JumpOffCampus

More resources!

At JumpOffCampus, we work to be a student’s one-stop-shop for off-campus housing.  We first gave you our apartment finder; then we gave you the roommate finder.  Now we’re adding . . . a way to get furniture?!

Yes, that’s right.  We’ve partnered with Cort® Furniture to give an exclusive deal to our New York metro users a 10% deal on furniture rentals.  While you may think that renting furniture isn’t for you, think again.  First of all, they deliver it for you; that means no moving trucks, and no more lugging heavy furniture everywhere.  Second of all, they set it up for you . . . in 48 hours.  That means you no longer have to lug your furniture up to your apartment.  And the best thing is, you don’t have to move it when you move out!  That sounds good to us!

Check out this deal and others by visiting our resources page on our website beginning August 1 at www.jumpoffcampus.com!  If you’d like to request this deal in your area, just send us an email at katie@jumpoffcampus.com!

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JumpOffCampus

We’ve got a new look and some new features!

Our development team has been working tirelessly to make our website into a one-stop-shop for off-campus housing and keeping it looking good too!

Not only do we have a new look, but we’ve also got a ton of new stuff!  We’ve recently added a new roommate finder, where you can match yourself with other students.  All you have to do is take our roommate-matching survey.  This survey is based on research that we’ve conducted in relation to what students look for in a roommate and what universities tend to include in their roommate-matching surveys.

Once you’ve answered the questions and created a roommate profile for yourself, you can search through other students’ profiles who also attend your school.  We’ll even give you a compatibility score for each of the profiles you view so you know how compatible you and that person would be as roommates!

Last, but not least, we’ve added a ton of new stuff to our resources page.  You can view our blog entries and articles we’ve written that directly pertain to college students.  These resources will help to inform you about some of the most important things to consider when it comes to off-campus living.

This isn’t the end of it either!  We’ve got a lot of great stuff planned, so be sure to keep checking our website at www.jumpoffcampus.com!

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Housing Advice

Reducing Home Allergens

While allergies symptoms can range from mild to severe, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, approximately 60 million Americans suffer from asthma and allergies.  Approximately 40 million suffer from indoor/outdoor allergies as their primary allergy.  The most common triggers being trees, grass and weed pollen, mold, dust mites, cockroaches, and cat, dog, and rodent dander.   Food allergies account for approximately 6% of allergy suffers, and the most common triggers are milk, soy, eggs, wheat, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, and shellfish.

If you have allergies, you may have experienced sniffling, sneezing, watery eyes, headaches, or worse.  It can be a very unpleasant experience when you your allergies flare up.  While there isn’t much you can do to rid yourself completely of your allergies, there are certainly some simple things you can do around your home that will help to reduce allergens.

Use an allergen impermeable cover to enclose your mattress, box spring, and pillows.  In an article we read by Mikki Hogan at The Allergy Spot, the first area you want to consider is your bed and your bedroom.  Dust and dust mites found on your bed can be a major trigger for your allergy symptoms.  These covers will help trap any allergens that may be on your mattress, and will prevent them from being inhaled.

Wash sheets, pillowcases and blankets in hot water at least once per week.  Hogan explains that hot water will kill all dust mites and removes allergens from the fabrics.  By accompanying this with hypoallergenic fabrics, you can greatly reduce the potential for your symptoms to flare up.

Vacuum floors regularly.  By vacuuming carpeting and other flooring, you can greatly reduce dust and other allergens that can accumulate.  You can use dry carpet cleaners to further remove allergens.  According to Hogan, shampooing carpets can leave residual moisture than can increase dust mite growth.  You may also want to consider using a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

Dust regularly.  Be sure to dust every area that could potentially collect dust.  You may also want to consider clearing any clutter or messes regularly to prevent the collection of dust.

Wash curtains and blinds monthly.  In another article we read by Clean Air Plus, when purchasing curtains, you will want to consider washable fabrics so that you can wash them safely without damaging them.  You will also want to take a clean washcloth and wipe down window blinds.  Both curtains and blinds are primary locations for dust collection.

Regularly vacuum and clean furniture.  Ensuring that couches, tables, shelves, etc. are regularly cleaned will also help to greatly reduce dust and other allergens.  Be sure to remove the appropriate cleaners for woods and fabrics.  Vacuuming can be especially helpful on cloth-based furniture.

Regularly clean shower and tub areas.  Because these areas are generally damp, they can become breading grounds for mold and mildew.  To ensure that mold and mildew do not build up, regularly clean these areas with the appropriate cleaners.

Avoid opening windows when pollen is active.  This is pretty self-explanatory, but this will help ensure that no pollen gets in and it will decrease the number of allergens inside your home.

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Ask the Expert, College Planning, Finances

ASK THE EXPERT: College Financial Planning, Part 4

For the fourth installment of “Ask the Expert: College Financial Planning” series, we wanted to know how college housing choices effect financial aid decisions. To find out more, we spoke again with Mark Kantrowitz, college financial planning expert and publisher of FinAid.org and FastWeb.com.

According to Kantrowitz, room and board are factored into the cost of college attendance, making it an expense covered by a student’s financial aid package. If a student chooses to live on-campus, their room and board would be based on the dormitory fees and the standard meal plan fee. If the student chooses to live at home with their parent(s) or guardian(s), rarely will they receive any financial aid for their housing accommodations.

If the student lives in an off-campus property (other than at home), the student will be afforded an allowance within their financial aid package to cover the cost of their housing. However, this price will be an arbitrary average rent price that is based on occasional rent surveys, and as Kantrowitz explains, universities are very reluctant to change these figures once they have been set. This means that if a student chooses to live in a property that is more expensive than the housing allowance, the university will not alter their allowance to accommodate the greater price. The only circumstances in which Kantrowitz sees this change being made is when the student has extenuating circumstances, such as a disability or having a dependent, which would require them to choose a more expensive residence.

For this reason, Kantrowitz advises students to try to stay within their budgets when it comes to off-campus housing. He explains “Just because you have an allowance that says you can pay up to this amount per month for rent, doesn’t mean that you should spend that amount. This is because in most cases the money that you’re spending on your living expenses is going to come in the form of loans, not grants.” By spending up to the allotted amount or above that amount, this will not only increase the student’s expenses per month, but it will also increase the amount of debt the student will have to pay off when they graduate.

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Cooking, Housing Advice

Starter Pantry Essentials Checklist

When you’re moving off-campus for the school year, there are a lot of things to consider.  If your living in an unfurnished pad, in particular, there are a lot of things you have to remember to pack.  While it’s important, I’m sure many of you may forget the important essentials you’ll need to stock your pantry with when you move in.  It’s not like at home where your mom always had some chicken noodle soup in stock.  You’re on your own!

Knowing from our experience, we wanted to make sure you weren’t left out in the cold if you didn’t get to go grocery shopping one week.  Thanks to a couple articles we read at MyFirstApartment.com, we’ve come up with a list of things that every college student living off-campus needs to keep themselves fed.

  • Canned beans
  • Canned soups
  • Canned tomatoes
  • Pasta sauce
  • Spices (you at least want garlic powder, onion powder, salt, and pepper)
  • All-purpose flour
  • Sugar
  • Vanilla extract
  • Baking powder
  • Baking soda
  • Vegetable oil (optional)
  • Olive oil
  • Vinegar
  • Dried pasta
  • Instant oatmeal
  • Mustard
  • Ketchup
  • Coffee/Tea
  • Cereal
  • Honey
  • Hot cocoa
  • Rice

The articles we referenced:

http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2011/10/first-apartment-pantry-essentials/2/

http://www.myfirstapartment.com/2005/11/starter-pantry-and-staples-checklist/

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Housing Advice, Roommates, Student Life

How to Deal with Roommate Issues

Let’s be honest here:  You and your roommate(s) are never going to see eye to eye on everything.  Whether it is about doing dishes, who’s buying the paper towels, or whether they can have friends over at 12 am on a Tuesday night, things are going to come up that you just won’t agree on.  However, you certainly don’t want to end up in a bickering match or giving each other the silent treatment for the rest of the year.  This is why you need to be prepared before it comes time for you to have a talk.  In an article we read at MSN.com, they gave some tips on how to talk with your roommate when problems arise:

  • Avoid passive aggression.  The sticky note you leave your roommate detailing their wrong doings never goes over well (beware not get yourself on this site!).
  • Emphasize the positive.  Before you talk with your roommate, be sure to make a list of their positive qualities.   This will help to remind you what you like about them, and it will help keep you positive when you talk with them.
  • Consider how you could be contributing to the situation.  Usually issues in a relationship are never black and white.  Maybe your roommate never does the dishes because you never do.  You will want to consider how you could make changes too.
  • Be prepared.  NEVER GO INTO A SITUATION LIKE THIS UNPREPARED.  I repeat:  NEVER GO INTO A SITUATION LIKE THIS UNPREPARED.  This is perhaps the most important item on this list.  If you go into a situation like this with your roommate and you have not thought about what you are going to say beforehand, a myriad of (not-so-good) things can happen.  However, what will most likely happen is one of two things:  1) you won’t actually say what you meant to say, or 2) you won’t say it right and it will cause more friction between you and your roommate.  Be prepared!  Think about what you want to say and how you want to approach the situation.  You’ll also want to consider their possible reactions and how you will approach their responses.  You may even want to write down some notes and practice what you’ll say beforehand.  You don’t have to be afraid to talk with your roommate; you just have to be prepared.
  • Pick a comfortable location and time to talk.  You want to pick a time and place where both you and your roommate will be relaxed.  You may even want to set up a time with your roommate to talk with them.  This will help to prevent any outside influences (work, school, etc.) from affecting the outcome of your talk.
  • Be tactful, even-tempered, and clear.  Be clear about what you want to change, and make sure there are no “grey” areas.  You want to keep a cool head and be strategic about how you say what you need to say.  At least then one of you will be levelheaded.
  • Use “I” statements versus “you” statements.  Be sure to avoid focusing the discussion on what your roommate is doing wrong.  Instead focus on how the situation and their behavior makes you feel.  This way you’ll prevent them from shutting out what you are saying.
  • Don’t wait too long to talk to them.  Talk to them within a reasonable amount of time.  If your roommate had a party while you were away, you don’t want to wait 3 months after the fact.  Talk to them within a couple days of when you return.  This way it will be fresh in both of your minds, and it will prevent any future incidents.
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Ask the Expert, College Planning, Finances

ASK THE EXPERT: College Financial Planning, Part 3

For the third installment in our college planning series, we wanted to know what were some of the biggest issues encountered by students when applying for financial aid.  Once again, we spoke with Mark Kantrowitz, publisher of FinAid.org and Fastweb.com and expert on paying for college, to give us his perspective on this issue and how students can maximize their federal student aid.

According to Kantrowitz one of the major problems he identifies is that students often do not fully understand the reality of the loans they receive.  Kantrowitz explains that students will sign their name to a loan so long as it enables them to fulfill their dreams.  Many believe that they will figure out how to pay back the loan when they graduate from college.  However, this is a major problem, explains Kantrowitz, as it is much more difficult to figure out how to pay back the loan after you have incurred that cost, rather than before.   He urges that “If you’re choosing a college and your dream is to study a field that doesn’t pay very well, you need to make sure you borrow less to match your expected income when you graduate.”  While this could mean going to a cheaper school, it could also mean just limiting other costs while attending school.  Kantrowitz suggests buying used textbooks, selling textbooks back to the bookstore, taking fewer trips home, and eating out less.  He advises  “You have to live like a student while you’re in school so that you don’t have to live like a student after you graduate.”

Another major problem Kantrowitz identifies is that student often will not file their Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early enough, and will consequently receive less financial aid.  Instead he urges students not to wait until they have filed their income tax information, but rather file their FAFSA based on projected income information and their previous income tax information.

To maximize financial aid with FAFSA, Kantrowitz urges students to be aware that income is weighted much more heavily than assets, and assets in a child’s name count much more heavily (about 20% are counted against aid eligibility) than those in the parent’s name (5.64% or less is counted against aid eligibility).  He explains that if you currently have a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) or Uniform Transfer to Minors Act (UTMA) account to help save for college, you may want to consider moving the money to a custodial 529 college savings plan account.  Kantrowitz advises that this is the most tax advantageous ways of saving for college, and that this will help students to maximize the financial aid they receive.

By saving, being frugal and being mindful, Kantrowitz explains that students can make the most of their experience, while still being able to afford college.  It is important that students stay informed when it comes to paying for college so that they may make decisions that are right for them.

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