both in the hospital and out of the hospital to a minimum of $100,000 US per plan year.
  4. The plan must have no restrictions for coverage of any pre-existing health condition.
  5. The plan must cover biologically-based mental health conditions at the same level as other medical conditions.
  6. The plan must cover care related to pregnancy and delivery, including newborn care for the first 30 days of life.
  7. The plan must not exclude care for self-inflicted injury, intercollegiate athletics, and recreational activities.
  8. The plan must be in force for the duration of the academic year, or through the end of the month in which graduation occurs or the student’s academic program ends.

Above all do your research so you can make an educated decision.

March 19, 2012

Scholarship Search Advice

Posted in Grants, Saving for College, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , at 9:49 AM by plusloans


What are the best resources for students and parents when searching for scholarships?  To start, you need a plan.  Think about how much time you can spend on the process, how early you can start, who can help, etc.  Some advice – you can never start too early or get enough help.

I can provide a few links to resources but would love to get your thoughts and suggestions.

For searching, try the Student Scholarship Search website which offers a free open directory of thousands of awards, grants and scholarships.  Their new design offers tools for saving scholarships that are relevant and tips for improving your chances of qualifying.  They recently published Scholarship Search Mistakes which  lists the top 5 mistakes students make when searching for scholarships.

Another great site is http://www.scholarshippoints.com which gives out scholarships every month with a chance to win $10,000 every 3 months!

What are you favorite resources?  Do you have any advice for the rest of us??

August 28, 2011

How do I Fill the Gap between what College Costs and the Financial Aid Awarded?

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 12:48 PM by plusloans


Struggling with finding the last dollar to pay that college tuition bill???  Here is a good overview of the challenges and some options to manage them…

It is no secret that college is expensive and tuition costs are continuing to rise. We put together the infographic below to examine the costs associated with a college education, including the hidden costs you may not be factoring in like health fees, gas money, entertainment and all the Red Bull you’ll consume during finals. The graphic also outlines how funding occurs and how students can fill the gaps left in paying for college. Feel free to share with your fellow students, friends and family!

Link: http://www.privatestudentloans.com/fill-the-gap/

September 10, 2009

How is my EFC calculated?

Posted in FAFSA, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 1:22 PM by Joe From Boston


Calculate your EFC

Calculate your EFC

The EFC, or Expected Family Contribution is the amount you and your family is expected to contribute towards college education.

The federal government gives you an official federal EFC calculation after you have complete the FAFSA form.  This calculation determines family resources available from a family’s income (less allowances for taxes and living expenses) and assets (less allowances for retirement).  A percentage of these available amounts are earmarked as EFC. Read more about the Cost and your EFC.

The EFC formula is used to determine the EFC and ultimately determine the need for assistance from the following types of federal student financial assistance: Federal Pell Grants, subsidized Stafford Loans (though the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan [DL] Program or through the Federal Family Education Loan Program [FFEL]), and assistance from the “campus-based” programs—Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

July 8, 2009

New GI bill – benefits vary by state???

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 12:52 PM by Joe From Boston


Yup, you read that right.

The feds decided to provide veterans with a stipend equaling the cost of the most expensive public state school.  Which is great if you live in New Hampshire – that’s $25K.

In California, it’s a whopping $0.  Turns out, it’s illegal to charge tuition at public schools in California (though the thousands of dollars in fees seems to be legal… but that’s another story).

I grant you, it’s still a lot better than the old bill – it provides full in-state undergraduate tuition and fees as opposed to the old monthly stipend.

But what sounds like a great deal – providing the equivalent about to a private school- turns out to be a crappy lottery depending on where you live.  I’m in Massachusetts.  Veterans here will get about $2200 a year which is useless in a state that has some of the highest tuition and cost-of-living expenses.

Veterans are being penalized by states that have worked hard to keep tuition low.

And what about veterans pursuing graduate degrees?

Looks like Congress created a monster… again…

July 1, 2009

July 1, 2009 – Big Changes Take Effect Today

Posted in Graduate Students, Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process at 1:13 PM by Joe From Boston


Welcome to the next fiscal year, and along with it come some great changes for borrowers.

  • The maximum Pell Grant amount  increases to $5,350 for the 2009-10 school year, a 13% increase from last year.
  • The fees to originate a new loan fall by half of a percentage point. Next year, it will fall by that much again. The changes will free more money for those students to use for tuition.
  • “IBR” plans come into effect – income based repayment.  Borrowers may be eligible to reduce their monthly payments based on their income.   Also, teachers or those working in other forms of public service can reduce their payments based on their public service salary.

June 24, 2009

Finally – a simpler FAFSA

Posted in FAFSA, Legislation Affecting Students, Saving for College, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 6:17 AM by Joe From Boston


Education Secretary Arne Duncan is expected to unveil a new, simpler FAFSA form at today’s daily White House press briefing.  This is great news for frustrated parents and students everywhere.

We don’t have too many details yet beyond the following:

  • Online form will shrink from 30 screens to 10
  • Obscure questions that target a tiny fraction of students have been dropped, such as the question about “special combat pay”
  • Questions re-phrased to sound less encyclopedic.  CNN cites the following example:
    “At any time… did your high school or school district homeless liaison determine that you were an unaccompanied youth who was homeless?” will now be, “Are you homeless?”

Click here to read CNN’s article.  I’ll update as more news arrives.

May 6, 2009

Online Degrees – Don’t think outside the box, throw the box away

Posted in Private Loans, Saving for College, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , at 8:44 AM by Joe From Boston


So it’s May, you have your award letters.  You don’t get enough financial aid from any school.  What now?

How about delaying admission for a year and taking some online classes to get requirements out of the way?  It’s certainly cheaper than tution at your first choice university.

Yes, I know this isn’t what you want to hear.  There’s been a trend recently that people are entitled to a degree where and when they choose, but the reality in these tough economic times is that we have to make hard decisions.  That may include either not attending the school of your choice, or delaying admission while you take classes online or at a community college.

Seriously, you should look at this problem from a completely different angle.  You have options that you likely have not considered yet.

Search for Online Degrees

April 23, 2009

The best and worst of 529 plans

Posted in Saving for College tagged , , , at 11:56 AM by Joe From Boston


The Wall Street Journal has a great new article that evaluates 529 plans, taking into account the current economic meltdown in a study by Morningstar Inc.

Here’s an excerpt:

“The report… found that several plans were caught off-guard when their investments in some of OppenheimerFunds Inc.’s bond funds reported sharp losses. In other plans, the asset-allocation mix in the popular “age based” portfolios — which turn more conservative as the child nears college — turned out to be riskier than expected.

Such factors knocked several well-regarded 529s off the best list this year, such as Illinois’s Bright Start College Savings Program, which had offered the Oppenheimer funds that imploded and still has money in them.”

To see the best and worst, click here to view the entire article.

April 16, 2009

About to attend a public school in Georgia? Your tuition is going up

Posted in Saving for College, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 10:19 AM by Joe From Boston


Remember back in 2006 when Georgia decided to freeze tuition at your freshman-year price for all 4 years?  Well, if you’re about to enter school, that’s no longer the case!

According to the Atlanta-Journal Constitution, the Board of Regents voted unanimously this past Tuesday to discontinue the policy.

The good news is, if you enrolled under the policy, it will continue for you, but will not apply to new students.

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