/>Students going to college in the United States may be partly paying their way student loans, using them for everything from tuition and room and board to books and supplies. But the exact time for student loan disbursement, as important as it is, can be hard to pin down. So when are student loans disbursed?
Generally speaking, student loan disbursement is split between a school’s two semesters (or four quarters, three trimesters, etc.). This means that your $2,000 yearly loan won’t give you that full amount right away in the fall; you’ll get $1,000 for fall semester and $1,000 for spring semester. This splitting of the disbursement by semester is usually not a problem since tuition and fees are charged by semester as well – meaning you won’t be left with a huge bill to cover in the fall and only half of your yearly loan amount to help cover it.
When are student loans disbursed within each semester, though? The answer to that question is a little less definite because student loan disbursement ultimately depends on each school’s financial aid office and its specific policies. The loans usually show up in a student’s account sometime between the start of classes and the tuition payment due date. Before the funds actually show up, they will often be listed as “pending” so you can get a clear picture of what your financial situation will look like once the loan comes through.
There are some reasons that your student loan disbursement may be delayed, however. A delayed disbursement may be due to a failure to meet minimum enrollment or GPA standards, an unpaid fee from a previous semester which must first be settled, or various other factors. If you think your disbursement should have come through already, contact your financial aid office to see if there are any other snags like these you need to address.
So when are student loans disbursed? It’s not an exact science, but they come through in halves toward the beginning of each semester. If you’re waiting on student loans for immediate needs like housing or food, get in touch with your school to find out exactly when you’ll be getting them.
Coming to college in the United States involves a lot of expenses, and you may find yourself turning to a private loan to help you meet the financial burden. While loans can be great, it is important to understand the full financial burden of repaying them. One of the most important factors in picking a loan to help you finance your college education in the United States is understanding interest rates on student loans.
Interest is a fee that a bank requires you pay on top of the base loan amount so it can make money from the loan. Interest rates on student loans are given as yearly percentages. For example, a $1,000 loan with an interest rate of 7.5% APR (annual percentage rate) will mean a total repayment of $1,075 after one year of interest.
Stretch this out across years – even decades – of repayment, and clearly interest rates on student loans can have a huge impact on how much you pay in total. So how can you make sure you lower your interest rates on student loans?
To a certain extent, interest rates on student loans are fixed. Student loan interest rates are based off parameters set by reputable American and international banks and generally vary between about 2% and 9% APR.
But your student loan interest rates will also change based on the creditworthiness of your US cosigner. A cosigner is a financially responsible person who, by cosigning a loan, agrees to cover any costs that the original borrower can’t. Find a cosigner with a solid credit history (as an international student, you’ll need a cosigner in the US anyway) and banks will be more likely to give you a favorable interest rate on the loan.
Another way to lower the overall impact of interest costs is to repay your loan more quickly – thereby accruing less total interest. This can mean anything from paying a little more than the monthly minimum when you have the spare cash to choosing an official repayment plan that features earlier or more substantial regular payments.
Understanding interest rates on student loans is very important part of your college financing, so make sure to look into your best options before you decide on a loan!
As a college student, you can find yourself changing apartments often. New school years or semesters often come with new housing setups, and changing circumstances during the middle of a schooling period can result in an unexpected change in living situation. To help you save money in the process, it’s important to know the costs to consider when changing apartments.
Your biggest new apartment cost (besides a possible uptick in rent) is probably going to be your security deposit. A security deposit is a one-time payment generally ranging from a half a month’s rent to a full month’s rent that is paid upon renting a new apartment. At the end of your tenancy, the security deposit will be returned to you minus fees for cleaning or repairing your apartment that your landlord sees fit.
Another one of the costs to consider when changing apartments is the actual price of moving. Using a professional moving company to help you is the most expensive way, but even if you forego this convenience and haul your stuff yourself you can rack up costs. Truck rentals, gas, boxes and other packaging – all these things should be considered when you look at your new apartment cost!
Furniture is an especially important new apartment cost if you’re moving from a furnished apartment into an unfurnished one, where you can find yourself in the market for pricey items like beds, couches, and dining tables. Even if you own some or all of these things already, you may want to buy new furniture that better fits the space in a new apartment.
Different apartments come with different utilities paid, making utilities one of the sneakier costs to consider when changing apartments. While basics like gas and electricity are almost always the responsibility of the renter, other utilities like hot water and garbage tend to vary. Make sure to discuss this with your new landlord so you know what kind of different expenses you’ll be getting into with your new place!
With spring break just around the corner, now is the time for international students to be planning their budget for their upcoming spring break trip. Follow a few key tips and you’ll find you can have a great time without needing a massive spring break budget!
It’s no secret that airline fares and hotel rates rise steeply the longer you wait before you book; this is even truer for a notoriously high-traffic time like spring break. Yet with the hectic start of a new semester getting in the way of talking with friends and finalizing plans, many students wait too long and pay an arm and a leg for their trip. Get on your game a few months ahead of time and reduce your overall spring break budget.
Many schools have organizations that will plan their own spring break trips, whether they involve the organization’s interest (an archaeology club trip to Rome, say) or whether it’s just a fun outing. These trips often come at a discount, especially when they are only open to the members of the sponsoring organization. See if you can find any enticing options like this to help you budget for spring break trip.
Get it all together
You can cut down your spring break budget a lot by booking as many parts of your trip as possible together. Get a flight paired with a hotel with a side serving of shuttle service to and from the airport, and you might save yourself a significant chunk of change.
Reduce incidental expenses
There are a lot of little costs that come with spring break that many students forget to include in their budget for spring break: meals, baggage fees, tips, and so on. Do your best to reduce these costs! Pack your things in fewer bags to avoid exorbitant baggage fees, or pay more for a hotel with a kitchenette and save on going out to eat for every meal. If you don’t include these expenses in your budget they can be an unwelcome surprise, but if you consider them you can curb your spring break spending by quite a bit.
Spring break is a time to explore and have fun, so don’t let a budget issue stop you. Follow the above tips to make sure you can do something great!
For international students who are working hard just to make ends meet as they go to college in the US, one large and constant financial burden is food. Whether you’re on a college meal plan or not, there are plenty of things you can do to get started saving money on your food budget.
- Make your own food
This may seem like a very obvious way to save money on food, but students on meal plans often forget that they can still save money by staying in and making their own food some of the time. Meal plans usually have limits to the amount of times you can use them – so lean on them too much and you’ll find yourself paying up for every meal at the end of the semester.
Instead, work on saving money on your food budget by making your own meals a couple times a week. Don’t have a kitchen in your small dorm? You can still throw together small breakfasts and lunches just with basic ingredients that can go in a mini-fridge.
- Save at the grocery store
Even once you’re making your own meals, you can still save money on food by cutting down on the costs of the food you’re buying. One of the best ways to ensure this is to buy food at wholesale grocery stores, but the cost of membership and the amount of food you have to buy at once will deter plenty of students who have little to no storage space. See if any grocery stores offer savings cards that get you better deals or regular coupon mailers to get you saving money.
- Snack more
You can cut down on the size of your meals – and thus the money you spend on them – by keeping some food in your belly throughout the day. Be careful with what you buy for snack food, though, as individual bags of chips, candy, and so on can be costly and unhealthy.
If you follow the above tips to save money on food not only will you have less stress about your financial burden, but you also may be eating healthier and feel better in general. Get started on your new eating plan today!
One of the most important decisions international students will face is what school they choose to pursue their degree program. This is one of the most critical decisions since it will financially determine the costs over the next few years. The school you choose can determine whether you are set up for financial success – or failure.
Think about it. If you are an international student planning to study in the US, there are over 2,000 universities that you can go to that accept international students. Your primary purpose is to enroll, get an education, and translate that into the opportunity to have a good job that will allow you to earn even more money (not to mention, a rewarding career!). College costs money, especially for international students, and the costs can vary greatly. You don’t just have to worry about tuition, but there is the cost of textbooks, housing, food, other educational fees, health insurance, electronics and more.
To help you out, here are 5 financial considerations when choosing a school:
- Evaluate the tuition costs
If you’ve done your research, then you know that US public colleges tend to be more affordable than private universities. Even though international students can expect to pay the out-of-state tuition at a public institution, this tends to still be more affordable than a private school. If you have a list of schools you plan to apply to, create a cost comparison chart and see what makes financial sense to you!
- Find out what financial assistance is available
No matter if you are looking at private or public university, financial aid for international students is limited. That being said, however, schools have different budgets allowing some schools to provide more financial assistance to international students than others. Check with your potential schools to see what financial aid is available. Ask questions like, do they offer need based aid? Is there an opportunity to get on-campus employment (and if so, what’s the likelihood of being able to do so?)? What is the likelihood of getting financial aid, even if it is not need base? If so, how much can be expected?
- Check to see what employment opportunities exist
Some colleges and universities have a budget that allows them to hire international students part time. US students have what’s called “work study” which allows federal funds to pay for student employees. While this is not available for international students, some schools allocate funds to allow their international students to work in compliance with their visa employment restrictions. Check with your school(s) to see whether this is an option, but keep in mind that the amount you’ll make will be small and only cover miscellaneous expenses.
- Consider the cost of living in the area
New York City, San Francisco, and Washington DC are some of the key cities international students dream of living. Did you also know that these are some of the most expensive cities to live in as well? New York City is ranked #1, San Francisco #2, and DC is ranked #7 as the most expensive cities to live in throughout the US, according to Kiplinger. If you are looking for a high quality education but don’t have a lot of funds to support your education, be sure to consider the cost of living of the town in which your school is located. This will also affect what you’ll be able to do off campus, because the less expensive the town, the farther your money will go.
- Compare your projected income to your total degree cost
If you have your heart set on a top, ivy-league school, do a cost-benefit analysis to see what the costs will be – and then see how it compares to your projected income According to Mark Kantrowitz, founder of FinAid.org, “if your total student loan debt is less than your annual income, you’ll be able to repay that debt in about 10 years.” While it may be difficult to forecast your projected income, it’s worth the research to ensure a good investment. Check out Salary.com to see what your projected income would be if you land a job in the US after graduation. It would also be advantageous to evaluate your projected income in your home country as you will still be responsible for paying back any money borrowed.
* Photo of girl in library courtesy of Shutterstock
International students studying in the United States may find themselves needing money from home for a variety of reasons. Students could need the funds to help with some sort of unexpected emergency, or wiring money from home could just be a regularly scheduled part of their family’s contribution to their education. Either way, there are a few main options that students should know.
Perhaps the most well-known method of wiring money from home is through retail money transfer companies like Western Union, RIA Financial Services, and Money Gram. While the exact logistics and fees differ from company to company, these retail money transfer companies let customers go in to one of their locations and transfer money from cash, a credit or debit card, or even a bank account. Delivery options are just as varied: the transferred money can be put directly into a specified bank account, wired to a certain city for pickup at a location with the recipient’s legal ID, or even delivered in cash to a residence. Multiple delivery speeds are also available, with the faster methods incurring higher fees. Also note that transferring money from a credit card tends to cost more, so try to use a bank account instead!
Another option for wiring money from home is to wire money directly through your banking company. This is often possible even when the sender and recipient have accounts with different companies, but check your company’s policy just to be sure. The advantage of a bank-to-bank transfer without a middleman is usually a lower cost and faster delivery time, while the obvious disadvantage is that you need to have an account with the institution involved (whereas with a retail transfer company you can wire cash with no account involved).
Recently, Paypal has also risen as another form of wiring money from home. Paypal transfers function much like bank-to-bank transfers, except they can only go between Paypal accounts and not to multiple financial institutions. Paypal transfers are almost instantaneous and are a great emerging option as more and more people get accounts.
Wiring money from home is a simple process, with plenty of options to make it work best for you!
* Money Transfer Picture From Shutterstock
Winter is here, and Christmas is fast approaching. Depending on where you’re from, you may be surprised to see how much the city that you are staying in changes during the winter months. Lights and decorations cover the houses of many neighborhoods and city streets, and friends and families buy one another gifts. If these customs are unfamiliar to you, or if you’re just unsure about what to get your newly found friends, then this international student’s guide to Christmas gift giving is for you.
The most important part of this international student’s guide to Christmas gift giving knowing that you aren’t obligated to buy gifts if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Some friends buy each other gifts and others don’t, but no one will judge you either way.
If you do decide to buy someone a present, you don’t have to spend a lot of money. Just get something thoughtful, possibly even homemade. Gift giving is hard though, so if you’re having difficulty thinking of something, here are some cheap ideas:
If you’re short on money, you can always bake something, like cookies or brownies, as a gift. Everyone likes sweet things!
Another inexpensive gift idea is to get creative and make something. From picture frames, to candles, there are all kinds of quick easy, and cheap gifts that can be made.
If your friend has a Christmas tree, then an ornament is something that your friend will use and keep with them for a long time to come.
If you’re completely out of ideas still, go for a gift card! Of all the gifts in this international student’s guide to Christmas gift giving, it’s definitely the most expensive. However, it’s a sure fire gift that the person will be sure to like. All you have to know what stores the person shops at!
* Gift picture courtesy of Shutterstock
There is a huge number of restaurants in the US, and you should really make time to try out some of what your town has to offer. Although eating out costs more than eating at home, there are several ways to save money. Here are a few tips for the person interested in going out to eat without going broke.
Research Online First
Most restaurants have their menus online. Being able to look at the prices of different restaurants allows you to compare different places without leaving the house. If your plan is going out to eat without going broke, then the first thing you need to do is find out what places fit into your budget and which places you should avoid.
Speaking of finding places within your budget, big cities usually have really good food trucks scattered across places with high foot traffic. The food choices are usually as affordable as they are diverse. You’ll find trucks with sandwiches, burgers, tacos, falafels, hot dogs, and many other quick and delicious food truck staples. Not only that, but depending on the city you live in you can usually fill up for less than $10!
Local restaurants will sometimes advertise special offers online and in print to motivate people to try their food for the first time. Whenever you see a deal like this you can use it as an excuse to try something new! Going out to eat without going broke sometimes means trying something new and unexpected. Even if you’ve never tried the type of food that the restaurant sells, you should use this as an excuse to expand your palate!
Restaurants make a lot of money off soda, beer, and liquor. If you’re looking to cut back on the price of your meal, then just order water. No matter where you go it will almost certainly be free. Most places offer free refills on soda, so it’s not terrible to order a coke, however, drinking liquor and beer is an easy way to double the price of your meal!
* Man with groceries picture courtesy of Shutterstock
The main goal is to avoid using your heater when you don’t need it. It sounds simple enough, but many times people unintentionally drive the bill up simply because they aren’t mindful enough. The best thing you can do is simply pay attention to your usage. Below you will find five tips to help you in your goal of saving money on your utility bills:
1. Turn down your thermostat when no one is home. This one is the most obvious and underutilized way to save money. When you leave for class during the day, turn your thermostat down. There’s no use keeping a house warm if no one is home!
2. Wear socks and sweaters around the house. If you wear comfortable and warm clothes around your house, you can reduce the thermostat even when you’re home. Just a couple degrees can mean a big difference in your monthly bill.
3. Have someone come out and check your house for insulation issues. Many states will send out someone from the utilities company to check out the house or apartment you are staying in for free. The person will make sure there are no obvious insulation or wiring issues and give you even more helpful tips on keeping you bill low.
4. Open the blinds during the day and close them at night. Letting the sun in during the day can increase the temperature of your house quite a bit, even when it’s cold outside. Just remember to close them at night though to help insulate against the cold!
5. Lower the temperature on your hot water heater. Having to heat your water contributes to the power bill quite a bit too. Make sure your hot water heater is set low enough that the faucet doesn’t burn you when its on its hottest. There is no reason to heat the water to a temperature that is so high you can’t use it and by turning it down it can ultimately help you in your quest of saving money on your utility bills!
* Icon of four power services thanks to Shutterstock