Managing your student loan debt
Google “hot topics in higher education,” and the first link that pops up is related to student loan debt. Student debt has become one of the fastest-growing problems in the United States today. The website www.debt.org indicates that total student loan debt now tops an astonishing $1.2 trillion, which equates to an average debt load of $33,000 per student. That’s the bad news.
The good news is that you don’t have to end up with that kind of debt here. In fact, the typical loan debt for a Columbia College graduate is about $22,500, 32 percent less than the national average!
Here are some ways you can keep your loan debt in check while you are going to school:
Live like a college student — use student loan funds only to pay for direct educational costs.
Save money — look for areas you can cut while you are in college, such as leisure and entertainment expenses.
Corporate tuition reimbursement — contact your supervisor or HR office to see if you qualify.
Become more “financially literate” — use the great resources available through our Financial Aid office to aggressively track your loan debt.
Stay the course — before you consider a change of degree or major, talk to your advisor to see the impact any additional coursework has on your educational costs.
Seek out and apply for scholarships — our website has many resources to guide you to a wealth of available scholarships and grants. Look at your community affiliations and see if there are funding opportunities through your church, volunteer groups or outside organizations.
The bottom line, however, is that you are here to complete an education that will get you into your specific chosen career. With a bachelor’s degree from Columbia College in your hand, your median earning potential is as much as 75 percent higher than a person with a high school diploma. Be smart about your student loan debt, but keep pushing toward your degree!
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The holiday season has come and gone and, more likely than not, your credit card bills have swollen with the weight of the gifts you purchased for family and friends.
Some of you may have taken credit card companies up on seasonal low interest rate offers in order to lessen the burden as well. If a company is offering to let you pay off a four-figure debt over the next year with 0 percent interest, how can there be a downside?
Sometimes companies hide them in the fine print of the agreements, according to Rachel Smith, senior advisor at Columbia College’s Student Success office.
“Many people think that they are getting a great deal with a 0 percent interest program,” Smith says. “when in reality they haven’t read the fine print and don’t realize that if you don’t pay off the loan in the specified timeframe, even by one payment, they go back and charge you interest from the date of purchase. This can be costly mistake for consumers.”
In an article called “How Credit Card Promotional Rates Work,” TheBalance.com highlights the key tenets of these potentially useful, yet potentially damaging, deals.
Here are some things to consider with promotional rates:
- How long do they last?: Federal law mandates at least six months, but some of the best deals can last up to a year and a half. Some credit card companies measure the rates through billing cycles rather than months, so be on the lookout for that as well. Also, be sure to make your payments on time. Some rates expire before the end of the promotional period if you’re more than 60 days late on your credit card payment.
- Check the rate after the promotional period: Before you enter into a low interest rate agreement, find out what the post-promotional rate will be. Sometimes, an inflated rate after the promotional period makes it so that it’s not worth it to sign on for a low interest rate during the deal.
- It’s not the same as deferred interest: Even though companies may use similar phrasing to promote low-interest rate introductory offers and deferred interest plans, they are not the same thing. With a deferred interest plan, you have to pay the full credit card balance in order to pay no interest. If you have any balance left after the promotional period, you’re on the hook for the full interest backdated to the first day the balance was added to your account.
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Columbia College is far more than just its Day Campus. We would not be where we are today without the students and alumni from our 35 Nationwide locations, Evening Campus and the Online Education program as well.
That’s why, when it came to planning out the Quad — the new heart of our Columbia, Missouri, campus — we made sure that our national footprint played a prominent part.
To honor our more than 83,000 alumni living worldwide as well as all the locations that make up the whole of Columbia College, we positioned Alumni Fountain as the centerpiece of the Quad. The fountain has one center jet of water, representing main campus, with eight smaller jets arranged around it to represent the Nationwide locations’ contribution to Columbia College.
Not only that, but the fountain also serves as a sort of compass, with bricks bearing the name of each Nationwide location and arranged geographically around the center of the fountain in the direction they are from the main campus.
Alumni Fountain turned on for the first time August 29, the first day of classes, and it took students less than a minute to make a sprint through the jets! On October 7, President Scott Dalrymple officially dedicated the rest of the Quad at a ceremony in which more than 100 members from the community showed up to help celebrate.
We hope that those of you who have had the opportunity to visit our beautiful campus will make a return trip at some point to check out the Quad. And, if you’ve never made it to Columbia, we hope you’ll stop by and check out all we have to offer.
Be sure to visit ccis.edu/quad for more information.
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While their primary purpose is expanding and deepening someone’s network of personal connections, the many platforms that make up social media can also serve as invaluable resources when you’re looking to land a job or further your career. That is, if you know how to use them correctly.
A 2012 CareerBuilder.com survey found that 37 percent of the more than 2,300 hiring managers and human resources professionals the site polled use social networks to vet job candidates. Of those companies, 65 percent said they did it to see if the potential candidate presents him or herself professionally.
“Social media is a primary vehicle of communication today, and because much of that communication is public, it’s no surprise some recruiters and hiring managers are tuning in,” CareerBuilder vice president of human resources Rosemary Haefner told Forbes.com.
So how do you put your best foot forward? Forbes (“Ten Ways to Use LinkedIn in Your Job Search”) and TheMuse.com (“45 Things Successful Job Seekers Do on Social Media”) both have helpful articles on the topic.
Here are some of their top tips:
- Show Your Personality: Don’t start these accounts just to have them. Actually go on Facebook, Twitter, etc., read what others are posting about and develop some content of your own that shows off your individuality. Comment on others’ posts. Share articles that interest you, or that you find interesting about the field in which you work.
- But Keep it Clean: Make sure that the face you present to the public is one that you wouldn’t mind everybody in the world seeing. That goes beyond some obvious pointers such as don’t use profanity and keep party pictures off your feeds. The Muse also suggests “removing articles that are politically divisive or could be considered offensive, posts that are super random, long rants on a certain topic and the like.”
- Spread Your Wings: Don’t be afraid to expand your social circle beyond your immediate sphere of friends and family. Forbes suggests remaining vigilant on LinkedIn with inviting new networking contacts and old work colleagues to join your network. That not only expands your networking circle but also gives you access to more second- and third-degree connections through your new contacts.
- Read Up on Potential Employers: Identify companies for which you ultimately might like to work and follow their social media trails. That way, you can keep up to date on any jobs that might be coming open, as well as any initiatives or milestones so you can be knowledgeable at a possible interview. You can also find who you might be working for (or with) and see their social media presence. Familiarize yourself with their passions and views and get a gauge on their personalities.
- Promote Yourself…But Not Too Much: If you’re proud of a personal or professional achievement, don’t be afraid to flaunt it on your social media accounts. But, as the Muse points out, don’t come off as a braggart: “Nothing looks worse – or turns followers off more – than a Twitter stream just promoting your own thing.” Spread praise around to others in your social and work communities and show that you’re just as happy for the success of others as you are for yourself.
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The two organizations have announced a unique partnership that will give thousands of Uber driver-partners around the U.S. a 15-percent discount on tuition. The discount will also be available to any current Columbia College student who signs up to drive with Uber.
“Uber has a great global brand, and we’re pleased to partner with them,” Columbia College President Scott Dalrymple said. “This initiative has the potential to change many lives.”
Tuition costs at Columbia College are less than half the national average. The Uber partnership provides an incentive for current students to realize another revenue stream, as well as an enticement for prospective students who just so happen to be Uber drivers.
“Uber is a natural fit for students looking to earn money while pursuing a degree. With no set hours or shifts, students can choose when they want to drive in a way that works around their lives and class schedule, not the other way around,” said Andy Hung, Uber Missouri general manager. “We are thrilled to team up with Columbia College to offer this program to drivers seeking an affordable way to further their education.”
To be eligible for the tuition discount, Uber driver-partners must complete at least one trip per month. For more information about how current students interested in driving with Uber and current driver-partners interested in applying to Columbia College can take advantage of this offer, visit uber.ccis.edu.
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