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Is It Time to Consider an Off-Campus Housing Option?



Campus housing issues for Fall 2020 can be confusing. If you’re going to be returning to campus this fall, you may want to consider living off campus.

At this point, in the early days of July, many colleges are in the process of figuring out their housing policies and protocols to meet the needs of returning students residing on and off campus. A few examples:

Boston College: “… administrators are continuing to refine plans and policies for the resumption of on-campus life this fall.”

Elon University: “… Students will be given a move-in appointment time and students are encouraged to only bring one or two family members for move-in. All students, faculty and staff will be expected to complete their own daily self-checkup to help monitor their own health.”

Harvard University: “… ‘Our goal is to bring our students, faculty, postdoctoral fellows and staff to campus as quickly as possible,’ Harvard Provost Alan Garber wrote in an open letter … ‘but because most projections suggest that COVID-19 will remain a serious threat during the coming months, we cannot be certain that it will be safe to resume all usual activities on campus by then …'”

Indiana University: “… Most residence hall rooms on Indiana University campuses will be single occupancy and intensive cleaning protocols will be enforced.”

Radford University: “… Full operations are expected for on-campus housing, dining services and in-person instruction beginning on August 24 …”

University of South Florida: “… Residence halls and dining options will remain open after Thanksgiving break for students who need access until the end of the fall semester.”

University of South Carolina: “… The university is also expanding its online course offerings to accommodate those who choose to remain off-campus …”

University of Pittsburgh: “… In the coming weeks, the university will be announcing measures they are taking to de-densify campus — including residence halls, dining halls and classrooms, and modifications to restrict these spaces and other campus facilities.”

Online Instruction Still an Option

Returning students who wish to live off campus will have the option of using online instruction, such as noted by the University of South Carolina. Whether colleges will offer off-campus students the flexibility of taking some courses online while attending other classes in person remains to be seen. The situation, even at this late date, is still quite fluid at many schools.

Incidentally, if you would like to examine the various scenarios available to colleges for Fall 2020, check Inside Higher Ed‘s 15 Fall Scenarios. There you will see everything from the fantasy-like “Back to Normal” to this past spring’s “Fully Remote,” with a baker’s dozen variations in between.

If you are returning to campus this fall but are concerned about the safety considerations of dorm life and not required to live on campus, then you may want to investigate finding a place to live off campus. If so, then I highly recommend Fastweb’s A Student Guide to Finding & Leasing Off-Campus Housing as a resource to guide your decision making. “Fastweb has you covered with this all-inclusive college housing and apartment guide to help you through the process, from start to finish.” Here are some key points to keep in mind:

The Washington Post reports, American University is cutting the availability of campus beds from 4,300 to 2,300, and Frostburg State University is eliminating the two-person roommate accommodation to keep students safe.

Here’s What to Consider When Moving off Campus

If you will be looking for off-campus housing, here are some key questions to ask prospective landlords:

– What’s included in the rent?

– What’s the typical monthly cost of each of the utilities?

– Are pets allowed? If so, is there an additional fee?

– Does the house/apartment have air conditioning?

– Is WifF included in rent?

– What is the laundry situation? Where are the machines located?

– Is there a cost to use them? If so, what is the cost?

– Is the cost for both the washer and the dryer?

– Is parking or covered parking available? If yes, is there an additional cost?

When you do a walkthrough:

– Is there good natural light? Your electrical bill shouldn’t be sky-high!

– Do the locks work properly? Would you feel safe being alone at night?

– Are the windows old or drafty?

– Do the toilet and faucets work properly?

– Does the shower provide enough water pressure?

– Is the carpeting/flooring clean?

– Are the appliances up to date?

– Do all outlets work?

– Test the air conditioning and heating systems.

– Do the neighbors seem friendly, courteous, and easy to get along with?

– What are your initial impressions of the landlord?

There’s much more excellent advice in this Fastweb article. Consider it a prime resource for off-campus living.

Some Colleges Are Still Creating Plans

I mentioned the fluidity of colleges’ plans for Fall semester, especially for their housing plans. In some cases, students who will be returning to campus don’t yet have housing assignments, which can cause considerable uncertainty. For example, Tufts University has published a Frequently Asked Questions page where administrators attempt to answer questions related to housing. Here’s an example of how Tufts responds to students who have don’t yet have confirmed campus housing:

Question: I want to return to Tufts for in person classes, but I do not currently have a housing assignment. What can I do to receive housing?

Tufts answers: Students requesting housing for the fall semester should do so as part of the Fall 2020 Intent Form. Housing applications and updates will be collected through the Housing Portal on SIS.

Once we know the number of students who wish to retain on-campus housing for the fall, the Office of Residential Life and Learning will determine whether we can accommodate individuals on the housing waitlist or other applicants. We recognize the importance of housing decisions, which is why completing the Fall 2020 Intent Form by July 7 is critical. Incoming first-year students and transfer students can access the form through their new student checklist

Using Tufts as an example of other schools that also have yet to confirm their on-campus housing, we see the critical phrase: “Once we know the number of students who wish to retain on-campus housing for the fall, the Office of Residential Life and Learning will determine whether we can accommodate individuals on the housing waitlist or other applicants,” which contains the keywords whether we can accommodate.

It appears that some Tufts (and likely other colleges’) students may not be able to acquire on-campus housing for fall because of de-densification and other safety concerns. Tufts may not know who can or cannot be accommodated until at least mid-July for a planned September 8 start of classes. This would leave just over a month for students unable to live on campus to find off-campus housing.

Consider Creating a “Plan B”

If you are a returning student with currently unconfirmed on-campus housing, you must do two things right now: (1) press to get a “go” or “no go” decision from your college as soon as possible, and (2) begin a search for your off-campus fallback option, using the Fastweb guide cited above. This is where things may become tricky, though, depending on the responsiveness of your college’s housing office.

I estimate that you’ll need at least a month before the start of classes to secure an off-campus room, apartment or house. You may luck out and be able to land one with less lead time. The wildcard in all of this, of course, is COVID-19, with all its unknowns and unpredictability. It’s on offense; colleges are on defense. Thus, your mission is to get a housing decision quickly and, if needed, pursue a Plan B.

Fall semester 2020 will be unlike any other in the past. Be proactive, focused and flexible. You’re definitely living in interesting times!


By: Dave Berry
Title: Is It Time to Consider an Off-Campus Housing Option?
Sourced From:
Published Date: Thu, 02 Jul 2020 12:59:08 +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.

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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.

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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:
Published Date: Fri, 10 Apr 2020 15:22:20 +0000

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