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Literacy In Financing your Education

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

nature center
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

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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

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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

jordan valley
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

417-799-3456

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.

http://www.palacemovies.com/springfield.html

 

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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FAFSA Reminders

Its that time of year…time to start filling out the FAFSA in order to qualify for aid for next school year!

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Before beginning your FAFSA, there are several pieces of information that would be helpful to have on hand. Don’t forget:

 

Driver’s license

Social security number

W-2 forms

Record of taxable earnings

Records that affected gross income

Parents federal income tax return for the previous year

Bank statements

 

The FAFSA can be confusing. Don’t forget to read all information thoroughly. To steer clear of confusion and delay, be sure to avoid some of these frequently made mistakes:

 

Leaving fields blank- remember to put ‘0’ or ‘not applicable’ when you can

Using unnecessary punctuation- especially when dealing with numbers, extra decimals can create confusion and miscalculation

Putting the wrong address- make sure you include your current permanent residence

Not putting the exact name on your social security card-the FAFSA requires your legal name; so make sure it matches to what is listed on your social security card

Forgetting to count yourself as a student- you must count yourself as a student attending college during that award year.

 

With all this in mind, hopefully the FAFSA can be a quicker and more efficient process to qualify for aid for the next school year!

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Clarifying the Financial Aid Jargon:

Have you ever been in the Financial Aid Office and are so confused because you don’t know what the financial counselors are talking about? Well, you have come to the right place! Check out this list of frequently used acronyms in the Financial Aid Office and it might help you better understand any questions or problems you may have!

AGI – Adjusted Gross Income
COA – Cost of Attendance
EIC – Earned Income Credit
EDE – Electronic Data Exchange
EFC – Expected Family Contribution
FAFSA – Free Application for Federal Student Aid
FAP – Federal Academic Progress
FAT – Financial Aid Transcript
FDLP – Federal Direct Loan Program
FWS – Federal Work Study
IRS – Internal Revenue Service
NSLDS – National Student Loan Data System
NTI – Net Taxable Income
PC – Parent Contribution
SAP – Satisfactory Academic Progress
SAR – Student Aid Report

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9 Cheap Things To Do Over Winter Break

After spending frivolous amounts of money on holiday shopping and vast quantities of coffee for finals, the break is finally here. You love to break for the holidays, but reality is… its often expensive.

Instead of spending loads of money on entertaining yourself, lets consider some of these cheap and free activities to keep you on your toes during break!

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  1. Exercising

It’s hard to find time during the year with classes and events all day. But now you have tons of free time! Hit up the treadmill, go to a yoga class, lift some weights, or find a running trail in your neighborhood. A little each day can do wonders for your health!

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  1. Library

In the mood for a lazy day? Relax with some cocoa and a thrilling book. Take some time to drop by the library. This free resource not only has books but magazines, movies, and TV shows as well.

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  1. Make some money

If you have a job, don’t hesitate to make some money over break! Often holidays are the busiest times for stores and restaurants, and therefore the best opportunities for making some cash. Even without a job, look for neighbors who need their drive shoveled or babysitter for night. A little money here and there can add up!

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  1. Clean out your closet

Not exactly the first thing that comes to your mind, but think about all the hidden gems you’ve forgot about in the back of your closet! Some consignment stores will buy clothes you don’t want, and what you don’t sell you can donate to help someone else.

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  1. Do something new

Do something you have been meaning to do but never got around too. Try painting, teaching yourself an instrument, or even baking. Who knows what kinds of talents you’ve been hiding!

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  1. Meet with old friends

Your back in town, and chances are you have high school friends you haven seen in eons. Grab coffee and hear their disastrously funny stories, and share some of your own!

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  1. Cook

You would be astounded by what you can make from food around the house. Be creative, look up recipes, surprise your family and make them dinner! If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

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  1. Volunteer

Work in a soup kitchen, help sort at a thrift store, or sing carols in a retirement home. Bring the holiday spirit to those who need it most!

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  1. Work on your scholarships

Get started on scholarships for next year! School is no small fee, and with all your free time, you can surely spare a few moments to apply for several scholarships.

 

Don’t worry about blasting your wallet! With these 9 ideas, you will surely be busy with affordable fun this holiday season.

 

 

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Ways to Save Money On Fashion

 

A lot of times when I walk into a store, I have no intention of buying anything. But then the sweater in the display window calls to me. I convince myself I need the sweater…and suddenly I’m fifty dollars short.

 

Reality check: I don’t need the sweater.

thrift

Here’s the solution: we want to be unique and affordable, right? Look no further. Here are a myriad of possibilities for inexpensive clothes.

 

Thrifting: Vintage is in right now! Don’t judge a piece before trying it on! Often the strangest article makes for the perfect outfit. Keep in mind interesting patterns and staple items such as solid colors and jeans. Something a grandma wears often can be paired with just the right things to be a perfect look for you.

 

Upcycling: Jewelry pieces can be turned into a headband, shoes can be painted, and shirts can be cut up and sewn for more different looks…the possibilities are endless. Before buying expensive pants, think about selecting some old ones and revamping. It may be the difference between forty dollars and three dollars!

 

Sales: Find out which stores are having bargains. Be the coupon cutter! Check resources on your phone like Groupon or Ibotta. Go the back of the store: that’s often where the clearance racks are. And DON’T buy it if you don’t want it. Just because its affordable does NOT mean you really need it.

 

Patience: So key. My rule of thumb is this: if you enter a store and contemplate buying an item, leave the store and think about it. If you’re still thinking about it or want it by the end of the week, it might be worth it. I once waited for a fifty-dollar scarf to be marked down, and got it shortly after for ten!

 

You don’t have to sacrifice fashion for saving! Use these tips and look your best for less!

 

 

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Good news for Student Loan Borrowers!

Good news for Student Loan Borrowers! Some big reform is coming in regards to student loans. It is called the “Pay As You Earn” program and is aiming to help student loan borrowers with massive amounts of student loan debt.
Let’s answer some big questions about this new program:
1. Will these updates help me? If you have federal student loans, maybe. The president expanded the existing “Pay As You Earn” program available to federal student loan borrowers.Currently, this plan caps monthly payments at 10 percent of a borrower’s disposable income and forgives the balance after 20 years of payments. Those aspects of this plan won’t change.

What will change is the number of borrowers who can take advantage of this option.

  • New Borrowers
  • Starting in 2015, borrowers who took out loans before October 2007 or stopped borrowing by October 2011 will now be eligible.

 

2. How much could I save? Now, most federal loan borrowers are eligible for income-based repayment – a different repayment plan that has the same premise as Pay As You Earn.

Unlike Pay As You Earn, IBR caps payments at 15 percent of one’s disposable income and forgives the balance after 25 years of payments. Those differences could mean a lot, both in monthly payment amount and in the total amount paid over time.

For instance, consider a borrower who owes $55,000 at a 3.41 percent interest rate, has an income of about $35,000 per year, and is not married and has no other dependents. Here’s what that person’s payments would look like under three different payment plans:

Plan Monthly payment amount Total paid over time Amount forgiven
Standard 10-year $541 $64,656 $0
Income-based repayment (25 years) $219 in the first year*​ ​ $75,956 (paid in full after 17 years) $0
Pay As You Earn $146 in the first year* $67,232 $18,644
  •  If you work in public service, forgiveness would happen after 10 years, with a total of only about $20,000 paid during this time period.

If not, you may be better off paying your current payment amount, especially if you anticipate salary increases over the next few years, to avoid paying all that extra interest. Keep in mind that any forgiven amount will be taxed as income. Also, remember that if you work in public service, the forgiveness occurs after 10 years of payments. In that instance, it’s not taxed.

 

3. What else should I know? There is still a long way to go before the president’s executive action takes effect. December 2015 is the target implementation date.

The president’s overall plan includes quite a few other ideas that will make a difference to student loan borrowers:

  • Improving financial incentives for federal student loan servicers to help borrowers stay out of default
  • Make it easier for active-duty military to receive benefits under the Service members Civil Relief Act
  • Increasing communication partnerships with entities such as the IRS and tax companies to ensure consumers are aware of their higher education rights and benefits.

 

For more information in regards to this program, please visit http://www.debt.org/students/obama-pay-as-you-earn/

Credit for information in post goes to: www.usnews.com

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