Staffords, PINs, and Selecting Colleges

In this edition...
  • Explanation of the Stafford Loans
  • Getting the All Powerful PIN
  • Tips on selecting colleges
Stafford Loans

Stafford Loans are the most common form of college financial aid. If you complete the FAFSA (acts as the Stafford Loan application), your student is virtually guaranteed to receive one of the two types of Stafford Loans. Dependent students can borrow the following under the Stafford program...
  • Freshmen: $5,500
  • Sophomores: $6,500
  • Juniors: $7,500
  • Seniors: $7,500
Independent students can borrow the following under the Stafford program...
  • Freshmen: $9,500
  • Sophomores: $10,500
  • Juniors: $11,500
  • Seniors: $11,500
Stafford loans are divided into two types: subsidized and unsubsidized. The Department of Education determines which of these loans you will receive based upon the information on your FAFSA.

Subsidized Staffords are no interest and no payments while your student is in college. Interest rates on subsidized Staffords are based upon the year the money is disbursed as follows:
  • July 1st 2008: 6.0%
  • July 1st 2009: 5.6%
  • July 1st 2010: 4.5%
  • July 1st 2011: 3.4%
Unsubsidized Staffords are no payments while your student is in college, but interest accumulates. The current interest rate for the unsubsidized Stafford is 6.8%.

Both Stafford loans require repayment 6 months after graduation, after leaving school, or after dropping below half-time student status.

The All-Powerful PIN

Filing your FAFSA online is the only way we at CFS would recommend it be done. In order to sign your FAFSA electronically, both the student and one of the parent's need to have a FAFSA PIN (personal identification number). Check out the video below for more information.

You can file for a FAFSA PIN at this website, The PIN Website.

College Selection Help

CFS always recommends applying to 6 to 10 colleges. Here is some more great advice on how to select colleges.

Student Debt Consolidation Loans - Better Manage Your Debt Payments

Getting student debt consolidation loans can perhaps be the most logical thing for a student to do, especially if he is one who experiences hard time in the management of his multiple loans. One thing is for sure, student loan debt consolidation programs actually offer one of the best financial solutions to college loan management.

A prospective student borrower who obtains student debt consolidation loans will actually see all his old debts vanish and in their place is a new loan, which has a single payment to be met every month. It is most likely that the rate of interest that this student loan consolidations program is much lower than the previous loans. This can only mean lesser amount in payment for the borrower every month.

When you have decided that it is time to apply for a student loan refinancing program, you only need to go to an online loan company; this is the easiest that you can do as you can apply without leaving your room. How convenient can that be?

There are a lot of online companies as well as downtown loan offices that are only too willing to assist borrowers in getting student debt consolidation loans. Surely in the competitive world of debt merging and refinancing, most of these companies offer their best college loan consolidation programs to entice prospective borrowers into employing their services.
Image credit: Millenium Bridge by Marcia_Salviato

The High School Senior Christmas shopping list

Your student doesn’t want to have money in their name in January when you file their financial aid forms. Students do not have an asset protection allowance. Every dollar they have in their name is going to increase their expected family contribution.

Therefore buy what they need for college in the fall for their Christmas presents, and use their money doing it.

Here is their Holiday shopping list.

The Gizmo’s and Gadget’s

The Computer (let’s start with the really fun one): if your student does not yet have a computer of their own, or the one they do have is outdated; you should certainly consider this as the “A” #1 gift. Consider a multimedia computer with a TV tuner card. You can kill a lot of birds with one stone here. Not only will a multimedia machine act as their computer, but it will also be their TV, their DVD player, their TV recorder, and their stereo. It is truly the Jack of all appliances. And it makes for a great entertainment system for the very few hours they will not spend studying.

A laptop is preferred. There isn't much room in a dorm room, so you don't want to take up precious space with a big desktop unit. Besides, they'll want to be able to take the computer to the library, or class, or home.

If you don’t want to send your student out the door with one do it all machine like above, here are the minimum requirements for a student computer (considering Microsoft Vista is now standard):

v Processor: AMD Turion, Intel Core Duo (minimum 1ghz speed)

v Memory: at least 1GB (I would recommend 2GB or even 4GB; more memory is often the single most important factor to computer performance)

v Hard Drive: at least 100GB

v Disk Drive: DVD+RW

v Wireless and wired networking equipped

v Operating system: Windows Vista Home or Apple MAC OS X (ten)

v Software: Microsoft Office 2007 Home & Student edition

Standard computers would include:

v Dell Studio S1535 (I am on my second Dell laptop and love their customer service)

v HP dv4 (Two of our desktop machines are HP and we’ve had great success with them)

v Apple MacBook

More capable multimedia machines would include:

v Apple MacBook Pro

v Dell XPS

v Alienware Area 51m17x (the gold standard of super horsepower gaming machines)

v HP Pavillion dv7

v Acer Aspire 8920

I’d recommend checking out for reviews and information on computer comparisons.

The Printer: although many schools and professors are now allowing students to submit papers in electronic format, this is far from being the norm. So, your student is going to need someway to print off that earth-shattering report on Machiavelli. Printers are dirt cheap today compared to what you got yesterday. You can often pick up a good printer/scanner/copier for less than $150 or even $100

Surge protector: protect the investment you just made.

Phone: I grew up in a telephone family -- literally. My family has been in the telephone business since before there was copper wire; so what I am about to say would have been heresy at my family’s Thanksgiving dinner a few years ago. Go get your student a prepaid wireless phone. Don't bother with the hard wired phones anymore. Phones can double as MP3 players as well.

A digital voice recorder for class lectures: skip the old tape recorder -- your student will likely download the recording to their computer anyway. If you bought a good phone, the phone may double for a voice recorder as well.

Digital camera: they’ll want to preserve the rest of their high school year and college. has excellent reviews of digital cameras. You can get one heck of a good camera for little money these days.

Other appliances:

If you didn’t go the multimedia computer route, then your student is going to want these as well --

· TV – small LCD TV’s are very reasonable now

· DVD player

· Portable Stereo or iPod dock

v Coffee Maker – they can’t be a Starbucks all the time

v Microwave – if you check out, you’ll find quite a few small microwaves for under $100

v Refrigerator – you can get several dorm-sized refrigerators for under $100 as well

v Art – Most college art isn’t much more than posters on the wall

For around the dorm room

v Kitchen type tools: bowl, cup, glasses, can/bottle opener, etc.

v Desk Lamp

v Alarm clock (one with a really loud and annoying alarm -- they'll need it)

v Bulletin board and dry-erase calendar board

v A small toolkit (I do not suggest the Craftsman, rolling tool chest; a small bag will do)

v Bed linens & Bedding