One of the first steps to increasing your own personal financial situation is increasing your marketability! If you work for a large company chances are your employer will cover some if not all of your tuition expenses. That is if your degree or certificate program relates to your current position. Having an employer pay for your tuition benefits you in several ways:
REMEMBER: Your employer will most likely expect you to commit to a short contract requiring that you maintain a certain GPA. Other clauses might include that you must stay employed for “x” years after completing your degree otherwise you may be required to pay some if not all of the tuition bill back, and your employer might require you to pay the tuition upfront reimbursing you back after you complete the course.
Tuition assistance benefits are part of your compensation package. Make a list of your educational goals and what you want to gain from accomplishing each goal; decide whether utilizing your company’s tuition plan is the right choice for you.
So what if your company does not offer a tuition assistance plan to employees? Is it hopeless that you could change the policy? In an answer, no! Start thinking about how receiving an education could help you improve or change your current work environment for the better. Perhaps communication channels could be improved. Could you verbalize to your employer how a degree could enhance and benefit the organization?
You are your own best advocate! Be ready to defend why your employer should invest in you! Make it happen! Self improvement is in your hands. How will you make a difference in your future?
Contact Bryant & Stratton College’s admissions department to discuss the many certificate, associate, and bachelor’s programs that are offered.
About the Author
Rebecca Lauterbach, MBA is an adjunct professor for the on-line campus teaching business and office technology courses. For the past 12 years Rebecca has also worked professionally for a major communications company. Rebecca is currently completing her D.B.A. online.
Just in time for Military Spouse Appreciation Day, which is Friday, May 6, we are excited to announce today the expansion of our website www.SalutetoSpouses.com, as the new go-to resource for education and career news for military spouses.
Home of the college’s Salute to Spouses Scholarship, which awards $6,000 towards a Bryant & Stratton College Online degree to spouses of active duty military personnel, SalutetoSpouses.com is now also an online community that spouses can join to read the latest articles on careers and education as well as participate in a wide variety of forums.
Edited by a military spouse, with contributing writers who are military wives as well, SalutetoSpouses.com is sponsored by Bryant & Stratton College Online’s military relations department and features weekly polls, how to articles, tips, resources, advice columns, personal stories, and financial aid options for military spouses.
“As military spouses, we understand the challenge of earning a degree or navigating the competitive job market while caring for your military family,” said Allison Perkins, Editor at SalutetoSpouses.com. “SalutetoSpouses.com is a community where military spouses can find support, information and resources tailored to their unique needs.”
SalutetoSpouses.com will engage its user community on a variety of topics through forums and blogs. Registered community members will also be able to receive a monthly newsletter that keeps them aware of new content that has been added to the site that month.
Bryant & Stratton College Online created the Salute to Spouses scholarship after the U.S. government temporarily suspended and later reinstated a restructured MyCAA in 2010. The expansion of the site builds on the success of the scholarship and increases the resources available to military spouses interested in earning their degree or building a sustainable career.
“We understand the commitment and sacrifices that military spouses make. We are proud to support them with the Salute to Spouses scholarship and now with SalutetoSpouses.com, which will help by providing critical information on career and education issues specific to their experience as a military spouse,” said Ed Dennis, Military Relations Manager at Bryant & Stratton College Online. “Creating a portable and sustainable career is incredibly important for military spouses and often requires advanced education, but a college degree is now more accessible than ever to military spouses.”
For more information about participating in the Salute to Spouses community and applying for the scholarship visit www.SalutetoSpouses.com and take a look around!
The biggest concern graduates have aside from finding a full-time job after graduation is that in six months their student loan repayments start. The challenging job market has made it increasingly difficult for the graduates to repay their student loans. Here are some tips I feel can be helpful in repaying your student loans:
Keep Everything – One of the most important things while repaying your student loans is to make sure you keep track of all papers and balances. If you have a file cabinet at home, I suggest creating a file to hold all of your statements, paperwork, and receipts. The biggest part of staying on track, is keeping everything organized.
Set Up a Monthly Budget – It is always good to create some sort of monthly budget. The first thing I did when I graduated was take a look at my monthly income and monthly spending. I created my own monthly budget and broke it down into a few different categories. I set up a spreadsheet similar to this:
With this budget, I am able to watch my spending and make sure I always have money to pay my student loans. Another thing I try to do is put a little more money towards the principal whenever I can. When you are repaying your loan, not all of the money goes to the principal. Some of the money paid monthly is taken and applied to the interest. It is very important to let your lender know that any money repaid on top of your monthly balance be applied to the principal balance. I really suggest that once you are done with school and getting ready to repay your student loans you take some time to create a similar budget. It drastically reduces the stress of repaying student loans.
Speak to your Lender and Financial Aid Advisor–Many schools require students to speak with a Financial Aid advisor before graduation. This is called an exit interview. The Financial Aid advisor will explain the different steps in repaying your loans and the different tools that can assist you. Even if your school doesn’t require you to speak with a Financial Aid advisor, I highly suggest that you do. Your Lender or Financial Aid Advisor will be able to talk about consolidating your loans, your deferment options, how forbearance works, how to avoid default, and work with you to set up a repayment plan that fits you.
Stay in Contact with your Lender – Usually with repaying student loans, you are given a six month grace period. Within this six month period it is a good idea to contact your loan holder. When contacting the loan holder, make sure they have your correct address, phone number, and email. It is also a good time to ask the loan holder about any repayment plans they offer. If you are having economic hardship or other factors that won’t allow you to repay your loan this is a good time to ask about deferment or forbearance. If at any time during your repayment schedule you have a change of address, phone, name, or email it is a good idea to contact the loan holder with the changes.
Avoiding Default – The most important thing you need to do while repaying your student loans is to avoid default. When you don’t repay your student loan on time, you are delinquent. If you stay delinquent for a period of time you move into default. Once you are in default the entire balance of the loan becomes due. Along with having to pay the entire loan, you may become ineligible for future financial aid. The loan holder then has the capability to add an extra collection charge to every payment, they can also seize part of your tax refund or wages to ensure the loan is repaid. To avoid falling into default make sure you contact your loan holder when having trouble repaying your loans. Sometimes loan holders can reduce your payment for a month, or they give you the option of forbearance. Forbearance is when your payments are stopped for a period of time. During forbearance it is possible that you will still be charged interest on the loan, it is important to contact your loan holder and see how they handle forbearances.
These are just some steps you can take to make sure your student loans are repaid on time and that you are able to stay out of default. The most important factor in staying current on your student loans is accepting the responsibility of managing your money and paying your loans on time.
Many students who are enrolling in a college or university loathe the financial aid process. It’s not that it’s hard to complete, or even that timely for that matter; it’s just the fact that you have to dig through your personal files to find the information you need to complete it. There is little that is more satisfying then finally finding those taxes from last year and submitting your FAFSA form and getting it over with. Then your Financial Aid Advisor notifies you that you have been selected for verification by the Federal government and you have to fill out paperwork. Now you’re thinking, “What?! Are you kidding me?” Well, here’s the scoop on verification and what you need to know to get your financial aid awarded as quickly as possible.
First it is important to understand that if you have been selected for verification, it does not mean you have done anything wrong. If you have been selected for verification, it could be for any of the following reasons:
· You were selected randomly.
· The FAFSA application you submitted contained incomplete data.
· Your FAFSA application has estimated information on it.
· The data on your FAFSA application appears to contradict itself.
The Federal government randomly selects 30 percent of all individuals who complete a FAFSA for verification. If you are selected for verification you will need to fill out a quick and easy worksheet and fax it back to us along with a copy of your taxes. Make sure that you completely fill out the Verification Worksheet before you fax it in so that it does not further delay your financial aid being awarded. You will need a copy of your taxes and you need to sign them before you fax them to us. If no taxes were filed for the school year indicated on your FAFSA form, you should call your Financial Aid Advisor at 1-800-836-5627 and press option 2. Bryant & Stratton College Online must complete your verification in advance of disbursing any money from any financial aid program, so it is important to send complete and correct information into us as soon as possible.
As soon as everything is received by the Financial Aid department and no additional changes need to be made, your financial aid award letter is packaged. If corrections needed to be made on your FAFSA form by our Financial Aid department it will be done in no longer than three to five business days. Our goal at Bryant & Stratton College Online is to make the financial aid process as painless as possible so if you have any questions along the way or find yourself getting frustrated do not hesitate to call your Financial Aid Advisor and ask for help.
For more information on financial aid at Bryant & Stratton College Online, visit http://online.bryantstratton.edu/about/financial_aid.html.
I wanted to take a moment to talk with you about the Salute to Spouses scholarship program that Bryant & Stratton College Online is currently offering. This video gives you all the details about how you can apply for a $6,000 scholarship if you are a military spouse. Please visit www.salutetospouses.com for more information.
A funny thing happened on the way to healthcare reform, the student loan industry was required to also be overhauled. This was a direct result of the healthcare bill that was signed into law. Many banks were once the “middlemen” for federal student loan programs, but the new law now requires all students to borrow directly from the federal government. Well, what exactly does this mean for EVERY school that participates in federal student loan programs? Quite a bit!
Schools have to change the way students apply for federal loans. Now that all schools are going through the government website for approval, their system continually crashes. The government has outlined this process as a “work in progress.” This means that Financial Aid offices at schools across the country are scrambling to help their students complete their financial aid. This is creating quite the problem for colleges and their financial aid offices. Schools are unable to determine what steps their students have completed and there is no real answer as to when these issues will be fixed.
There is good news on the horizon, though! Before the law was passed participating banks charged students a 3% origination fee. The law changed this to .5% and put more money in the pockets of students. The hope is that eventually this will result in additional funds being available for federal Pell grants.
As with any new program that is being launched whether by the government or business, there are kinks to work out. Bryant & Stratton College is currently helping all of our Online students through this process. We’ve developed some good processes for now and have trained our staff on how to best help all of our students.
Many people have major life events occurring, such as getting married or divorced, having a child or becoming old enough that they do not have to be claimed as a dependent by their parents anymore, and this will change the amount of Financial Aid that is available to you. When you fill out both forms, you are giving your Financial Services Advisor access to create the best combination of grants, loans and scholarships for you. We know that affording school is not easy and we want to help you get the most money possible to apply towards your tuition. There are several reasons that we require students to fill out 2 FAFSA forms. The most important reason is that this allows our Financial Aid team to determine the maximum amount of financial aid that is available to you.
At this time of the year, it is necessary for all students who are enrolling at Bryant & Stratton College Online to fill out 2 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) forms. As part of the Admissions process, potential students are required to fill out the 2009 – 2010 FAFSA and the 2010 – 2011 FAFSA. Anyone enrolling for the May or June session starts must complete both FAFSA forms. We know that this is the longest part of the enrollment process and it can be somewhat of a pain, but hang in there because this really is for your benefit.
The financial aid year for a FAFSA form always starts on July 1st and ends June 30th of the following year. Our May and June sessions at Bryant & Stratton College Online both overlap both financial aid years. By completing the FAFSA for both years now, you will not have to fill out another one when the Fall semester rolls around.
Each year continuing students need to fill out a FAFSA form as well. It is a really good idea to fill it out right after filing your annual tax return since you need the information from that tax return for your FAFSA anyway. The form is available in January each year, so as soon as you complete your taxes fill out your FAFSA also.
Still confused about all of this? You can reach our Financial Aid department at 1-800-836-5627 or you can ask your Admissions Representative and they will get you in touch with your Financial Services Advisor. We know that completing the financial aid process can be like tearing your hair out at times, so please reach out if you get frustrated. We’re here to help you!
To get started on your FAFSA forms, please go to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/.