Congratulations, Cyclones! Fall 2018 semester is officially in the books, and it’s time to breathe in a sign of relief –winter break is here. Whether you’re planning to spend your break by catching up with friends, or wearing pajamas until your mom tells you to go change, we don’t judge. However, we do have some suggestions that will ensure you start the New Year off on the right (financial) foot.

1) Check your Ubill and financial aid award
Applying for financial aid and paying your Ubill is quite the cyclical process. Every semester, your bill is due August 20th, and January 20th. We don’t mean to act like the Grinch or Ebenezer Scrooge, but if you don’t complete the proper financial aid steps, your bill will be susceptible to late fees. By the end of this month, you’ll be able to view the charges on your Ubill for tuition, fees, housing and meal plans. Many students who are registered for classes will most likely see Spring 2019 tuition charges already assessed on their account. We recommend taking a look at your Fall Ubill to use as a guideline for what you’ll be charged in the Spring. As long as your ducks are in a row, your financial aid will start applying to your Ubill starting the night of January 8th! You may contact our main financial aid office at 515-294-2223, or financialaid@iastate.edu for your financial aid questions. Refunds and Ubill questions should be directed to 515-294-7388 or ubill@iastate.edu. Refunds typically take 2-3 business days to get direct deposited once your Ubill is paid.

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2) Apply for scholarships
Have you heard about OneApp? Just like it says in the name –it’s just ONE application! While the 2019-20 FAFSA was due on December 1st for priority aid consideration, you still have time to get yours on file for next year. Did we mention the financial aid process was cyclical? The OneApp is available for current students until March 1st but we recommend that you file this before your college aid deadline. By completing the simple application, you’ll automatically get considered for hundreds of scholarships offered through our office and your college or department. Winter break is a great time to submit scholarship essays and you can do them from the comfort of your mom's couch in your PJs! Look at it this way, if you spend 4 hours applying for scholarships and you get awarded $500-you just made $125/hour! 

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3) Find an on campus job
Students who work while in school tend to have higher GPAs than those who don’t, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Not only are you earning extra income, but you’re learning valuable time management skills and building your resume. A lot of students, especially freshmen in their first semester, get the hang of the classwork and study commitments before they take on a part time job, so the spring is a great time to find the perfect campus job. If you have work study on your financial aid award, put it to good use! Having the eligibility means that your employer doesn’t have to pay 100% of your wages and they get to pay you partly from the work study funds. This sounds confusing but let your employer take care of the rest -it’s just like working any other job, rest assured. Find all available opportunities by checking out the online Student Job Board on your Accessplus Account and learn more about the work study program here

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4) Review your loan amounts
Every semester, or at the beginning of every year, students have the option to decline or reduce their federal loans. In addition to planning out how you’re going to pay for your Spring bill, we want to make sure that you’re not borrowing more than what you need. The federal student loans you accept on Accessplus have low, fixed interest rates, so always utilize those before borrowing a private loan from a bank, like Wells Fargo or Sallie Mae. Students have access to their loan history through the Financial Aid tab on Accessplus (it's called Loan Pmt Estimate). There you will find your total indebtedness (from all schools attended), your estimated student loan payments, and your loan servicers. If you're stuck having to borrow more loans than you'd like this year, consider working full time in the summer to save up some money for next year, and trying to apply for more scholarships. Basically, points 2 and 3 have a direct correlation to your student loan debt! Work more and earn scholarships = less debt. It's science. Trust us, you do not want to borrow student loans and put your plan for repayment on the back burner. Be proactive about your debt now by making small payments towards the interest. 

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5) Schedule a one on one appointment
We understand to do lists can be anxiety enducing and are not for everyone! We are here to help along the way. Our staff in the Student Loan Education Office can assist you one on one with navigating any of the aforementioned material. We specialize in assisting students with understanding their student loan debt, budgeting while in school, and making the most of their tuition dollars. You can request a meeting through ISUappointments and yes, we are open during break! As an added bonus, students who come in and meet with us are automatically entered into our Live Like a Student award drawing. One freshmen, sophomore, junior, senior, and graduate student gets selected every semester and the award totals $2,500. The best part? It goes towards your student loan debt! Let us help you take the fear out of your finances as we start a new semester.

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Wishing a restful and enjoyable break to all!