Comparing On and Off Campus Housing

When deciding to live on or off campus, compare the pros and cons before making this big decision.

  • Cost.  Expenses such as security deposits, monthly rent, utilities, and parking should all be considered.
  • Location.  Is the location within walking distance of campus or will transportation be needed?  Consider parking needs, vehicle costs, and if public transportation is available.
  • Privacy.  Dorm rooms generally have shared living space by 2 or more students. Rentals may have more privacy options, but this is determined by number of roommates, bedrooms, and bathrooms.
  • Amenities. Air conditioning, heat control, laundry facilities, internet connection, and dishwasher may be available at rentals; however, living on campus provides daily cleaning of facilities and readily available meals.
  • Security.  Consider door locks, peep holes, and security systems when living off campus.
  • Other.  If contemplating off campus housing, some additional considerations include renter’s insurance, allowable pets, subleasing options, yard work requirements, furnished or unfurnished, and landlord availability.

Once the pros and cons of each category are compared, you can make a decision based on which is most beneficial to your personal situation. For more information and resources on comparing on and off campus housing, visit the Financial Literacy Center and schedule a coaching session today!

Refunds: What To Do With The Extra Money?

A financial aid refund is excess money left over from your financial aid package after your tuition and allowable fees have been paid.  Although it can be tempting to use this extra money on non-essentials, such as gaming consoles, vacations, or designer clothing, financial aid is meant for education-related expenses. In many cases, the refund check is actually a student loan which will need to be repaid in the future with interest.

Here are the recommended priorities for refund usage:

  1. Pay Outstanding Account Balance. Even though you may receive a refund, your student account may still have charges that need to be paid (see Note below).
  2. Purchase Essential School Supplies.  Depending on your course load, various school supplies are needed for class success such as books, calculators, and other materials.
  3. Pay for Living Expenses and Transportation.  Consider needs versus wants.  Depending on your personal situation, rent, groceries, meal plans, utilities, and basic transportation costs may be necessary expenses.
  4. Place Funds into Savings for Future Education-Related Expenses.  Although it may be tempting to use refund money on non-essentials, such as vacations or designer clothing, financial aid is meant for education-related expenses.
  5. Give Money Back.  If you have over-borrowed, consider giving the money back to reduce your overall student debt.

For more information and resources on financial aid refunds or other financial needs, reach out to the appropriate campus departments.

Note:  Due to financial aid restrictions, your student account in WINS may continue to have non-tuition charges that will need to be paid using personal funds.  Students are encouraged to authorize the Federal Title IV Financial Aid (WINS/Student Center/View Student Permissions) to pay additional charges on their student account such as parking permits, bookstore charges, health center services, and library fines.  Pay plan activation fees and finance charges cannot be covered with Federal Title IV permissions, therefore these will need to be paid with personal funds.

8 Misconceptions About Student Loans

Many students need them, but misconceptions exist surrounding student loans.  To make the best financial decisions, students should be aware of common student loan myths.

  1. Student loan debt is good debt. Potentially, it could be upon graduation and landing a job.  If you leave college prior to receiving a diploma, you are still required to pay back your student loans.
  2. Interest on my student loans does not start to accrue until after I graduate.  This may be true of federal subsidized loans, but this statement does not apply to federal unsubsidized loans and most private loans.  Interest starts to accrue upon receiving the unsubsidized loan; however, the interest does not need to be paid until the student drops below half-time status or after the 6 month grace period after graduation.
  3. My student loans automatically renew each year.  Generally, both federal and private loans are only good for one year.  If loans are needed again, students should reapply each school year.
  4. Since I am going to be a teacher, my students loans will be forgiven.  This statement applies to teachers who meet all the loan forgiveness program requirements.  To qualify, teachers need to have worked full-time for five consecutive years in a designated school or service agency that serves students from low income families.
  5. If I can’t pay my student loans, I can file for bankruptcy.  Only in rare extreme hardship cases will student loans be forgiven due to bankruptcy.  The collateral on student loans is your ability to earn in the future.  For this reason, even upon bankruptcy, you still have the ability to earn and the ability to pay something towards your student debt.
  6. My grades are not high enough to receive student loans.  Federal financial aid programs do not have any initial grade requirements.
  7. My parents have not filed their taxes yet, therefore I cannot complete the FAFSA.  Students can complete the FAFSA application using estimated tax information.  When the parents eventually file their taxes, students can go back and edit the application information.
  8. I am responsible to pay back the student loans my parents took out for me.  Ultimately, if a parent takes out the loan, the parent is responsible for repayment of the loan.

For additional resources on student loans,  visit the UWW Financial LIteracy Center or schedule a free and confidential one-on-one coaching session.  We look forward to working from you!

Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized

When discussing financial aid, commonly used terms include subsidized and unsubsidized, but what is the difference between those two words in regards to student loans?

Direct Subsidized Federal Loans are available to undergraduate students who demonstrate financial need.  The US Department of Education pays the interest on your loan while you are in school (at least half-time status), for the first 6 months (grace period) after you leave school, and during any deferment (postponement) periods.

Direct Unsubsidized Federal Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students.  Demonstrating financial need is not a requirement.  You are responsible for paying interest during the life of the loan.  While in school, during the grace period, and during deferment or forbearance, you may choose to let your interest accrue, as opposed to making payments. The accrued interest is added to the principal of the loan.

For more information, visit the Federal Student Aid website, the UWW Financial Aid Office, or the UWW Financial Literacy Center.

What is the Cost of Attending?

It’s now August, and many families are seeking the total price tag for this upcoming year’s college education.  Here at UW-Whitewater, the Cost of Attending Calculator allows students to select personalized options to obtain an estimated total cost of attending dollar amount.  Variable choices include student status, type of housing requested, meal plan purchase, and parking.  Although just an estimate, this information can be used by families when making financial plans.

 

What If I Didn’t Get Enough Financial Aid?

Whether you’re starting your last or first year of college, what are your options when financial aid doesn’t stretch far enough?

  • Seek Scholarships.  Apply for additional state, local, and private scholarships.  Use these tools from the NASFAA, the US Department of Labor, and UW-Whitewater to apply for additional gift aid.
  • Appeal Award.  An appeal to the UWW Financial Aid Department is an option; however, your appeal will be more successful if there was an error on your FAFSA application or there has been a change in family circumstances.
  • Part-Time Work.  During the school year and summer, work a job.  Many students work to offset the cost of their education. Be sure to balance your job with your academics.  Check out the UWW Handshake job board for employment opportunities both on campus and around the Whitewater community.
  • Live at home.  If you are within commuting distance, consider saving on room and board fees by living at home.
  • Take Out Student Loans.  Generally, federal student loan interest rates are lower and have more flexible repayment options compared to private student loans.  However, when federal aid isn’t enough, private loans through financial institutions may be obtained.

College is expensive, and paying your bills is a part of the process.  Decide on a plan of action, and follow through.