Education Column

Your education is your #1 asset. Benjamin Franklin once said: “Genius without education is like silver in the mine.” It doesn’t matter whether other people think you’re smart or not, education is what sharpens the mind and magnifies the innate skills you were born with.


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Going back to school? Nontraditional students face special hurdles

Nontraditional students don't have to be as crazy as Pierce Hawthorne to have trouble adjust to collegeWhen most of us think of college students, we picture young adults between the ages of 18 and 23.

But according to the latest data from the National Center for Education Statistics, 21 percent of U.S. college students in the 2011 school year were over the age of 30. You’d think with that with so many older students, colleges would be focused on meeting their needs, but older students still face special challenges as they complete their degrees.

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 Education 
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Getting the best bang for your student loan buck

Make sure you don't take on too big of a student loan burdenThere’s no doubt that the rising cost of a college education, and the student loan debt that individuals and families are taking on to cover it, are hot-button issues right now.

But it’s worth remembering that the costs and benefits of different college degrees can vary widely; earning a bachelor’s and master’s in engineering might cost more than an associate degree in paralegal studies, but it will probably pay more, too.


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College degrees expensive but also really valuable

Will drum for collegeWe hear a lot these days about the crushing burden of college debt on today’s college graduates. But one thing that’s tougher than having to deal with the rapidly rising cost of college and skyrocketing student loan debt is the financial burden of not going to college at all.

A recent review of census data by the Pew Research Center found that college graduates make a lot more than less-educated workers, and that the gap is growing rapidly.


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 Education 
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Can you earn a ‘real’ graduate degree online?

7.365_todd_takes_a_classOne of the growing trends in education is to go online. There are plenty of free online classes and educational resources, but the reality is that many of these free courses are simply meant for your own enrichment. You might be able to access OpenCourseWare from MIT for free, but these free resources will not provide you with a degree, and you can’t receive college credit for completing these courses.

But that doesn’t mean online courses are useless. Indeed, many accredited colleges provide ways for you to earn your degree entirely online. You just have to be willing to pay.


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 Education 
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7 Homework and Time Management Apps for Back to School

homeworkNow that school is back in session, it’s time to think about time management. Homework, tests, and projects all need to be managed properly if your student expects to do well.

If you want to help your student manage his or her time and schedule more efficiently, you can use technology to help. There are a number of helpful and advanced apps that can help your student stay on top of the situation and stay productive. Here are 7 apps ideal for managing homework this school year:


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 Education 
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Congress Moves to Lower Interest Rates on Student Loans

UniversityAfter taking a lot of flak for doing nothing (I’m sure they took it to heart before they went on vacation), Congress has completed step two of lowering student loan interest rates last week. Prior to leaving for vacation, the Senate passed a bill that would tie interest rates to the yield on the 10-year US Treasury note on June 1st, plus 2.05%. Graduate students would pay the yield on the 10-Year T-Note plus 3.6%. This means that loans issued this Fall for undergraduates would have an interest rate of 3.86% while graduates would pay 5.41%. Undergraduate loan rates are capped at 8.25% and graduate loan rates capped at 9.5%.

The House had previously passed a bill 221-198 but after the Senate passed their bill, they had to reconcile and pass it again. This time the Bipartisan Student Loan Certainty Act of 2013 sailed through 392 to 31. The Senate bill passed 81-18. President Obama is expected to sign this bill into law.

I paid for college using Stafford Loans (and others) and benefited greatly from them. My rates were set at around 3% when I consolidated following graduation. I even got a deferment when I started graduate school again and eventually paid it off over the next few years. The difference between 3% and 6.8% is not difficult to see, it’s more than double. Having your interest payments double can be painful, especially when the average student loan debt is around $24,000 (which happens to be a little less than what I owed). At 6.8%, a 10-year $24,000 loan calls for a $276 monthly payment. Lower that to 3% and you’re talking only $231. A savings of $5300 over the life of the loan.

While this doesn’t do anything for folks who have loans right now, it does lower borrowing costs for future students.

Did you have student loans? Would doubling the interest rate have impacted your decision or ability to go to college?

(Credit: kevin dooley)

 Education 
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7 Things Every College Freshman Needs

CollegeFor many, attending college is a rite of passage. You head out into the great unknown, ready to take your life into your own hands. Without mom and dad looking over your shoulder, you can make your own decisions about how to spend your money, and what you want to eat each day.

I know I was excited about the prospect of college. I had most of what I needed when my parents drove me down, unloaded my stuff, and then took off. If you are getting ready to go to college for the first time, here are 7 things that you need:
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 Debt, Education 
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Where Can You Find Private Student Loans?

College GraduationWhen I went to graduate school at Syracuse University, I had a small scholarship, and federal student loans. However, even with these resources, I still didn’t have quite enough money to pay tuition for my Master’s program.

So I turned to a private student loan to supply the deficiency.

“After students have considered scholarships, grants and federal student loans, their next step is to find private student loans,” says Beatrice Schultz, a licensed College Planning Relief specialist and co-founder of Westface College Planning.

“Private loans come from many sources, including public banks, private group, or individual lenders,” she continues. “All will require a co-signer, ideally with good credit.”

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