It is dot G-O-V, not dot C-O-M
Entering and continuing college students are advised to submit the FAFSA each year in order to receive the most accurate financial aid package from their school. Because this is a crucial step in determining affordability, a lot of emphasis is placed on its completion and accuracy; unfortunately, because it is so important, fee-based websites such as fafsa.com have been created to lead students and parents through this daunting task – for an $80 fee. Don’t let the similar names be the reason you spend even more on your education. If you ever come across fafsa.com or a similar website, always remember what FAFSA stands for – the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. If any website asks for a fee to help you complete the annual application, is it not the one backed by the Department of Education, which can be accessed at www.fafsa.gov.
Brittany, junior, environmental design major
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A good excuse to postpone laundry day
A couple of months ago a man claiming to be an agent from my energy company came to my front door. After a short spiel, the nice man gave me a really good excuse to procrastinate on my list of chores I had planned to do that day: my laundry and vacuuming.
Ok, not really.
But what he did tell me is that I was needlessly spending more on my energy bill by using appliances during “peak hours”. (Peak hours in Boulder, CO run from 2-8pm on weekdays.) He explained that by charging my electronics or running the dishwasher or vacuum at night and on weekends, I could save a couple of cents per kilowatt (kWh) of energy. Now, that doesn’t sound like a lot, but the average price per kWh in Colorado is 11 cents, and the average house uses 11,000 kWh per year. If you do the math, that could save you up to $20- $25 per month on your energy bill!
Boulder is being used as a pilot city to determine if tiered energy rates can help to mitigate the high cost of energy during “peak hours.” Find out if your apartment or house is already signed up for this by asking your landlord. You can also try searching for “smartgridcity” for more information. It just might help you save on your energy bill!
Elena, CU Money Sense team member
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Valentine’s Day on the cheap
Valentine’s Day is coming up and it can be and expensive time of the year if you’re in a relationship. Here are a few tips to avoid breaking the bank for the celebration:
- Make your date dinner; it’s much cheaper to make food rather than going out. It can take a bit of time to get everything together, but it’s much more personal and romantic to eat a nice meal that you made for your date.
- Go for a nice walk or hike somewhere. Boulder has plenty of really nice trails that are great for taking that special someone on a romantic walk.
- Instead of buying your date a pre-made gift make something for them:
- Make your Valentine a personal card. Get some construction paper and make a nice card. The fact that you made it will be more meaningful to them than any store bought card.
- A simple suggestion is making an edible bouquet made of different fruits. Edible arrangements (the company) does this for you but it costs quite a lot and isn’t that difficult to make yourself. All you need is some wood skewers and your favorite kind of fruit. Take some time to cut the larger pieces of fruit into flowers or petals and then skewer them so they keep their shape. Then arrange them in a nice basket or bowl filled with tensile to keep the skewers in place and you have a great thoughtful gift.
- Another easy idea: purchase a packet of clear red balloons. Before blowing them up, put some small candies, gifts, or love notes in all of the balloons and then give them to your Valentine as a bouquet.
- Make a mixed CD of all of your favorite songs, or create a compilation of love songs that remind you of your mate. Better yet, learn how to play one of your favorite love songs and serenade him or her on Valentine’s Day.
Remember that Valentines’ day isn’t about the gifts; it’s about spending time with the person that you love.
Waverly, junior, Applied Mathematics
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Graduate early = save cash
I was recently talking with a friend of mine whose daughter is attending college out-of-state. She was talking about her upcoming graduation which according to my calculations was happening earlier than normal. Graduating from college early? That happens?
According to my friend, when her daughter graduated from high school, she made her this offer: If you graduate from college early, we’ll give you half of what we would have spent on your education and living expenses. She wasn’t sure her daughter would take the offer but it turns out, she did. With flying colors, I might add. She has done a stellar job in school, some semesters taking 19 credit hours which was brutal, according to her mom, but she is motivated. She wants to move to New York City when she graduates and that amount of money would give her a nice start on her post-college life.
I realize that not every student gets an offer like this but think about this in terms of your own savings. Let’s look at the numbers. An in-state student would save about $10,000 (tuition, fees, room and board) by graduating one semester early. Think about that for a minute…. Think about that in terms of a student loan or parent loan that you would otherwise have to pay back plus interest (example: you’ll pay a total of $13,809.60 for a $10,000 student loan at 6.8% interest on a standard repayment schedule of 10 years). Could you set a goal like this for yourself and take one more class each semester to achieve it?
I graduated many (many) years ago and I remember taking only 12 credit hours some semesters. I wish I would have thought ahead. There were many voices at the time (advisors, friends, siblings) telling me to “take it easy” and “don’t take too many credit hours”. But not many people were encouraging me to strive to do more, and I was the kind of kid who responded positively to positive pressure. Maybe if someone had planted the seed to graduate early, I could’ve saved myself that last student loan I took during my senior year and saved my mom some money. If I hadn’t had to pay that last loan plus interest (at 8% back then), I would’ve had a head start on building wealth, stability, and security in my life. What a concept! (I was fortunate that my mom was able to pay for part of my college and I used student loans for the rest. It was quite clear that I had to graduate in four years or the financial support would stop. And I did graduate in four years – with a few summer classes at UCCS.)
In our CU Money Sense workshops, we often tell students to study hard and graduate on time. Sometimes there’s eye-rolling and I imagine they’re thinking, “well duh”. But are they really considering how much money they can save by studying hard and graduating on time or even early? It’s worth thinking about.
Susie, CU Money Sense team member
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