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How to Apply for a Student Loan

August 5th, 2011 at 06:41 pm

Attending school to further your education is admirable, but itís not free and a lot of people simply canít afford it. Fortunately, by requesting a student loan you may be able to overcome your lack of funds and get a college degree. Student loans can be used to pay for courses at campus-based schools and

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accredited online colleges. Following are a few tips on how to apply for a student loan.

Financial Aid Counseling

It may be a good idea to seek financial aid counseling before taking out a student loan. In some cases, it may even be mandatory. The counseling process will help you understand your commitment and provide you with help in the application process. Since itís possible that this will be the first loan youíve taken out, you will need to be apprised of your duties and responsibilities before and after the process. Taking out a loan is not a small matter. Loans are expected to be paid back, and financial aid counseling will help you understand the process.

Get Organized

Prior to filling out an application, you need to gather all the pertinent information youíll need. Organize the information so it will be readily at hand when you begin the application process. You will need your tax return information from the previous year as well as the tax information of your parents. You will need to know your driverís license number, social security number, and have access to all pertinent bank account information, including recent bank statements. If you or your parents have a mortgage or investments that information will also be needed. By getting organized in advance the application process will go much more smoothly.

Fill Out the Form

The first step in the application process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can access this form by going to the Internet website, By following the instruction on the website you can begin filling out the form. You must fill out the FAFSA each and every year you expect to receive help; it doesnít carry over from year to year. Your qualifications for receiving student loans are reevaluated each year, because your financial situation may have changed. The application must be filled out line by line, which is why itís important to have your documents at hand. You will be assigned a PIN number, which is how you can access the form. This number is important, so memorize it, or keep it somewhere close by.

There Is a Deadline

The FAFSA form must be completed and sent in before the end of June for the upcoming school period. This deadline may vary depending on the state you live in, but usually the funds are dispersed between the middle of February and the 1st of July. In order to be sure youíll receive your allotted funds, providing you qualify, it would be a good idea to find out what the deadline is in your state. You can verify the deadline on the FAFSA website.

You Must Meet the Eligibility Requirements

There are a lot of things that are taken into consideration before you are deemed eligible to receive a student loan. The amount of the loan, if you are qualified to receive one, also varies depending on how much money you or your family can contribute to your education. While youíre waiting to hear whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements you can get an idea of how much you could receive by visiting the Internet website, On that website there is an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) calculator which will help you determine the extent of your potential financial aid. Enter the information youíre asked for and the calculator will give you an estimated total. Among the factors the government checks on while determining whether or not you qualify for a federal student loan is the amount of tuition youíll be paying as well as how much money your parents have available to them.

Hurry Up and Wait

After youíve filled out the FAFSA form youíll be anxious to find out the results and see if you qualify for financial assistance. Be patient. The average wait time is somewhere between four and six weeks. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will receive a check before the school year begins.

How to Save on Tuition and Other College Costs

July 29th, 2011 at 06:16 pm

Like just about everything in the world today, the price of a college education is not cheap. There are so many things that must be purchased and taken into consideration before class even starts. If you are stressing about the price of tuition and other college costs, you will be glad to know there are ways to save money on these things. You should definitely take a moment to look into them.


If you think scholarships are only for the most exceptional students, think again. Many scholarships nowadays only require you to carry a 2.5 GPA in order to be eligible for them, meaning they are fair game to average students as well. Scholarships are a great way to lower the amount of money you pay for college tuition, show initiative, and they look great on a resume as well. If you are wondering where to look for scholarships, it is a good idea to start at businesses in your community. Consider your parentsí places of work as well, as they often offer scholarships to children of employees. This of course depends on the type of business, but it is worth looking into. Websites that list about every type of scholarship available are worth checking out, too. There are scholarships that recognize your heritage, college major, year in college, and more. You should apply for as many scholarships as possible, because the more scholarships you receive, the less you will have to pay in tuition.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are great places for students to start out, as they are smaller and much more affordable. This means you will be saving money on tuition and other college costs, while still receiving a quality education. Many students choose to attend community colleges for their first two years of school, and then transfer to larger universities to complete their education. The amount of money you can save by doing this is quite astounding. Just be sure that the credits you receive from your community college will transfer to the university of your choice. These days, many large universities offer incentive programs that include scholarships and guaranteed acceptance for transfer students. You may also want to consider

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online colleges, which sometimes charge lower tuition and eliminate the cost to commute.

Consider Used Books

Many students do not realize how expensive college textbooks can be and are blindsided when it comes time to buy them. Luckily many books can be bought in used condition. Purchasing used books can save you quite a large sum of money. Although they are not always in perfect shape, the material is present and that is what matters. It is good to know that not all books can be purchased used, as some courses and instructors require new books. You should also keep in mind that many books can be sold after you have completed a course. This can give you extra money in your pocket, which is always a plus while in college.

These things can really help you save money on college-related expenses. There are also various other costs to consider when it comes to college, such as supplies, transportation, and housing. If you can be smart and frugal when it comes to these things, you should save money as well. It is not always easy to be that way, but in the long run it will be worth it.

How to Protect Yourself from Auto Insurance Fraud

March 25th, 2011 at 04:50 pm

With auto insurance fraud on the rise itís important to know how to spot a staged accident. Itís also important to know that staged accidents arenít the only type of fraud. If youíre involved in a fender bender it may be truly an accident but fraud could still be perpetrated by the other person. If they had previous damage to their car this could be a perfect opportunity to get you to pay to have it fixed. Another form of insurance fraud is policies that promise far more than they ever intend to deliver. These are usually sold door-to-door or by unsolicited telephone calls. You think youíre protected until it comes time to file a claim, then the agent is nowhere to be found or you discover that virtually every conceivable reason is given to deny the claim. Here are a few tips on how to protect yourself from auto insurance fraud.

Basic Types of Fraud

There are two basic types of fraud, with a myriad of variations on each. The first is called hard fraud, which usually involves some sort of staged accident. The second is called soft fraud, and it consists of things like including extra body work from a previous accident into a claim or saying a vehicle is worth more than it actually is in order to receive more money.

Deliberate Accidents

There are a lot of ways crooks can stage an accident and make the authorities and your insurance company believe itís for real. Some involve more than one vehicle, or even an "innocent bystander" who just happens to witness the collision. These types of deliberate accidents can be avoided, but scammers can be very sophisticated. As a result, these "accidents" have occurred often enough to be given a title.


When there are multiple turn lanes be prepared for the sideswipe artist who will deliberately but slowly move into your lane and then claim it was you who drifted into them.

The Drive Down

This scam involves a driver that is waiting to pull into traffic. They notice an oncoming driver wave them into the lane. As they pull out that driver speeds up and hits their car. Of course, that driver claims not to have waved and the one who pulled out is considered at fault.

Swoop and Squat

This is where a vehicle with a number of passengers will suddenly stop in front of you while a partner in another vehicle blocks your way so you canít avoid hitting the first car. The blocking car will quickly leave and it will appear youíre at fault. The passengers in the car you rear ended will all claim injuries.

The T-Bone

A very dangerous scam, the t-bone involves a car that waits at a crossroads, like a four way stop, until another vehicle goes through the intersection. They pull out quickly and hit that car in the side, and then claim the car never stopped at the corner. Frequently these scammers will be accompanied by a witness or two who just happened to see the whole thing take place and will back up the perpetrator.

What You Can Do

The best thing you can do to protect yourself from a hard scammer is to drive defensively. Make sure you donít tailgate and are aware of your surroundings. Give yourself plenty of distance between vehicles and focus on your driving. Donít be distracted by cell phones or CD players. If youíre in an accident get as much information as possible from everyone involved, and call the police immediately. Report the accident to your insurance company as soon as you can, and try and get as much visual evidence as possible by using a digital camera or camcorder.

Soft Fraud

These types of deceptions may be more difficult to spot, but they end up inflating the claim and ultimately costing you money because your insurance rates will probably go up. In order to protect yourself itís important to get visual evidence of any damage as quickly as possible. If there were any bystanders try and get a statement from them. Call the police immediately and donít settle on the spot, always contact your insurance company. You can also avoid fraud by dealing with a reputable insurance company and not buying insurance from someone you donít know and trust simply because itís cheap. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is no sure way to avoid a scammer, but by simply being observant and alert you can increase your chances of not falling victim to fraud.

Guest post from Bailey Harris. Bailey writes about online car insurance quotes.

Cold and Flu Guest Post

March 24th, 2011 at 03:03 pm

I recently had the opportunity to guest post on

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ThriftCultureNow. You can check out the article here:

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How to Make Natural Cold and Flu Remedies

10 Tips for Shopping at Thrift Stores

March 8th, 2011 at 08:21 pm

Thrift stores are a great resource for the frugal shopper, the environmentally friendly shopper, or anyone looking to find a good deal. You can find everything from clothes and old record albums to furniture in a thrift store. Many thrift stores support a nonprofit organization, so you can be confident that the money you are spending is helping someone.

Shop Often

Shopping frequently is a very important part of thrift store shopping. Since new items arrive daily, you have to shop often to find the best products for the best deals. You may want to ask the store if they restock on a certain day or a certain time of day, and plan your trips around that information.

Be Friendly

Some thrift stores may not have paid employees; they may just be volunteers. Being nice to the employees--whether they are paid or volunteers--may help you get more discounts, coupons, or exclusive information on upcoming sales. Remember this is someplace you plan on visiting a lot; you don't want to be remembered as the rude customer.

Keep Your Eyes Open

When you are shopping in thrift stores, you have to keep your eyes open at all times. You never know when you will see a great deal. Don't be afraid to dig, a treasure may be buried under something or at the back of a rack.

Test Electronics

It is not possible for a thrift store to make sure that every item on the shelves is in working order. Most of the items are donated and it is assumed that they are in working condition. Before you buy any electronic items, you should test them to make sure they work correctly.

Make a List

Before you go thrift store shopping you should make a list of things you would like to find. This list should include sizes, colors, and any other item specifics you are looking for. Having a list will help keep you on track once you begin shopping. Use this list until you have found everything you were looking for.

Try It On

Many thrift stores do not provide dressing rooms, which can cause problems. You should always try clothes on before buying them. If you plan on going shopping at thrift stores, take your measurements before you leave the house. Take the measurements and the measuring tape with you while shopping. It is also a good idea to check the stores return policy.

Bring Cash

Many thrift stores do not accept personal checks, credit cards, or debit cards. When you are making your list of items to look for, also try to estimate the amount of money you are willing to spend. Before you go to the store to do your shopping, stop at the ATM and grab some cash.

Don't Impulse Shop

This one is pretty simple--don't buy something because it is cheap. Only buy items that you know will be used. You may like that end table but if you already have one, what will you do with it?

Be Creative

You are shopping in a thrift store so you already know how to reuse items, but can you repurpose items? Many items in a thrift store can be used for something other then what they were made for. For example, a curtain can be made into new pillows, old sheets can be made into curtains, and old shirts can be incorporated in a quilt.

Some Things to Avoid Buying

Thrift stores are a great place to shop for most items, but some things should not be bought there. Shoes, hats, and underwear should not be bought at a thrift store. You should not buy baby items like, cribs, highchairs, or swings from a thrift store either. These items may not be safe for your child.

Guest post from Bailey Harris, who writes about

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home insurance and related topics for