Student Loans. Demystified.

December 6th, 2014


As thousands of students around the world make their way back to college, many of them are experience first-hand the notion of being in debt.  According to the chart from Sallie Mae, a leading student loan lender, Student Borrowing accounted for 18% of financing for college.  In addition, another takeaway is that Student Income and Savings accounted for 12%.  This means that on average, students footed 30% of their college bill.

Source: Sallie Mae

Student loans can be a way to pay for higher education.  In other words, students are making an investment in their future.  However, the loan documents can be confusing and choosing the right loan is difficult.  This page is designed to help students and parents understand the basics of student loans and provide additional resources.

To get a student loan, you will need to start off by first filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).  It is imperative that you fill this out because the Federal Government provides grants and scholarships to those who qualify.  To fill out the FAFSA you will need a copy of your last year’s income tax return.  Here is a list of Federal Grants that you can apply for.

Grants and scholarships are essentially gifts to you to pay for your education and you do not have to pay them back.  Yet grants and scholarships do not always pay for the entire cost of attending college.  So that you’re prepared, I want to introduce you to the most common student loans.  They include:

  1. Perkins Loans

These loans are available to all students: part-time, full-time, graduate, and undergraduate.  Highlights of a Perkins loan include: low interest rate, deferred payments, and no prepayment penalty.  Depending on your status, undergraduates can get up to $20,000 over their undergraduate years while graduate students can get up to $40,000 of over their graduate years.

2. Stafford Loans

Like the Perkins Loans, these loans are available to all students.  Highlights of this loan include: flexible repayment options, fixed interest rate (6.8%), and the interest can be subsidized if you demonstrate need.   The loan limit ranges from $2000-$20000.

3. PLUS Loan

Lastly, the most popular form of a loan is the PLUS Loan.  These are unique because students can get large amounts depending on the cost of attendance.  Careful! This type of loan can only be taken out by parents, so they will need to pass a credit check.  Unlike the other loans, interest is higher at 8.5% and is not subsidized.  Also, repayment begins 60 days after the loan is made.

As you may have noticed, loans come in a variety of forms and can be a way to finance the cost of college.  The best way to get more information about college funding is to meet with a financial aid advisor at your college. They will be able to provide you information about scholarships available your college and other types of financing.  If you’re still seeking more information about federal funding, please visit these two sites:

  1. The Department of Education’s loan page (where you can view the Student Guide)
  2. The Federal Student Aid Direct Loans site






Resumes are like houses. Here’s why I believe it.

August 21st, 2014

When you first look for a job, you probably start looking on  Then, all of a sudden you realize, “Wait!  I don’t even have a resume!  What are those again?”  People usually think of a resume as a fancy piece of paper with your education, experience, and skills on it.  Yet, there is more to a resume; it is a document that speaks to a potential employer.  Just like you want your house to scream “Buy me! Buy me!” to potential buyers, you want your resume to scream “Hire me! Hire me!”  In fact in many ways, a resume is like building a house; you have to follow certain steps to make sure you are left with a beautiful end product.

Step 1: Design

Before every house is built, architects come together to brainstorm what the finished house will look like.  If you are a job seeker, you need to brainstorm as well, but in a different way.  Start off by asking yourself these questions:

  • What is my career goal?
  • Have I received any kind of special award?
  • Where have I gone to school?
  • What other jobs have I had?
  • What skills do I have?

The list is endless.  Employers love to see candidates who bring something new to the table.  Your focus at this stage is to brainstorm what content to include on your resume.

Step 2: Foundation

After the architects agree on a design, construction of the house begins with laying the foundation.  For a resume the most important part is your education.  Stating your education first shows a potential employer what your interests and how you can fit into the workplace.

Step 3: Walls

The next step in construction is building the walls.  Valuable experience such as internships, a long history of work experience, and volunteer activities can help build up your resume.  Haven’t found a part-time jobs or internship yet? No worries! Start by looking on!  If you have tons of extracurricular activities and can’t decide which to use, I suggest adding the top 5.  Remember that you need to provide a short description of specifically what you did and its importance.  You want to show the potential employer that you did something useful and beneficial.

Step 4: Roof

No house is complete without a roof.  To cap off your resume, polish it off by stating your skills.  Skills?  From your brainstorming session, add in the skills that you are good at.  Maybe you are a good artist?  In the skills section write that you possess a fantastic artistic ability.  Support this by including your portfolio and any awards you have won.

Step 5: Decorate!

Walls? Check. Roof? Check.  Floor? Check.  Time to paint!  The last step in building a resume is to make it look professional.  This means choosing the right font, placement of your different sections,  type of paper, etc.  At the top of your resume add your name is large, bold text.  You want your employers to associate your name with your face.  Then add your contact information below your name.  Here are a few words about email addresses:  Make sure it is appropriate.  Would you want the potential employer to remember you as the person who has great skills or the guy who uses Create a new one if you have to.  Then add your career goal, then education, then experience, then skills.   Use Times New Roman font as it is a clean and professional font.  If you need a visual representation, check this out:


Remember!  First impression mean a big deal in the job market, so when it comes time to introduce yourself the employer, greet them with a smile, give them a firm handshake, look them in the eye and tell them why you would make a great employee.


Good Luck!


Written for Flipgigs by Henry Spivey