How to Find More Cash for School – 9 Financial Aid Options

As an undergrad, I financed my way through college with grants and student loans – but there was a time when I didn’t have enough money for basic living expenses.

Sure, I had a place to live on campus, but I didn’t have much money for anything else.

So if you ever find yourself worried about financing your education (like I have), here are some ways to cover your college tab:

Federal Pell Grants
The Federal Pell Grants are financed by our federal government – and typically get awarded only to undergrads. These don’t ever need to be repaid. It’s essentially free money to attend class. The maximum amount of money you may get is $4,731 (through June 30, 2009).

Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (SEOG)
The SEOG grants are paid to you to help cover your financial needs. These can be awarded to both part-time and full-time students. Grants range between $100 and $4,00 per year (depending on need).

Stafford Loans
Stafford loans need to be paid back, but the interest is subsidized while you’re in school And you don’t need to start paying it back until 6-months after you graduate.

Federal Perkins Loans
The Perkins loans are available for both undergrads and graduate students. Interest rates on these loans is about 5% right now (03/08). Undergrads can get up to $4,000 per year, and graduate students can get $6,000 per year.

College Scholarships
There are tons of free college scholarships out there – it’s just a matter of taking the time to apply. Some people think that you have to have a perfect G.P.A. to qualify, but that’s not the case. There are thousands of scholarships based on other factors; including: athletics, community service, arts, etc.

Plus Loans
You may not know this, but you can get a loan to cover the cost of your education through your parents. Your parents are allowed to borrow the amount of money you need to cover the cost of your education (minus any other financial aid you receive).

Veterans Administration
You don’t have to be a military veteran to qualify for a financial aid. If you’re mother or father served in the military, you might qualify to get some financial help for school.

Company Assistance Programs
I work for a company that is paying my way through graduate school. And I’m not alone – there are many corporations that will pay for schooling and training of its employees. Most of the time you need to work fulltime, which can be a strain on study time – but it relieves the stress of paying the semester bill.

Social Security
I know you probably think social security is only given to older people, but that’s not the case. Social security payments are available people up to age 18 for unmarried students with a deceased parent or a parent who is disabled or drawing social security benefits.

Collaborate on School Projects with Stixy.com

Alright, so another online collaboration website started up.

Yep, another one.

This one is called Stixy.

Stixy.com is an online bulletin board that allows you to post your notes, word docs, and photos all on one page.

You can do the same things with iGoogle, but Stixy makes it look a heck of a lot nicer. And you can also easily share everything with your friends or other classmates (in case you’re working on a school project).

Heres how it looks . . .

The website is still in beta (and acting a bit buggy), but overall it’s a pretty nice website for keeping track of your various class assignments and “to do” lists. I still prefer iGoogle for this type of stuff, but Stixy.com does have a much nicer interface. Check out Stixy when you get a moment.

UC Berkeley Offers Free Classes Online

We just found out that UC Berkeley launched webcasts of hundreds of class lectures.

Yep, that means you can watch video courses in a variety of different subjects. Some of their free online classes include: astronomy, biology, physics, psychology, quantum mechanics, and philosophy. Check out Berkeleys full online webcast library when you get a chance.

Where to Find Online Tutors

Summer is a great opportunity to get some extra tutoring in subjects that you might need a little help in.

Here are a variety of places you can visit online to get tutoring without leaving your computer:

  • Smart Thinking
    Topics: Accounting, Economics, Finance, Medical Assisting, Neuroscience, Nursing, Medical Surgery, Pharmacology, Online Writing Lab, Spanish
  • Tutor.com
    Topics: English, Math, Science, Social Studies
  • Tutor Vista
    Topics: Math, English, Language Arts, Physics, Chemistry, Biology
  • Class of 1
    Topics: Math, Physics, English, Chemistry, Economics, Statistics, Accounts, Finance, Human Resources Management, Corporate Strategy and Marketing Management
  • Tutorzilla
    Topics: Math & Science
  • Tutor Nation

Please let me know of any others you think should get added to this list.

Recommended Reading:

Free Online Graph Paper

We really love this free graph paper generator. You can create your own custom graph paper online and then print it out. You can specify the color, the number of squares, the line weight, and the document size.

Yeah, we know it’s geeky to like graph paper, but we think it’s cool. Besides, you never know when you’ll need to graph data. Okay, maybe you’ll never need it, but now you know where you can get it.

Pimp Your USB Thumbdrive – 8 Nifty Apps

I carry around a USB thumbdrive at school because Im always using different library computers.

Over the weekend, I discovered 8 useful apps that can be added to a thumbdrive to aid in productivity.

I hope you find some of these useful as well . . .

Encrypt Your Thumbdrive
First off, make sure to encrypt your USB flash drive to protect your information. You can easily secure everything with TrueCrypt – which is a free, open source encryption software. This means nobody can access your info without a password.

OpenOffice.org Portable
If you want access to your office applications: word, spreadsheets, PowerPoint, you should download this office application.

Portable FireFox
Keep your bookmarks, favorite extensions, and passwords with you wherever you go.

HotNotes
Add sticky notes on your desktop and easily transfer them to your next computer.

Pidgin Portable
Take your IM settings and buddy lists with you. It includes support for all the IM networks like AOL, Yahoo, MSN, ICQ and Jabber.

FireFTP Extension
If you want quick access to your FTP, youll love this nifty addition to your thumbdrive.

PeaZip Portable
Compress or uncompress your ZIP files on whatever computer your on.

PortableApps
Ever wish you had your email client, web browser, favorite bookmarks, office suite, and everything else with you at all times? Well, PortableApps is a free program that you can install on your thumbdrive which will give you access to whatever programs/files you have on your personal computer wherever you go.

What do you put on your USB thumbdrive?

Build a Bibliography Quickly with These Websites

I dont know about you, but I hate writing bibliographies. It takes so much time to get everything formatted just right.

Books need to be formatted one way; journal articles have to be written a different way; and websites need to be . . . yeah, you get the picture. It can all be very annoying (especially when youre in a rush).

So thats why we like these online tools that can help you develop your papers bibliography in a snap. Yeah, this includes APA, MLA, and Chicago.
Here you go:

OttoBib
Simply type in your books ISBN number and press enter. Youll instantly get your books info styled appropriately in either MLA, APA, or Chicago. This online tool can save you tons of time. Very cool.

BibMe
Alright, this website will definitely save you tons of time. You can easily get a bibliography styled in MLA or APA for books, magazines, newspaper articles, journals, or film. Yeah, this is definitely a great place to start when starting your bibliography.

EasyBib
This website isnt as user-friendly, but it can help you get your books and magazines styled for MLA or APA fairly quickly. Id probably use this website as a last resort though. It takes a little bit of time to get used toand when Im writing a bibliographyI dont have much time.

Top 20 RSS Feed Readers You Should Know About

Now that the school semester just ended, its time to catch up on some reading.

Im a big fan of Google Reader, but there are a bunch of other great RSS readers out there.

Heres a nifty collection of RSS readers you may not know about:

Alertbear
Desktop-based feed reader for Windows.

Alesti
An RSS reader based on Ajax. Very simple, clean interface.

Bloglines
Organize, save, and share all your favorite feeds and its completely free.

Fastladder
Fastladder claims to help you read the most amount of feeds in the shortest time-frame.

Fav.or.it
Allows you aggregate RSS feeds like a typical reader – and allows you to leave comments on blog posts without leaving the site.

FeedDemon
Get your RSS feeds sent directly to your Windows desktop. Requires Microsoft Windows.

Feedreader
A desktop-based feed reader. Its like a feed reader in Microsoft Outlook.

FeedShow
Free online feed reader that lets you save items locally and covert posts to PDF or print format.

GoogleReader
Organize your feeds into folders, share with friends, save your favorites, and add notes to any post you want. My favorite.

GreatNews
It automatically stores all your feeds locally, so you have access to the feeds even if the site is down. It also integrates nicely into Bloglines.com.

GritWire
Its a personal page like Netvibes that has a SpeedFeed Reader application.

MSN Start
A typical personalized page (a la iGoogle) where you can add feeds of your favorite sites.

My Yahoo
A personalized page that allows you to add your RSS feeds.

Netvibes
A clean-lookin personalized page that allows you subscribe to feeds. I have several friends who like using Netvibes because of the sweet interface.

NewsAlloy
A web-based feed reader that is Mobile/PDA enabled.

NewsGator
The site offers a free web-based RSS feed reader – and a desktop version that integrates into Microsoft Office.

Rojo
A simple RSS reader – similar to Google Reader.

Sage
A nice lightweight RSS feed reader extension for Firefox.

Shrook
A free RSS feed reader for your MAC desktop.

Voyage
Visually-appealing RSS feed reader that lets you scroll through feeds with your mouse wheel.

And if you dont know how RSS readers work, heres a great video that shows you the benefits of subscribing to your favorite web content:

Please let me know of any others that I missed.

Ill be glad to add them here.

The Nuts and Bolts of Time Management

If youve been reading productivity blogs for a while, you probably already know the basics of time management:

  • Making your “To Do” list
  • Focusing on one task/goal at a time
  • Creating deadlines for yourself
  • Rewarding yourself for accomplishing your goals
  • Avoiding procrastination
  • Making time to relax

Its easy to understand these basics, but its another to actually apply them in real-world situations.

As you know, its very easy to lose focus on our daily goals – especially with email, Digg.com, Google Reader, yada, yada, yada.

So thats why Ive found these online resources on time management very practical:

Managing Your Time
Dartmouth developed a nifty list of online resources for time management. The article includes links to a time management video, planning documents, and free calendars to download in both Word and Excel.

Beating Procrastination
The best way to defeat procrastination is to identify it the moment its happening. This article provides 3 practical steps to overcome this weakness in all of us.

10 Tips for Time Management in a Multitasking World
Even though this article is focused on todays office environment, it definitely fits with the life of a busy student.

12 Hours to Better Time Management
Lifehack.org developed a great article on time management. Pay close attention to the first section that discusses how to set up your calendars.

61 Time Saving Tips
This article starts by saying that You DO have enough time for everything and then gives you a laundry list of ways to help you accomplish all your goals.

8 Ways to Avoid Managing Your Time Effectively
Sometimes it helps to read the opposite advice to think clearly about what were doing to waste time.

Time Management Principles for Students
The University of Minnesota Duluth compiled this list of time management strategies for students. Simple and practical.

TimeTracker
TimeTracker is an online tool to help you track the time you spend on each of your tasks. It can help keep you on focused – which is helpful when you need to write a lengthy paper.

Time Management [Video] – Randy Pausch
This lecture was recorded at the University of Virginia – and runs over an hour. Its both informative and entertaining.

Free Online File Conversion Websites

There are tons of free online file conversion websites out there, but some act a bit buggy at times. Check out these sites the next time you need to convert a file—and let us know how it works for you.

Here’s a list of some of our favorite online file conversion sites:

Zamzar.com
Zamzar.com allows you to convert almost any type of format—from documents and images to music and videos. This site is great if you want to download YouTube videos and convert them to mp4s so you can watch them on your iPod.

Vixy.net
Okay, this site is mainly for converting online videos so that you can play theem on your PC, iPod or PSP. It converts files pretty quickly. All you need to do is paste the URL of the YouTube video, and then select what type of file you want.

We’ll keep adding to this post as we receive more recommendations . . .