Campus Logic

Every college student can attest to the fact that there is no shortage of paper forms that must be completed and submitted. Fortunately, with the passage of time, many forms can frequently be located online.  This allows students to simply fill in the necessary information and hit submit. Advancement towards paperless systems appears to be the trend in most areas of our society.

Not only are we living in an increasingly paperless world, but most of us now use our mobile devices to complete tasks that would have been unheard of years ago. From reserving seats to a movie, to ordering take out, to securing transportation, most people are relying on their mobile devices to make their lives more efficient.

Here in the Wentworth Financial Aid Office, we are always considering ways to better streamline the financial aid process, simplifying access for students.  We are excited to announce the rollout of Campus Logic! This is a new, intuitive, tailored process designed to make navigating the financial aid process easier. Best of all…it’s mobile!

Starting in February for the 2018-2019 academic year, students will be able to:

  • Complete financial aid forms on a phone, tablet, or computer
  • Securely upload documents from any device
  • E-sign documents – students and parents
  • Manage financial aid tasks online
  • Receive automated reminders about outstanding tasks and next steps

 

We heard your feedback loud and clear.   You want to be able to complete financial aid processes on your own time, on the device of your preference. Providing the best student experience is important to us so we bring you Campus Logic.

Until next time!

Rae

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Identity Fraud

Hello! My name is Ashley Tampellini and I’m a freshman here at Wentworth Institute of Technology. Being a college student, I want to make sure that I’m not a victim of identity fraud. If this were to happen, my credit could be detrimentally affected… and effect my ability to take out loans to pay for tuition. Protecting personal numbers is extremely important, as is monitoring your personal information so fraudsters can’t get ahold of it.

With tax return season comes identity theft, especially when those tax payers are college students. According to a 2014 study, 22% of students were notified that they were victims of identity theft. It’s important to know the warning signs of being a possible victim of identity fraud and to take precautions before the thieves have a chance to strike.

Protect yourself:

  • Keep personal numbers to yourself. Never carry your Social Security card with you. In addition, be cautious when giving out personal information. Just because a website asks for it, does not mean you should give it to them. In addition, keep documents in a secure location within the home so others may not access them.
  • Take caution when mailing important documents. Do not send college students important documents via mail. Often, mail gets lost or is sent to an unsecure location. This gives identity thieves an easy pathway to your personal information.
  • Don’t put too much information on social media. Oversharing on social media can give fraudsters valuable information to help them bypass security questions. Passwords often include family pets or birthdays, which are easy to find on various social media accounts.
  • Use secure networks. When paying bills online or accessing personal documents, only use private WiFi connections to ensure your information will stay secure.

Warning signs:

  • More than one tax return was filed. If someone from the IRS or a personal tax professional contacts you and says that more than one tax return has been filed using your SSN, this could indicate that you’ve been a victim of identity fraud.
  • Wages from employers for whom you did not work. If IRS records indicate you received wages from an employer whom you didn’t work for, this could indicate identity fraud.

Be cautious and ensure you won’t be the next victim of identity fraud. With these simple steps, you could save your SSN from being used by fraudsters. For more information, visit https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/taxpayer-guide-to-identity-theft , https://www.irs.gov/newsroom/tips-for-taxpayers-victims-about-identity-theft-and-tax-returns , https://www.consumerreports.org/identity-theft/college-students-face-risk-of-identity-theft/ .

Until next time!

Get to know your financial aid staff

Here on the WITfinaid blog, we cover a number of helpful and important topics involving student aid at Wentworth and beyond. You also want to be informed about who is in your financial aid office, processing your aid, performing verification, contacting you with any issues, and guiding you through the financial aid process.

Incoming and returning students at Wentworth are assigned a financial aid counselor according to the first letter of your last name- your financial aid counselor attends to financial aid related needs, and questions you may have.

Let’s meet your counselors-

Shannon Boutin has been at Wentworth for two and a half years. She was out front as a Student Services Representative before moving into financial aid where she has been for a year and a half. She is your counselor if your last name begins with A, B, W, X, Y or Z. Shannon’s favorite thing about WIT is working alongside all of us here in the Student Service Center. She recommends that as a student, take time to learn things outside the classroom, and connect with other resources to broaden your educational experience. If you have questions about how financial aid works with study abroad, Shannon is your go to. Something interesting about Shannon is that she is one of 5 siblings. Shannon loves to travel- to urban places as well as venture to the great outdoors.

Erica Davis has been at Wentworth for a year and a half, and she has been in financial aid for a year now. If your last name begins with R, S, T, U, or V, she is your counselor. One of her favorite things about WIT are her co-workers. Some advice she would recommend to students is not to forget to have a social life while you are in college, take time to be yourself and make time for activities outside of school! If you have questions about Boston Public Schools, Fournier or Jimmie Beverly admission scholarships, contact Erica. Something interesting that you might not know about Erica, is that she is ¼ Mexican. Erica loves to be with her friends in her time outside the office.

Lisa Lessard has been in the financial aid office at Wentworth for a year now. She has been in financial aid for almost 22 years. She manages students with last names beginning with J, K, O, P and Q. One of Lisa’s favorite things about working at WIT are the people she works with. Lisa’s advice is to take advantage of the Federal Work Study program, or FWS. If you have questions about work study, talk to Lisa! An interesting fact about Lisa is that she is a very talented and avid knitter. You will see her usually wearing some of her amazing scarves, socks and sweaters. She also has a prolific Instagram and podcast all about knitting. On weekends, she and her husband enjoy rowing.

Rae Daniel has been at Wentworth for nine years. He spent a year out front as a Student Services Representative before moving into financial aid, where he has been ever since. Rae manages students with last names beginning in F, G, H and I. Rae enjoys being at WIT because of his coworkers and the work environment here. He recommends that students be aware of their borrowing, and not to overborrow student loans when it is not necessary. Rae enjoys traveling the world, skateboarding and collecting unique sneakers. In his time outside the office he loves to watch movies. He has seen many fantastic 80’s horror flicks.

Katie Paquin has been in financial aid for six and a half years. Two and a half of those have been here at WIT. She began in financial aid as a work study student, when she was in college. Katie manages all students whose last names begin with the letters C, D and E. Her favorite thing about WIT is that we are part of the Colleges of the Fenway and how that is an opportunity to part of something bigger within our community. Katie manages our financial literacy program, LeopardCents and SALT, our online resource for financial education.  She recommends that all students be aware of what they borrow. Something interesting you may not know about Katie is that she is an accomplished dancer. She was trained as a professional ballerina and performs Ballet, Jazz and Modern dance with her dance company. When Katie is not in the office she is most likely training for her next marathon.

Audrey Kay has been at Wentworth for about 3 weeks now, and is loving it! She has been in financial aid for 2 years. Students with last names beginning in L, M, and N, she is your counselor. Her favorite thing about WIT is that students get the opportunity to have real-world experience while they are here during their COOP. She recommends that all students use their creativity and do their research when looking for ways to pay for college, there are many avenues and options along the road to funding your education. Something interesting about Audrey is that she is an artist. She draws, paints and loves to collect antiques in her time outside the office.

Kim Tibbetts is one of our Associate Directors of financial aid. She has been at WIT for around 7 years. She has been in the financial aid field for 23 years. Kim oversees Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP), and many other aspects of compliance. Kim really enjoys working with her colleagues here in the Student Service Center, she says it’s so wonderful to work with such a supportive staff like us! She recommends that all students do not hesitate to reach out to any of us, don’t be afraid to come on in to see us and ask questions. When Kim is not in the office she loves spending time with her three fabulous grandchildren. She is also an accomplished Reiki practitioner, energy healer and ghost hunter.

Shannon Glaser is one of our Associate Directors of financial aid. Shannon has been at Wentworth since 2014 and has been in the financial aid field for 14 years. She oversees staff in our office and is our resident expert with technology and loan processing. Shannon really enjoys the people she works with and says that her favorite part of the office is the collaboration that we share as a group. As she is currently pursuing her Graduate degree, Shannon recommends that you shop around for books, there are many ways to seek out discounted textbooks when they are either used or rented. Something interesting you may not know about Shannon is that she is a firearms instructor. She also loves to make things, some of which include, her own beer, pickles, and various woodworking projects. When Shannon is not in the office she really enjoys cycling.

Anne-Marie Caruso is our Director of Financial Aid at Wentworth. She has been in the financial aid field for 20 years, and has been here at WIT for 10. She oversees all aspects of the financial aid office along with Title IV compliance and regulations that make financial aid possible at WIT. (Title IV is the term for federal financial aid funds!) We are lucky to have her at the helm. Anne-Marie’s favorite thing about WIT are her staff and colleagues. She recommends that all students take advantage of campus activities and get involved in the community. It is an opportunity to connect and gain leadership experience. Something you may not know about Anne-Marie is the she is a relative of a famous Olympic figure skater. When she is not in the office she is most likely cooking or baking something delicious.

I hope that you enjoyed getting to know more about us! We all look forward to getting to know you!

Until next time,

Audrey

 

 

Budgeting around Holidays

With the holiday season quickly approaching, we tend to find ourselves scrambling all over the place, whether it is going store-to-store trying to complete your holiday gift list or cleaning up your house to have friends and relatives over. Yet at a time when individuals should have the most joy, they often find their stress levels at an all-time high. This is due to the desire to be perfect. While we try to satisfy everyone’s wants and needs, we fail to consider a budget. While some are quick to rebuttal claiming “you can’t put a price on happiness”, they are quickly reminded how important budgeting is when they see their bill come January. The purpose of this blog is to help people satisfy the desire to provide “happiness” while staying under a set budget.

According to a recent poll by Gallup, Americans are planning to spend an average of $752 on gifts this year, with approximately 30 percent of the population spending over $1,000 this holiday season. As this number jumps off the screen, we often forget how easily it is to reach this amount, especially when using a credit card. As I discussed in my credit post, it is often misconceived that if the transaction went through in the store, you have the money to pay off the purchase. While this is often the case, credit is money that borrowed so that you can purchase goods and services when you need them. With this convenience often comes the cost of interest. While credit card interests range greatly, a typical credit card has an interest anywhere between 7 and 36% in the US, depending on the bank’s risk assessment methods and borrower’s credit history (credit score). Therefore, a bill of $752 comes with an interest anywhere between approximately $53 and $271. As a result, it is important to follow a budget.

The first step to sticking to a budget however is to set one. The problem most people face is the uncertainty of what your budget should actually look like. Your holiday budget will typically depend on how much extra money you have after your monthly expenses are covered. Ideally, you should save throughout the year (for example, setting aside $50 a month into a savings account). The amount you save each month however will depend greatly on how much you are actually planning on spending. For instance, only saving $50 a month will leave you approximately $152 short of what the average individual plans on spending for gifts this year. It is import that you take a look at your spending patterns to see where you can cut costs. Some factors to consider are identifying if the expenses are either wants or needs or if you could work more to bring in a little more income for the added expends that arise during the holidays. A helpful way to ensuring that you stay within your budget this year is to follow this three-step process.

  1. Apply a spending limit

One of the easiest ways to ensure that you stay within your budget this year is to institute a spending limit. One common way of doing this is by setting a limit on how much you spend on each individual or each family member. While you may start to think that it is trivial to only spend, for instance, $10 on each of your cousins. However, f you have 10 cousins to buy for, that quickly adds up!

  1. Make a gift list

Before you hurry out to the stores to buy gifts for your family and friends, it is important that you make a gift list. While most people make a list, they tend to exclude the price. Therefore, they may at times be fooled by a short list. However, if that list includes new laptops and televisions, you are most likely going to overspend. Therefore, create a list which is separated for each individual listing what you are going to buy and how much each of those items costs. After you complete this list for each individual, tally up the total price and evaluate if you are under your spending limit or not. If over, evaluate what goods are must-haves and which ones you can cross off the list.

  1. Use the 4 Gift Rule

As the years pass by, there are more and more options as innovations continue to improve. As everyone wants to have the latest gadgets and accessories, it is important to stick to a 4-step examination process in determining whether to buy something or not:

  1. They want
  2. They need
  3. They can wear
  4. They can read

By using this list, it helps distinguish goods which are “important” or if you are just buying the gift just to have it. In addition, it helps reduce clutter around your home. While there is a lot of pressure to provide a nice holiday experience for everyone, there’s no reason you need to spend an extensive amount of money to do it. By shopping within these four areas, you can set expectations for the holidays going forward, which means less stress year-after-year.

In the end, by sticking to this three-step process, you should be able to reduce your spending while keeping everybody happy. Budgets may seem restrictive, but ultimately, they are tools to help you live a better life when used correctly. The holiday season should not be about worrying about how much you’ve overspent this season. Rather, it should be spent focusing your time and energy on the people you care about and they should appreciate the effort and thought behind your actions.

If you have any questions or would like to know more about how to shop wisely this holiday season, come to our table on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 from 12:00 to 1:00 PM in Beatty Pavilion where our SALT Ambassadors will be available to answer any questions/concerns you might have about budgeting.

Until next time,

Adam

Student Discounts

As a student here at Wentworth, we all know how expensive college life can be, between the classes and textbooks, to even food and transportation. Not to mention the temptation of exploring Boston and all the activities/events the city has to offer. What many students don’t know however is that Wentworth and the city of Boston provide numerous amounts of student discounts to make city life cheaper. Therefore, the purpose of this blog is to spread light as to what great opportunities there are around Boston to save a few extra bucks.

To begin with, being a junior here at Wentworth, I find myself constantly trying to keep up with my coursework. However, whenever I get a chance, I try to attend as many events/venues around Boston as possible. Being a big sports fan, I look to attend every home game that I possibly can. However, I often have to resist due to the hefty price of the tickets. This all changed however when I found out about the numerous discounts that are offered to students around Boston. Teaming up with the city of Boston, the Bruins, Red Sox, and Celtics all offer very reasonable discounts to various sporting events. This includes $9 tickets to various Red Sox games as well as $20 tickets to certain Celtics games. Using these deals, I have found myself saving at times $20 a ticket to each sporting event.

To add on, discounts are also offered on admission to other venues and attractions around Boston. Most notably, students can purchase Blue Man Group tickets as low as $30 and $8.50 tickets to Regal Cinemas. $5 tickets are also available to go to the Museum of Science as well as $10 to attend the New England Aquarium. For people who like art, free admission is offered to the Museum of Fine Arts as well as to the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum for all Wentworth students. I mean, who doesn’t like free things?

In addition to the discounting venues, the city of Boston also provides discounts on various forms of transportation for students. For students who use the MBTA frequently, students here at Wentworth can receive a semester t-pass at a 15% discount. In addition, a 10% discount is also offered on shuttle services to Logan airport.

While not as advertised, many restaurants and retail stores also offer significant discounts as well. Students can receive a 10% discount at places such as Buffalo Wild Wings, Dairy Queen, Dunkin Donuts, Subway, and the Waffle House at participating locations. In addition, a 15% discount can be received at locations such as Banana Republic, Vineyard Vines, J. Crew, Express, and Ann Taylor.

Most notably however are the great technology and membership discounts that Wentworth students receive, which allow us to be well prepared for our classes. This includes discounted laptops and tablets at Apple and Dell to 50% off a membership to Amazon Prime, which includes free 2-day shipping.

These are just some of the thousands of student discounts that are available throughout Boston. While college life may be expensive, it is important that you take advantage of these discounts which can save you hundreds of dollars.

All the best,

Adam

What is Credit?

As many of you may well know, the holiday season is right around the corner. As the holidays approach, we often find ourselves constantly in stores looking to buy gifts for our friends and loved ones. While we may not think twice come December and put the charges right on our credit card, these transactions quickly add up. As you read the bill in January, you may find yourself scratching your head wondering how you might have possibly ended up in so much debt.

It is often misconceived that if the transaction went through in the store, you have the money to pay off that purchase. While this is often the case, credit is money that is borrowed so that you can purchase goods and services when you need them. This credit comes from a credit grantor to whom you agree to pay back the amount you spent as well as applicable finance charges in the agreed-upon amount of time.

With that being said, you may ask yourself, “Why do people use credit?”. While you certainly could stick to using only debit cards or cash, good credit is necessary if you plan to use credit to make a major purchase such as a car or a home or even want to be able to take advantage of the convenience that credit can provide. Therefore, unless you have a lot of money in your savings to pay off these major purchases immediately, you will need to have credit in order to make these transactions.

However, while you may have credit, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can purchase any good that you would like. Credit is very similar to loans in that the credit grantor reviews each individual buyer to ensure that they are trustworthy in paying off their purchases in the allotted time. This is done through the use of a credit score. Generated for each individual person, your credit score is a three-digit number that that is designed to predict risk, specifically, the likelihood that you will become seriously delinquent on your credit obligations in the 24 months after scoring. While there are many credit-scoring models in existence, the most dominate market is FICO credit score, which operates within the range of 300 to 850. Within that range, there are different categories, from bad to excellent which are categorized as listed below:

· Excellent Credit: 750+

· Good Credit: 700-749

· Fair Credit: 650-699

· Poor Credit: 600-649

· Bad Credit: below 600

While these scores provide a good foundation on where you stand, the categorized scores are not set in stone. That’s because different lenders all have their own opinions as to what they view as a good credit score. With that being said, don’t assume you have a good credit score just because you always payoff your bills on time. Some of the factors that can affect your credit score are as well as how much weight each aspect carriers are:

· Payment History- 35%

· Amounts Owed- 30%

· Length of Credit History- 15%

· New credit- 10%

· Types of credit is use- 10%

Therefore, paying off all your bills on time only accounts for approximately 65 percent of your credit score. What most people fail to consider are the length of your credit history, new credit, as well as the types of credit in use.

In result, people fail to acknowledge the importance of establishing a credit early. As a student in college, it is crucial that you have an established credit. Accounting for 15 percent of your score, a long history is helpful. However, a short history is acceptable as long as you have made your payments on time and don’t owe much.

To add on, 10 percent of your score is based off how many new accounts you have applied for recently as well when the last time you opened a new account was. The score assumes that if you have opened multiple new accounts recently, you could be a greater credit risk. This is because people tend to open new accounts when they are experiencing cash flow problems or are planning to take on a lot of debt. Lenders can’t determine what to lend you based on something you might do, but they can use your credit score to analyze how much of a credit risk you might be.

In addition, 10 percent of your score is based off the types of credit you are currently using. There are 4 types of credit: revolving credit, charge cards, service credit, and installment credit. Revolving credit is where you can make purchases up to a set credit limit, at which point your credit card will then become void from making other purchases. Most credit cards are in the form of revolving credit. Another form of credit is charge cards. While they often look like revolving credit cards as well as are used in the same way, they differ in that you must pay the total balance every month. Service credit on the other hand is where your agreements with service providers are all credit arrangements. However, not all service accounts are reported in your credit history. Lastly, with installment credit, a creditor loans you money at which you agree to repay the money with interest in a given amount of time in regular installments of a fixed amount. Since this is a small component of your score, don’t worry if you don’t have accounts in each of these categories. In particular, don’t open new accounts just to increase your mix of credit types as this could result in a decrease in credit score in result of new credit.

It is important that you check your scores regularly to ensure that you maintain a good credit score. While you may not be making a large purchase right now, it is crucial that you establish credit immediately to ensure that you have a credit history when it comes time for you to purchase a home or even a car. It is recommended that you make a couple of small purchases a month using a form of credit and then pay off the purchases right away to ensure that you are establishing a good credit.

Therefore, don’t wait. Establish credit right away to prepare you for the future. If you have any questions or would like to know more, come to our credit event on November 1, 2017 from 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM sponsored by Leopard Cents, our new money management program on campus!! Our Ambassadors will be available to answer any questions/concerns you may have about credit.

~Adam, LeopardCents Ambassador

Hi, my name is Adam Leclerc and I am a junior here at Wentworth Institute of Technology. As a student in college, we all know how difficult it is to pay off our tuition payments. While we work hard during the summer to pay off as much of our tuition as we possibly can, we often find ourselves having to catch up. Yet as we try to stay on track with our bills, we find tuition costs increase from year to year. Therefore, to deal with these financial struggles, it is very important that you fill out your FAFSA.

A FAFSA (The Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the first step in applying for your share of the billions of dollars in student financial aid that are available each year, which includes scholarships, grants, low-interest loans, as well as work study programs. This application is used by aid providers to ultimately determine how much they expect the student’s family could contribute toward paying off the student’s education. Eligibility requirements for federal student aid include:

  • Financial need
  • Being a U.S. citizen or an eligible noncitizen
  • Being in good standing on any federal student loans you may have
  • Being in or accepted for an eligible degree or certificate program
  • Maintaining adequate academic progress

While FAFSA has been in existence for a number of years, a recent change has been made to the application in terms of timeline and availability. Instead of the January 1st launch day for FAFSA, the FAFSA will now be available October 1st. Instead of using prior year income (meaning for 2016 FAFSA you used 2015 income data) the FAFSA calculation will utilize income from two years prior. Therefore, your taxes will already have been filed when you go to do the FAFSA. This eliminated the hassle of having to estimate your income information and then going back into the FAFSA after you’ve filed to update your information.

As one of the two college tuition my family is currently being billed, I have benefited personally from federal student aid. In my first two years of school, I was the only one in my family currently in college. While paying for a single tuition was quite frightening, my family was able to make adjustments in the way spent our money. However, recently this fall, my brother went into his first year of college. Now facing the tuition from two private schools, I sought out help through federal student aid. Therefore, when FAFSA became available last year I was quick to apply. After my FAFSA application was thoroughly reviewed, I qualified for federal work study. After applying for various positions on campus, I accepted a position as SALT Ambassador. Pursing a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering, I was initially a little concerned on how I would balance my course work with a job. While at times I may have a lot of course work, federal work study on campus provides flexible hours where at times your able to coordinate your hours to times that work best for you. Only working a couple of hours a week, I have found more than time to be able to balance my course work with an on-campus job while still being able to do maintain a social life.

Of important note, it is beneficial that you complete your FAFSA application as early as possible as there are only a limited amount of loans, scholarships, and work study that the school is allowed to hand out.

If you have any questions about FAFSA or would like to know more, come to our Pumpkin Painting event on October 25, 2017 from 5:00 PM to 7:00PM in the Alumni Room where you can paint your own pumpkin as well as ask our SALT Ambassadors any questions/concerns you may have regarding FAFSA.

All the Best,

Adam