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Benefits and Savings of Completing College Early

April 1, 2019

People usually think of completing college in four years as a typical timeline. In reality, many undergrads find that working in the summer or studying abroad can add extra time to getting their degree. According to the NY Times, only 19% of college graduates at public universities finish a Bachelor’s Degree in four years. Most experts use the timeline of six years to complete a Bachelor’s and three years to complete an Associate’s Degree. There’s nothing wrong with taking more time, but there are advantages to getting college completed early. Here are some reasons you may want to take an extra class each semester or stay on campus for summer classes to finish early.

 

Less time in school means less money spent on college.

Think about the extra fees you pay each semester. From parking permits, recreation center fees, and fees charged per department. The longer that you’re in school for, the more you will end up paying in fees. Taking more classes at once won’t save you on overall tuition necessarily. Taking more classes will lower the amount you’re paying for being in school, over time. Plus, tuition has the tendency to go up over time, and rarely goes down. Therefore, taking more classes now could save you on tuition in the long run since you’ll avoid rate hikes.

 

The cost of college will depend on the type of college you attend. The cost difference between public school and private schools may be surprising. When looking at the cost of public schools whether a college is in-state or out-of-state from your current residence will also play a role in the cost. We broke down the cost of college into three separate categories public in-state, public out-of-state or (public OOS) as can be seen below, and private. We calculated the costs for a 4-year completion, 5-year completion, and 6-year completion. These costs were based on averages provided by Value Penguin.

 

 

The below graph shows what the cost for 6 years of school will ultimately cost the borrower at each of these three types of colleges. The cost of a private college for six years equates to the cost of a Rolls Royce Wraith. Just to put that in perspective for you, Gwen Stefani the previous singer of the band No Doubt owns this car. It’s important to understand if something like studying abroad will set you back a semester or not. Yes, studying abroad is a great experience, but are you prepared to tackle the debt that may come along with delaying your academic career?

6-Year Costs of College

Public In-State School – $172,277.15

Public Out-Of-State School – $266,177.15

Private School – $325,937.15

 

 

The overall cost of college can seem overwhelming, but it’s important to understand what you’re spending by staying in school longer. It will help you to understand if the cost of an education is worth the field that you are studying to enter into. In addition, the college that you choose will have an impact on what you have to pay to achieve that education. For example, if it takes you five years to graduate there could be a price difference of about $128,050.00. The cost of college really is impacted by the type of school you choose in addition to the amount of time you spend there.

 

5-Year Costs of College

Public In-State School – $142,255.75

Public Out-Of-State School – $220,505.75

Private School – $270,305.75

 

It’s tough these days to graduate from college in 4 years, but it’s still doable. If you work closely with your counselor and study hard you’ll be on the right track. If you need summer classes they are typically available as well.

 

4-Year Costs of College

Public In-State School – $112,799.70

Public Out-Of-State School – $175,399.70

Private School – $215,239.70

 

If you enter college determined and know what you want to do, it will save you a decent amount of money. The difference between graduating in four and six years can be extreme in some cases. Below is an illustration of the cost difference between four and six years. Notice the cost difference specifically between a public out-of-state school and a private school.

 

Cost Difference Between 4 Years & 6 Years

Public In-State School – $59,477.45

Public Out-Of-State School – $90,777.45

Private School – $110,697.45

 

One of the most important parts of preparing for college is understanding how you will pay for it, how long you’ll be in school for, and if you can graduate early. If you have the ability to graduate early you should certainly consider it. At the same time, it’s important that you don’t overwhelm yourself.

 

Get to work, work, work, work, work.

It’s hard to apply for a job and commit to a typical work schedule when you’re still in school. If you can work throughout school and put contributions to your loans that is a great thing to do. If you can’t work at a traditional job, that’s okay too, but be sure that you are doing all the work you can to finish early. Completing your degree earlier can give you the ability to start looking for a job in your career field earlier. That extra year or two of working at a professional career job will put you at an advantage.

 

Bring home the (much better) bacon.

With your degree completed, it’s likely that you’ll qualify for higher-paying positions in your field. If you already have a job that you like and want to stay with the same company, chances are you’ll be worth more once you’ve got that degree in your hand.

 

Find more time.

When you’re done with school, you’ll have more time to work, build your resume, or balance commitments with life. Lots of students experience burnout, especially when they’re working while going to school, or taking a heavy study load. Add things like internships and clubs to that list and it just sounds overwhelming. Post-college, you will likely have more time to balance working, taking care of yourself, and pursuing other hobbies. Working full-time is still a commitment, but compared to working, taking 18 credits, and being in a student org. graduating might feel like a relief to your schedule.

 

Spend less money on college living.

It might make sense to have a meal plan or live on campus while you’re in school. Be aware those things are notoriously more expensive than how the rest of your community probably lives. By getting a shared apartment with friends or other young professionals, meal planning each week and doing your own shopping – you can usually save money.

 

Have more control over your schedule.

You know how it goes with classes. Sometimes you try to fit all of your classes into two days so you can have more free time. Try using your free time to work or study on days off. Coming across a required class that doesn’t pair with your schedule can ruin a lot of possibilities. By graduating, you’ll have fewer of those college-imposed restrictions on your time.

 

Get on with adulting!

Sure, many of us joke about the downsides of adulting, but it’s also nice to pick where you live and what you do. You can make choices like how to budget and what your financial and personal goals are. If you’re in a relationship, you can decide together what the next chapter holds or start making bigger plans together. If you’re unattached, you can go anywhere and don’t have to worry about credits transferring. The world is your oyster!

 

There are some instances where it absolutely makes sense to slow down your progress toward a degree. It’s okay if you need to take more than the typical two- or four-year (or even three- or six-year) track. Working parents or non-traditional students may find they can comfortably handle a half-time load with their other commitments. A full-time course schedule may be impossible to maintain for them. If you’re already working in a job that you like and are getting reimbursed for school, going at a slower pace could actually put you at a tax advantage. Not to mention some people take fewer classes at a time so they can pay more out of pocket and take out less in student loans. You should choose what works for you and helps you progress toward the ultimate goal of getting the education to support your dreams. Just make sure you have a plan that works for you and keeps you motivated to graduate!

 

Here’s How to Cut A Budget

 

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Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

 

 

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2019-11-06
What is FAFSA Verification?

You finally submitted the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). You think everything is going smoothly until you receive notice (via your Student Aid Report) that you have been selected for FAFSA verification. What does this mean? What should you do? FAFSA Verification is a process that the U.S. Department of Education uses to verify certain information on the FAFSA is accurate. Sometimes these selections are made by the U.S. Department of Education, and sometimes they are made by the college or university that the FAFSA was submitted to. In most cases, only a portion of students are selected for FAFSA verification, however some schools verify 100% of students to ensure all students are verified.   

Why was I chosen for FAFSA verification?

So, why did you get chosen for verification? It depends. There are several possibilities for being selected for FAFSA verification. Keep in mind that more possibilities exist, but the following are the main reasons for being selected:  

Random selection

In many cases, you were just selected randomly or the school you submitted the FAFSA to has protocol for verifying its students.   

The submitted FAFSA has incomplete data

If you didn’t answer certain questions or provide certain information on the FAFSA, you may be subject to having your application verified.   

The submitted FAFSA has inaccurate or contradictory information

If the information that you listed on the FAFSA doesn’t make complete sense, such as having contradictions or having inaccurate information, you may be subject to having your application verified.  

The FAFSA application has estimated information

Often times, people make estimates for things like income and moving dates. If the information provided as estimates doesn’t seem accurate to the Department of Education, your application may be subject to verification.   

What needs to be done after the selection?

Once you’ve been informed that you’ve been selected for FAFSA verification, the first thing you should do is check your Student Aid Report to see if you have a message from the Department of Education. If you have any questions, contact your Financial Aid Office. Your Financial Aid Office will likely ask you to submit certain documents as part of the FAFSA verification process. You should submit these documents in a timely manner. These documents may include: 
  • Verification Worksheet
  • IRS Tax Return Transcript 
  • Marriage Certificate
  • Social Security Card
  • Alien Registration Card
  • Other information/documentation
Keep in mind that these documents will depend on your specific circumstances and that not everyone is required to submit the same documents.   

What happens if there are discrepancies in the application?

Once you’ve submitted your documents, your Financial Aid Office will compare the information to that of your Student Aid Report. Corrections will be made if any errors or discrepancies are found. If the errors or discrepancies have an impact on the amount of financial aid you can receive, you will then be given a revised award notification showing the difference.    If you are selected for FAFSA verification, you need to return the information and requested documentation as soon as possible. Processing usually takes two to three weeks, but it can take longer during the peak season. Because verification must be completed in advance of disbursing any money from any financial aid program, it is vital to send complete and correct information as quickly as possible. Above all else, don't be upset because you were selected for verification. This is a process that is required by the federal government. The Financial Aid Office may even discover errors in your report that could actually increase your eligibility for more aid.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
Closeup of graduated college student counting money
2019-11-05
10 Ways to Save Money After Graduation

If you’re just graduating from college, the job market is an unfriendly one. It seems like every job post wants 5 years of experience, a Master’s degree, and pays just $28,000/year. As if you don’t have enough to worry about, you can’t seem to get away from the advice about saving for retirement and the value of buying a house over renting. How are you supposed to do either on a $28,000 salary and a bucket of student loans that coast at least that much? You have to get creative with your savings. To kickstart your thinking, here is ELFI’s list of 10 creative ways to save money after graduation.   When it comes to saving money after graduation, there are two methods: save more of what you make and decrease spending. Find what works for you based on your bills and habits. Also, don’t feel like you have to follow all 10 tips. Implementing even one of these tricks for saving money after graduation can help you be more financially savvy.   

1. Use Direct Deposit to Save 10%

Direct deposit isn’t just for eliminating a paper paycheck. It can also be your best friend for saving money after graduation if you request to have your employer automatically send 10% of every paycheck to a separate savings account. On that $28,000 salary, you could save $2,800 a year, which is only about $110 per paycheck. If you set this up as soon as you start that first job, you will never miss the extra money. If you already have a job, it’s never too late to set up a “rainy day” fund.   

2. Install “Round-Up” Apps

The same way your grocery store clerk asks you to round up to the nearest dollar for charity, you can use round-up platforms like
Acorns to set aside leftover change from purchases you make. With the Acorns debit card, the spare change from each purchase is placed in an investment account of your choosing. And when you shop via the Acorns app or Chrome Extension at 350+ retail partners, a percentage of your total purchase is contributed toward your investment accounts.  

3. Negotiate Bills & Eliminate Unused Subscriptions

You likely have a dozen or more automatic monthly payments coming out of your checking account or linked to a credit card. Some banks or apps like Truebill and Trim can help you find and cancel subscriptions that are unused or that you forgot you signed up for in the first place. These apps can also help you negotiate some services like your cable and internet or even your cell phone bill to help you get lower monthly rates.  

4. Make New Rules for Eating Out

From coffee runs and grab-and-go lunches to happy hours and GrubHub deliveries, millennials eat out an average of five times a week. If you can eliminate just one of these outings, you can save a minimum of $5/week (that’s $260/year). Try setting unwritten rules for yourself—or if you’re a “write down your goals” person, use a dry erase marker and your bathroom mirror. Try rules like only eating out only on Fridays and Saturdays. Or only eating out only with friends. You can even make weekly cash-only envelopes, and when you’ve run out of dollars, you have to eat in for the rest of the week.  

5. Make New Rules for Eating In

Sometimes, splurging on fancy groceries makes eating at home feel more fun. But you have to be careful at the grocery store or your bill can end up just as expensive as all those meals out. Consider rules for eating in, like Meatless Mondays. By eliminating costly animal-based proteins just one day a week, you can help save the planet and save money after graduation.  

6. Keep Impulse Buys Out of Your Cart

Do you always find yourself tossing extra items into your cart at the store? There are several tricks to avoid impulse buys to save money. The first, and easiest, is to never shop hungry. This keeps those extra tasty, and rarely healthy, items out of your shopping cart. Also, consider only shopping online. This helps you keep to your list. You can clearly review your cart before checkout, and you don’t have to feel guilty for making employees restock your regret items.  

7. Wait 24 – 48 hours Before Hitting the Checkout Button

Shopping online has many perks. The excitement of variety and good deals can hook even the savviest of shoppers, but practicing restraint and making yourself wait 24 to 48 hours before finalizing online orders can do wonders for your money-saving efforts. After a day or two, you can really think about if you “want it” or if you “need it.”  

8. Don’t Buy Anything New

Our eighth way to save money after graduating from college is to go retro and buy everything used. Buying second-hand isn’t what it used to be. In the past, shoppers had to roll the dice at garage sales or Goodwill stores, but in the days of Craigslist, Next Door, and Facebook Marketplace, you can be picky about your second-hand items. If you have patience, you can find everything practical like dishes and clothes, as well as everything unpractical like skis and AirPods.   

9. Freeze Your Credit Cards, Literally

Another “old school” method of saving is to freeze your credit cards...in a block of ice. You might not literally need to freeze your cards, but putting them in an inaccessible place or by simply not having credit cards, you keep yourself from racking up debt that comes with costly interest rates. Keeping yourself on a cash-only system will limit you to using money that’s truly yours. In case of emergencies, there’s always hot water.  

10. Refinance Your Student Loans

We can’t end this list about saving money after college without advocating for recent grads to consolidate or refinance their student loans. Student loan refinancing is the process of consolidating your loans (you can consolidate federal loans, private loans, or both) and obtaining a new loan at a new interest rate. People typically refinance with the goal of obtaining a lower interest rate or lowering their monthly payments to make paying their loan more manageable. Keep in mind that when you consolidate federal loans, you’ll lose access to certain benefits and protections such as income-driven payment plans.  
  Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.
2019-11-04
Choosing Which College to Attend (Post-Acceptance)

So, you’ve submitted college applications to several institutions and you’ve been accepted to a few – now it’s time to compare your offer letters and choose the college that’s the best fit for you.

 

The campus visit is an essential part of deciding which college you are going to attend, and while we suggest that you visit your prospective schools before you submit your applications, it’s not always easy to do so. You may be busy with your senior year and extracurriculars, or some of the campuses may be a long distance from you.

But once your acceptance letters start to arrive, it’s time to make the big decision about which college you will attend. Now would be the time to visit (or revisit) the campuses you’ve been accepted to to help you make that final decision. Here are some tips for how to approach these final campus visits so that you’ll be ready to choose a college or university that you’ll be the most happy with.

 

Map Out Pros and Cons

This may seem simple, but the best way to choose the right college is to weigh the pros and cons of each institution. This will help you look past the face-value of the school and the information they provide you with, and instead focus on the characteristics you care about most. Here are some typical pros and cons that we think will help you decide:

  • Academic programs
  • Athletic facilities
  • Campus atmosphere
  • Campus grounds
  • Classrooms
  • Clubs
  • Coaches
  • Cost of attending (i.e. how much you'll take out in student loans)
  • Dining hall food
  • Dorm rooms
  • Professors
  • Safety
  • Student body
  • Surrounding area
 

Try Spending the Night

While you might not have had time to experience overnight visits during your first round of campus tours, with your list now narrowed, it may be time to try it out. Staying overnight at your prospective colleges will give you a much better feel for what the experience of attending will feel like. Ask yourself questions during your overnight visit, such as:

  • Do I feel safe here?
  • Am I comfortable in the dorms?
  • Are the students welcoming?
  • Are the students focused on academics?
 

If school is in session during your visit, be sure to talk with current students and ask them questions you have – this will also help you make that final decision.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Look Past Pros and Cons

While pros and cons are a great way to narrow down your list of options, you’ll probably want to go with your gut when it comes to making the final decision. In other words, focus on which college just feels right. It doesn’t have to be the most prestigious college. Picking the most prestigious school may seem like a smart move, but it may strap you with student loans. Being comfortable at your college and being confident in your decision will be more beneficial than attending one based on the opinions of your parents or other people – and you’ll be more likely to stay and complete your degree.

 

Keep in mind that these tips are for choosing a college post-acceptance and approaching your post-acceptance visits, which is much different than visiting colleges pre-acceptance and choosing colleges to apply to. During the initial visits, you’re focused on deciding whether to apply. When you visit post-acceptance, you’re deciding where you will actually attend, which means you need to pay closer attention to which school will best accommodate you academic, social, and extracurricular needs. For more information about campus visits, read Making the Most of the Campus Visit from eCampus Tours.

 

If you’ve been accepted to your dream college, but your financial aid and scholarships don’t quite cover the full cost of tuition and expenses, private student loans from ELFI may be right for you. Learn more about our flexible terms on private student loans. Applying is simple, and you’ll never pay an application fee, origination fee or prepayment penalty.*


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

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