Archive for the 'Financial Aid' Category

A Practical Guide to Scholarships

Apr. 17th 2013


For prospective college students, there is no doubt a great deal of excitement, expectation, and, of course, trepidation about where they are headed. Scholarships are a major part of the college prep, and while they are often regarded as overwhelming and confusing — something students don’t even want to bother with — they don’t have to be.

We’ve broken down the basics of scholarships for you. Where to find them, how to apply for them and why you (or your student) will definitely want to bother. However, before we get into all that…

What are Scholarships, Exactly?

Scholarships are a form of financial aid awarded to students to further their education based on any number of different criteria; scholarships usually reflect the values and purposes of the donor or founder of the award.

You will likely have heard scholarships discussed along with other sources of aid such as grants and student loans. Like scholarships, student loans are designed to help students pay for university tuition, books and living expenses. However, the difference is — and it’s a key difference — loans must be paid back, with interest.

Grants for college are similar to scholarships, in that grants are not expected to be paid back. They are often seen as an investment on the part of the organization giving the grant. For that reason, grants often require much more compliance and reporting on the part of the recipient than scholarships. That being said, many scholarships still require a student to maintain a certain level of scholarly conduct and a minimum GPA.

In recent years, a common misperception regarding scholarships has formed: students from specific, non-white ethnic groups have more opportunities for scholarships based on their minority status within the US. However, a 2011 report illustrates that Caucasian students still receive a disproportionate share of private scholarships and merit-based grants. In fact, Caucasian students receive more than three times as much in merit-based grant and private scholarship funding as minority students.

The Different Scholarships Available

Despite inequities, the sheer number of scholarships available to students of every walk of life continues to grow. Virtually every prospective college student is eligible for some type of scholarship, and there is no limit to the number of scholarships available to one person. Here are some of the most common:

Academic

When people think of scholarships, academic achievement is probably what springs to mind first. Many high profile scholarships are based on academic merit — especially a student’s GPA. It’s worth noting that extracurriculars and volunteer work also tend to factor into merit-based awards. Some academic scholarships offer a relatively large payout – some even offering a “full ride” scholarship. While students will push themselves to win such giant sums, regardless of what sort of scholarship they actually end up with, simply earning a scholarship at all is an accomplishment that always look very good on a resume.

Athletic

There are some students whose athletic abilities are so exceptional that universities all over the country vie to award them generous scholarships. Landing a stellar athlete can mean years of success — and money — for prominent universities. It should be noted, however, even for athletic scholarships, students must also be able to demonstrate a solid academic performance; scholastics are still the backbone of the collegiate experience.

Need-Based

Need-based scholarships are offered to students who would otherwise be unable to attend college due to financial constraints. These are offered at nearly every major university, with some schools even promising to offer need-based aid to any eligible student who would not be able to attend the school due to economic hardship.

Minority Groups

Almost every ethnic or minority group has a scholarship dedicated to recognizing and awarding exceptional students from a specific background; this includes women, who, while not a minority, were long considered a minority in the world of advanced degrees. There are also scholarships offered to minority groups in general, usually in the interest of promoting academic diversity. Funding for these scholarships comes from various sources, ranging from government programs to universities and private organizations.

Veterans

For veterans of the U.S. armed forces, there are a variety of scholarships designed to enhance opportunities and increase the number of vets who go on to college and pursue lucrative careers. Veterans scholarships are offered by the U.S., as well as a variety of veterans groups, nonprofits, and even some private organizations.

Community Service

There are also a number of scholarships available for students who, as upstanding citizens, have made meaningful contributions to their community. These scholarships can be somewhat less common — and somewhat less known — than merit-based awards. This can limit the number of applicants and increase the chances of being a recipient.

How to Apply for Scholarships

When it comes to scholarships, the sooner you start researching what’s out there, the better. You’ll not only get to spend more time crafting your applications, you’ll get to apply to more scholarships, increasing your chances of landing some great financial aid.

Remember, every scholarship has its own distinct requirements. It’s smart to reach out to people in the know who can direct you to the applications worth your while. Both your high school guidance counselor and the financial aid office at universities you are applying to, or hoping to apply to, help students with their financial aid choices for a living. Getting in touch with them as early as possible will help them find what best suits you.

Of course, the 21st century student also has ample opportunity to do research on their own. In fact, public libraries are an excellent place to do some independent sourcing of possible scholarships.

Every scholarship has its own deadline, and it’s up to you to keep track of each on you are going for. You will likely have to fill out an application online, or print the application and turn it in via the post office prior to the deadline.

If and when you are finally awarded a scholarship, it’s worth knowing that you may never have direct access to the funds. In some cases the funds are sent directly to the college to cover your tuition and other academic expenses. However, if there is still something left over, some scholarships will give the remaining money to the recipient in the form of a check.

In Conclusion

It takes time to track down great scholarships, put together a great application and wait to hear back from an organization. However, for motivated students, they can be a fantastic investment. Well before your first day at college, applying for scholarships allows you to get a head start on the independence that makes the college experience such a unique and worthwhile transition into adulthood.

Posted by Staff Writers | in Financial Aid, Resources | No Comments »

Innovative Methods Revolutionizing College Tuition

Feb. 19th 2013

Imagine a world in which a college education was affordable. Now, take it a step further and imagine a world in which a college education was free. Though it might seem far-fetched, especially to the more than 37 million Americans who are currently in debt due to student loans, recent initiatives and innovative techniques by higher education institutions stand to change the face of college tuition.

The Old School

Traditionally, basic tuition cuts or freezes have been the method institutions would use to curb students’ financial burdens. From national online education provider University of Phoenix to more traditional state school systems like California State University — both announcing proposed tuition freezes — to private schools cutting tuition price tags, these practices aren’t new. However, lowering tuition costs means less financial aid as well. For many schools, the strategy behind this method is that the publicity will help generate an increase in enrollment, which will offset the tuition cuts.

Innovators Changing the Playing Field

One social venture that is leading the way in tuition reform is University Now (UNow). Based in San Francisco, Calif., UNow was designed to provide students everywhere with an affordable college education through a network of schools. UNow is the parent company of two accredited schools, Patten University and New Charter University.

Students who are eligible can earn their degrees online from Patten or New Charter through UNow’s College Works Scholarship Program. Currently, the program is available to students who live or work in San Francisco, Oakland, or Sacramento and qualify for tuition assistance benefits with their respective employers. Through this program, students can essentially pursue a higher education for free.

The scholarship program was created to offer working adults an affordable option for earning a college degree — something that reports have shown to be quite handy post-Recession.

Here’s how the scholarship works: An eligible student will enroll in Patten or New Charter and pay applicable tuition costs out of pocket. The student’s employer will then reimburse him or her. However, the student will not be charged tuition at a cost higher than what the employer agrees to reimburse him or her, meaning UNow will cap tuition at the amount of the student’s respective tuition reimbursement program from his or her employer. The scholarship will then be applied to cover all remaining costs. There is no cost to the employer to participate in the scholarship program.

Working Together with Open Courseware

San Jose State University has jumped out as a leader in transforming tuition, recently partnering with open courseware provider Udacity to pilot a program called San Jose State Plus. This program allows students — both SJSU and non-SJSU — to take three courses for college credit at $150 per course. Students can choose to take the courses for free, but would earn no college credit.

The courses offered are intermediate algebra, college algebra, and elementary statistics and will be offered in a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) format. All coursework will be done online and exams will be proctored.

SJSU Plus is part of a bigger initiative led by SJSU president Mohammad Qayoumi, who has expressed that colleges and universities need to approach teaching and learning assessment using methods that are personalized, collaborative, engaging and relate to current real-world problems.

“The idea is to broaden access to college education,” Patricia Harris, media relations director for SJSU said. “In theory, we will build SJSU Plus over time. But that’s still far in the future. Right now, we’re focusing on assessing the three courses we’re offering.”

With the American Council on Education recently endorsing five more MOOCS for credit — all offered through Coursera — from influential schools like Duke University, The University of California, Irvine, and The University of Pennsylvania, the opportunity for an affordable education may be on the horizon. If more schools follow suit, students will be able to earn credit for mastery of courses that do not require paying tuition, which could be a complete game-changer in the future of tuition pricing.

Different Degree, Different Price?

The method of differential tuition — offering varying tuitions based on major, program, college or class standing — is another way to address the tuition issue. For example, schools may offer high-cost courses for majors in the field of engineering and health sciences, which tend to have more favorable job outcomes for graduates. Statistics show an increasing number of colleges and universities have begun offering differential tuition.

Ohio University is an institution seriously considering this method as an alternative way of charging tuition. In a November article of the Athens Messenger, Ohio University stated they believe a tuition-driven business model is unsustainable because “tuition by itself cannot generate sufficient money to cover the state share of the future cost of education” and “the ability of families to take on more education debt is constrained by the availability of loans, the labor market and earning power of graduates to pay off debt and the fact that disposable income of families is declining.”

Tips for Working With Your Financial Aid Office

Until all colleges and universities embrace the pioneering methods being used at schools like San Jose State University, there is still a need for financial aid. According to a report by the College Board, $236.7 billion in financial aid was distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants from all sources, Federal Work-Study (FWS), federal loans, and federal tax credits and deductions in 2011-2012.

Students who use financial aid to supplement paying for their college education will invariably need to work with financial aid offices at some point in their college career.

Latisha Bonner has been in the financial aid business for 10 years, four of those which she spent working directly with Sallie Mae assisting students with loan repayment and working with colleges to help students fund their education. She currently serves as the default prevention coordinator for a public, four-year university. Bonner offered these tips for students when dealing with financial aid offices:

  1. Be honest with your financial aid officer about your level of knowledge of the financial aid process.
    “Financial aid officers do not mind providing all of the information that you may need to complete the financial aid process. The more information you know in the beginning, the easier the process will be. If possible, try to meet with a financial aid officer in person so that you can receive pamphlets or brochures about the information that you are most concerned about. This allows you the ability to have something to follow-up with should you have more questions in the future.”
  2. The best time to discuss financial aid with a financial aid officer would be before the semester begins.
    “If you are going to need financial aid for a fall semester, my suggestion would be to begin the process in early March or April. This would allow time to receive any additional grants that the school may have to offer because many of them are awarded on a first-come, first-serve basis. For students that are concerned with their financial aid for spring semesters, you would want to begin the communication with a financial aid officer around late September or early October. The earlier you begin the process, the less you have to worry about once school begins.”
  3. Make sure to have the correct paperwork with you.
    “Once you have completed your FAFSA online, approximately 3-5 days later you will receive an email from FAFSA with your SAR (Student Aid Report). On the SAR you will be advised if you have been selected for the financial aid verification process. If you have been selected, make sure that when you meet with your financial aid officer you have a copy of your IRS Tax Transcript. If you are a dependent student, you will also need a copy of your parents’ IRS Tax Transcript. If possible, bring the verification worksheet the school may have sent to you. You may be able locate it on the school’s website. This will help in speeding up the financial aid process if you already know that you have been selected for the verification process.”
  4. Communication is key.
    “You do not necessarily have to build a relationship with your financial aid officer, however; it is important to make sure that if you are contacted by your financial aid office that you respond. Many financial aid officers may deal with hundreds or even thousands of students each semester, so if they are making contact with you please understand that there is something that really needs to be addressed.”
  5. Let the financial aid office know if you fall into hard times.
    “If a student begins to experience a financial hardship, he or she should contact the financial aid office to find out if there are ways to receive help. Many offices do provide students with special circumstances which will allow for additional aid. Also, if you are in need of additional funding to help with school-related expenses such as computers, you are eligible to receive a onetime increase of financial aid to cover that expense. You would need to contact your financial aid office to advise them of what you need and they will be more than happy to assist.”
Posted by Staff Writers | in Financial Aid | No Comments »

Top 100 Financial Blogs for College Students

Jan. 8th 2011

Realm of Prosperity

This blog from a 2009 graduate “serves as a medium to connect the lively reckless nature of the younger generation with the responsible attitude that financial stability requires.” Posts focus on money management, investments, debt management, and much more. Some popular posts include College Student Bought Home Instead of Renting, Investing Now v. Removing Debt, and A Weekend in College: Zero Dollars.

I Will Teach You to be Rich

This blog — and the book of the same title — offers advice on personal finance and business for college students and recent graduates (and anyone else who might be interested). In-depth posts discuss marketing, negotiation, debt management, home ownership, starting a business, and much more. Some recent posts include Behind the Scenes of a Psychological Campaign, Wednesday Workout: Testing Your Assumptions, and How to Apply the 80/20 Rule to Earn More, Work Less, and Dominate.

Grad Money Matters

This blog is “for those of us that are well-educated, yet clueless when it comes to money matters.” Posts cover topics ranging from consumerism to personal finance to investing. Some popular posts include 10 Steps Using Which Even a Lazy Person Can Be a Millionaire, 101 Tips for Frugal Living, and 11 Things You Do Not Learn in School.

Broke Grad Student

This former grad student started this blog to document his attempts to pay back $22,000 in student loans. Along the way, he shares his tips for saving money and managing personal finances for college students. Though the blog has not been updated in some time, there are still plenty of excellent articles in the archive. We liked 5 Easy Ways for College Students to Make Extra Money, How You Can Make $25 in 10 Minutes, and Building a Car Fund for College Students.

Independent Beginnings

Olivia is a college student at Brigham Young University, and her blog discusses “issues such as budgeting, credit, financial aid, savings, investing, taxes, insurance, and smart spending.” Many of the recent posts also include links to online coupons, freebies, and other deals for products and services.

20 Something Finance

The purpose of this blog is to “entertain and help inquisitive young professionals get out of debt, build wealth, and achieve financial freedom.” Post categories include investing, career, home buying, budgeting, retirement planning, insurance, and more. There are also reviews of Web sites, books, products, and more. Some recent posts worth checking out include The 57 Best 20Something Finance Posts of 2010, The Hidden 401k Fees that Can Crack Your Nest Egg, and Obama Tax Cut Extensions and New Payroll Tax Cuts: How Much Will You Save?

Consumerism Commentary

This personal finance blog started as one man’s personal efforts to hold himself accountable for his own account balances and spending habits. It has grown into a vast blog with a team of writers and in-depth posts about all aspects of personal finance. Some interesting recent posts include Low Savings Interest Rates: Good or Bad?, How to Buy Facebook Shares Now, and The Myth of Ownership.

Stop Buying Crap

Between posts about the silly and irresponsible ways that many of us spend our money (such as $166 jeans and these 9 Weird Crap You Can Buy on Amazon.com), there are thoughtful posts about ways to save money and wisely invest your money. Some interesting recent posts include S.3247: Fair Access to Credit Scores Act, How I Made the Most Money I’ve Ever Made in My Life but Still Felt Miserable, and Teach Your Children About Money Management by Playing Shopkeeper.

Studenomics

This blog offers economic advice for students, by a student. Some of our favorite recent posts include How a Reader’s Slapping College Loans Around, Should Parents Pay for College?, and Vagabonding 101: Everything You Need to know to Travel the World.

Bargaineering

Here you’ll find guidance on financial products such as savings accounts and credit cards, as well as reviews on financial tools (such as software and phone apps) and books. Some of the most talked about posts include How to Win McDonald’s Monopoly Game, Rent Forever, Don’t Buy a Home, and $7,500 First Time Homebuyer Tax Credit.

Steadfast Finances

Here’s “a personal finance and investing 101 blog that delves into current events, consumer education, and techniques to improve your bottom line.” Categories include consumer education, frugal living, humor, index funds, infographics and chartology, investing 101, investor psychology, and real estate. Some notable recent posts include Could the Stock Market Rally Really be ‘This Simple?’ http://steadfastfinances.com/blog/2011/01/06/renting-hot-home-ownership-not/”>Renting Hot, Home Ownership Not, and The Condo Money Trap: 68% Loss and In Foreclosure.

Man vs. Debt

The man behind Man vs. Debt encourages you to “Sell your crap. Pay off your debt. Do what you love.” Baker and his family sold all of their possessions to pay off $18,000 in debt and to spend a year traveling abroad. He hopes his experiences and his blog will help others find their own path to financial health. There are extensive interviews with financial experts and reflections on what it means to live simply and how to eliminate consumerism from your life. Baker and family will even be embarking on an RV tour of the country this year.

The Sun’s Financial Diary

Sun’s Financial Diary was started as a way for Sun to track personal investments and to share tips and advice with others interested in investing. Readers will find information on credit cards, the best stock brokers, promotional items, book reviews, and more. Some notable recent posts include Does Automatic Enrollment Improve Retirement Savings? Cash in Now for Secondhand Savings, and The 2010 Year in Money.

The Learning Curve

Muckdog offers his take on current events related to finance, with a focus on the stock market and investing. Some interesting recent posts include Whoa, Market Timing Works! It’s Official: “The Most Difficult Time to Invest”, and Are the Stocks Not to Own, the Ones to Own? A bonus for all the fellas: Many of the posts include a picture of a cheerleader or model.

The Simple Dollar

Trent Hamm is the author of 365 Ways to Live Cheap and The Simple Dollar: How One Man Wiped Out His Debts and Achieved the Life of His Dreams. His blog shares the financial advice that helped him overcome financial hardship. Many of his tips center around living frugally and adjusting attitudes towards money and success. Some of our favorite recent posts include The Post-Christmas Challenge, Intimidated by the Mistakes of the Past, and Flipping the Mental Switch for Success.

Shaun’s Real Estate Adventures

Shaun hopes to let others know that investing in real estate is “really not that difficult or scary.” Through posts such as Loan Closing and Apartment Financials Improving, Hard Money Loan #14 Paid Off, and House Now on the Market, readers can get a sense of Shuan’s personal experience in real estate and how investors like him are able to make money in the market — and maybe pick up some tips along the way.

Boston Gal’s Open Wallet

Boston Gal is a “single, 30-something” who is looking for “control of her net worth.” Her current net worth is $572,941.60, and her goal is $3,376,500.00. Her posts talk about ways to live frugally (including shared coupons and promotions), saving and investing, and other money-management tips.

Frugal Zeitgeist

“Your hostess” is a 42-year-old New Yorker who started the blog with the goal to pay off her mortgage in under seven years. Now, the blog discusses a range of topics related to personal finance and money management. The author closed out 2010 with a net worth of a half million dollars (excluding real estate) and savings of $67,000. Learn about her personal secrets and pick up a few tips for developing your own personal finance strategy.

Make Love, Not Debt

This “relationship finance blog” is written by a recently married Chicago couple and tracks their attempts to reduce debt and to increase their net worth. The blog notes: “Current statistics state that half of all marriages fail. One of the top reasons for divorce is disputes over finances!” The blog covers topics that are important to managing finances as a couple, including insurance, budgeting, groceries, and more.

My Money Blog

This blog’s author shares personal investing strategies and advice on how to make more money and to spend less. Posts discuss topics such as tracking your portfolio, managing your debt, and frugal living. Some popular posts include My Favorite Rewards Credit Cards, Our Complete Home-Buying Experience: From Offers to Mortgages, and Best No Fee 0% Balance Transfer Offers.

Million Dollar Journey

Here’s another blog that was started as a way to track personal net worth but has grown to become a source of information and advice for others interested in learning how to better manage finances and investments. Some notable recent posts include Top Stock Picks for 2011: What are Your Picks? Top Stock Pick Results From 2010, and Bah Humbug! Three Ways to be More Like Scrooge.

The Smart Passive Income Blog

Pat is “not a millionaire” but is “living off passive income made online.” Learn from his experiences and pick up a few tips for how to make your own passive income and improve your financial health. To get a better understanding of how he does it, check out My 2nd Annual Passive Income Report, My Income Report – December 2010, and 22 Take Action Ways to be a Remarkable Blogger.

Christian Personal Finance

This blog is dedicated to responsible money management according to the principles outlined in the Bible. The goal is to help others make more money, save more money, invest money wisely, and use financial gains to help benefit the lives of others. Some notable recent posts include 11 Tips for Getting Out of Debt, 6 Financial Mistakes and How to Recover Quickly, and How to Teach Kids About Money.

Money Smarts

Mike Holman is the author of a book about investment accounts in Canada, and he has nearly 20 years experience in the financial industry in Canada. Posts cover investment strategies and other tips for financial management. Some recent posts include Top Stock Picks for 2011 Contest, Why are Investors Only Using GICs and High-Interest Savings Accounts in Their TFSAs? and I’m Switching to e-Bills and e-Statements.

Budgets Are Sexy

J. Money had a financial wake-up call after he bought his first house. But after making some changes to his finances and reading some popular finance books, he has figured out how to improve his financial outlook. His blog shares tips on financial management and investing, offers a “millionaire to-do list,” budget worksheets and more. Some recent posts include Frugal is Sexy. Even When It Itches, My 7 Worst Money Mistakes, and Side Hustle Series: I’m a Craps Dealer.

The Budgeting Babe

This blog is “dedicated to all the young, working women who want to spend like Carrie in a Jimmy Choo store but have a budget closer to Roseanne.” Frugality and financial management are the focus. Recent posts include Are You Paying for Your Useless Baggage? Gazing Into the Retirement Crystal Ball, and Do You 6IOL?

Counting My Pennies

Counting My Pennies shares the experiences of a 20-something looking to increase net worth and instill better financial management principles. Some popular posts include Could You Go Cashless? The Value of a Good Work Environment, and Can You Spend Irresponsibly if You’re Rich?

Debt Hater

Debt Hater is a 30-something Washington, D.C. woman who hates debt — “Not just financial debt, but debt in all areas of life — physically, emotionally, spiritually and any other -allys you can think of.” She overcame $16,000 in credit card debt and has also paid off student-loan debt. There are regular updates on net worth and income. Some recent posts include Debt Hating 101: How to Spend Your Money Where Your Heart Is, Yet Another Reason I’m Glad to Be Debt Free: Painless Car Repairs, and I Got a New Job! How I’m Managing Money Between Paychecks.

Everybody Loves Your Money

This amateur personal-finance blog offers tips and advice on financial management. Some recent posts include Are You Winning the Slow-Motion Lottery? This Just In — Stopping Smoking Can Save You a TON! and Obama Tax Cut Saves Us Over $200 a Month.

Experiments in Finance

This blog talks about different “experiments in finance” such as investing and different financial strategies. Some of the most popular posts include How to Calculate Net Present Value (NPV) — An Introduction, How to Use VLOOKUP in Excel — A Simple Tutorial, and How to Calculate an Internal Rate of Return (IRR), and When Not to Use It.

Girls Just Wanna Have Funds

A certified psychotherapist writes this blog to offer women information and advice on how to take charge of their own finances to ensure self-reliance. Some notable recent posts include 2011 Income Tax and Payroll Changes: What You Need to Know, Easy Money-Saving Tips for the New Year, and 4 Fiscal Tips for the Savvy Single Woman.

Lazy Man and Money

The blog author explains: “Lazy Man and Money is my personal journal where I explore how I can save money and make more money. I try to cover topics such as: banking, budgeting, career, credit, debt, entrepreneurship, investing, taxes, real estate, insurance, spending, retirement, and estate planning.” Some popular posts include 15 Products that Save Time, Money, and Space, Seven Things You Must Do to Prepare for an Emergency, and Top 5 Paths to a Million Dollars.

All Financial Matters

This personal-finance blog discusses topics such as “budget, asset allocation, 401K, IRA, cash flow, insurance, financial planning, portfolio management, and other areas in personal finance.” Some notable recent posts include My Advice to Those Just Starting Out: Keep Good Records, Better Think Twice Before Playing the Lottery With Friends or Co-Workers, and 10 Ways You Can Give This Season (Without Spending a Lot of Money.

Blogging Away Debt

Beks is working to pay off $40,277.36 in debt. She has managed to pay off $31,662.16, with $8,615.20 left to pay on a student loan. She shares her experiences with financial management and what she has learned. Recent topics include travel, holiday spending, monitoring credit, and more.

Wise Bread

Personal finance, frugal living, operating a small business, and more are covered on this blog, which also includes community message boards. Some recent posts include Diagnose and Improve Your Financial Health: A 10-Item Checklist, Best Money Tips: Part-Time Jobs With the Best Benefits, and Best Money Tips: How to Take a Digital Break.

Fat Pitch Financials

George is a resource economist, and he shares his personal financial discovers through his blog, especially insight he has received through the writings of Warren Buffet. There are frequent portfolio updates and features about stocks and stock performance.

My Open Wallet

In this blog, “an anonymous New Yorker tells the world how much she earns, spends, and saves.” In addition, this 40-something single mother shares “my home-buying experiences, my financial goals and ambitions, my thoughts on class and what it means to be rich or poor, and anything else that relates to money.” There are frequent updates on investment performance and income reports.

Queer Cents

This blog proclaims: “We’re here, we’re queer, and we’re not going shopping without coupons.” Regular posts discuss credit and debt management, answers to reader questions, product reviews, freelancing tips, and more. Notable recent posts include How to Write and Publish Your e-Book,

Dog Ate My Finances

This is the blog of a “20-something, recently debt-free, married and laid-off” woman. She has since gained employment, and her posts share her experiences with financial management, including paying extra on bills, ways to spend less, self-employment, conducting business, and more.

Mapgirl’s Fiscal Challenge

Mapgirl shares her experiences with her own financial goals (such as paying off credit card debt and increasing her savings), and offers tips for personal finance and investing. Posts include regular updates on financial goals, as well as regular updates on personal net worth.

Fabulous Financials

A 30-something single mom with two children is the author of this blog, which shares her personal experiences and offers some insights and tips on financial management. Fitness and fashion are also frequent topics of conversation.

Bad Money Advice

This blog claims that “mainstream personal finance advice is not what it should be,” and Francis X. Curmudgeon, a “bitterly unemployed hedge fund manager,” aims to change that because “surprisingly, he often knows what he is talking about.” Posts that Frank thinks should be popular include Credit Cards and Our Nation of Children, House Prices: The Long View, and Our Personal Finance Problem.

Oblivious Investor

This blog offers tips for “simple, low-maintenance investing.” Posts cover taxes, accounting principles, investing, retirement accounts, and more. A free newsletter is also available. Recent posts include Does This Count as Market Timing? Do REITs (Real Estate Investment Trusts) Belong in Your Portfolio? and Teaching Kids About Investing: Giving Shares of Stock.

One Mint

Personal finance, technology and economics are explored on this blog, which offers tips and advice for personal investors. Some recent posts include Section 80C Tax-Saving Schemes, Tax-Saving ELSS Mutual Funds, and Post Office Monthly Income Scheme.

Sweating the Big Stuff

Daniel writes this blog to help educate people about ways to improve finances while maintaining a high quality of life. He notes that many bloggers suggest ways to save money that are too severe and disruptive to everyday living, and he endorses a more broad view of spending and saving. Some notable recent posts include What People Pay Shouldn’t Change Our Behavior, Comparing the Tax Cuts and Stimulus Packages, and Are You in Charge of Your Finances?

Blonde and Balanced

Amber is the writer behind Blonde and Balanced, and she writes about how to find a balance with finances and health to find happiness. Some notable recent posts regarding personal finances include When Personal Finance and Health Become Serious, Weddings: Sticking to a Budget & Vendor Customer Service, and Money Lessons from the Big Easy.

Girl With the Red Balloon

Red is a 20-something college student who blogs about her attempts to shrink debt, live simply, and spend and save wisely. Many posts reflect on simple living and the value of money and consumerism. Some notable recent posts include The Money/Power Exchange, What Have I Lost and Gained? and Are We Obsessed?

The Centsible Life

Kelly Whalen writes about personal finances, family and frugal living. She offers lots of tips for saving money, including regular posts with links to discounts and special offers. Some notable recent posts include Organizing Your Finances for the New Year, End of Year Tax Tips, and What’s Covered by a Flexible Spending Account?

Debt-Free Adventure

Learn how to become debt-free with this blog, which uses the principles of the Bible to offer tips on saving, investing, giving, managing taxes, and more. Some recent posts include The Wardrobe Mission, Does the FICO Score Matter? and Help Paying Student Loans.

Young and Thrifty

This blog was started when the author realized that her friends didn’t know what an RRSP was and that her sisters didn’t understand the difference between a debit card and a credit card. The blog aims to educated young people about personal finance and investing. Some notable recent posts include Top 4 Things to Buy After Christmas and New Year’s, How to Use the Homebuyer’s Plan, and Closing/Home Costs to Think About Before You Buy Your Home.

Paying Myself

A first-year lawyer struggles with a high student-debt load and finding financial independence. She shares her experiences and her tips along the way. There are weekly checkups and monthly goals set. Some recent posts include Thoughts from a Reformed Sales Whore, Tackling My Business Debt, and Preparing My Finances for 30 Something.

Punch Debt in the Face

This is the blog “where personal finance and stick figures meet.” Posts are populated by fun graphics and pictures. Though the blog started with a focus on reducing debt, it has grown to discuss other aspects of Boy Ninja’s life, as well. There is still plenty of talk about personal finance (with updates on net worth), there are also plenty of personal musings.

Well-Heeled Blog

This blog combines a “nerdy interest in personal finance” with savvy living. Posts often discuss strategies for frugal shopping, as well as the application of sound financial principles to other areas of life, such as health and fitness. Some interesting recent posts include SEP IRA: Have Side Income? Save for Retirement, High Cost of Healthy Groceries, and Lending to Family: The Easiest $20,000 Decision.

Dough Roller

Learn how you can be a dough roller yourself with tips on how to make more money, save more money and invest it wisely. Some notable recent posts include How Much Money is Won in the Lottery? The Dangers of No Pre-Set Spending Limit Credit Cards, and 5 Must-Follow Financial Resolutions for the New Year.

Enemy of Debt

Enemy of Debt aims to motivate and inspire others to attain financial discipline by teaching sound financial management principles and the important of personal planning. Recently, the blog issued a challenge to its readers to avoid restaurants for a full month. Other recent posts include What’s Your Debt-Free Plan? Get Organized! Homemade Wedding Tips and Benefits for 2011, and Saving Money on Renter’s Insurance.

Financial Samurai

This personal-finance blog aims to help readers “slice through money’s mysteries.” Posts also draw connections between money and current events (such as health insurance reform) and life choices (such as whether those with low incomes should have children, or how those who live at home with their parents can find dating success). Some popular posts include How Higher Taxes Saved Me a Boatload of Money, The Secret to Early Retirement, and Insuring the Uninsured is Worth It.

Five Cent Nickel

This blog offers tips for financial management and investing “because money matters.” The focus is on investing products and debt management, rather than personal experiences and goals. Some notable recent posts include Five Ways to Maximize Your Retirement Accounts, Financial Tips for Couples in 2011, and Investing for Future Income: Start Early, Save Often.

Good Financial Cents

Certified Financial Planner Jeff Rose writes this blog to help readers “make cents” of their investments. Posts offer advice for investing, saving money, instituting financial discipline, and more. Some recent posts include How to Determine the Best Banking Products for Your Small Business Needs, Easy (and Unusual) Ways for College Students to Save Money, and 7 Things You MUST Know About Roth IRA Rules for 2011.

Weakonomics

Learn about “everything that’s wrong with you and your money” with this blog, which is based on the philosophy that most people do not know enough about their money or enough about where it goes. Sometimes, posts discuss pop culture or the author’s personal experiences. Some interesting recent posts include 2011 Predictions: Here are Mine, What are Yours? Couponing Yourself Out of the Market, and Share Lock-Outs.

Suburban Dollar

Kyle describes himself as a typical, middle-class dad, and he hopes that his blog will inspire others to learn more about finance and take control of their finances as he once did. His blog includes a lot of financial information and advice for taking control of aspects of your finances, such as negotiating bills, making extra income, and investing. Some recent posts include Using Volunteer Work to Improve Your Career Prospects, 5 Tips for Using Your Home and Car to Make Money, and How to Negotiate Medical Bills.

My Journey to Millions

This blog was started as a way to track a 27-year-old’s journey from broke lawyer to multimillionaire. He’s not there yet, but in the meantime, he shares his experiences and know how from his training in economics, law, and insurance sales to offer financial tips and investing advice. Some recent posts includes How to Avoid Debt — a Guide, Using Your 401(k) to Start a Business, and 4 Common Money Mistakes to Avoid.

The Psy-Fi Blog

This blog offers “a sideways look at psychology and finance.” Don’t expect to find lots of tips for the market here, or updates about net worth or debt load. Rather, you’ll find posts about the psychology of the market and spending. Some interesting recent posts include Economics and Psychology: The Divorce, Love Your Kids, Not Your Stocks, and Weird Markets.

Money Funk

Here’s another blog that tracks one family’s efforts to minimize debt — $85,000 worth — and live more simply and frugally. There are plenty of tips for ways to save money and to make smarter choices with your finances. Some recent posts include 6 Tips for Finding a Good Mechanic Who Won’t Break the Bank, Stop Living Paycheck to Paycheck, and Frugal to Survive or Frugal to be Rich?

Mighty Bargain Hunter

The Mighty Bargain Hunter shares tips for saving money, finding deals, living frugally, making money, and investing. There is also a free newsletter to which readers can subscribe. Some recent posts include A Hack to Include Online Purchases in a Cash Budgeting System, Six Tricks to Finding Deals on Coins, and Money-Tracking Advice so Simple that it Just Might Work.

Fabulously Broke in the City

FB managed to get out of $60,000 in debt in just 18 months, and now she finds a way to balance her “shopaholic” tendencies with healthy saving habits. Some notable recent posts include How Not to Spend More Than You Make, Are People Wealthier Because They’re Business Owners or Self-Employed? and Negotiating: Why You Can Only Win When You Ask for Money.

Small Steps for Big Change

This blog aims to guide readers toward “financial freedom — one step at a time.” A “reformed spendaholic” shares her monthly budget and net worth to offer some guidance for others. There are also reflections about work and personal habits as they relate to success. Some recent posts include Why I Don’t Track Spending, Chance Favors the Prepared Mind, and Self Worth and Work — I Can’t Tell the Difference.

Frugal Law Student

Brett McKay is a second-year law student who is trying to manage tens of thousands of dollars in student debt, and he share tips and advice for students and others who are also trying to find ways to manage their debts and their finances. Articles talk about personal finance, frugality, law school, career, and productivity. Some recent posts include Is Law School Worth the Cost? 7 Ways to Save Money on LSAT Prep, and Mac on a Budget.

Poorer Than You

This blog targets college students and 20-somethings, and offers financial advice “without being boring.” “Topics include credit cards, savings, budgeting, earning more money, evaluating job offers… from big financial decisions down to small ones, from the latest news to time-tested advice.” Stephanie had to drop out of school because of poor finances, and now she shares her journey back after getting her finances in better shape and returning to school and graduating.

Single Guy Money

This single guy had over $80,000 in debt at one point, but has since managed to pay off $40,000 in credit card debt and a car loan of $22,000, and is now working on paying off student loans and a mortgage. He offers great tips for saving money and making better financial decisions. Some notable recent posts include 5 Tips on Juggling Multiple Savings Accounts, Getting the Most Out of Ebay as a Seller, and Eating Out: Finding Restaurant Vouchers and Coupons.

TeacHer Finance

A 25-year-old high-school teacher attempts to get her financial house in order and to enjoy life on a small teacher’s salary. She shares her progress with her financial goals and with reducing debt. Share in her personal experiences and find inspiration for making your own financial changes.

Always the Planner

“I work in a field where I don’t make a huge salary and probably never will. Therefore, planning for a stable financial future starts now.” This blog shares the planning process and preparation for building a secure financial future, in addition to tips for saving money and budgeting. Some useful recent posts include The Life of a Part-Time Grad Student, 10 Tips for Group Travel Planning, and Starting Out in Life: How to Pick Up Cheap Furniture.

Engineer Your Finances

This blog focuses on three principles: optimization, education, and financial security. “I feel these fundamental qualities are lost in a world of get-rich-quick schemes and as they are the basis for my own beliefs,” the blog author explains. Some notable recent posts include Top 10 Ways to Avoid an IRS Audit, 3 Strategies to Envision Your Way to Debt Freedom, and 30 Ways to Wreck Your Career.

Simolean Sense

Simolean Sense describes itself as “a multidisciplinary blog for renaissance thinkers, financiers, decision makers, business students, and consilient observers.” Some recent finance-related posts include All Value Investors Must Read This! Have You Ever Tried to Sell a Diamond? and When Being Wasteful Appears Better than Feeling Wasteful.

Generation X Finance

This blog is meant to help members of Gen X have a better understanding of financial issues to improve their personal finances. Generation X includes those born between 1965 and 1980. “That isn’t to say the topics here aren’t applicable to others, but the primary focus is to help people get their debt under control, establish a successful career, and begin to accumulate wealth.” Some notable recent posts include How Much Money Do I Need to Save for Retirement? Should You Be Investing in Gold? and The Lost Decade of Investing: Was All Really Lost?

Homeowner by 30

This blog exhorts readers to “join me as I share the strategies, trials, and tribulations of getting out of debt and saving for a down payment on a home by the end of my 30th year!” Posts discuss life as a teacher, personal savings goals, personal efforts towards debt reduction, and ideas for saving money (even low-cost recipe ideas).

Life As a Purse

This 25-year-old explain that she graduated college with no debt and was making good decisions for her finances, but then sunk into a depression that caused her to wreck her finances by overspending. She has returned to graduate school, and uses this blog to keep herself accountable for her financial habits. Find inspiration by following along with her experiences with trying to build her net worth and reduce debt — all on a limited salary.

Money Maus

This blog tells the tale of “a 20-something gal trying to save her cheese.” Follow along with her as she tracks her goals to build an emergency fund, a Roth IRA, a birthday fund, a travel fund, a car maintenance fund and a gift fund.

M is For Money

Miss M managed to clear $20,000 in credit card debt in one year by understanding the value of saving money, living more simply, and investing wisely. Some interesting recent posts include Homeownership: A Never-Ending Expensive Adventure, Maybe It’s Your Major? and How Do You Divide Your Financial Goals?

The Digerati Life

Get some personal finance insights from a true Valley Girl — a software engineer in the Silicon Valley. There is a lot of great personal-finance advice here, accompanied by lots of graphics and photos. Some notable recent posts include Bush Tax Cuts Extension: What Are the Effects? Bill Paying Strategies to Help Find Your Spending Balance, and Investing in REITs to Diversify Investments.

Penny Foolish

Learn some personal-finance tips and find motivation from a “girl bad with the pennies, who’s trying to keep from making the really big mistakes.” There are posts about her online business efforts, career development, purchases, and debt management.

Accumulating Money

This resource-rich blog has a lot of articles on various personal-finance topics, including financial basics, investing, retirement accounts, insurance, debt management, taxes, and much more. Some popular posts include Spending Money: Needs vs. Wants, 5 Simple Do It Yourself Debt Reduction Strategies, and Spend Your Money on Doing Things Rather Than Owning Things.

My 1st Million at 33

Frugal made his first million in the following way: $360,000 from savings (after working for about 9 years), $90,000 from stock investments, $260,000 from a small condo, $200,000 from a company stock option, and a $90,000 gift from his parents for his wedding. His blog offers tips and advice for how you can make your own million through smart investing and financial management.

One Million and Beyond

Matt is an average guy working to pay down debt and build savings, and he writes his blog to document his efforts to move beyond living paycheck to paycheck. Some of the most popular posts on the blog include Accepting Financial Responsibility, Net Worth vs. Cash Flow, and Social Pressures to Spend Your Money.

2 Million

Brian is an engineer with a goal of attaining $2 million in cash and assets (excluding his home) — an amount that he believes will offer him financial freedom. His current net worth is just over $750,000. He shares frequent updates on his cash flow and net worth, and shares tips for investing and saving along the way. Some interesting recent posts include Tips for Saving Money on Car Insurance, Tips for Building Your Brand on the Internet, and Low Cost, Easy Business Promotion Tip.

Money, Matter, and More Musings

The title of this blog says it all: It offers musings on money, debt, frugality and other matters. Some interesting posts include Are Americans Killing the Economy by Saving Too Much? Are Poor People More Frugal than Rich People? and Stock Market Technical Analysis — Loads of Bull Crap and Bear Crap.

Art of Money

Jon says that the two primary keys to his financial success are “1. Be open to expanding your mind: for me the best methods I’ve found to accomplish this are to interact with people who are richer or more knowledgeable than me and to play the Rich Dad board game Cashflow 101. 2. Take action! It’s a cliché, but it is way better to get started and make a ton of mistakes than to sit around and dream about getting rich.” His blog shares these principles by offering others advice for how to implement them in their own lives. Some recent posts include Ultimate Blogger’s Survival Guide, Monday Morning SEO Tip — Google Exaggerates, and Careful, This Blog Rush is Going to Hurt.

Adult ADD and Money

This blog offers personal-finance and business advice for adults with ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder). There are often free webinars on various topics, and links to other resources and support groups for those with ADD and ADHD. Some recent posts include Have ADD and Out of Work? 6 Overlooked Reasons Why You are Struggling with Your Finances, and Women with ADHD — Money Issues.

Savvy Saver

“Personal prosperity depends not on how much money you make, but on how much money you keep. This personal finance blog is dedicated to making smart money decisions, living below your means, and increasing net worth.” Find tips for ways to save (including links to online promotions and discounts), regular updates on debt reduction and savings efforts, and reflections on financial management.

Adventures in Money Making

Find advice for all kinds of ways to make money, from business ventures to tax management to investing. Career advice is also offered as a means of increasing earning power. Some recent posts include Tax Havens for Retirees, Buying Silver Coins, and How to Nail an Interview.

Debt Kid

The original Debt Kid racked up over $300,000 in debt through day trading. Debt Kid and two other writers now offer advice to others about how to minimize debt. There are also thoughtful posts about current events in finance, such as legislation regulating lending and credit cards. Some recent posts include Will That be Cash or Credit? Four Money Thoughts That Can Change Your Life, and Who Has the Best Free Online Checking Account?.

Eventual Millionaire

Though she doesn’t have a million dollars yet, Jaime says she grew up knowing that she would eventually be a millionaire. After college, she racked up $70,000 in debt and worked long hours at a job she didn’t love. Now, she works with other entrepreneurs to help them find work that they love while building their net worth. Pick up some tips here for how to do it yourself. Some notable recent posts include How to Start Tracking Your Expenses, Get Rich Quick Isn’t Always a Scam, and Increasing Your Business Confidence.

Not Made of Money

A husband and wife team offer tips on how to save money and live a debt-free life. Some notable recent posts include Start Saving Now for Your Summer Vacation, How Living Above Your Means Can Destroy Your Finances, and 8 Financial Mistakes to Avoid for 2011.

Give Me Back My Five Bucks

Krystal is on a quest for financial independence and has already eliminated $20,000 in debt in under a year. She posts about her spending habits, her progress towards further debt reduction and savings, and other personal goals. Find some tips and inspiration through her experiences.

Spilling Buckets

Ryan and Leslie started their blog after outlining some financial goals that included creating an emergency fund, buying a house, and eliminating debt. In their “manifesto,” they pose “Ask yourself this question: What would happen if instead of making a living I designed a life?” In addition to saving and investing, finding purpose and meaning is a part of their “freedom-driven lifestyle design.” Find inspiration here for designing your own life by discovering your own meaning and purpose. Some interesting recent posts include Consumer to Producer: Our Evolving Philosophy, Smart Tips to Cut Your Expenses, and What is Quantitative Easing?

No More Spending

This blog has a simple goal: To get out of debt and stay out of debt. Laura paid off approximately $65,000 in debt in under five years, and now she writes about how she lives frugally and stays under budget. Posts talk about saving, budgeting, financial management, living on a single income, planning for the future, financial independence, making extra money, and more. Notable recent posts include Paying Off Your Mortgage Early and Not Spending for a Month.

Ugly Debty

“One girl’s journey to freedom from an evil amount of personal debt. This blog is from an Australian writer with no financial smarts whatsoever. All advice should be triple checked with someone way better with money than me.” She started with a debt of about $131,000 and has whittled it down to about $42,000. She shares how she manages to reduce debt and save money through different financial strategies.

The Frugalista

Natale P. McNeal writes about “the frugal side of fabulous” on this blog, which shares tips for saving money while still living the fabulous life. The blog also talks about current events and celebrity happenings that are related to finance. McNeal is also the author of the book The Frugalista Files. Some recent posts include Money is Power-If you Spend it Smartly, College Debt Rises, and Could You Live Off Coupons for a Year?

Money Mate Kate

This self-employed massage therapist is living debt-free in New York City who is often the go-to person for financial advice in her family. She writes about career experiences, her strategies for minimizing debt, and her reflections on financial management, including current events. Some interesting recent posts include Will Healthcare Reform Go the Same Route as Credit Card Reform? Frugality Blogging–>Enriched Day-to-Day Life, and Penny Experiment 2: $204 for $23.

Stacking Pennies

Follow along with this young professional and her attempts to reach financial goals. She shares some tips and reflections along the way that others can use to develop their own financial plan — and meet their own personal goals.

My Pretty Pennies

This blog is “the journal of a girl trying to change her world one pretty penny at a time.” Lately, there have been a lot of posts about her upcoming wedding and wedding planning, but there are still plenty of posts with reflections about financial goals (among them to eliminate debt, build an emergency fund, and build a wedding fund).

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Posted by maria magher | in Career, Financial Aid | 1 Comment »

Scholarships to study abroad

Sep. 26th 2010

Studying abroad to help you build your resume and gives you a chance to travel the world and learn about new cultures. Unfortunately, the cost is not part of your regular tuition or even your financial aid package. Students are responsible for the cost of the program, including tuition at the host school, travel, living expenses and any other expenses needed for the summer or the semester. The cost can easily exceed $10,000, depending on the type and length of the program.

There is help available in the form of scholarships. Like any scholarship, students must apply for and compete for this money, so they are not guaranteed.

There are plenty of opportunities through the following sources:

Rotary International

Scholarships are available for students in all levels (from high school to graduate school), as well as for professionals. Find the information online, and then apply through your local Rotary Club.

Boren Awards for International Study

These scholarships and fellowships help undergraduate and graduate students study abroad. The focus is on subjects and areas of the world that are critical to U.S. interests and are underrepresented in study abroad.

Reference Service Press

RSP publishes directories of scholarship information for studying abroad. Funding is available for all levels of student. Check out the site for more information on where to pick up a directory.

The Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation

This site offers scholarships that can cover up to several years of study. The foundation focuses on those interested in international careers, especially minorities.

Hispanic Study Abroad Scholars

Students in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities can find scholarships here to help finance their study abroad programs. There is also great information about available study abroad programs, as well as other helpful information.

IEFA

Use this comprehensive search engine to find scholarships, grants, and financial aid for studying abroad.

Global Health Management

Global Health Management partners with the Shanghai Institute of Health Sciences International Exchange College to give scholarships to nursing students wishing to study in China. Scholarships cover tuition, airfare, housing and books.

Benjamin A. Gilman International Scholarship

The Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs of the U.S. Department of State sponsors this scholarship, which offers support to those with financial need. Minorities are encouraged to apply. Up to $5,000 per semester is available.

Ibn Battuta Merit Scholarships for Peace and Diplomacy

These scholarships support students in an Arabic-language immersion course and cultural programs throughout Morocco. Scholarships cover the cost of tuition and housing for the duration of the program.

University of Minnesota Learning Abroad Center

Search the site for scholarships and financial aid, and compare costs of programs. Some are only available for University of Minnesota students, but some are available for everyone.

Michigan State University

The university offers scholarship and financial aid opportunities for MSU students to study abroad. There is also a lot of useful information here for all students about planning to study abroad.

Posted by maria magher | in Education, Financial Aid | No Comments »

Guide to education tax credits

Jun. 16th 2010

You don’t have to be a CPA to understand how to get the most out of education tax credits. When you’re a student, every dollar counts, and you need all the help you can get to stretch your budget. Here’s an easy guide to navigating higher education tax credits, either to help shrink your bill at the end of the year, or to help bump up your refund:

American Opportunity Credit

The American Opportunity credit will temporarily replace the Hope Credit through the 2010 tax year. This credit is subtracted from the tax you owe instead of from taxable income — meaning more money back in your pocket. You can claim a $2,500 credit for each eligible dependent for four years of postsecondary education. That means that most graduate candidates can’t take advantage of the credit. Students must be pursuing an undergraduate degree or other education credential, and must be enrolled at least half time for one academic term. Students cannot have a felony drug conviction and receive the credit.

The credit allows you to claim:

100 percent of the first $2,000 of qualified education expenses
25 percent of the next $2,000 of qualified education expenses

You cannot claim the credit if:

Your filing status is married, filing separately
Your modified adjusted gross income is $90,000 or more for a single taxpayer, $180,000 or more for married taxpayers filing jointly
You or your spouse were a nonresident alien for any part of 2009

If you family owes less in taxes than the maximum amount of the credit for which you are eligible, you can still receive a refund of up to 40 percent of the amount of the credit for which you are eligible, up to $1,000.

Hope Credit

You can claim up to $1,800 for expenses paid in a student’s first two years of college — $3,600 for students attending school in a Midwestern disaster area. The credit cannot be taken in conjunction with the American Opportunity credit. Students must be enrolled at least half time, and qualified expenses include tuition, books, required fees, room and board. You can claim the credit a maximum of two years.

You cannot claim the credit if:

Your filing status is married, filing separately
Your modified adjusted gross income is $60,000 or more for a single taxpayer, $120,000 or more for married taxpayers filing jointly
You or your spouse were a nonresident alien for any part of 2009

Lifetime Learning Credit

The Lifetime Learning credit is another credit that is subtracted from the taxes you owe, rather than reducing taxable income, and allows taxpayers to claim a credit of up to $2,000 per tax year, or up to 20 percent of the first $10,000 of qualified education expenses. The Lifetime Learning credit is available for postsecondary education and courses to acquire or improve job skills, and it is available for an unlimited number of years. Students do not have to be pursuing a degree to receive the credit, and there are no requirements for course load (one or more courses are acceptable). A felony drug conviction restriction does not apply.

This credit is family-based (up to $2,000 per tax return).

The same restrictions apply for claiming the credit as for the American Opportunity/Hope Credits.

To apply for either credit, families must report all expenses paid for education, minus any scholarships or other assistance, and must submit a form 1098-T, which will be provided by the institution. You cannot apply for both credits in the same year. The credit is nonrefundable — meaning that if you owe fewer taxes than the full amount of the credit for which you are eligible, you will not receive the full amount of the credit.

Student Loan Interest Deduction

You can reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by up to $2,500 of interest paid on student loans for higher education. This will lower the amount of tax you owe. The deduction includes required and voluntary interest payments.

You cannot claim the deduction if your filing status is married, filing separately, or if your modified adjusted gross income is between $60,000 and $75,000 (or $120,000 and $150,000 if married, filing jointly).

Tuition and Fees Tax Deduction

You can also reduce the amount of your income subject to tax by as much as $4,000 per year for any tuition and fees paid for attendance at an eligible postsecondary institution. This deduction can be claimed even if
you do not itemize your deductions. You cannot deduct expenses for personal or living expenses, including room and board, insurance, health care and transportation.

You cannot claim the deduction if your filing status is married, filing separately, or if your modified adjusted gross income is $80,000 or more ($160,000 or more for married, filing jointly).

You can claim this deduction along with the American Opportunity/Hope credit or the Lifetime
Learning credit as long as they are not for the same student. You cannot claim the deduction if the tuition or fees were paid with a scholarship or grant.

Coverdell Education Savings Account

This account is a savings account used to help pay education expenses. The account must have been established for a child before the age of 18. Contributions are tax free, and the account can later be used to pay for qualified education expenses so long as the student is enrolled at least half time.

To qualify for the account, your modified adjusted gross income must be less than $110,000 for a single taxpayer or $220,000 for married taxpayers filing jointly.

The total of all contributions cannot exceed $2,000 per child per year, and contributions cannot be made after the child turns 18.

529 College Savings Plans (Qualified Tuition Programs)

You can set up a qualified tuition program to prepay for or contribute to a student’s qualified education expenses for an eligible institution. Payments or contributions to these accounts is not deductible.

Posted by maria magher | in Financial Aid | No Comments »