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Benefits to having your employer pay for your college tuition

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:

  1. College is expensive no question about it; however, investing in your education is one of the best debts you can attain.  Having your employer pay for your tuition alleviates any burdens regarding how you will foot the bill for your loans after you graduation!
  2. Being an educated worker, makes you more of an asset to your company. Your company has invested in you, which results in you being of more value to your industry.

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Bryant & Stratton College Online Launches Military Spouse Resource Website www.SalutetoSpouses.com

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!

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Cast Your Vote Today! Help Select the Pay it Forward Scholarship Recipients!

Pay It Forward Scholarship Program

The Pay It Forward Scholarship program is designed to recognize and reward individuals who are not only interested in improving their own lives with education, but who also want to share the gift of education with someone else.  Unlike most traditional scholarships, the five chosen recipients will not only be awarded a full-tuition scholarship for an online associate’s degree program at Bryant & Stratton College Online, but they will also be empowered to “Pay It Forward” by giving away a matching scholarship to someone they choose, such as a friend, family member, someone they work with, or even anonymously to someone they think is deserving.

All Essays Are In!!!

Bryant & Stratton College would like to thank everyone who entered the Pay It Forward Scholarship over the last few months. Completed applications had to be received by midnight on December 31, 2010 for consideration. We received hundreds of applications with compelling essays of inspirational stories, detailing the kindness and generosity of giving back to the community and how each person would “Pay Forward” a full time scholarship to someone deserving in their life.

Bryant & Stratton College Online has selected ten finalists whose stories, we found to be in the best “Pay It Forward” spirit and have met Bryant & Stratton College’s basic enrollment standards. Of the ten, the top six were chosen and have agreed to be a in the running to receive and “pay forward” a full scholarship for an online Associate’s degree at Bryant & Stratton Online.

Voting Has Started!!!

Each of the six finalists had a video crew visit them in their homes and have shared their stories of inspiration and kindness and why they should be chosen as a recipient of the Pay It Forward Scholarship. At the end of the two-week voting period, the top five finalists who have the most internet  votes will each be awarded a full-tuition scholarship for an associate’s degree program at Bryant & Stratton College Online, and will receive a second scholarship to “pay forward” to an individual or organization of their choice. Cast your vote now!!!

The remaining finalists who do not receive full-tuition scholarships will be awarded a $5,000 partial scholarship for an associate’s degree program at Bryant & Stratton College Online.  Additionally, Bryant & Stratton College Online will select a deserving individual from all the applications submitted to receive one $10,000 partial scholarship for an online associate’s degree program.

Voting will close on May 13th, and we will announce the winners on May 16th.

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How to Stay on Top of Student Loan Debt

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:

Monthly Income $2,000.00
   
Monthly Expenses  
   
Student Loan Repayment $350.00
Housing/Utilities $600.00
Car Payment $200.00
Car Insurance $118.00
Gas $100.00
Entertainment $75.00
Food/ Home Goods $200.00
Emergency $50.00
Clothing $50.00
   
Expenses Total $1,743.00
   
Remaining Funds $257.00

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.

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What to Do if Your FAFSA is Selected for Verification

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.

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Salute to Spouses Scholarship Program

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.

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Hurry Up & Wait for Your Financial Aid

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!

Read More…

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Why on Earth Do I Have to Fill Out Two FAFSA Forms?

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/.

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