Iowa College Aid Insider: Succeeding in College and Career (Dec. 2017)
Watch out for loan payback scams
If you have questions about your student loans, contact your loan servicer directly. (Not sure who that is? Check the National Student Loan Data System.) Beware of unsolicited offers to help with your loans. Many companies will charge for services that you could obtain yourself, free of charge. Some are out-and-out scams. Here are some warning signs:
- Up-front or monthly fees. The Department of Education and federal loan servicers will never charge a fee to manage your loans. Charging for these services is illegal.
- Promises of instant loan forgiveness. Legitimate loan forgiveness programs take years, and they usually target borrowers in specific professions. Debt relief companies are not authorized to negotiate special deals on your loans.
- “Urgent” offers. Debt relief companies often claim that a new law has just taken effect or a program is about to expire. Don’t rush into anything. Research repayment programs (including application deadlines) on our website.
- Requests for your FSA ID. The Department of Education and its partners will never ask for this password, which has the same legal status as a written signature. If you give a private company this information, they can make changes to your account without your permission. Ditto for third-party authorization forms or powers of attorney—don’t sign these.
- Errors. Grammar and spelling mistakes or random capitalization are probably signs that a company is not affiliated with the Department of Education.
If you want to check on a specific company, you can search the Department of Education database of collection agency contracts.
Are winter blahs setting in? Try these tips
The stress of finals and anxiety about holiday travel are setting in for many college students. Factor in shorter, colder days, and you might be experiencing December doldrums. Here are some strategies for self-care:
- Set a strategy. Make a list of exam dates and paper deadlines. Decide when you need to start studying, researching and writing for each one, and make a timeline. Writing it all down will make it less overwhelming.
- Take an activity break. Step away from the books and laptop and go for a walk. Even moderate exercise releases endorphins, which elevate your mood. If the weather won’t allow for an outside excursion, try walking the halls of a building with a lot of natural light.
- Eat healthy. Make sure you’re getting enough protein, and go easy on comfort foods that are packed with carbs and fat. You’ll have more physical and mental energy. You might be tempted to drink more alcohol when you’re stressed, but that will backfire because alcohol is a depressant.
- Talk it out. When you’re feeling overwhelmed, talk to someone—a friend, family member, advisor or even a counselor at your campus mental health center. Naming your anxieties can help alleviate them.
- Clear the clutter. Take a few minutes to make your bed and straighten your room. The sense of accomplishment can kick-start studying, and an orderly environment will reduce distractions.
- Do something nice. You might not have time to take on a volunteer project right now, but you can do something small. Slip a note of support under a friend’s door. Buy a stranger’s coffee. You might change someone else’s outlook along with your own.
Scholarship available to families of Guard members
The Iowa National Guard Officers Auxiliary offers a $1,000 scholarship to Iowa students who have a parent, grandparent or spouse affiliated with the Iowa National Guard. Last year, three scholarships were awarded, and this year the Auxiliary has authorized up to five. The deadline to apply is February 1.