Finances, Housing Advice, JumpOffCampus, Renting, Student Life

Get interest (AKA beer money) back on your security deposit!

Quick description: As a tenant, you’re entitled to interest paid on your deposits to your landlord. 

Why should I care?

As a renter, you probably had to put down a security deposit, right? And maybe last month’s rent, too. So that sucks. But you know what doesn’t suck? Beer. Burritos. And, uhm, books.

So good news: In Massachusetts, you’re entitled to get up to 5% interest on your deposits to your landlord. It’s all thanks to good old Chapter 186, Section 15B of Massachusetts general law.

In plain English

Here’s how it works, without the legal mumbo jumbo (sorry, pre-law geeks):

  • You give your landlord a deposit for last month’s rent and/or security deposit
  • At the end of the rental year, you get back the interest earned (because it’s like the deposit is still your money)
  • Interest can equal up to 5% of the total, or whatever the interest rate is at the bank where your landlord  deposited the money

For instance, if you ponied up $800 in last month’s rent, at the end of the year your slumlord is supposed to cut you a check. Assuming your landlord’s bank pays out 1% interest, that’s $8 you get back. AKA a free lunch. Or 20 lunches, if you count ramen.

Courses of action

What if your landlord doesn’t pay up within 30 days at the end of the year? You have a few options:

  • If you’re staying on as a tenant, you can deduct the amount from your next month’s rent.
  • If you’re done as a tenant, you get 3x the interest earned, plus court costs and attorney fees.

What to keep in mind

At the end of each rental year, keep a lookout for an interest check from your landlord. Or you could be missing out on a little extra cash that’s rightfully yours.


New Year's Eve
JumpOffCampus, Student Life

Where to Party New Year’s Eve 2012

Party your way into 2013.
All it takes to have a great New Year’s Eve is close friends, the right attitude and of course, a place to party.  So, JumpOffCampus has got you covered with some party spot ideas in New York City and Boston.

Places to Party in Boston:

  • Hampton Beach: New Hampshire. Fill a car with BFFs, head just a couple of hours of north from the Colleges of the Fenway and checkout a killer fireworks display
  • First Night:  About 1 million partiers hit up this gig. 1,000 artists in 200 performances and exhibits fill 35 indoor and outdoor venues all over Beantown. #legit @FirstNight
  • Foxwood’s Casino: An epic dance party that meets all needs, with one of the clubs inside doing a retro Studio 54 theme for the night, and Shrine, also held within Foxwoods. Touted as “The sexiest dance party in New England”
  • Bright Night in Providence, RI.  Known for being the loudest, encouraging partygoers to make as much noise as possible to bid the year farewell.  Just a stone’s throw from @salveregina and @URINews
  • The Gatsby Mansion: Decedent as it sounds, this party, which harkens back to the themes of the classic book, is all about class and sass. Though expensive to attend, it is said to be wholly unforgettable.  Follow @TheGreatestBar in Boston

Place to Party in New York City:

  • New Year’s Eve party at Webster Hall:  A dance party to end all dance parties, with multiple floors and rooms, undulating with beats and bodies
  • Ball drop in Times Square: Totally the most famous of all the New Year’s Eve parties. The place you have to tell your kids that once went. Heck, maybe your ‘rent will catch you on the tube
  • Lair Lounge: While this scene is more Soho than city, just the fact that you get to party in a lounge that looks like an old, French train, all while hearing the best live sets from local DJ’s, is a one of a kind experience that shouldn’t be missed
  • See Jay Z and Coldplay perform together at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn. These two did a mash up of the Coldplay song Lost, with Jay spitting verses on the song. Expect that and more at the must-attend show
  • The Black and White Masquerade Ball at Soho Grand. About as far on the other spectrum as Times Square, this “masks are mandatory” ball has tons of social media hype

Party hard dudes and dudettes.  Be sure to pre-game.  Then get weird and wild.
New Year’s Day is meant for sleeping off damage.

Housing Advice, Renting, Student Life

The Off-Campus Student Toolbox

You really don’t realize how important it is to have some miscellaneous tools around until you need to tighten a screw or hang up a picture.  This is why we’ve put together a quick list of some tools that will make sure you aren’t left in the lurch when it comes to hanging some of your favorite photos.

  • Hammer
  • Flathead screwdriver
  • Phillip’s head screwdriver
  • Measuring tape
  • Assorted screws
  • Assorted nails
  • Stud finder
  • Level

It’s a good idea to keep a small tool kit around your apartment that contains just a few basic items. However, you should always notify your landlord before doing anything major around your apartment.  This doesn’t include changing a lightbulb or tightening a screw here or there, but it will include things like fixing a door.  It’s always best to let your landlord know before you fix anything yourself; you should not take matters into your own hands unless you know what you are doing and you’ve gotten permission.

Having a really basic toolbox is a really great thing to have in any apartment you rent; it will definitely come in really handy whenever you need to fix something small.  Just be sure that before you do anything major, you check with your landlord first.

Housing Advice, Renting, Student Life

When Should I Start Looking for Off-Campus Housing for the Next Academic Year?

One of the biggest questions for many students, especially those moving off-campus for the first time, is just when should they start looking for housing.  The best answer depends on the area in which your school is situated.  If your school is in area where off-campus housing is limited, you may want to start a little earlier, maybe in November or December.  If you live in an area where housing is pretty plentiful, you may be able to wait until January or even February.  However, the idea is to start looking as soon as possible.

Before you start looking, you may want to get a group of people together to house with, or you may want to look on your own.  However, that is one decision you will want to make before you start looking.  You will also want to identify some of your main criteria for what you want in your housing, including things like location and amenities.  Figure out the things that you can live with, and what you can’t live without.  You can use our apartment checklist to ensure that you’re making the right decision for you once you’ve started your search.

All in all, it’s best to start looking for off-campus housing as soon as you can.  Before you go, just be sure to know what you want from your housing.


Renting, Student Life

Shopping for Renter’s Insurance

As we’ve mentioned in our previous posts, renter’s insurance is a great way to make sure the unexpected is covered.  However, it can be a little overwhelming figuring out where to start.  It’s doesn’t have to be too hard, though.  All you have to do is shop smart and find a policy that fits what you need.

The first thing to do before you even start searching for the right policy is to inventory your place.  You should put together a list of all the things you have in your place (at least those things that you would want covered by insurance), including their values and serial numbers.  This will help you figure out how much coverage you will need.  You also want to take photos of the items and of your place as it is now.  You may even want to videotape a tour of what your pad looks like.  This way you will have visual evidence as to the current condition and items you have.

You may also want to consider how much you want to pay per month and what your deductible should be.  Your deductible will be the amount you pay before your insurance company will contribute money to fix the damages or replace any items.  You want to make sure that the amounts you choose are those that are right for you.

After you’ve done your prep work, the next step is to start looking at some quotes that include the parameters you would like to have met.  If the quotes you are getting are a little off, you want to figure out if that is something you could live with or not.  You want to check around with a few different places too.  The idea is not pick the first number you see.

When looking at different plans and insurance companies, it is also a good idea to look at the terms they have for their policies.  You want to make sure that they will cover what you need and on terms that are acceptable to you.

After you’ve gathered all of your information, it is then time to compare the prices and the terms; figure out what will be best for you.  After all, this is an investment.  You may even want to talk to a representative (if you haven’t already) to clarify what they cover and how it all works.  It’s also a good idea to talk to your landlord to get their input before making your final decision.

When looking for renter’s insurance, it can be a little overwhelming.  However, it doesn’t have to be too hard, as long as you shop smart and choose the plan that is right for you, you won’t lose out.



“How to Buy Renter’s Insurance” by


Student Life


It’s getting dangerously close to that time in the semester when your classes are going to end and you’ll have to take final exams.  You certainly don’t want to go into this part of the semester unprepared.  This is why we’ve put together some tips to get your prepped for the dreaded finals time.

Study for the most difficult exams the most.  You should avoid devoting equal time to each class, as not all your classes are going to be the most difficult for you.  Divide your time up so that you’re expending the most effort on the most difficult classes.

Study early and often.  You want to avoid just studying for your exam the night before.  It will not only overload you, but you also won’t retain as much information. According to Colin Gruenwald of Kaplan Test Prep, it’s best to stop studying 12 to 24 hours before the test, as you aren’t going retain new content and you’ll be much more stressed.  Therefore it is best to start now (if you haven’t already) and to take some time each day to devote to studying for your finals.

Alternate study spots.    According to the New York Times, you should switch the locations where you study to increase retention.  So instead of studying in the same coffee shop or in the library every day, try a alternating between a few different study spots.

Get a good night’s sleep before the exam.  Avoid staying up the night of the exam to cram.  Like Gruenwald says, it isn’t going to help you, and it is really just going to stress you out more.  It is best to get some sleep so that you’ll be bright-eyed and bushy-tailed in the morning.

Take your time on the test.  It’s best to pace yourself while you’re working on your exam.  Try taking a break between sections or portions of the exam so that you don’t get too stressed or overwhelmed.  It’s also a good idea to stay as long as you have to, and you can.  Most people will tend to leave as soon as they have finished answering the last question, however, it is best to finish and then your review your answers before turning in the exam.

We hope these few little tips help you with the dreaded final exam week.  Just don’t forget to relax and breathe.

Good luck on exams!



“Forget What You Know About Good Study Habits” by Benedict Carey

“Top 15 Hot Tips for Finals” by Jeremy Hyman and Lynn Jacobs

“Ten Essential Study Tips for Final Exams” by Sierra Tishgart




Student Life

4 Inexpensive Gift Ideas for the Holiday Season

Especially as a student, finding the right gift (and enough time to find one) for your friends and family can be difficult.  Being on a limited budget makes the process even harder.  This is why we’ve come up with a list of some inexpensive gift ideas to help you find that perfect gift for your loved one.

A photobook.  Photos can last forever, and this is why putting together a photobook of times with your loved ones can be a great gift for the holiday season.  It can even be a conversation piece that you and your loved one can enjoy while looking at all of the photos you’ve included in the book.  The DIY photobook is always a great idea as you can personalize it to the person, however, there are a myriad of services that will do it for you.  Sites like Snapfish and Shutterfly make photobooks easy and decorative (even if you aren’t super artistically inclined).

Board games.  Board games are always a great gift, in that once the person opens the gift, you can spend the next few hours playing the game together.

Holiday Tree Ornament.  Holiday tree ornaments are a great gift for loved ones, especially those who you may be unsure what to get them.  Hallmark makes a lot of great little ornaments that can easily fit the interests of any receiver.

Homemade baked goods.  They do say that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.  Making your own homemade cookies or other baked goods for your loved ones can be a really simple and inexpensive idea.

As a student, it can be difficult finding the perfect present for your loved one, especially with such limited time (you have to factor in studying for finals) and a limited budget.  However, photobooks, board games, ornaments, and homemade baked goods are some really inexpensive ideas that will help you find the right present for this upcoming holiday season.


“Cheap Gifts:  53 Inexpensive Gift Ideas” by David Weliver