Understanding the value of college

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College is a rewarding experience which can also cost a lot of cash. Understanding how to make the most value out of your time in school involves understanding the financial aid available, the importance of employment, and the ways to most appropriate regard your taxes.

The value of financial aid: Pell Grants and Stafford Loans

Financial aid is what makes higher education possible for most students. There is a wealth of information and privately funded programs which make tuition far more affordable. The government also helps out in the form of public Pell grants and other sponsored loans.

For those who meet financial necessity, the Pell Grant is a blessing. The highest award is $5,500 annually. The amount a student actually receives varies based on: cost of attendance (COA) for the particular school (COA is calculated using tuition and other living expenses,) expected family contribution (EFC), full or part time enrollment status, and length of program.

Not every student will meet the low-income requirements necessary to qualify for the Pell grant, however loans are a second option, although financial need remains a factor for qualifying for Direct Subsidized Loans, the amount of which is determined by your school. Subsidized loans don’t accrue interest until the student drops below half-time enrollment or after the grace-period following graduation.

The value of employment

A part time job can be crucial for those trying to stay out of debt. Although most part-time employment doesn’t resemble the careers for which you’re in school, there is a wealth of experience to be had in even the most entry-level of positions.

For gaining experience, work-study programs and internships are invaluable. Work-study positions are typically close to campus for the vehicular-challenged. Although internships are famous for being paid positions, some still offer stipend and parlay into more lucrative potential for future employment.

The value of filing taxes

Filing taxes correctly is a skill that should be sharpened while in school. Allocating proper credits and deductions will ensure the largest return possible.

Filing Methods

The computer has changed the financial landscape and several tax companies as well as the IRS offer free or inexpensive methods for submitting tax returns online. The copy of your filed return is retained as a .PDF file which makes filling out the FAFSA for the following year easier. However, ensure that the file remains secure, as should all digital archiving of private data, especially those which are related to your finances.

Pen and paper, there is always the old-fashioned way. Pen, paper, and a calculator―a nice date with your receipts and tax codes. The best option for old souls or those careless with sharing information, W-2 and tax returns must be postmarked by the appropriate date.

For the tech-gurus, new options are being developed for filing via your hone. The app store already hosts several apps which feature various levels of filing. Some of the fancier apps can take a captured image of your W-2 and transmit it to the forms online.

Credits and deductions

The main difference between education credits and deductions involves the ways it reduces your tax bill. Credits reduce the amount of taxes owed where deductions reduce the income which is actually reported.

The American Opportunity Tax Credit is a temporary tax credit which runs until 2012. Worth up to $2,500, the income cap is placed at $80,000 for individuals ($160,000 for joint filers) and can be used by parents of dependent children. The amount is based on the first $2,000 and supplemented by 25% of the next $2,000 spent on qualified tuition and related materials.

The Lifetime Learning Credit is for those who gross less than $48,000 annually ($96,000 for joint filers) and can be factored into a return for up to $2,000. The amount is derived from the first $10,000 in qualified expenses.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction can subtract up to $4,000 from taxable income and can be taken in lieu of the education credits listed above. The deduction is applicable for single filers who earn less than $80,000 and married filers who earn less than a combined $160,000. Parents of dependent students who meet the requirements can file.

Author Bio: Katei Cranford is a recent UNCG grad aimed at helping students understand the financial side of college life, from highlighting free tax prep programs to funding parties (and everything in between.)

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How to Coax Your Girl Into Anal Sex

By Eric J. Leech, author of Love, Lust, and Relationships and writer for DatingWebsites.org

Miyoko Fujimori is a former house dancer who became an international feature entertainer in 1997. After pioneering the hit talk show, Night Calls 411, for Playboy TV, she had a slew of opened doors for television and film roles. Today, she has taken on one of her favorite roles as a suburban soccer mom, strip tease coach, and anal sex advocate.

“Sex is a huge part of a relationship, and sometimes it is the only way to communicate your feelings and needs, and have them met,” says Miyoko. However, what if one of your needs is to enjoy anal play, or at the very least a little more experimentation with your girl?

“You would think the majority of guys buy penis pumps, and women, small, nondescript vibrators,” says Miyoko. “But it is the more obscure toys that women are drawn to,” such as, the anal variety. You would never guess where the majority of these toys are sold? They are selling like crazy on the ‘late night’ home shopping networks in the middle America’s bible belt. Bible thumping moms use home shopping to buy everything else in their home, “So, why not a big 13-inch dong they can shove up their butt,” exclaims Miyoko. “It’s because nobody will ever know.”

However, what if your girl does not seem so easily coaxed into a 13-inch butt dong, or even your 7-inch one, for that matter?

Miyoko strongly believes that most every woman can be persuaded through the ‘back door’ to achieve some of the best sex of her life. “This is the number one thing that men ask advice on,” says Miyoko. “But, it is sadly an area that is highly unrepresented.”

How to Get Your Girl to Try Anal?

Obviously, it is the more experienced women (having been in several long-term relationships), who will be the easiest to coax. “They realize that pleasure has to do with all parts of their body, and they are willing to explore that,” says Miyoko. “When it comes to sex, women are actually very basic—There are very few women I know who would be opposed to trying something new.”

The first rule is to ask, and do it honestly. Most guys go into this venture expecting, no, for an answer. However, if you ask with confidence, and remind her that she may get just as much enjoyment out of the experience, she may be hesitant at first, but will probably agree to a trial run. Especially, if you remember not to push too hard, and let her get used to the idea first. Now that I’ve gotten your hopes up, here is a quick list of tips to ensure that your trial run does not end in frustration, bad feelings, and a bright red “X” hashed across her backside for the remainder of your relationship.

‘Back door’ Tips from Miyoko

  • “Be very nurturing and patient.” Don’t allow yourself to get impatient or frustrated, or she will too. Once this happens, the mood will be burnt, and you’ll be on your way to the bathroom with a nudy magazine tucked under your arm.
  • “Start by massaging the area to allow it to relax.” This is very important to ensure that any pain involved will be minimal.
  • Invite her to play with herself for a bit. Sometimes the best way to understand the pleasure derived from anal play, is to have her do a little experimentation for herself.
  • “Lube is essential and spit is not going to cut it.” Purchase the good stuff (Maximus, Wet Platinum, etc.). This is not one of those moments where you want to be a cheapskate.
  • “Don’t force it, if it doesn’t work out, move onto something else.”
  • “Allow her to be in total control of the movement.” You may be excited to get rocking, but you will fare much better if you begin with no motion at all.
  • “Don’t pull out once you’re in, because it will make her feel unsexy, like she’s taking a dump.”
  • Most importantly, please follow these tips, “Because if you do it, and she hates it—You’re never going back!”


Best Sites to Find College Text Books

Paying for college can be a nightmare. Overinflated prices, dormitory rentals or apartments off campus, a drop in the amount of work for students… that is the reality of university that we are often confronted with when the time comes to apply. What a bleak image it is, too.

While there are scholarships and grants to help pay for the tuition, there isn’t always enough left over for one of the most important items on the list: textbooks. Extremely expensive, books can costs hundreds of dollars a piece. In rare instances, those figures can actually move into the thousands. It is a lot to pay for something you will use for a semester or two and then never open again.

But, as we all know, they are completely necessary. So how can you cut the cost of these books without getting something that is falling apart and covered in unspecified stains? Just check out these five excellent suggestions for getting textbooks for less.


This is the obvious first place to look. They have an entire section dedicated to buying new and used textbooks, as well as Kindle editions that are good alternatives for more high priced hardbacks. Used books can cut the price down significantly, sometimes as much as 75% or more. If you are a Prime member, you can also get free shipping, and of course they have the super saver on items of more than $25.


While they aren’t always the best, Buy.com has some decent discounts on textbooks, usually in the $10 – $30 off range. Their shipping prices are good, and they have plenty of more hard-to-find titles. Plus, there is a point system that can save you additional money if you have a large order to place, or you are a frequent shopper.


A sister site of eBay, Half.com has incredible prices on many textbooks. They have deals that put the prices down as low as 95% off, with very cheap (or free) shipping. Of course, this doesn’t mean that all of their prices will be this low. It is usually part of a promotion or clearance. But even their other deals are much better than you might expect.


If you want to compare before you shop – which is always a good idea – you should check out CheapBooks. They gather a list of the lowest prices from various sellers like the ones above, and give you a rundown. They also buy back textbooks for resell, so you can go through them next semester and just trade in for credits to use on the next class’s textbooks.


If you don’t want to buy, you can always rent. Chegg has a system that lets you rent your textbooks, and you can get them fast with their quick shipping policy. You can also buy and sell reading and class notes, get homework help and find special deals just for students.


It is completely possible to get textbooks for cheap, and occasionally for a small fee. All you have to do is know where to look. So check out the sites above, and start saving money. You will need that cash for Top Ramen later.

Kate S. is a college student who blogs online about educational resources.

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Best Smartphone Data Plan for College Students

Being a Droid user I hate to admit it, but the king of smartphones is undoubtedly the Iphone. A week after its release the Iphone 4s was in the hands of 4 million people. However, with Apple’s newest Iphone comes the addition of yet another cell phone provider, Sprint, leaving us to wonder: Which cell phone provider is best for you, the college student? I’ll answer our question with another, what do we use our smartphone for?

Smartphone Services

Do you use it for…

Texting? Today I send far more texts then I make phone calls. But it’s not just me. I was sitting in my favorite coffee shop yesterday and overheard one friend explaining her breakup story to another. The girls entire breakup happened via text message – I know this because she read and analyzed the entire text exchange, between her and Ex-beau, with her friend. When relationships are ending via text, you know it’s a popular, if not essential, form of communication. Consider this when you’re picking a service plan.

Browsing? I’ve signed up for just as many classes on my smartphone as I have on my computer. After all, with impacted classes you need to be on your game. I may not always have my computer, but I always have my smartphone. In fact, the NY Times last year released an article discussing Americans use of data over calls. Every time you open your browser, change you’re status on Facebook, use Google Maps, check you’re emails, watch a Youtube video, or listen to Pandora, you are using data, and a lot of it. If you get a smartphone, you’ll need a dataplan.

What you don’t use it for…

Phone Calls, if the last two bullet points didn’t tip you off, then I’ll be more clear: talk time is dropping. Think about how many texts you send a day as compared to phone calls you make. Personally I send around 15-40 texts a day as apposed to 2-7 phone calls. The moral of this story is you don’t need that many minutes.

Analysis of Cell Plans

The side-by-side below indicates my top cell phone plan picks from each of the providers, based on your needs as college student. All the hidden fees and additional benefits are listed below. However, if you’re not bound to a particular provider then I recommend Sprint as the biggest bang for your buck. Though AT&T’s ($40 per month) and Verizon’s ($45 per month) baselines fees are below Sprints ($70 per month), those providers don’t include unlimited text and data like Sprint does. If you want unlimited text and data, (which you do), AT&T costs an additional $50 per month while Verizon costs an additional $65 per month. For a college student with limited funds, Sprint is the way to go.

This guest post is by Kyle Espinola, a senior at UCSB and Intern at FindTheBest. The site helps you find the best of anything from ski resorts to credit cards.

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Ten Amazing Open Courseware Resources

One of the enduring beauties of the internet is the anarchist philosophy that shaped it in the early days. For many years and to a lesser degree still today, you can find things free on the internet that would cost you money in a more traditional marketplace. This open access concept has been picked up by a number of universities and other storehouses of knowledge, resulting in many websites that provide some remarkably extensive resources. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology puts the course material for every course taught at the university online. Other schools have followed suit to varying degrees.

The course material from MIT or any other top tier university is not necessarily going to be easily learned once you open a file. For many of these courses you need certain academic background or the material won’t make much sense. You don’t get to ask questions of a lecture delivered in a MP3 file. You won’t receive credit for going through this course material, but you don’t have to enroll either. For students who are stalled in their own course material and who need another perspective, the websites listed below might be a welcome – and free – resource. To find these sites, go to the home page for each university and search for “open courseware.”

  1. The Open Courseware Consortium is an organization that has catalogued open courseware courses from sources around the globe. They also have a comprehensive list of open courseware websites offered by universities on every continent.

  2. Johns Hopkins University School of Public Health provides content from the school’s most popular courses. There are twenty topic areas, each of which has material for multiple classes. There are courses on fairly focused topics, but there are also introductory courses in such fields as demographics, epidemiology, and biostatistics.

  3. University of Notre Dame offers courses from a wide variety of departments and academic disciplines. There are selected courses in history, political science, sociology, physics, mathematics, civil engineering, and several others.

  4. UC Berkeley has integrated 170 courses taken from many different departments into a webcast format. Most have some video or graphics support for the lectures; the format of choice is Apples ubiquitous iPod software. You can watch any of the lectures if you have the software on your computer by downloading from Berkeley’s iTunesU.

  5. MIT was the impetus for many of the open courseware projects instituted by other universities. Material from 2,000 courses is available on their website. The courses include the physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering programs that the school is known for as well as courses from the humanities, health sciences, and many other areas. Depending on the course you may find lecture notes, multimedia content, online textbooks, exams and solutions, or some combination of these elements.

  6. Carnegie Mellon has designed their open courseware project around a limited number of departments including biology, chemistry, French, statistics, and physics. There is also a course in media programming.

  7. University of Michigan has launched its open courseware project with selected classes from eleven academic areas including architecture and urban planning; literature, science and the arts; education; engineering; public policy; social work; and five others. There are not a large number of courses posted yet but more are added on a frequent basis.

  8. Stanford has created Stanford Engineering Everywhere (SEE) which offers extensive material for a limited number of classes from the engineering department. Materials include complete video lectures, handouts, assignments, exams, and transcripts. The available material includes an Introduction to Computer Science.

  9. UC Irvine has developed an open courseware program that offers lectures and materials from a variety of courses. Participating departments include Social Science, Engineering, Humanities, Health Sciences, Biological Sciences, and Arts. Some of the lectures are available in video.

  10. Yale has a program called Open Yale Courses with an array of courses from twenty academic departments. Some departments have just a single course in audio/video format, while others offer several. Choices range from music to engineering to Spanish and Portuguese.

About the author: Bob Hartzell has been writing about education for five years on a variety of websites. Most of his recent blog submissions have been about online graduate programs and their value in career enhancement, in recognition of the fact that the job market has gone completely haywire in the last decade. For those short on time or with limited standardized testing consider a NO GMAT Mba program.

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