College

Beating a Student Loan Lender at Their Own Game

It’s rare to hear stories about college students taking out private student loans from a lender like Sallie Mae and then beating them in court after being hounded and sued for money after defaulting on the loans. I was able to lock-in low interest rates on the private student loans I took out, but Stefanie Gray wasn’t able to get a cosigner on her loans (both her parents passed away when she was younger) and was given “credit card-like interest rates.” That was the beginning of Gray’s troubles, but this story has a happy ending.

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In College and in Search of Free Food

The only place that has more free food than Costco is college. I’m not kidding—if you know where to look, you can get at least one meal a day at no cost. Since I’m now on a serious, serious budget, I’m taking full advantage of this phenomenon and mooching as much as possible.

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Renting in a Megacity Is a New Lifestyle Phase

Now that millions of more Americans routinely attend college, we’ve realized we can recreate some of the best parts of it and keep them going indefinitely. Why not?

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On My Own: Doing a Personal Finance 180

I’m standing in Trader Joe’s, contemplating a container of chicken broth. It’s $1.99. I put it back. After I’ve checked out, I tell my roommates, who are grocery shopping with me, that I’m going to run next door to Foods 4 Less. I’ve actually never shopped there before, but I suspect its chicken broth is cheaper—and I’m right, It’s only $1.68.

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Ranking the Ivies by the Only Measure That Matters: Caprice

Yale and Harvard and Princeton, oh my! They have so much money, each of the Ivy League schools. How much money? Enough to sink a ship, or to launch one. And, according to the WSJ, some of them handle that money better than others.

In the fiscal year that ended June 30, Yale University earned a return of 20.2% on its endowment, easily topping the 15.4% gain reported by Harvard University. Yale’s performance was the best among the eight Ivy League schools, while Harvard’s was the worst. The rout was the fourth victory in a row over Harvard for David Swensen, who manages Yale’s $23.9 billion endowment, and his eighth in the past decade, according to data compiled by Charles A. Skorina & Co., a university-endowment recruiting firm. Yale now has nearly twice the number of investment wins over the past three decades as its Massachusetts rival, though Harvard’s endowment remains the largest among U.S. universities, at $36.4 billion.

Good job, bulldogs! But how do the Ivies stand in the popular imagination? Forget how rich they are; how warmly do we feel toward them? What’s their Q rating? If we can arbitrarily and capriciously rank New England states, surely we can do the same for the Elite Eight New England/Mid-Atlantic universities, right? Right!

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On My Own: Figuring Out How to Pay for College After My Parents Cut Me Off

I’m a rising sophomore at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which has an approximate yearly price tag of around $24,800. That, along with its good reputation, was why I decided to attend Cal Poly instead of an exotic, $60K-a-year-with-no-aid-package East Coast private school I had envisioned for myself since sixth grade.

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To Pay Back Loans Faster, Go West, Young Man

Nearly three-quarters of college students borrow funds to pay for school these days and, as we know, it is not always easy — or possible — to pay those loans back. Well, it turns out one thing you might be able to do to help yourself succeed is move. Specifically, move west.

According to schools.com, four of the top five states for student loan repayment are on the Pacific side of things: Utah, Wyoming, Washington, and Nevada. (The fifth is Virginia so the Atlantic gets a brief nod.) California and Colorado also place in the top 10. But stop short of Cali: San Francisco is a luxury ghost town these days. (“On average, 39 percent of condos built since 2000 have absentee owners, and for newer buildings like One Rincon Hill, that number is 50 percent or above.”) Also there’s no water.

Why is the West such fertile ground for loan repayment? Low unemployment rates, low cost-of-living, and high incomes boost Utah and Wyoming. Washington State, Wyoming, and Nevada make things easier on residents by not charging income tax. Wait, what?

FYI, there are only seven states that don’t charge income tax: Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming.  I can understand the small and the oil-rich not needing to profit off individuals but how on earth do huge states with significant populations of poors and olds like Texas and Florida get away with that? Texas makes up the difference via property taxes, “some of the highest in the nation.” New Jersey and New Hampshire are also expensive places to own property. And Florida … is there anything good to say about Florida?

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Link Roundup: Boss Regrets Niceness; LinkedIn Rankings; Good Giving

+ Uh-oh. I hope Mike doesn’t read this one. “Why I Regret Being a Nice Boss,” by a lady who was not a monster to her employees, and whose employees took advantage of her until she adapted accordingly.

Not all businesses require that level of micromanagement. But establishing which rules are non-negotiable, and making sure that everyone understands them with crystalline clarity, is a matter of fairness. It’s the thing I wish I could go back and do over—not because it would have saved my business, but because everyone, myself included, would have been so much happier. I allowed my coffee shop to become characterized by permissiveness. Some took advantage of this permissiveness by making up excuses for being late, or by trying to do as little work as possible. Those who didn’t take advantage became resentful of the other employees, and of me. It brought out the worst in everyone.

+ Let’s all go back in time and choose our colleges based on LinkedIn’s ideas of which ones will get us desirable jobs!

+ It’s “Pink”-tober, which means it’s time to feel guilty about forgetting to donate to breast cancer charities. If you want to give, though, give wisely. Here are some alternatives to Komen where your money might actually do some good.

+ Two more favorite rich people, because I can’t believe I forgot: Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy and Lord Peter Wimsey. Posh dudes who fall for brainy, less well-off women are the best.

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‘Submissive Students Do Not Make Good Computer Scientists’

By making these students submit to their teachers’ absolute authority, we are training them to be service workers, not CEOs.

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“When Leon dies, Bard will perhaps die as well”

In this Gawker polemic against Bard college, an expensive liberal arts school author Leah Finnegan attended for two years before transferring to a public university in the South, Finnegan argues that the fates of eccentric, longstanding college president Leon Botstein and the college itself are linked: “When Leon dies, Bard will perhaps die as well.” In other words, she suggests that Bard, like so many non-profits, suffers from Founder’s Syndrome.

Founder’s Syndrome occurs when a single individual or a small group of individuals bring an organization through tough times (a start-up, a growth spurt, a financial collapse, etc.). Often these sorts of situations require a strong passionate personality – someone who can make fast decisions and motivate people to action.Once those rough times are over, however, the decision-making needs of the organization change, requiring mechanisms for shared responsibility and authority. It is when those decision-making mechanisms don’t change, regardless of growth and changes on the program side, that Founder’s Syndrome becomes an issue. We see this most frequently with organizations that have grown from a mom-and-pop operation to a $12 million community powerhouse, while decisions are still made as if the founders are gathered around someone’s living room, desperately trying to hold things together.

Founder’s Syndrome isn’t necessarily about the actual founder of an organization. The central figure could be the person who took over from the founder. It could be someone who took over in a time of crisis, and led the organization to clear waters. Or it could just be someone who has been at the helm forever. The “founder” could be the CEO. Or it could be a board member, or a handful of board members who have either been there since the beginning or have ridden the organization through tough times.

But the main symptom of Founder’s Syndrome is that decisions are not made collectively. Most decisions are simply made by the “founder.” All other parties merely rubber stamp what the founder suggests. There is generally strong resistance to any change in that decision-making, where the Founder might lose his/her total control of the organization. Boards of these organizations usually don’t govern, but instead “approve” what the founder suggests. Planning isn’t done collectively, but by the founder. And plans / ideas that do NOT come from the founder usually don’t go very far.

Partly because Leon “hates money,” Finnegan argues, Leon’s school, despite tuition hikes, is hanging on by a thread. 

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“If You’ve Got Some Sugar For Me, Sugar Daddy, Bring It Home”

Is it more fun to work at the Atlantic and report stories like this one – about how many “sugar daddies” are putting their “sugar babies” through college – or to work here and shake our heads at the Atlantic?

In 2013, Seeking Arrangement announced that approximately 44 percent of its 2.3 million “babies” are in college. This is a trend that the website encourages—if babies register with a .edu email account, they receive a free premium membership(something the guys have to shell out as much as $1,200 for). Seeking Arrangement creates the illusion that the sexual element of these relationships isn’t forced, but organic. No one associated with the website wants to admit that what it’s doing is facilitating sex-for-money exchanges. The large number of college women on the site helps preserve this illusion, for both the daddies and the babies.

“Dating a college woman fulfills these guys’ wildest dreams. They want someone highly educated who is eager to learn,” said Parinda Wanitwat, director of the documentary Daddies Date Babies, which profiles several college sugar babies living in New York City.

In related news, “women are most attracted to men in a similar age bracket to them. On the other side of the spectrum are men, who pointedly prefer women in their 20s, even when they are quite old themselves.”

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