Loan payments too high to handle? These repayment plans can help

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Do you need a lower monthly payment on your federal student loans? Does your outstanding federal student loan debt represent a significant portion of your annual income? Income-driven repayment (IDR) plans are designed to make your student loan debt more manageable by reducing your monthly payment amount.

Some of the following income-driven plans may be right for you:

  • Revised Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (REPAYE)
  • Pay As You Earn Repayment Plan (PAYE)
  • Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR)
  • Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR Plan)

You cannot use this tool if you are in default on your federal student loans. Only the ICR plan is available for Parent PLUS Loans.

Note: There is no application fee to complete an Income-Driven Repayment Request. You may be contacted by private companies that offer to help you apply for Income-Driven Repayment, for a fee. These companies have no affiliation with the U.S. Department of Education (ED) or ED’s Federal Loan Servicers. Learn more here.


How to make a great impression at your internship

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You aced the interview and landed an awesome internship. But now what? Get the most out of your experience by doing these 12 things.

  1. Arrive early and prepared. Do some homework before your first day. You shouldn’t rely on your boss to explain every single aspect of the organization.
  2. Get to know your boss and their work style. Do they want to be continuously updated throughout the day, or are they hands-off? Is it OK to talk about non-work things with them, or are they strictly professional?
  3. Accomplish what the internship description said. You, of course, need to complete everything the employer wants from you but make sure you are getting everything you need, too. What’s the point of completing the internship if you don’t learn anything or gain marketable skills? Make sure your internship coordinator is keeping their end of the bargain.
  4. Make sure expectations are clear. You and your boss should be on the same page from the very beginning regarding your hours, pay and goals.
  5. Go above and beyond. Ask for more work when you’re done with the assigned tasks. Be proactive and challenge yourself.
  6. Get to know the other staff. Internships are an awesome way to make connections. Learn everyone’s names, be nice and become a part of the team. Make yourself memorable, and make sure they’ll miss you when you leave. You might even leave with a mentor.
  7. Anticipate needs. Treat your internship like a real job. Do you know that August is a busy month for your boss? Try to figure out what will be needed from you and get a head-start. You’ll save stress and impress your boss.
  8. Dress for success. Sweatpants might be OK for class, but they are not acceptable for your internship. You will never regret dressing professionally. The best-dressed interns make the best impressions.
  9. Practice time management. Internships look great on resumes because they show employers that you’re able to juggle academics, extracurriculars and maybe even another job. Stay organized and figure out a system to manage your time effectively.
  10. Track your accomplishments. Collect specific facts and figures about your internship and/or your performance to use on your resume. Example: “I interviewed 30+ subjects for a study on the socioeconomic effects of smoking.”
  11. Ask for feedback. Ask on a regular basis, not just at the end of the internship. It shows initiative and can help you make any needed adjustments or improvements to leave on good terms.
  12. Show your gratitude. Let your boss and coworkers know that you appreciate the opportunity every day. Say “please” and “thank you.” Once the internship is over, be sure to send thank you notes.

10 graduation speech quotes everyone should read

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Graduation day. Commencement day.  Education Concept.

Graduates around Iowa are getting ready to embark on the exciting next step in life. As mortarboards soar over packed gymnasiums, we all should take a step back and reflect on the wisdom of some famous commencement speakers.

  1. “There is no straight path from your seat today to where you are going. Don’t try to draw that line. You will not just get it wrong, you’ll miss big opportunities. And I mean big—like the Internet. Careers are not ladders, those days are long gone, but jungle gyms. Don’t just move up and down, don’t just look up, look backwards, sideways around corners. Your career and your life will have starts and stops and zigs and zags. Don’t stress out about the white space—the path you can’t draw—because therein lie both the surprises and the opportunities.” —Sheryl Sandberg
  2. “Ignore the stilly 30-Under-30 list that the Internet throws at you before you’ve even had your morning cup of coffee. Those will be the bane of your existence post-graduation, trust me. Trust me. Comparing yourself to others’ success only slows you down from finding your own.” —Octavia Spencer
  3. “You all have opportunities and skills and education that so many folks who came before you never could have dreamed of. So just imagine the kind of impact that you’re going to make. Imagine how you can inspire those around you to reach higher and complete their own education.” —Michelle Obama
  4. “We have, if we’re lucky, about 30,000 days to play the game of life. And trust me, that’s not morbid. In fact, it’s wisdom that will put all the inevitable failures and rejections and disappointments and heartbreaks into perspective.” —Ariana Huffington
  5. “So many of us choose our path out of fear disguised as practicality. … You can fail at what you don’t want. So you might as well take a chance on doing what you love.” —Jim Carrey
  6. “Take your risks now. As you grow older, you become more fearful and less flexible. … Limit your ‘always’ and your ‘nevers.’ Continue to share your heart with people even if it’s been broken.” —Amy Poehler
  7. “Our country doesn’t depend on the heroism of every citizen. But all of us should be worthy of the sacrifices made on our behalf.” —John McCain
  8. “Work hard but work smart. Always. Every day. Nothing is handed to you and nothing is easy. You’re not owed anything. … No job or task is too small or beneath you. If you want to get ahead, volunteer to do the things no one else wants to do, and do it better. Be a sponge. Be open and learn.” —Bobbi Brown
  9. “The world is more malleable than you think, and it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape. … That’s what this degree of yours is—a blunt instrument. So go forth and build something with it. Remember what John Adams said about Ben Franklin: ‘He does not hesitate at our boldest measures but rather seems to think us too irresolute.’ Well, this is the time for bold measures, and this is the country and you are the generation.” —Bono
  10. “We have to continually be jumping off cliffs and developing our wings on the way down.” —Kurt Vonnegut

Hey, high school sophomores! Set your goals for next year

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If you’re looking ahead to your second-to-last year of high school, here’s a to-do list for you. Check these items off during your junior year, and you’ll be squarely on track to get to college.

  • Prep for college entrance exams. Download a free ACT preparation booklet from org. Find free official test prep for the SAT through the College Board at and Khan Academy at Take practice tests to determine where you might need to improve.
  • Focus on career and college research. Assess your skills and interests so you can consider possible areas of study. Determine which colleges offer programs that can prepare you for the career you want.
  • Take the PSAT in the fall to be considered for a National Merit Scholarship. Plus, it’s good practice for the SAT.
  • Attend college fairs and go on campus visits. If possible, sit in on classes that interest you and arrange to spend time in student housing.
  • Take the SAT or ACT in the spring and have the official scores sent to schools that interest you.
  • Ask for letters of recommendation. Identify teachers, counselors, employers or other adults who can attest to your achievement and abilities, and ask them to write letters for scholarship or admissions applications.
  • Make a timeline for your college and scholarship applications. Research deadlines so you won’t be rushed when applications are due. Pay close attention to early decision deadlines if that option interests you.
  • Fill out the FAFSA4caster at to get an idea of how much need-based federal aid you might receive.

4 myths and 4 facts about student loans

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After you exhaust other financial aid and employment opportunities, student loans can be a good option to cover educational expenses. When borrowing, remember that unlike grants or scholarships, which do not need to be repaid, student loans must be repaid with interest. You should always be 100 percent clear about what you are signing up for.

Myth #1: I don’t need to worry about my student loans while I’m in school.

Truth #1: You need to think ahead. Don’t blindly take out student loans without considering your major or future career—or without finding ways to minimize your debt while in school.

Myth #2: I should borrow as much as I can.

Truth #2: You should borrow the minimum you need. Loans are a helpful way to get an education that might seem out of reach, but be informed before you borrow. Your future self will thank you!

Myth #3: I have to pay back 100 percent of my student loans.

Truth #3: Maybe not. Depending on the type of loan and your profession, forgiveness programs can help you pay back a portion or all of your student loans.

Myth #4: I need to pay someone to help me with my student loans.

Truth #4: You should never have to pay someone to help you with your student loans. Contact the financial aid office at your college for assistance.

Find more information about student loans here.

How to cure senioritis

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Bored student distracted during a class at classroomFinishing the final classes of high school or college can feel impossible. Many students start to miss class, evade homework and let their grades slip—all classic signs of senioritis. How can this “disease” be cured?

  1. Stop it before it starts. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When you notice yourself starting to tune out, find ways to stay motivated. Have friends and family hold you accountable, and set goals for yourself.
  2. Remember that grades still matter. Colleges can reconsider admission decisions if your GPA plummets. They can also reconsider financial aid packages they’ve already offered. Scary, right?
  3. Set small, specific goals. Don’t let the big picture (graduation, scholarships, etc.) scare you. Take things one step at a time. Just focus on doing well on your next big exam, attending all your classes and getting enough sleep.
  4. Ask for help. Talk to a teacher, parent, school or someone else you trust. Tell them how you’re feeling and describe issues you’re facing. They might help you in a variety of ways like giving homework assistance, cooking meals or even just offering encouragement.
  5. Take time to relax and sleep. Burning the candle at both ends all the time doesn’t solve concentration issues. Having trouble staying awake in class? Schedule nights where you have plenty of time to wind down with a book or movie and go to bed early.
  6. Keep yourself challenged. Are you slacking because you’re bored with school? Get involved. Find inspiration that will get you out of bed in the morning. Volunteer for a student organization, offer to help a teacher or plan some senior activities. This is a great opportunity for self-improvement.
  7. Keep your eyes on the prize. You wouldn’t give up running a long race if you could see the finish line, would you? End your high school or college career on a high note. You’re almost there! You got this!


This one thing is guaranteed to enhance your college experience

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Multiethnic diverse group of happy colleagues join hands together. Creative team, casual business coworker, or college students in project meeting at modern office. Startup or teamwork concept

College is a time to meet new people, develop new or existing interests and gain experience that will help get a job after graduation. If there was one thing you could do to accomplish all these things, wouldn’t you do it? Join a student organization related to your career goals, and join another one for fun. Check your college’s website for a list of clubs and attend the student organization fair. Tons of perks come with getting involved on your campus, but here are few important ones:

  1. Make friends. Joining a club is the easiest way to find people who have a shared interest or passion. People who share interests are generally the easiest people to build friendships with. These people will, in turn, introduce you to more students who will expand and diversify your social circle.
  2. Relieve stress. Academics are important and should be a top priority, but you will need to take a break. Joining a group with other chemistry majors will be helpful when you want to complain about homework or need help studying, but it’s also important to join a group to have fun. It’s a bonus if your club involves exercise (dance club, outdoor club, etc.), which provides extra stress relief.
  3. Increase focus. Studies show that staying busy and engaged on campus will improve your grades and focus. If you go back to your dorm room right after class, you probably won’t have a focused five-hour study session. (Let’s be real, you’ll probably watch Netflix and accidentally take a nap.) However, if you need to finish an assignment within a two-hour period before you go to student org activities, you’ll be more productive and focused.
  4. Build self-confidence. Most student organizations offer leadership opportunities that can build confidence and improve decision-making abilities. Being around older, more experienced students can help you develop these skills in a low-pressure environment.
  5. Network. The old saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know,” has truth to it. Making connections with students going into the same field will help you down the road. An older member of your student organization might even help you land your first job out of college. On top of the personal connections, student organizations give you the opportunity to build marketable skills like teamwork, communication and leadership. They also show that you can manage time and responsibilities.
  6. Learn about yourself. Joining a student organization can show you your own strengths and weaknesses. You find out what you’re good at and what you enjoy. Maybe you find that you love multitasking and creative brainstorming. Equally important, you can find out what you don’t like. Maybe you realize you hate being the organization’s secretary and you’re better off in roles that focus on big picture, strategic planning.