CSUN Student Wins $50 Gift Card in Honor of National Library Week

Kathy Nguyen National Library Week Raffle winner

CSUN Student Kathy Nguyen

Congratulations go to CSUN student Kathy Nguyen who is a Computer Information Technology major for winning the Oviatt Library National Library Week raffle! The Oviatt Library celebrated National Library Week, April 10-16, 2016. Our programming honored library staff and encouraged students to read. More than 200 students entered the raffle which asked students to name their favorite book. Kathy’s favorite book is Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. The raffle was offered in conjunction with the Oviatt Library’s Favorite Books Display which featured our staff’s favorite “picks.” Students were able to browse our staff picks and check them out. Congratulations again to Kathy!      – Coleen Martin

Money Smart: The top 5 tips for Winning Scholarships

falling $100 bills

  1. Scholarships are available 24 hrs/day, 7 days/week, and 365 days a year

a. There is no such thing as a “scholarship season.”  You are encouraged to continuously search for scholarships all the time.  All you have to remember – Apply, Apply, Apply!

b. Resources: Scholarship Books listing available scholarships by state, calendar deadlines

2. You can win scholarships regardless of your grades

a. Merit scholarships come in two forms.  There is academic merit scholarships that look primarily at grades, GPA, academic transcripts, and courses taken. However, merit scholarships may refer to sports, art, volunteer, and require essays, or a video highlighting unique ability.

b. Resources: Scholarship Books listing available scholarships by state, calendar deadlines

3. Use the “cookie-cutter approach” when applying for scholarships

a. Since most scholarship applications ask the same questions, apply for one scholarship then stamp out the others by making minor tweaks (don’t reinvent the wheel). In most cases, you can reuse 70% of your materials to apply for future scholarships.

b. Resources: Books on how to write scholarship essays

4. Avoid careless mistakes on your scholarship applications

a. Take the time to proofread your work, or ask someone to look over your application.  Avoiding to proofread your work can be the small difference in winning a scholarship.

b. Resource: CSUN Learning Resource Center

5. Search for scholarships in less conventional places

a. In addition to the CSUN Financial Aid and Scholarships Office, consider areas such as the radio, local community organizations, your local public library, the Oviatt, bulletin boards, and local businesses.

b. Resources: The Oviatt Library, the Los Angeles Public Library System, parents’ place of work, professional organizations in the major you are in and local newspaper.

Gregorio Alcantar and Veronica Poplovic, Financial Aid and Scholarship Counselors

Money Smart Tips on Setting Your Financial Goals

$100 bills in a circle

  • Make your financial goals as specific as possible. To get richer is not a goal! To save 10% of your income, is.
  • Identify a time frame. For example, decide to pay off your student loans within 5, or 10 or 15 years after graduation. If you have a deadline, you are more likely to work towards achieving a goal.
  • Ask your relatives to contribute to your student loans, Roth IRA or any other type of debt/savings account directly rather than to give you cash or buy gifts for Christmas, birthdays and graduation.
  • Break down huge goals into smaller pieces. This way, you can make them more achievable and celebrate along the way.
  • Create positive goals. Instead of saying “Get out of Debt”, focus on “Freeing up income by shifting it from student loans to fun.”
  • Think of what’s important to you and your life and spend your money accordingly. If spending time with your friends is important, spend the money on activities with friends rather than on things.
  • Be able to live on less than you earn, no matter what.
  • Make room in your budget for what’s important to you. But first, figure out what the important things are in your life.
  • Click here for more articles, books, media and more on Personal Finance from the Oviatt Library.

Inga Chira, Ph.D., CFP® and Assistant Professor of Finance

Five Budgeting and Saving Tips for Money Smart Week

piggybank1. Budgeting can be hard, and that’s why you need a system in place. In a little less than 20 minutes per month you can master your budget and take control of your finances.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AezoY23Qxq02.

2. Using a budgeting mobile app like YNAB or Mint can help you stay on track throughout the month and keep your budget in check. https://www.policygenius.com/blog/managing-your-money-with-budgeting-apps-the-pros-and-cons/

3. Your savings strategy should start with setting aside 3-6 month’s of expenses in a high-yield savings account for your Emergency Fund. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bmM5SCdViKE

4. Take a 30-day spending break is one of the best ways to supercharge your savings and help you figure out what unnecessary items you are spending your money on.  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/30-day-spending-break-to-supercharge/id957163760?i=352198228&mt=2

5. The Art of Negotiation is one of the best-kept secrets to unlocking savings in a tight budget. Did you know you could negotiate your rent, your cable bill, your phone bill and even your credit card interest rate?  https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/art-negotiation-back-to-basics/id957163760?i=351517739&mt=2

Click here for more articles, books, media and more on Personal Finance from the Oviatt Library.

Shannah Compton Game, CFP®, MBA and Finance Professor

Money Smart Tips on Financing Your Education and Tax Credits from the IRS

$100 bills fanned outMoney you paid for higher education in 2015 can mean tax savings in 2016. If you, your spouse or your dependent took post-high school coursework last year, there may be a tax credit or deduction for you. Here are some facts from the IRS about key tax breaks for higher education.

The American Opportunity Credit (AOTC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,500 per eligible student.
  • Used only for the first four years at an eligible college or vocational school.
  • For students earning a degree or other recognized credential.
  • For students going to school at least half-time for at least one academic period that started during or shortly after the tax year.
  • Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Lifetime Learning Credit (LLC) is:

  • Worth up to $2,000 per tax return, per year, no matter how many students qualify.
  • For all years of higher education, including classes for learning or improving job skills.
  • Claimed on your tax return using Form 8863, Education Credits.

The Tuition and Fees Deduction is:

  • Claimed as an adjustment to income.
  • Claimed whether or not you itemize.
  • Limited to tuition and certain related expenses required for enrollment or attendance at eligible schools.
  • Worth up to $4,000.

Additionally:

  • You should receive Form 1098-T, Tuition Statement, from your school by Feb. 1, 2016. Your school also sends a copy to the IRS.
  • You may only claim qualifying expenses paid in 2015.
  • You can’t claim either credit if someone else claims you as a dependent.
  • You can’t claim either AOTC or LLC and the Tuition and Fees Deduction for the same student or for the same expense, in the same year.
  • Income limits could reduce the amount of credits or deductions you can claim.
  • The Interactive Tax Assistant toolon IRS.gov can help you check your eligibility.

Click here for articles, books, media and more resources from the Oviatt Library on Tuition Tax Credits for Higher Education.

https://www.irs.gov/uac/Tax-Savings-from-Higher-Education-Costs