Fall semester 2020 is shaping up to be an Alice in Wonderland adventure for new and returning college students. They’re asking lots of questions, many of which remain unanswered at this point:
– Will my classes be in-person on campus, or online at home?
– When will Fall semester 2020 begin — early or at the regular time?
– If students return to campus, will there be fall sports, mainly football?
– What COVID-19-related restrictions will be in place?
– What will happen if there is a coronavirus outbreak on campus?
– Will costs be reduced if classes are held exclusively online?
And so forth. However, one of the biggest questions being asked by those students who will be returning to campus — and 67 percent of colleges reporting so far plan in-person classes this fall — is: Should I live on or off campus?
That question relates to some version of social distancing, one of the prime requirements to avoid COVID-19 infection. Close-quarter dorm living is particularly troublesome when it comes to communicable diseases, and COVID-19 is one of the most highly infectious viruses yet seen. That’s what makes this choice so important for students and their parents.
Dorm Life Vs. Off-Campus Living
For incoming freshmen who have never experienced dorm life, sharing living quarters with another person (or persons) can be a genuine culture shock. Granted, “normal” college life may be a thing of the past now, but at this point we can only speculate about how housing will be approached and regulated. So I’ll approach the on-or-off-campus question in general terms.
How your college will handle the residential life issue remains to be seen, but many colleges require freshmen and sometimes sophomores to live on campus. Juniors and seniors usually have the option to live off campus, which for them may be a way to save money and possibly improve their social and academic circumstances.
I’ve experienced both sides of that coin. I lived in a dorm my first year of college and lived off campus my remaining undergraduate years. As recent high school graduates head to campus this fall, they’ll be transitioning to a whole new domestic and social world, under the cloud of COVID-19.
For some, this may be no big deal. They already may have done summer college programs where they resided in dorms with one or several roommates. If so, the transition won’t be as stark as it will be for those who have never had to share a living space with someone else — most likely, a complete stranger. If you’re in the process of making a decision about where to live, the following pros and cons about living on campus (dorm life), along with my comments, may help you decide where to live.
– Easier to become involved on campus. Amen to this. During my sophomore through senior year, I commuted to campus from 45 miles away. I was married and my wife worked as a nurse at a hospital far from campus. I felt completely divorced from what was happening on campus: concerts, sporting events, parties, etc. That was a significant negative for me.
– Access to all the resources the campus offers (computer labs, library, etc.). This is an important advantage. Putting distance between yourself and these resources can lead to missed opportunities that can take a toll on academic performance.
– No parent-enforced curfew. If you’re living at home, mom and dad will be keeping an eye on your comings and goings. Not so in a dorm, where you can be out all night or for days at a time. The obvious caution is, “Don’t get hurt, sick or killed!”
– Easier to be a student worker while living on campus. Once again, the proximity factor has the advantage. You’re probably more likely to land a job on campus if you don’t need public transportation to get to and from it.
– Less of a commute to class. I had to drive for almost an hour to get from my home to my big university’s campus. During one term, I had an 8:00 English class on a Monday morning. I look back now and wonder how I ever got up so early and made it to class on time. A short walk to class is better than a long drive.
– Meet with professors at their offices more often or even at their homes. Living far off campus, I discovered that my profs’ office hours fell mainly during inconvenient times for me. Just when I needed to speak with a professor, I would find that I had a conflict with something at home. Living off campus, where you need to rely on public (or even private) transportation, can make it difficult to maximize faculty contact.
– Homesickness. This most likely would affect students who are within a reasonable distance from home. If you’re going to a West Coast college and your home is on the East Coast, then you’ll have to suck it up, since flying across America just because you miss your dog, cat, mom, dad, etc., is extremely impractical.
– Having to stick to a meal plan. This is an economic factor. Most colleges won’t refund your account for uneaten meals. Breakfast may be the most missed meal on meal plans due to students’ propensity to sleep as late as possible. The flexibility factor comes into play, too. If you’re tired of Mystery Meat Mondays, you’re probably going to spend your own cash on non-college food. That can add up, leading to a shortage of spending money and wasted meal plan dollars.
– Limited privacy. A middle-ground solution here is a private dorm room, but they can be hard to get, plus there’s no guarantee that your little haven won’t become a hangout for other dorm residents. If you don’t study effectively amid noisy surroundings, dorm life can be quite distracting. It won’t be like your bedroom at home, that’s for sure.
– Not being able to get away from the campus environment. Even a big university can become way too familiar. This factor has been historically lauded as the motivation for the infamous college “road trip” (see the movie Animal House for details).
– Having to deal with roommates. This issue is worthy of an entire article. My freshman roommate was a chain smoker, and although he would put out his cigarette when I came back into our room, everything inside the room, most disturbingly my clothes, smelled of cigarette smoke. Of course, other issues can arise, such as dissimilar interests, quirky behavior, asynchronous sleep habits and even having to experience your roommate “commingling” with his/her significant other while you try to solve differential equations.
– Limited access to appliances like stoves, ovens, washers and dryers. While many colleges today provide amenities like this in common areas, it’s not like home or the convenience of your own apartment. The kicker here is having to share with the general population of your dorm, especially in these days of COVID-19 dangers. That’s something you can avoid by living off campus.
– Student housing restrictions on parties, drinking, etc. Granted, even apartments have landlord-based restrictions, but thanks to Resident Advisers (RAs) and the institutional rules they must enforce, the fun factor of dorm life can be highly limited. However, there’s always Greek life!
Overall, deciding the issue of on- or off-campus living can make a big difference in your college experience. Don’t take this decision lightly as you prepare to go down the rabbit hole of the Fall 2020 semester.
By: Dave Berry
Title: Consider the Pros, Cons When Making Fall 2020 Campus Housing Decisions
Sourced From: insights.collegeconfidential.com/should-i-live-in-a-dorm
Published Date: Thu, 28 May 2020 12:52:02 +0000
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Apply Online For Student Loans
Apply Online For Student Loans
Applying online for student loans is a convenient and efficient way to secure funding for your education. Whether you are facing financial difficulties or simply want to keep your debts to a minimum, student loans can help alleviate the financial burden while you focus on your studies.
One of the main advantages of student loans is that they typically offer lower interest rates compared to other types of loans. Additionally, repayment is often deferred until after you graduate, giving you time to establish your career and increase your income potential.
By applying online, you have access to a wider range of lenders, allowing you to compare different loan offers and choose the one that best suits your needs. Look for lenders offering competitive interest rates, flexible repayment terms, and any additional incentives that may be available.
Student loans can be used to cover various expenses related to your education, including tuition fees, housing, course materials, and living expenses. While your personal bank may be willing to provide a student loan, applying online gives you more options and potentially better terms.
However, it’s important to remember that student loans are still loans, and you should borrow responsibly. It’s advisable to budget regularly and avoid unnecessary purchases or luxuries to ensure you can manage your loan repayments in the future.
Before applying for student loans, explore other options such as scholarships, grants, or parental funding. These resources can help reduce the amount you need to borrow and minimize your financial obligations.
Lastly, it’s crucial to have confidence in your ability to secure a salary that will enable you to meet your loan repayments after graduation. Work hard to achieve the grades and qualifications necessary for your desired career, as this will increase your chances of finding a well-paying job.
In conclusion, applying online for student loans can provide you with the financial support needed to pursue your education. However, it’s important to borrow responsibly, explore other funding options, and plan for a successful career to ensure you can manage your loan repayments effectively.
Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Many families are facing new financial challenges in light of the coronavirus emergency, and College Confidential has fielded dozens of questions on this topic recently. To address those queries, we hosted a webinar on April 9 entitled “Paying for College Amid Changes Due to the Impact of COVID-19.”
During the event, moderated by Aaron Murphy, manager of learning and development with Inside Track, the following panelists offered their perspectives on the issue:
- Denise Trusty, director of financial aid with Morehead State University
- Laura Reisert Kalinkewicz, associate vice president of college partnerships with RaiseMe
- Amy Nelson, director of sales at International Scholarship and Tuition Services
- Charlie Javice, founder and CEO of Frank.
Check out the following topics that the panelists discussed, along with their views of how things may unfold amid the financial challenges brought on by the coronavirus outbreak.
Family Finances Changed? Contact Your Schools
If you plan to start college in the fall as a freshman — or return to school as an existing student — and your financial situation has changed since you applied for financial aid, you should contact the colleges on your list immediately. Financial aid departments can consider appeals for more money, but must base these decisions on each individual student’s situation, Trusty said.
“I know with Morehead State, where I work, we will be doing professional judgement calls on all students who say they’ve been affected,” she noted. “We will reach out to those students to see what we can do to help them maybe obtain additional funding, additional grants, scholarships, whatever they would be eligible for. We do professional judgment all the time for our students, because things happen all the time. This year will be an especially large amount of those, I’m sure, but those are up to individual schools to make that call for their students.”
In addition, she added, the Department of Education has set aside over $6 billion for additional grants and scholarships that the universities will be able to use. “Currently, I don’t know how that’s all going to play into this,” Trusty said. “So that will be up to each individual university on how they lay those out. I know it will be beneficial, I just don’t know how available that will be to each student.”
Keep in mind that schools are accustomed to reviewing financial aid appeals, and they all have processes in place for to do so. “It is really, really important to know that schools typically leave a budget from 10 percent to 20 percent or so of their financial aid dollars for what would be called a professional judgment bucket,”Javice said. “Therefore, there is additional money to be had, and it’s up to you to request it. You should approach your school as soon as you know you might need more money, and be prepared to show supporting documentation demonstrating how your finances are different from when you filed your FAFSA initially. This might require proof of a job loss, medical bills, a cut in pay or another such issue, Javice said.
In addition, if another school gave you a better financial offer, you can petition the school that gave you the lower offer for more money, Javice noted. “This typically works better for private institutions versus public state schools, given the fact that they have a little bit more discrepancy and more dollars to put to work in terms of a tuition discount,” she added. “This is solely up to the school on a case by case basis.” In some cases, the money is distributed on a first come, first serve timeline, so don’t wait if you know you need more aid.
Although financial aid can be a stressful topic, try not to be emotional when you request more money, Javice added. You’ll get a lot further by having organized documentation to present than you would by getting angry or upset, she noted.
Consider Outside Scholarships
The coronavirus situation has changed plans not only for incoming freshmen, but also for current college students, Nelson said. “Organizations are stepping up and trying to find ways to provide additional scholarship opportunities this year,” she noted. Students should be proactive in seeking those options.
Raise Me is offering new micro-scholarships for students who are seeking additional funding sources, Kalinkewicz said. In addition, she encourages students to ask colleges for more time to make decisions, even if the school hasn’t extended its deposit process. You can always try and request additional time to get your financial aid package right, she noted.
Finding more money is not relegated to younger students, Javice added. “Adult learners comprise the biggest group of people actually going to college today,” she noted. It’s very common for people to be seeking new types of skills and going back to college to gain additional degrees. Financial aid is available to adult learners, and they may even get aid to pay such costs as rent, she added. In addition, they can seek outside scholarships or employer-matching funds to pay for their educations.
Not Necessarily Too Late to File FAFSA
Students who didn’t file a FAFSA already should do that as soon as possible so you can get access to financial aid funds, Javice said. Federal FAFSA deadlines are usually in June, but states make their own deadlines for state aid. Some states, such as New Jersey, have moved their deadlines back for this year, so check to make sure you stay on top of your deadlines.
And if you file for financial aid and you decide you don’t want it, you can always decline the financial offer or portions of that offer, Nelson said. Your best bet is to apply so you can take what you need and decline any amounts you don’t need. Even if you don’t think you qualify for financial aid, you should apply anyway because you could be surprised at what you’re offered. “You really need to complete that [FAFSA] process every year,” Nelson said. “The process is very easy, and jobs can come and go. It’s your safety net and you want to make sure you’ve completed it. It makes it a whole lot easier when situations like this arise.”
Some colleges also have supplemental applications to fill out for particular types of aid, so always reach out to your financial aid office for information on which documentation you should be completing, Kalinkewicz said.
Could Families — Not Schools — Be in the Driver’s Seat?
Because many merit scholarships are based on test scores and GPAs, some high school juniors are concerned that they won’t have access to those in the coming year. With test dates being canceled and grades moving to pass/fail, they fear they won’t meet the criteria to earn such scholarships.
“It’s clear to me that colleges and universities know the extraordinary circumstances we’re under,” Nelson said. “All schools are leaning forward and considering all options as the situation develops. I would continue to encourage juniors to stay engaged and stay informed.” You should also watch to see what happens with test dates, she said. The ACT and SAT dates could change, and some schools may forego the need for a test score altogether, she added.
In addition, some merit scholarships that have traditionally been based on test scores may become test optional, Kalinkewicz noted.
Keep in mind that in many cases, families are in the driver’s seat rather than having the colleges be in charge, Javice said. Some schools have lost revenue and are very eager for students right now, “so if you are scared because you thought you could never get into a specific school from an admission criteria standpoint, this is your year to stretch, this is your year to think about the schools that are your reach category and go for it, because schools need the money and need the students. So the power that used to be in an admissions office is in you, the student or the family’s hands,” she said.
She also advises juniors to request application waivers from schools to save the $50 to $100 or so per application that they would normally pay. The schools may say no, but it won’t hurt to ask, she advised. “Persistence is key when dealing with schools,” Javice noted.
Federal Student Loans Payment Suspended
As many families are aware, payments on federal student loans are automatically suspended from March 13 through September 30, 2020 thanks to the government’s CARES Act. This is essential to keep in mind, particularly for families that have multiple children in various stages of the college process.
“You will stop paying your loans and you will have zero interest from now until September 30, and that’s important for parents to know,” Nelson said regarding existing federal student loans. “If you had an auto draft, the auto draft has been shut off and will not continue. You can, however, continue to make those payments if you’d like, and any interest you had before March 13, once that interest is paid up, all your payments will go directly toward your principal.” She advises families with federally-backed loans to check with their loan servicing agents, because they have a lot of information for both parent and student borrowers on how the CARES Act will impact payments for the next six months.
Student Job Gone? Colleges Might Help
For students who expect to earn money via part-time or full-time work to pay for college, but can’t do so due to the coronavirus, colleges may have resources to help. “There are many colleges and universities that have put together emergency grants for students to cover expenses that they were maybe not expecting because of COVID-19,” Nelson said. “They are making accommodations to try and make up for that lost income for students.”
Trusty said Morehead State is continuing to pay students who were on federal work-study. “If they had a job, we are still paying them right now as if they were working, although they are not. In the summer, those funds will be flipped over to emergency grant funds. So we will make sure that our students are covered and can live as if they were employed with the work-study position.”
Some colleges have even made remote work available to students, Kalinkewicz added. Therefore, contact your financial aid office to determine if any accommodations are available to make up for lost student income whenever possible.
Consider Other Options to Save
If you are seeking ways to save money on college, you should also consider other resources, whether that means less expensive colleges, in-state options or potentially transferring down the road, Janice said. You can also save money by taking classes at a community college to pay a lower cost for your credits that can be transferred to a four-year college later.
“If you have that target institution in mind — maybe you’ve already been admitted there but your family has determined a year of community college will really help stretch things further — work on articulation agreements or a plan so you are taking the right classes that actually have the ability to transfer toward the degree you want at your target institution, not necessarily just as credit,” Kalinkewicz said.
In addition, many colleges offer merit aid for transfer students, she added. So always look for every potential financial aid and scholarship resource to best maximize your package and allow your dollars to stretch as far as possible.
Resource: To review the entire hour-long webinar, you can watch the replay here.
Share Your Thoughts
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Check out our forum to contribute to the conversation!
By: Torrey Kim
Title: Webinar Recap: How COVID-19 is Affecting Financial Aid
Sourced From: insights.collegeconfidential.com/financial-aid-amid-covid-19
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000
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