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Posted On: 2005-12-05Length: 31:03

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Good Monday it is December 5, 2005 this is episode 130 of the Financial Aid Podcast and my name is Chris Penn welcoming you back after a nice weekend with a little bit of snow on the ground here and a little bit of ice and some other stuff in New England. Welcome if you are tuning in for the first time, we have some stuff to talk about today including a whole bunch of little tidbits and stuff for just the podcast in general. A scholarship update from the American Cancer Society, the using of the power of the dark side of the force, which is a forecast for 2006, some things that are ahead and of course some great Podsafe music including the premier of the Podsafe piece "If everyday were Christmas" song.

Let's get started right away today with the news. The news wires are ominously quiet this morning, I suspect because it's been a relatively slow last few days in financial aid and of course nothing much of anything happens over the weekend unless Congress is doing something. A few little things here and there some House keeping stuff on our website www.financialaidpodcast.com we have as almost every other podcast on the planet does; the Frapper Map, if you want to add your pin please do, and let me know where you are listening from, you can add a picture, add a comment, feel free, I would be more than happy to see where everyone is coming from. No. 2 as it's the beginning of the month, we've never really talked about it before on the podcast but again a number of other podcasts do so I figured why not, we'll give it a try. Voting at popular websites where they index podcasts including this, is one way of building an audience trying achieve more visibility, if you have the time and the inclination and it doesn't cost any money. There are a couple of different sites where are podcasts are listed that would be great if you vote for us for a rating or a review. The first of course is at Yahoo, www.podcast.yahoo.com there is a link straight to our page for voting on the Financial Aid Podcast home page, it is just under the show notes. Please if you have a Yahoo account, please go and show a little love there. On Podcast Alley, again, there is a link on our home page from www.financialaidpodcast.com to our Podcast Alley page. In either case voting takes about 60 seconds at the most and at least just to add a numerical, hey I vote for this podcasting. If you want to write a review I would love to see those as well, but there is no obligation to do so in either case. Please do that if you have the time. Third the Podsafe album on iTunes put together a quick iMix or iPlaylist these days on iTunes over the weekend, thought it would be kind of fun to pick some of my favorites from podcasting over the past six months or so. If you have iTunes, there is a link on the Financial Aid Podcast home page to the Financial Aid Podcast Podsafe Album, it has artists like Allison Crowe, Bob Chetrick, Brother Love, Matthew Eble, Natalie Brown, Rebecca Loby, Rob Costlowe, Todd Lerner, Granian, 10 songs and the album cost is $9.90; it's really kind of my favorites from the podsafe music world. If you are looking for a holiday gift this season for someone who literally has everything, this might be something to try, again as on the Financial Aid Podcast webpage.

Stupidity of the week, I saw something really insane in the local convenience store when it comes to financial stuff. This is a clear example of misuse of financial terms by organizations which have nothing to do with your financial health other than ruining it. There was a notice or sign at the lottery ticket desk that said, "Lottery Season tickets, investing in the Lottery is easy and cost only pennies per day." I don't know about you, but granted yes, sometimes like the Stock Market can be risky but the Lottery is not investing. The Lottery has nothing to do with investing, it is gambling. Yes depending on where you play in the Stock Market, I guess that's gambling too except that stocks are generally required to have a little more oversight. But it's not investing. Investing at least means to me, you are putting money aside in the hopes of earning a return on and ideally not exposing yourself to losing both your initial investment on any returns. Gambling is a form of entertainment. That is at least most financial professionals agree, that is the healthy way of looking at it. It is a form of entertainment where you have a remote possibility of winning and if you do win, great, but don't plan it. Investing connotates, this is a plan this is a way of planning for your future. Gambling is not planning, gambling is entertainment and the two should not be confused. So I think it's a little bit irresponsible, especially given the confusion that people will have with financial terms to use the word investing when it comes to the Lottery. There are innumerable ways of losing your shirt in the regular financial markets, everything from penny stocks, to junk bonds, this that and the other thing but generally speaking if you are investing and if you are well versed in financial investments or you have access to a financial planner who is well versed in that stuff. Investing generally doesn't have as much risk and you can expect some form of return on your investment. With the Lottery, the odds are so remote of winning the lottery that you probably will be better off taking that money and flinging it out the window in the hopes that more money will blow back in the window. That's just my stupidity, noticing something that I think is kind of irresponsible on the part of the lottery. Some of the people who come into the five and ten convenience store who hang out there probably don't know the difference between investing and gambling and the use of that word doesn't help.

Finally over the week end they've picked up a very good book that I highly recommend not only for anyone who is majoring in business in college but also for anyone who wants to know anything about money on the grand scale. It is called Economics for Dummies, at least so far it is a really good book. I'm trying to learn more about Economics so that as part of this podcast I can help everyone else learn more about economics and put things in a reasonably sensible context rather than just pointing out figures and facts on the internet. It's a really good book, I like their definition. Economics is basically the science of how people deal with scarcity. There is not an infinite amount of any resource at all. You have a limit on money, on time, on raw materials. Economics is basically a science of who get's what and how they get it which coincidently the definition of Politics. Politics and Economics are money and powers are intertwined permanently so it's a very good book. I highly recommend it if you are looking for a good primer on Economics like I said so far, its' been a great read. Let's move to our fist piece of Podsafe music the podsafe piece, "If Everyday were Christmas."

(music)

Now that is a fun holiday song. It's very reminiscent, I've finally figured out if you remember "Do They Know it's Christmas at All," I think it was Band-Aid, in "We are the World." Kind of the same idea. If you happen to have access to a radio station or any professional venue where this time of music would be appropriate, give this a spin. The song is registered with AsCap with BMI it has the full permission of all the artists who contributed to it to play it in other venues. Any profits from the song by playing it in professional venues registered through AsCap and BMI will go to UNICEF this holiday season so it's a great way great music heard and to make a difference when it comes to charity.

Let's move onto the scholarship update, today's scholarship update is American Cancer Society Relay for Life Scholarships for young cancer survivors. Last year $1,000 scholarships were granted to 105 college bound cancer survivors across Ohio, this is for citizens for Ohio State. Scholarship applicants must be residents of Ohio a United States citizen, diagnosed with cancer before the age of 21 years, younger than 25 years at the time of application and plan to attend an accredited university or community college within United States. All scholarships will be awarded by the society's volunteer's scholarship review committee and will be scholarship performed, scholastic performance, community service and leadership. The $1,000 scholarship is available for pretty much any program. The deadline for scholarship is February 1, 2006. There is an application packet , a PDF that you can download and print out then send in. The American Cancer Society has scholarships not only just for Ohio citizens but also for citizens throughout the United States, they have all sorts of different scholarships administered by local state chapters of the American Cancer Society. The link is on our website, www.studentscholarshipsearch.com feel free to stop by and take a look and go on to this scholarship and many others listed there. The American Cancer Society Relay for Life Scholarship for citizens in Ohio is today's scholarship update. Let's move on to the next piece of Podsafe music let's do "Oh come all Ye Faithful," from Jill Parr and yes there is a Christmas Music Theme to today's show.

(music)

NATALIE BROWN: This is Natalie Brown wishing you a very safe and happy holiday season.

CHRIS PENN: That was "Oh come all Ye Faithful," by Jill Parr and a quick Christmas message from Natalie Brown.

Let's move onto our last and possibly new segment depending on how well I like it. A little clip from Star Wars there to use the power of the dark side, which is forecasting looking into the future, looking into a mirrored darkly depending on your perspective, kind of a fun title. Predictions for 2006, if you haven't been tracking interest rates, I can understand why you wouldn't because it's probably about as exciting as watching paint dry, but it is important. Then what's coming up ahead around the corner after the Christmas Season, after the New Year is of course 2006 and all the interesting financial things that come with it. Among those things are the rising interest rates across the board, everything from credit card rates to mortgage rates to T bill rates, to student loan rates and the question on everyone's mind at least it will be in January when the bills start arriving for the holiday season is, how high can these rates go anyway. When it comes to student loan rates, student loan rates are set for the Stafford and PLUS loans based on the 91 day T bill which currently is floating around 4% give or take. It's been increasing a little bit here and there, today's auction should actually shed some light on which direction it's moving. The way it seems to be going however, is up as with everything else and how far up is largely a matter of debate. One of the indicators of how quickly it's going up is-well we're predicting if you make a moving average of the increases of each week, we are looking at about a 0.044% increase weekly of the 91 day T bill.

At the current rate of increase, the T bill which last May was set at 3% making student loan rates, 4.7%, 5.3%, 6.1% respectively for Stafford Loans in grace for repayment and PLUS loans. We are looking at an increase now to a 5.325% projected out this coming May that is a 2.3% increase over the previous years rate. Which was 1.9% increase over the years before rate. If that was a little hard to follow, I apologize. Basically you are looking at a larger increase this year than we had last year. How large of an increase? It's almost doubled, not quite though. What does that mean for Stafford Loan rates? Currently if your Stafford loans are in repayment your paying at 5.3% as your interest rate. If these predictions turn out to be true, as of July 1 that rate will go to 7.625%. If you have PLUS loans you are currently paying 6.1%, now you will be looking at 8.425% for PLUS loans on July 1. This makes PLUS loans especially somewhat less competitive in the market place with other forms with consumer borrowing especially when it comes to private alternative student loans. They would still probably be a better rate but not necessarily, it really depends on what's going to happen with the other interest rates in the market. One other rate that is important to point out is, the one year CMT. The one year Constant Maturity Treasury Rate which looks like it's headed back up to around 5% or so. The one year CMT as we've talked about on recent podcasts is what most adjustable rate mortgages are set to. They are usually between 2% and 2.5% margin tacked on to those so for people who are looking for home equity for education, you may be looking around 7.5% for your adjustable rate mortgage this coming year. There is no timing on that like there is for Federal Student loans that could happen at any time. The other thing that we are seeing is that with the record number of houses currently on the market, the selling price of those houses is likely to drop in order for sellers to move property. Over all the equity available based on appraisals will become less as well, so for people who are using home equity to pay for education, it's probably going to become less and less appealing as 2006 wears on.

The best bets for financing your education in 2006 in order:

1. Scholarships and grants. Always the best bet, always because it's free money, you don't have to repay it, there's no interest rates to worry about there's no anything to worry about what so ever you just fill out the applications and off you go.

2. Federal Student loans. Despite the interest rate increases Federal Student loans probably will remain relatively low compared to other forms of financing and of course they have a full range of deferment forbearance privileges.

Things like the Stafford loan which you can get at www.staffordloan.com the PLUS loan which you can get at www.parentplusloan.com and of course the application that controls them all the FAFSA which you can get for free at www.fafsaonline.com. Finally of course private student loans, the ACT Education loan, the Alternative Student loan these are private sector loans that are made available to students and families as well; usually with a co-signer at www.acteducationloans.com and www.alternativestudentloan.com. I would say that taking on non-education related debt for 2006 probably not the best thing and obviously if you can get scholarships then take the un-education related debt is also not a good thing, make sure that you go for scholarships first and then what you would do is, if that doesn't work out as well as would like, keep applying for the scholarships, keep hunting for scholarships but take out student loans to bridge the gap between the time you have applied for the scholarship and the time hopefully you get the scholarships. That is the power of the dark side predictions for 2006. Let's finish off today's show with one last piece of Podsafe music, I think we are going to do-I really like Matthew Eble's Christmas song, "Walk a Thousand Miles," so we are going Matthew Eble, "Walk a Thousand Miles."

(music)

"Walk a Thousand Miles," by Matthew Eble from the Podsafe Music Network as all our music is from the show at www.music.podshow.com or www.podsafemusicnetwork.com. All right folks that is going to wrap it up for today's show with the new segment here we have a whole bunch of different potential segments now, we've got the financial aid news, scholarship updates, mail bag, Eye on the Economy, Power of the Dark Side, and tons of Podsafe music of course, and all sorts of different features. What I would like to know from you is, what do you like the most, what do you like the least, what would you like to see more of, what would you like to see less of. E-mail me at financialpodcast@gmail.com, either as regular e-mail or audio feedback, I would like to know what you think of the show as we wind down 2005, what thing we could do better, what things we I can do better for the show, what things interested in hearing about more or less interested in hearing about. I know the last time we asked, people were saying more scholarships, so the scholarship update has been an almost daily inclusion in the show which is actually very good because it gets information about scholarships out there to everyone. There has been a lot of talk lately on the podcasts about home equity and mortgage and stuff like that, because people do by enlarge especially parents have these things. If this not of interest to you let me know, if it is of interest and you would like to see more of it, or digging into it, things like Eye on the Economy let me know at financialaidpodcast@gmail.com is where to send the feedback. I would be happy to hear from you, I would be very encouraged to see what you have to say. The reminder of course from the beginning of the show to go and vote, you can find information about where to go at our website at www.financialaidpodcast.com where you will also find the show notes from today's show with everything we've discussed here. Links to relevant websites and of course links to the Podsafe artists that we played. No other major reminders coming up except be careful out there, it was really icy this morning. If you are not subscribed get subscribed it is very easy there are directions on the website, that way you never miss an episode if you happen to be listening to us just as something someone forwarded you, or you are listening on the website, stop by. There is also a feed blitz e-mail subscription box on the website as well that way you can be notified when a new show has appeared. Generally speaking, I try to keep it to a whole five days a week thing, but if that doesn't work out or if you don't pod catcher that runs automatically, this is the way to do it to be notified. Fill out the Frapper Map if you are so inclined and I guess that's going to do it for today's show, so until tomorrow take care everyone.

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