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Literacy In Financing your Education

A Coffee Catastrophe


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Well, it’s finally Fall, and honestly the first thing I am thinking about is the seasonal Starbucks drinks.

I know, I know…so much goes on, and all I can think about is the Salted Caramel Mocha and the Pumpkin Spice Latte? This is a serious problem that not only plagues myself, but thousands of students campus wide.

Why do I wait 45 minutes in line among a sea of students just for 12 ounces of espresso and artificial flavoring? Is it really worth it?


Not to mention I am now down five dollars…and it’s only Monday.

Well, I wish I could say that I can help. I wish there was a cure to this beautiful coffee epidemic that is ravaging my wallet daily.

While there may not be a cure, there is hope. I do not have to spend so much on coffee…I have options!

  1. Campus Dining provides coffee. Is it as good as a caramel macchiato? Probably not. It is however, free to anyone with a meal plan, and can be flavored right in the cafeteria! This is an offer you can’t pass up. I frequently use the excuse; “I need this extravagantly flavored cup of goodness to wake myself up.” FALSE. I do not need to lose five dollars when I have free resources available to me.
  2. Bear Necessities has coffee! This on-campus store has so many varieties…espresso shots, iced mochas, flavored lattes, and even hot cocoa you can mix in. You can usually get a cup for under a dollar. AND it’s delicious! You simply cannot go wrong with coffee as cheap as this.
  1. MAKE IT YOURSELF. I know. In don’t have the energy in the morning either. It takes so much effort to plug in the coffee pot and press a couple buttons. But in all seriousness, it is a really simple way to save money and time every morning. Even investing in a nice coffee pot may save you money in the long run!
  1. Finally, the answer you’ve all been waiting for…enjoy that Starbucks (every once in a while)! When you purchase in moderation, that Toasted Graham Mocha is going to taste all the better. It is okay to indulge every once in awhile, as long as you are aware of your budget!

In the meantime: stay classy, stay caffeinated, and stay confident in your money saving skills. You and your macchiato can do anything you put your mind to!

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Inexpensive Summer Vacations

We all want to occupy our summers with fun, but often that gets very expensive. While your friends are jetting off to some expensive island, you can take a small vacation that will cost you almost nothing! Take a look at these close-by vacation spots that will not disappoint!



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  • Kansas City is two to three hours away from Springfield, and boasts a plethora of exciting opportunities.
  • A huge summer hit is the Plaza shopping center downtown. Here you can find many upscale shopping stores, boutiques, and restaurants. Not to mention the setting of abundant fountains, horse-drawn-carriage rides, and occasionally lives music.
  • Right around the corner you will find Union Station, located conveniently near Crown Center Shopping, Science City, and the Coterie Theater. All of these tickets are inexpensive and worth a day of exploration!
  • Not to be topped is the power and light district in the heart of downtown. Here you will experience live music, pulsing nightlife, and a vibrant theatrical scene. Home to Kansas City Repertory Theater in H&R Block, you can see a show followed by a delicious dinner in one of the five-star dining locations.
  • If theater is your thing, don’t forget about Kansas City’s amazing assortment of theaters. Located near the Kansas City Zoo, Starlight theater hosts several Broadway shows each year. If you’re looking for something a little less expensive, be sure to visit Shawnee Mission Park’s The Theater In The Park. Here you can spread out blankets to watch top-notch community theater from the comfort of the lawn.


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  • Chicago might be a bit of a drive, but you can also take an inexpensive bus or train to avoid dealing with crowded highways and streets. Once there, you can purchase a temporary EL ticket and use their elevated train transportation system to visit any location of your choosing.
  • Popular tourist sights are available, such as the bean, Navy Pier, or the Chicago Theater. However, there are many other activities you shouldn’t miss!
  • Shedd Aquarium and the Art Institute both host amazing sights, and have inexpensive admission. Downtown life is always bustling, and it is not hard to find festivals and events to attend.
  • If you need a break from city life, you can take a short trip on the EL to Evanston, a quaint town home to Northwestern University. A truly quintessential college town, this community boasts cute boutiques, amazing local and organic dining, and quieter access to beach time on lake Michigan. Fun fact about Evanston: Several scenes from the movie, Home Alone were filmed here. You may recognize some of the houses and churches that are featured in the film.


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  • Also nearby, this city has a unique arrangement of activities to occupy your time. The Harley Davidson Museum is renowned, and definitely worth a visit.
  • In addition, you can cure your wildlife curiosity by stopping by the Mitchell Park Horticulture Conservatory. Another popular tourist location is the Pabst Mansion. This mansion is open to the public and displays the late Pabst family and their contributions to the town and society.
  • There are many beautiful churches to look into in Milwaukee, specifically the beautiful Basilica of Saint Josephat.
  • If you are in the mood to shop, stop by the amazing Southridge Mall. Don’t forget to be wise with your spending!
  • And above all, be aware of Milwaukee’s amazing community life. Summer promises many festivals in the parks in the beauty of the downtown area, often of which are free.

All of these amazing locations provide inexpensive vacation options that will save you time and money this summer. Don’t waste your money or drop loads of cash. Look into the opportunities that these can provide!

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Interest Rates Could Be Your Worst Enemy…

Loans are hard enough to take out, but once we have them, we can forget about them for a little while. We tend to not think about the debt piling up and instead live in the finances of the moment.

This is a dangerous tactic, because many factors make loan interest your worst enemy!

The current interest rate is fixed at 4.66%. While this might not seem like much, it is slowly accruing each day you are in school. Consider beginning to make small payment to pay this off so interest does not build on top of interest.

You are going to be required to start making those payments the second you graduate or drop below half time enrollment. You can even surpass the price of your original loan if you don’t begin payments while still in school.

Despite annoyances it may cause, paying a small amount each month to take care of the accruing interest will help save you hundreds of dollars.

Be smart with your money and your future!

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After the FAFSA: What’s Next?

By now, if you filled out the FAFSA for the 2015-2016 school year, you should have received your Student Aid Report (SAR) and most likely got back information on what financial aid you are eligible for.

So what’s next?

Now you need to decide what aid to accept and how to accept it. First things first, you must understand the aid you are being offered (whether it’s grant money or student loans), decide what aid you really need, and then respond to Missouri State’s award letter within the deadline. You should always accept free money first (scholarships and grants) before you accept a bunch of student loans you may not end up needing. Once you accept your financial aid, every school is different, so make sure you call (417-836-5262) or visit the Financial Aid Office in Carrington 101 to find out what to expect and how long it will take to be disbursed to you.

After contacting the Financial Aid Office, you will find out if you need to fill out more paperwork or meet other requirements for your financial aid. If you are receiving a federal student loan for the first time you are required to sign a promissory note and go through entrance counseling.  This can be completed at www.studentloans.gov. If you are ever lost or confused about entrance counseling or signing a master promissory note, contact Real LIFE at 417-836-3186 or visit Carrington 419 to have any questions answered. Our peer financial counselors are here to help you!


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Paying Back Student Loans

Worried about keeping your debt under control?  Don’t be.  If you are aware of your options and responsibilities, you can be successful by understanding the following information.  


Maybe your a recent graduate, about to graduate, or just taking a break from school.  All of these things are normal things: you just have to be prepared.  Make sure that you know your loans.  Keep track of what loans you have and what your repayment options are.  

By logging onto www.nslds.ed.gov, you can check for all sorts of information about your loans.  Knowing how long your grace period is important in regards to making your first payment.  Many allow 6 months; however, not all loans have the same rules! Be aware! 


One thing Real LIFE encourages is being in contact with your loan servicer.  If you are consistently on good terms with them, you will be more likely to make wise decisions when it comes to the loans.  Your servicer can help you pick the right repayment plan. A standard 10-year plan is not the only option: Income based Payments may be right for you depending on your career situation.  Finding a job is often difficult, and this kind of plan can really save you in the long run.   

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Do not ignore your loans! If you go into default, you may end up owing more, and having a plethora of unfortunate consequences follow, such as revoking of your professional license.  Document your payments as you go to eliminate error.  Try to pay off the most expensive loans first.  These will have the greatest interest, and taking care of them first will prevent them from drastically increasing.  

Look at the benefits for consolidating your loans.  For some, this makes for easier payments, but for others it might eliminate benefits or payment plans.  

Finally, if you are making consistent qualifying payments, many programs will forgive any remaining debt after ten years.  Be conscious of these options, because they will save you money in the end! 

Don’t Panic: paying back loans doesn’t have to be scary! Just stay connected and responsible and the process will be much more relaxed.  


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Affordable Options for Studying Abroad

Have you ever thought about studying abroad?

A chance to immerse yourself in culture and gain unparalleled experience that directly benefits your career?

An opportunity to broaden your horizons, lengthen your resume, and make valuable networking connections?

“Its too expensive…”

This response is one I hear more than anything else. Many individuals are immediately consumed with a conviction that studying abroad is simply unaffordable.

While it’s true that it is a hefty expense, most people overlook simple elements that would allow them to make this experience possible. There are infinite possibilities when it comes to financing your education abroad.




Your current scholarships at Missouri State University will carry over if you study during the Fall or Spring. This is very helpful to be aware of, as many students have significant scholarships to attend Missouri State. Once these scholarships are applied to the cost, a significant decrease in expense is inevitable.



There are many additional loans you can apply for when studying abroad. Don’t feel limited to the ones you have taken out for current courses. Investigate, do some research, and be aware of different options. Come and speak with a financial advisor or study abroad counselor to see what options are available to you!



There are so many scholarships available to study abroad. Many departments will offer applications for scholarships specifically for your program of study, so check with your advisor! Fastweb is a good website to check for easy-to-apply-for scholarships, as well as several other websites. In addition, make sure to check the program of study specifically for any aid they might offer.



In the end, it comes down to how much you want to study abroad. There are so many ways to enable this opportunity. It all depends on your initiative and willingness to sacrifice money now and work toward a goal. A chance like this will not come around again, and you have to decide if it’s the right thing for you!


Come visit a Peer Counselor at Real LIFE and discuss how you can begin budgeting, saving, and looking into potential options for your study abroad experience! Being proactive is the first step in achieving your goals!

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Senior Symposium- Brought to you by the Office of Student Financial Aid

With only six weeks left until finals, the countdown to summer vacation is in full swing! For those of you who will be graduating in May, there are a few extra tasks that need to be completed before graduation day. If you have taken out federal or private student loans, filling out an exit counseling form is one of those tasks that needs to be completed. It is important to fill out your exit counseling form because it tells your lender that you are finished with school. Even if you plan on going to graduate school, you still need to fill out your exit counseling forms.

The Real L.I.F.E. program is here to help! Senior Symposium is an event that Real L.I.F.E. is hosting to help you complete your exit counseling, look up any information you may need, and answer questions you might have about your federal loan.

We highly encourage you to attend one of these Senior Symposium event times! Food and refreshments will be provided!

  • Wednesday, April 15, 2015

1:00 pm-3:00 pm

PSU, room 317

  • Thursday, April 23, 2015

1:00 pm-3:00 pm

PSU, room 314

Just stop by between any of the times listed above. It should only take about 10 minutes to complete your exit counseling forms. Make sure and take advantage of this great opportunity!


*Computer usage will be limited, so bring in your laptop if possible.


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Spring has SPRUNG!

As March turns into April, the flowers are beginning to bloom bigger and the sun is beginning to shine brighter because spring has SPRUNG! With that being said, there are so many fun things to do outside in Springfield to keep you busy on a beautiful spring day. (Most of these are cheap or free too, so that’s definitely a plus!)

Springfield Conservation Nature Center: 4601 S. Nature Center Way

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Hike the beautiful trails, look for more than 180 species of birds, and expect to see deer, turkey, mink, muskrat, reptiles, amphibians, and insects! The views are incredible! You won’t be disappointed with the nature center!

Fantastic Caverns: 4872 North Farm Road 125

Tour the caverns in jeep-drawn trams. You will experience the magnitude, the stillness, and the splendor of the Fantastic Caverns while preserving its natural features.

Dickerson Park Zoo: 3043 North Fort

The Dickerson Park Zoo is a great outdoor activity for all ages! See all the different animals and even feed the giraffes! Visiting the zoo would be a great study break!

Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden: 2400 Scenic

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Stroll through the beautiful garden and see the pure beauty of nature. Mizumoto is super relaxing and the scenery is breathtaking!

Jordan Valley Park: 635 E Trafficway St

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Jordan Valley Park is super close to campus so it would make an awesome study spot! On a nice spring day, you will be able to enjoy the peace of the beautiful fountains!

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Finding Scholarships

As college students, we are constantly thinking about money. We want more of it, we use it all the time, and now it’s going toward paying for our education. Many students rely solely on financial awards to fund their schooling. While financial aid can provide grants and loans that allow significant relief toward paying tuition, they are not the only resource. Scholarships are an extremely helpful resource that many students forget about.

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Department scholarships

After filing the FAFSA, do not forget to apply for the general and departmental scholarships. But don’t think you are done.   While that application covers many scholarships offered by the school, there are departmental scholarships not included in the application. Talk with your professors! Many programs will offer major based scholarships of substantial amounts. For example, the theater department has many scholarships that their students can audition for. You may have to do something extra, such as an essay, a research study, or an audition. But in the long run, you don’t have to pay scholarship money back!


Regional/State scholarships

Get out in to the community! The state of Missouri has many scholarships and opportunities available to its residents. Consider regional scholarships or scholarships offered by organizations you are a apart of. By engaging in the community, many scholarship opportunities will crop up unexpectedly.   Don’t be afraid to be on the look out for some extra aid.


Online Scholarships

Check out some scholarships online! You would be astounded by how many there are out there—and of substantial amounts! One helpful website is fastweb.com. Fastweb calculates your information and gives you lists of scholarships that match your profile. Some require essays or activities, but many you can sign up for without doing extra work. Give these opportunities a shot!


Don’t hesitate another moment!

Get out there and find that money for your education.

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8 Cheap Dates in Springfield

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, you could say love is in the air here at Missouri State. People have no problem spending generous amounts of time and money planning out the perfect date for their sweetheart on Valentines Day. Rightly so, as it is the one day out of the year designated to showing your love and affection.

What about every other day of the year though? It’s not as easy to shell out $50 for your significant other on a random Tuesday in February, is it? Well no worries, because we’ve compiled a list of our favorite date ideas in Springfield that won’t drain your bank account, but might just enhance your love life.

1. Hollywood Theaters

415 W. College Station


Taking a date to the movies usually isn’t cheap, but on Tuesday nights movies are only $5 with a student I.D.

2. The Palace Theater

2220 West Chesterfield Boulevard

Another movie theater in town plays second-run movies for only $3.00. On the first Monday of the month MSU students get into the late movies for free. Take advantage of Timewarp Tuesdays – All movies, all day are just $1.



3. George’s

339 South Glenstone Avenue

(417) 831-6777

This diner serves great breakfast, burgers, and everything in between. Prices are reasonable, and they are open early in the morning till late at night.

Our favorite meal at George’s: RECESSION PROOF BREAKFAST – Two Eggs, choice of hash browns, bacon, or sausage, served with choice of toast, biscuits & gravy, or hotcakes. Served every day from 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. for $2.99. And from 11:00 a.m. to close for $3.99.

Plus you get a discount with your student I.D.

4. Buffalo Wild Wings

2 Locations in Springfield:

900 E. Battlefield Rd Springfield

2725 North Kansas Expressway

Most of the time this place is not a very cheap place to eat, but on some days they have specials. Tuesday is 50 cent traditional wing day. Thursday is 60-cent boneless wing day.

5. Big Whiskey’s

3 locations in Springfield:

311 Park Central East

1440 W. Republic Rd

1550 E. Battlefield Rd

Take advantage of Happy Hour from 4:00-6:00 pm Monday-Friday! Half price drinks and appetizers!

6. Fun Acre Miniature Golf

2500 South Campbell Avenue

It’s only $2.25 per game! They have a cheap batting cage as well. Make sure to bring cash, because they don’t accept cards.

7. Whisler’s Burgers

208 W McDaniel Street

You’ve gotta get the burgers to go, but Whisler’s Burgers are delicious and cheap!  (5 burgers for $6!).

8. Springfield Botanical Gardens

2400 South Scenic Avenue

(417) 891-1515

Pick a sunny day, pack a picnic lunch, and head on over to the Springfield Botanical Gardens. It has beautiful scenery and better yet, it’s a FREE date!



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