Congratulations to Laura Bartolomei-Hill and Simone Abe, our first 2015 College Cash® winners. In order to be eligible for a College Cash® Scholarship, students attend a community seminar and submit an essay to Central Scholarship about their takeaways from the session. Three College Cash® winners remain. Stay tuned to find out who the next winners are as they are announced in June, July, and August. Laura Bartolomei-Hill is a graduate student pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Maryland. She attended the Loan Repayment College Cash® seminar at the University of Baltimore in April, and learned that new graduates in Maryland owe an average of $26,000. She writes, “learning that my expected debt was average was comforting.” An excerpt from Laura’s winning essay is below.
Simone Abe attended the Student Loan Repayment Seminar at the Hotel at Arundel Preserve and wrote about how the session made her feel less alone in the student loan struggle. She learned about the 40 million Americans with student debt who stand beside her. She is pursuing a Master’s degrees in Management of Aging Services at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. An excerpt from Simone’s winning essay is featured below.
“Before the session, I was tracking my loans on an Excel spreadsheet, haphazardly attempting to calculate the interest owed. I can now accurately track my loans, including interest as it accrues, at the Federal Student Aid website. With the National Student Loan Data System, I know exactly what I owe. I was also excited to learn about programs like the Janet L. Hoffman Loan Assistance Repayment Program that offer assistance specifically to social workers. Following the session, I am more familiar with resources that will directly help me manage my loans. As a result of the Central Scholarship event, I have created an ambitious but realistic budget and plan for the remainder of my time in school. I have talked with my classmates, friends, and neighbors about how they are managing their debt. I have researched additional scholarship and repayment opportunities for social workers. I have shared the resources I learned about with clients and colleagues.”
“There are direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans, direct PLUS loans, direct consolidation loans, Perkins, and direct consolidation. I have heard of some of these loans but I never really took to the time to understand what they do for each student. This seminar taught me that when looking at subsidized loans and unsubsidized loans, subsidized loans are the best route because the government pays the interest while the student is in school, during the six month grace period, and during deferment; whereas with unsubsidized loans, the borrower pays the interest regardless of school status. Unsubsidized loans are a pretty scary concept for me because my graduate program does not offer subsidized loans, only unsubsidized—which means I am being charged interest while still in school. From the College Cash® seminar, I learned that in order to keep my bill as low as possible, it would be good to start paying my bill while I am in school. This is something that I have been working hard at accomplishing, but it has been really hard finding a job due to my strange class schedule, which is why I was very tempted to use my college refund check but I learned from the College Cash® seminar that this is not appropriate. You should never use your financial aid refund check because when you pay that loan money back, you will be paying that money back plus the interest!” Simone Abe