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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

How to sell used text books?

Monday, June 6th, 2011

What is the easiest way to sell used textbooks? Craigslist like sites are good. If you don’t find anyone there, you can try the websites created just for this purpose. I tried the websites listed below.

Cash4Books: Interface looks good. But, the site pays peanuts for the books. They generously agreed to pay $2 for the book I paid $90! No, thank you.

Bookjingle: Same as above.

BookScouter: This is better than two sites listed above. BookScouter is more like comparison shopping site for used books. When I was browsing bookscouter, I came to know about Amazon’s trade-in program.

Bookscouter List

 

Amazon’s trade-in program is simple. Amazon agreed to pay $21 for my textbook whereas every other cheap site was adamant about $2-$5 price range.The catch with Amazon is that they give you gift card instead of cash. If you use Amazon regularly, gift card is as good as cash.

All the above sites, including Amazon, have lot of restrictions when buying used books from you. If your book is published before 2008, you are out of luck. Used textbooks sites are looking for fairly newer books so that they can turn it around quickly. So, don’t wait around to sell your used textbooks. Sell them as soon as you get your grades.

Five Benefits of 529 College Savings Plans

Sunday, October 17th, 2010

529 College Savings Plans are arguably the best way to fund your children’s higher education, and has long sense surpassed the traditional methods like, Custodial Accounts and Educational IRA’s.

A 529 Plan is an educational savings plan is a plan set up under the IRS code 529, to help families fund their children’s education, and have significant tax breaks. I does not matter what state you live in or what state your child goes to school in; you can still fund his or her 529 plan.

Here are 5 benefits of 529 plans that you’ll want to know about.

Federal Tax Breaks: While your deposits in the plan are not deductable on your tax return it grows tax deferred. When your child is ready to attend college, distributions that are used for those expenses are tax free. It’s not hard to imagine the bite the IRS would take out of an investment that grew from twenty grand to two hundred grand, and that is what used to happen to the old college savings accounts, like custodial accounts. Keep in mind, if you use the money for non college expenses you will be subject to federal and state taxes.

State Tax Benefits: Nearly every state offers the same benefits as the Feds do, but just check in your particular state to make sure. If your state does not offer any benefits at the state level, just switch to a state that does, and you do not have to move to receive those benefits.

You Control the Funds: Unlike the old custodial accounts and Educational IRA accounts, the 529 account does not automatically become the property of the beneficiary. In other words, if your child decides not to go to school he cannot just take the money and run when he turns eighteen. You can hold on to the funds or fund the education of a younger sibling or a relative. Of course if your child does so well he/she gets a free ride in the school they are going to, then you can use the funds to help another child.

Large Deposits are allowed: With the old accounts, there were always the strict limits the IRS put on such accounts when it came to deposits. In many states you are able to contribute $300,000 or more, a far cry from the $500 limit of the old Educational IRA’s.

Flexibility: You have the ability to change 529 plans if you decide the plan of a different state is more beneficial than your current plan. You can do this once every twelve months for the life of the account.

So there you have it, five of the top benefits to the 529 plans. Do your research, determine which plan is most beneficial to you and get started funding your children’s college education.

Related Links: How to save money for college | How to save money on education costs

How to save money on education costs

Wednesday, July 29th, 2009

An education is a very important thing, but it can certainly get very expensive. There are several important ways you can make education costs more tolerable.

Ideas for saving money on education costs

  • Work to get grants or scholarships- Put in the hard work to try to get a scholarship, or find a grant you are eligible to receive. There are an increasing amount of grants and scholarships available as institutions realize how the lack of affordability is hurting many prospective students in the long run. Plenty of sites like FastWeb offer a nice place to start your search for what you may be eligible to receive.
  • Buy books online- You can save a whole lot of money by ordering your college textbooks online rather than paying full price at the university book store. Do your best to find out what books you will need as early as possible and then use a site like Campusbooks or Affordabook to search for the best prices available online. If you are willing to order used books you will save even more money. Buying books online can save 50% or more, so this is a must!
  • Cut down your commuting- This is one that some students already do to a certain degree, but it can be taken even further. If you are living off campus make sure you find an affordable place to stay as close to campus as possible. Even if you already live on campus don’t use a vehicle unless you are going out of town. Use public transit if it is available where you are, but even if it isn’t you can walk or use a bicycle most of the time. As gasoline prices rise, cutting down on the amount of travel is essential.

A solid education is never going to be cheap, but it is possible to do things such as find cheap textbooks or find grants available. If you are you will utilize these resources and make education as affordable as possible.

Student Loan Scams

Thursday, May 14th, 2009

Have you received e-mails or telemarketing calls that offer a one time chance to avail great student loans which you can never find elsewhere? The offer may be tempting but beware because the student loan industry has become a predatory one. Students who take loans find themselves burdened with debts amounting to thousands of dollars by the time they graduate. Not only this, if you default on loans, be ready to sacrifice the life and career you have managed to build up since college. Many people have their professional licenses revoked on account of defaulted loans.

Government sponsored federal loans have a fixed interest rate of about 6% to 6.8%. Private loans on the other hand work more like credit card debt. They have interest rates of 15% or more.  The problem here is that much of the federal loans are provided by profit oriented private lenders. So, students take loans from lenders like Sallie Mae thinking that it is government funded only to find out later that they actually hold a private loan. The difference is enormous and upsets whatever plans they may have had to repay the loan. Those students who have fallen into the trap of high cost private loans find themselves using more than 40% of their income to pay off these loans.

Unfortunately, with interest adding up by the minute, most people find repayment difficult. As a matter of fact, there are about five million federal student loans currently in default, amounting to over $38 billion in bad debt. The sad part is that students who have defaulted on loans find themselves at the mercy of lenders. This scenario prompted Alan Collinge to set up a grass roots organization called StudentLoanJustice.org.

StudentLoanJustice.org has a political action committee that aims to campaign for legislations which provide consumer protections, including full bankruptcy protections, statutes of limitations, and refinancing rights to all student loans. It also aims for legislations that will permit defaulters 5 years or more to repay the principal amount along with a reasonable amount of interest. Another goal of this organization is to provide long term repayment caps that will limit the amount that can be collected from borrowers over a period of 10, 15, 20 or 25 years. In this way, borrowers would be allowed some relief from the burden of debt. As mentioned earlier, defaulting on loans can result in cancellation of professional licenses. StudentLoanJustice.org aims to end this practice altogether.

StudentLoanJustice.org now has around 4000 members and still counting. This organization and the cause it supports have been credited as the inspiration for Hillary Clintons Student Borrower Bill of Rights. You can visit the StudentLoanJustice website to get an idea of how you can help in furthering this cause. For instance, you can learn more about the finer details of student loans or talk to reporters you know who would be willing to take up the issue or simply talk to others who are in the same situation as you are.

Job training programs are a great resource

Tuesday, May 5th, 2009

In the past many people probably found educational job training programs to be unnecessary, but the recession has changed a lot of minds about that. The business of teaching job training skills is becoming more and more important by the day. The global recession has hit the employment market hard, and there are many people without that consistent paycheck they have counted on for years.

Educational job training programs are designed to help an individual become more skilled in one or more areas and make themselves more marketable to prospective employers. These job training programs are generally inexpensive, and in fact there are quite a few free job training programs offered for those who are without a full-time income.

What types of places typically provide job training programs? The most common source of job training programs is either the State or Federal Government authorities. In most states there is something called a jobs and family services program, which operates an employment center that tries to help displaced workers hone in on the perfect opportunity for them. Other places that often offer job training programs include not for profit organizations that are funded by government programs or other donations.

It is also possible to do some limited amounts of online job training. While this kind of training isn’t nearly as advanced as the other types, workers are able to take quizzes or look up important definitions. Using a site like CareerExplorer is a good way to search for job training programs online and in-person that meet your specific needs. There is no point in receiving the training if it isn’t geared directly to what you need.

Consider career job training courses or programs as a way to further your possibilities. Job training opportunities are growing by the day, so the resources are readily available to those who are willing to put in the time to try to get that much needed boost.

College scholarships and grants are crucial

Monday, April 6th, 2009

No one needs to be told how poor today’s economy is. At this point everyone can feel it, no matter where you live or what your career is. Some have felt it more than others, but everyone at least understands how severe the situation has become. At the same time everyone understands how important it is for every person to have the opportunity to further their education by going to college if they so choose. During an economic downturn it is certainly wise to do everything in your power to make sure that education isn’t the thing that gets cut out of the family budget.

They are important at all times, but the importance of grants and/or scholarships for college are magnified in an economy like the one we are currently experiencing. In order to get the most out of your scholarship and grant search it is imperative that everyone involved be extremely proactive. The student must work hark doing school to do their best in their classes and keep their grades up, while at the same time seeking out opportunities for future schooling. The parents or caretakers of that child should be using college education savings plans, such as 529 plans. They should also be seeking out every opportunity possible to apply for grants that they might be eligible for.

A good place to start is a website like studentscholarshipsearch, which allows you to look for grants and scholarships locally as well as nationally. The search can’t be totally online though, as you will need to include people like the guidance counselors at the high school as well as advisors at prospective colleges. The more people you talk to that have a thorough understanding of the situation the better off you will be in the long run.

Education is crucial to developing skills necessary in today’s workplace, and scholarships and grants have never been more necessary than they are today!

Related Link: How to Save Money for College

How to Save Money for College

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

With college fees at an all time high, many students find themselves struggling to pay bills and meet deadlines. Some students take a semester off so that they can work and earn enough money to pay their bills. Many students even find themselves at risk of being cut off from college. The question is how one can save for college? What resources can we make use of?

Tuition, room and board for a 4-year degree course would cost anywhere from $40,000 to $150,000 per student depends on the course. Parents need to save for their children’s college expenses from very early on. Section 529 investment plan is a good choice to start with. Parents can also use Education Savings Accounts to save for college expenses. Contributions to Education Savings Account are not deductible, but amounts deposited in the account grow tax free until distributed.  The beneficiary will not owe tax on the distributions if they are less than a beneficiary’s qualified education expenses at an eligible institution.

If your savings are not enough to cover the college expenses, there are a number of scholarships and grants meant to help eligible students meet their college expenses. So, how do you find the right scholarship for yourself? The best resource is the internet of course. It would be a good idea to check out government sponsored scholarships first. The government allots billions of dollars in scholarship aids each year so, trying for a government scholarship will be worth it. Web sites like students.gov, edu.gov and fafsa.gov will provide you with information on government sponsored college grants and scholarships. You can get an idea of the criteria for student aid and the expenses covered. Students.gov even has a detailed college planning course. FAFSA is the Federal Application for student aid. You can apply for FAFSA midterm. Many students who were previously supported by income from their family find themselves stranded when family members suffer the brunt of the recession and lay-offs. Federal aid is of great advantage for such students whose families cannot contribute as much as they used to.

Collegeboard.com, fastweb.com and scholarships.com are other websites with dedicated resources for those pursuing scholarships. Many of the scholarships on offer have rolling deadlines. You can easily apply for these scholarships online. A point to be noted while searching for scholarships on the internet is that many sites request personal information from you such as age, address, e-mail, phone number and so on. It would be wise to go through the privacy policy of these web sites so that you know who has access to your details. In this way, you can prevent your mailbox from being flooded with spam and junk mail.

Sometimes scholarships and grants are simply not enough to cover tuition costs and other expenses. In that case, students can go in for education loans. There are three categories of education loans:

As in the case of scholarships, government loans are the best option as far as student loans are concerned. These loans can be obtained at a minimal interest rate making it easier for parents and students to pay them back. Moreover, government loans also have a grace period which permits students to get a job before starting repayment. With government loans, you also have the option of “loan forgiveness” wherein your loans are written of in exchange for volunteer work, military service or public service.

Many private banks also offer attractive rates on their loans. This is a fine option for those with good credit. However, you may not be able to enjoy the privilege of grace period.

If you are looking for a good student loan, search the internet for a list of trusted lenders from both the private and government sector. Sites like simpletuition.com and studentloanmonkey.com are valuable resources for those hunting for student loans. You can compare the loans cited in different sites and settle for one that is best for you. Many websites have calculators that you can use to calculate monthly loan payments and so on.

Colleges also go to great lengths to keep students enrolled and prevent them from dropping out due to financial issues. Many schools provide emergency loans and grants to students. If your college has such a provision, be sure to check it out.

If you plan to apply for student loan, do your homework well in advance. Start researching early so that you know what options you have. Banks and educational institutions require a number of supporting documents and letters of recommendation from faculty before they can sanction your loan. You can discuss the requirements and other details with education counselors in your college or university. They should be able to help you choose a good student loan plan. They can also guide you on how to apply for scholarships and whom to approach.

The resources to help meet your college expenses are all out there. You just need to know where to start. With the right approach, you will be able to secure a grant or loan to help you pay those mounting bills.

Related Link: Saving For College

Time Value of Money

Thursday, November 27th, 2008

We know that time has a value. Most of us still choose to ignore that and don’t watch where we spend time. MBA students have fun calculating time value of money for various courses. It’s fun to some extent. Beyond that, it’s a real headache. If you have a financial calculator, that would make life little easier. Otherwise, Microsoft Excel can save you lot of time and money.

Dr. Timothy R. Mayes has a neat site that has all the sexy tools to calculate the time value of money, bond valuation, loan amortization, etc., In most cases, you don’t need financial calculator. Excel alone would help you with most of the financial analysis.

Related Link: Daily Dose of Excel

Financial Meltdown Will Affect Financial Aid For Students

Wednesday, November 12th, 2008

Although it’s expected that everyone is going to be affected by the economic crisis, many wouldn’t have thought about how it would affect college aid for students. Many colleges and universities depend on endowments and investments in the market. Universities like Harvard invest big time in the market; they also invest in hedge funds and venture capital funds. When the market goes south, all the universities that made big bets in the market suffer. Ultimately, they can’t give the financial aid for the students that really need it.


There is no sign of end to the current crisis. Clouds may clear for the students in 2010. Just a hope…

Related Link: Colleges Struggle to Preserve Financial Aid

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