Accommodation for Students

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This article looks at a number of different options available as accommodation for students and the kinds of things you should consider before deciding on which to pursue.

Accommodation for Students Studying Away From Home

Part of going to university is experiencing new aspects of student life, including living on your own. While not all students move away from home to study, many do. For those students going to school far from home, university presents the first opportunity to live away from home for extended periods of time. Accommodation for students is an important consideration when moving away because finding the right option for you means looking at the costs involved, the distance from school, and the kinds of amenities available to you. Also, you’ll probably want to live with or near your fellow students to make the most of your student life. You should make sure you have a strong understanding of your options before you decide where you are going to stay.

The Various Options Available as Accommodation for Students

On-Campus Residence

Usually the most attractive option, on-campus residence provides students with housing on or near their respective campus. In most Canadian universities, first-year students have guaranteed residence placement if they choose to apply for it. This is meant to give these new students an opportunity to live close to school with their fellow students without having to worry about finding alternative housing in an unfamiliar city.

On-campus housing also allows students to ease into life on their own, as most residences have some form of food plan as well as laundry facilities and included utilities. Students also get to live with their fellow students, meaning they can make the most of the social aspects of university with people who are in the same situation.

This kind of accommodation for students can be pricey, especially compared to some of the other viable options students may be able to find. On-campus housing is best suited to first-year students, and returning students are often encouraged to find alternative accommodations.

Private Accommodation

After their first year, most students move to secondary accommodations, usually to a private residence or apartment farther away from campus. Whether they moved out of necessity (due to not being able to get into residence again), cost, or personal preference, students living off-campus have different options available to them, along with different things to consider.

The first consideration is cost. Because they will be paying for housing on top of tuition, as they did in their first year, students need to be mindful of how much they can afford to spend on their housing costs. Luckily, living off-campus affords you more control over your housing costs than living in residence. Because you aren’t necessarily tied down to one location, you can shop around for off-campus student accommodation and evaluate the amenities you want with what you are willing or able to pay. Another thing to consider is the added cost of living off campus: transportation, utilities, food, and entertainment. Off-campus housing means that, even when you are splitting your bills with your housemates (if you have some), you may be paying as much or more overall than you would if you were in residence.

Other Options

There are other, less common options available to students based on where they are studying. Some schools have off-campus residences that offer similar amenities as their on-campus counterparts. Many of these residences are reserved for specific students, like those in higher years, in specific programs, or in certain levels of study. Other schools, such as military colleges or academies, have mandatory communal housing, so students are usually given no other option.

International students can sometimes get special accommodations or enroll in special programs that help make sure they have a place to stay. Because these students are travelling from their home country to study, it’s even more important that they have adequate housing when they arrive.

Exchange Programs

There are special programs available that give university students the opportunity to study in another country as part of their program of study. For instance, international business students are sometimes given the option of spending their last year of study working in another country as a kind of practical experience. These programs give students access to accommodations out of necessity, and can be a great way to extend your experience outside of the classroom in a meaningful way. Of course, relying on this kind of system for accommodation is impractical at best, but students looking to move out of their current accommodations may find this option even more enticing.

Accommodation for Students: Making the Decision

Regardless of where you decide to stay, you should always be sure you pick the option that’s best for you. Whether you’re looking for social life, proximity to campus, or the most cost-effective residence, there is an option available for you. Finding accommodation for students is a matter of weighing your options and your budget and finding out what accommodations best meet your needs.

Consolidate Student Loans: Repaying Your Student Debt

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Financing your education can be a difficult thing to consider. With the expenses of tuition, accommodation, books, food, along with recreational costs, finding ways to make ends meet can be a daunting task. Aside from getting a summer job or taking advantage of an education savings plan, a common method for funding a university or college education is through the use of student loans. Whether you take them out through federal or provincial lending programs or through private lenders, eventually you will have to deal with the task of repayment. A potential option to assist your repayment efforts is to consolidate student loans into a single, easy-to-manage payment plan. This article will outline how loan consolidation works and help you decide whether the option to consolidate is one you’d like to pursue.

Why Consolidate Student Loans?

There are a number of reasons you might consider consolidating your student loans. One of the main reasons you might want to consolidate student loans is to take advantage of interest rate differentials. Because many loans are based in both federal and provincial (or state, as the case may be) jurisdictions and can be from lenders from these different areas, the interest rates and payment schedules can vary based on how those individual loans are structured and the kinds of policies that are applied to them. You may be paying one portion of your loan at 3.5% interest on the 15th of every month, and another portion at 2.5% on the 30th of every month. You can see that keeping track of these different amounts and payment schedules might be a bit of a headache. If you consolidate student loans, you can potentially get a better interest rate on your combined payments than you would on your individual ones, but we will look at this idea more closely later on.

One drawback of consolidation is relevant to students who took out private loans along with government loans. In most cases, government and private student loans can’t be consolidated together.

The next section will examine these reasons to consolidate student loans, as well as others, along with the potential advantages and disadvantages of consolidation.

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Consolidate Student Loans: Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages

As we have mentioned, consolidating your student loans can potentially help you get more favourable interest rates. To understand how this works, let’s look at our previous example in more detail: Say you have a federal loan with a 3.5% interest rate and a provincial loan at 2.5%. If you consolidate your loan, you might get it at a 3% rate. This seems better, but remember that both of these rates were only applied to a portion of your loan. Once you consolidate student loans, they collect interest as one collective amount. Therefore, in order to get a better interest rate you need to evaluate how the total amount and its interest differs from the separate amounts and their interest. For instance, if you owe more money to your provincial loan (at 2.5% interest) than you do on your federal loan (at 3.5% interest), the increase in interest may mean you end up paying more in interest over the long term than you would if you hadn’t consolidated. It’s all about evaluating the amounts you owe, who you owe them to, and what their payment plans and interest rates entail.

Aside from the interest rate advantage, there is also the added advantage of having to deal with a single lender as opposed to multiple lenders, all of whom might have different policies and conditions. Instead of sending various payments at different times to different people, consolidation allows you to send one payment at one specific scheduled time to one entity, making things a little easier to keep track of and manage. This is more-or-less just a matter of preference. If your only reason for consolidation is to streamline your payments, you may not need to go to the trouble if you aren’t already bothered by your multiple payment schedules. In fact, most payment schedules operate automatically, meaning you will have very little to do aside from monitor your account balances. Again, you should consider the characteristics of your loans before you decide whether consolidation is a suitable choice.

Sometimes, lenders allow students to consolidate student loans automatically, but this varies by region. In Canada, the provinces of Ontario, New Brunswick, Newfoundland, and Saskatchewan automatically consolidate federal and provincial loans for easier management and provide a single application applicable to both programs, meaning you can apply to the provincial program and be simultaneously eligible for federal support as well. These provinces still record federal and provincial loan amounts and interest rates separately, but offer singular payment methods. Other provinces have different policies, with some having a single application for both federal and provincial programs, and separating your amounts after graduation. Others use separate applications and don’t consolidate at all. Regardless of the region, most graduates still have the option to consolidate student loans, but it sometimes doesn’t occur automatically.

Disadvantages

Despite these advantages, student loan consolidation can also have drawbacks if it isn’t considered carefully. For instance, while initial payments may be lower or your interest rate may be more ideal after consolidation, the overall payment amount may end up being more in the long run, since it includes two different loans put together. Another issue is that you can’t consolidate student loans from government issuers with student loans from private issuers. This means that the overall benefits of consolidation may be negligible because you will still be paying two different loans at the same time, regardless of whether you consolidated your government loans. Nonetheless, the advantages often outweigh the disadvantages, especially for students who didn’t take out private loans.

Determining Whether to Consolidate Student Loans

Student loans, and the financial responsibility that comes along with them, are important options available to you that can help fund your post-secondary education. While it may seem easy enough to acquire a student loan, you need to consider exactly how you plan to repay your loan when the time comes. Since repayment typically doesn’t begin until years after you have received the loaned funds, it can be a hard thing to consider at the time, especially with so many other things to do before starting your university experience. It might seem almost like free money. Before you enter into a student loan agreement, make sure you understand the conditions and rules associated with your loans. While the option to consolidate student loans is there, it might not be ideal given the medley of considerations at play.