Understanding Student Loan Consolidation

Understanding-Student-Loan-Consolidation

Undergraduate students, graduate students, and the parents of students can look to lenders, credit unions, and the federal government for help if they want to simplify their debt. A wealth of student loan consolidation experts are available to guide students and parents through the act of putting all of their student loans together into one lump sum with a reduced interest rate. This helps students and parents to significantly reduce the number of bills they have to pay each month. It is also a fantastic way to manage finances and begin the process of getting their monthly payments under control.

Federal student loan consolidation allows all active student loans to be compiled into one manageable monthly payment. If a student qualifies for federal student loans, then he or she also qualifies for federal student loan consolidation. This includes Stafford loans, Perkins loans, PLUS loans, Direct loans, HEAL, SLS, Health Professional student loans, NSL, and Guaranteed Student loans. Whether the recipient of a loan is the student or his or her parents, they can look into student loan consolidation. All loans must be consolidated separately, however. In July of 2006, a new provision maintains that married students are no longer allowed to lump their student loans together for the purpose of consolidation. An individual’s loans must be consolidated separately.

Consolidation becomes a viable option only after the repayment period for a loan or loans has begun, or during the inherent grace period. Students are no longer able to begin consolidating their loans while they are still attending college. Parents however can begin to consolidate their PLUS loans at any time. As long as the repayment plan is satisfactory, loan recipients are also able to consolidate student loans if the loans are in default.

Both parents and students have to consolidate their student loans with a lender who is different from the one who loaned them the initial student loans. Doing so allows them to receive a lower interest rate and substantially more savings. Generally, lenders require a minimum balance for loan consolidation. Federal and private student loans have to be consolidated separately. This is because federal loan consolidation usually offers better advantages and lower interest rates. Interest rates are determined by averaging the current rates of the loans which will be consolidated and rounding the answer up to one-eighth of a percent. The interest rate can go up if a borrower extends the terms of the loan’s repayment plan.

Federal loan consolidation requires no credit checks but the period of repayment is usually longer. In general, consolidating federal student loans results in lower monthly payments, because the loan period is extended from ten years to anywhere between twelve and thirty – it all depends on the amount of the loan.

Federal student loans and private student loans cannot be consolidated into one big loan. They are entirely separate loans and have to remain separated even in matters of consolidation. The primary benefit of consolidating private student loans is the borrower’s ability to receive a single payment a month. It is entirely possible that the monthly amount will be lower, as the act of consolidating resets the entire student loan period. Any private student loan which has been consolidated will likely have a higher total interest rate, since it has to be paid out over a longer period of time. When deciding to consolidate student loans, the recipient of the loan should research which consolidation companies offer variable or fixed interest rates, what any penalties may be, and what kinds of fees are charged.

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Educational Websites For Kids

Educational-Websites-For-Kids

Educational websites are key in helping both parents and teachers to build early academic foundations in children. Research demonstrates the earlier you begin to work with your child academically – the better.

Worksheets can be a great introduction to a child’s academic journey. These worksheets are meant to prepare students for kindergarten and beyond. It is not only worksheets, but crafts and activities that are aimed at introducing various concepts that reinforce color recognition, improving motor skills and will also introduce numbers and letters. These hands-on activities are crafted to enhance a child’s skills and also help introduce basic concepts in a fun, engaging manner.

Also these sites have a great collection of Toddler, Preschool and Kindergarten activities and materials that are carefully designed to help a child. These activities introduce concepts that need to be mastered prior to entering Kindergarten. All are designed in a way that will help develop a child’s learning skills and build a strong educational foundation.

Age appropriate story books help introduce your child to Reading. Story Books introduce your child to the fundamentals of reading:

  • Books Are To Be Read From Front To Back
  • Pictures Should Be Right Side Up
  • Words Should Be Read From Left To The Right
  • Words Have Different Sounds
  • Stories Have A Beginning, Middle And The End

Preschoolers who are introduced to story books are more likely to have advanced literacy skills than their peers who were NOT introduced to such books. As a parent you should encourage further literacy development. Read a loud daily to your child. Choose different types of books and find the type your child is interested in. This will help build a child’s vocabulary. Also, a child will understand that the letters in the book make words. These words make sentences, and these sentences create a story. When a child understands the beginning stages of Reading, it creates the cornerstone for all future reading.

Educational websites are a great supplement to any Toddler, Preschool or Kindergarten curriculum program. The best part, these products are readily available and also very affordable for parents.

Limit television and video play daily. Instead, download an activity or craft. Have your child complete the assignment and go over it with them. Once it is completed and checked, place a sticker to reward your child’s effort. In this way, your child will want to continue working on these skill building activities and receive a reward.

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Leadership For Student Learning

Leadership-For-Student-Learning

As the 21st century continues to unfold, the task of finding competent leaders to occupy positions of leadership in the educational arena continues to be a challenge not because of a lack of academically qualified leaders, but because of a lack of adaptive -competently qualified candidates. As such, many schools are under the leadership of leaders who lack the qualifications necessary to operate educational institutions in an era marked by rapid and constant change. If the educational scenery is to realize any meaningful change educational leadership should be reinvented. This paper identifies some of the challenges currently faced by the Education system. It looks at how these challenges may be addressed by reinventing educational leadership. The paper culminates with brief recommendations of how institutions of higher learning as well as stakeholders in the educational sector may reinvent the manner in which they prepare educational leaders -the end result not only academically-qualified, but also adaptive-competently qualified leaders who are able to perform in environments characterized by constant and rapid changes.

The educational environment in contemporary society is one in which change represents one of the very few constants. Cultural, social, political, technological and economical changes have resulted in a more diverse school populace since the genesis of education. With the advent of these changes, the educational sector is now faced with increased challenges. Challenges such as: low family literacy, increased poverty margins, a rise in dysfunctional families, and increased access to counter-productive information via internet. These challenges have seemingly created an uneven playing ground where students from all walks of life enter the education system being different, but by the time they exit, the barriers of differences should fade significantly, at least academically. Unfortunately, this does not always happen. An article by The National Association of Secondary School Principals “How do you reinvent a principal” highlights a number of effects these challenges have birthed: higher drop out rates, lower academic achievement and teacher attrition. The impact of the effects of these challenges on society is detrimental, as more students exit the educational system without the necessary qualifications to become positively contributing citizens to society.

As these changes and their impact are manifested in the educational environment, stakeholders are forced to raise their expectations from those in leadership positions within schools. Copeland in his article “The myth of a Super Principal” substantiates this point when he states that the expectations of leaders have increased significantly since the 1980’s (2001). The mandate of the No Child Left behind Act (NCLB) in 2001 solidified the prior statements as under the act leaders working in schools which were repeatedly classified as not meeting annual yearly progress (AYP) goals were relinquished of their positions. Incidentally, most of the leaders who were “relocated” were academically qualified for leadership positions, but lacked adaptive-competent qualification. Academically qualified leaders have successfully completed their years of training, by mastering the necessary dogma that was required. Adaptive-competent leaders are able to execute the theoretical skills practically and are able to assess new situations and appropriately modify their leadership style to suit the situation. As the educational scenery changes leadership should be reinvented if any measure of success is to be expected in erasing the effects of the challenges facing education.

The expectations of society have shaped and will continue to shape the roles of those in leadership positions. Educational leaders are now expected to be more than managers, creating rules and policies and maintaining the necessary paper work. They have to be more than disciplinarians, enforcing rules and policies and giving consequences in the event that rules and policies are broken. Leaders are expected to, amidst all the challenges they face, contribute to the increase in student achievement, cut drop out rates, and be a motivating force to their teachers. As the period of high stake testing takes root, no educational leader is exempt from these new demands. Institutions of higher learning as well as stakeholders within the educational arena must now ponder and quickly, how to prepare leaders to take on an educational system that must survive in these turbulent times, or face a future with yearly increase in the number of counter-productive students.

Educational leadership for this era demands a style of leadership that is fluid sufficiently to deal effectively with the challenges which will continue to bombard the academic world. This style of leadership should be entrenched in values, only then can an educational culture that is conducive to the invention of productive future citizens be realized. These values should encourage integrity in decision-making which will impact not only education, but stakeholders as well. A value-driven culture should produce leaders and followers who are willing to listen, and evaluate data before taking the steps to implement or act on the data. 21st century educational leadership should encourage collaborative team work within their organizations. This will permit staff members to feel a sense of self worth and subsequently self confidence as they work with their leaders to realize the necessary changes needed to counteract the challenges they face. Educational leaders should encourage staff-creativity, as they seek new ways to address new situations facing education. Far too often educators rely on the advice of those outside of the educational arena to provide techniques with which they may master the challenges they face. In order for staff members to maximize their creative potential leaders should create environments that facilitate and encourage employee creativity and innovative efforts. Encourage workshops sessions were brainstorm techniques as well as the random word technique or mind mapping is used to identify on going methods of providing a climate in which students are motivated to learn. The environment in question should prompt employees to enthusiastically participate decisions critical to the education process. This can be achieved if leaders create a culture that is conducive to open communication, where followers are able to participate by expressing their ideas without fear of ridicule.

Contemporary educational leaders should move away from a particular style, but should utilize different leadership styles as the situation warrants in order to effectively deal with the challenges they face. Any leadership style that lacks the flexibility to bend as the time changes will become an impediment to academic progress. Institutions of higher learning as well as stakeholders should prepare educational leaders to embrace new strategies of dealing with a new “generation” which will continue to metamorphosis as the time changes. As society grapple with the shortage of qualified educational leaders, institutions of higher learning need to provide adequate and on going professional development opportunities to qualify those seeking leadership positions in order to produce academically and adaptively-competently qualified leaders.

21st century educational leadership should be equipped to deal with the myriad changes bombarding society. As technology, culture, politics, economy, and social factors continue to modify the educational environment, academic-qualification, should no longer be the measuring stick by which leaders are prepared. The need to develop adaptive-competence becomes necessary. Only then can leadership be revolutionized to meet the demand of a changing school populace.

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How To Save Money on Student Education

In comparison to past, the modern education is very costly and expensive. If you think that it will be free of cost, you are wrong. Ok, after your child being born, you must start depositing money in bank account. That doesn’t mean that you will have to transfer the huge amount of money every month living on starvation. You are gentleman and you need to be duty bound to deposit the amount in the bank for the education of your children. In most cases, guardians try to collect funds from different sources to support the admission fees. They proceed for taking the loan from the money lender when they feel that it is quite burdensome for them to support the education cost in higher level.

Therefore from the very beginning, you need to save money for your child’s education. Your child will grow and the fixed amount will also be growing into maturity. After the specific period, the amount will be given to the parents for bearing the education expenses. For instance, you can open a joint trust to deposit the amount. Your wife will be trustee in that trust. After a certain time limit, a lump sum amount will be transferred to your children for continuing the higher studies in colleges and in universities. This lump sum amount can be paid back installments as well.

Besides, there are other alternative ways for safeguarding the amount to keep the future of your kids in safety. The schools and colleges offer grants or student consolidation loan offers. These grants are very good for funding the education of your sons. There are many financial institutions which also offer the student consolidation loans. From childhood days, you must train your children to earn money. When they are capable of doing work, please tell them to earn dollars to support their education. They can do part time job and they will also be able to browse the intent to find the good jobs.

There are many home based job projects in the internet and they should utilize the online resources to collect fund by working as part timers. You can even purchase the bonds or shares which will provide the financial backup for bearing the admission fees and purchase the study materials. To find the good offer, you can log at the online sites for garnering the information and data to make the proper usage of good opportunities in relation to the child education. You can get the information about the bank loan offer or any tax holiday bonanza during the vacation period. Please try to utilize these online sources.

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Exceptional Student Education

Exceptional Student Education, popularly known as Exceptional Education generally refers to the education that is primarily meant for children who are suffering from physical or mental disabilities. The key feature that makes this form of education more special is that this form of education is usually supported and funded outside the normal class framework. For an example, elementary schools dedicate separate classes and schools, and secondary schools substitute classes with honors courses. In fact, this form of education generally focuses on the knowledge and clinical experiences in the field, along with practical application of that theory.

These days, there are many educational schools in the United States that are offering degree programs in exceptional student education. The basic aim of these programs is to produce teachers who can address the requirements of this increasingly diverse student population and in turn offer innovative programs in order to better serve these students. The major advantage of the exceptional student education program is it provides the knowledge base required for general educators who wish to expand their areas of certification. A program also provides an inclusive background for professionals in the educational field to meet the needs of children and youth with exceptionalities.

Today exceptional student education is counted among one of the few fields in the education industry that enables tutors to understand the needs of such exceptionalities and plan accordingly to devise adequate responses. And, so the exceptional student education program has a great importance in present scenario that offer a complete background for education professionals inclined in meeting the needs of children. Apart from this, the other key benefits that make this program more special are that once you complete the program, you will be better acquainted with ability to:

  • Teach students with different mild exceptionalities in different instructional settings
  • Recognize a different variety of exceptionalities
  • Review special students’ learning and behavioral requirements
  • Prepare suitable programs in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary team
  • Employ and calculate all-inclusive student programs and growth based on legal mandates
  • The program actually enables you to comprehend a diversity of exceptionalities and graph on proper programming for students with learning or behavioral problems.

These days, there are many schools that are offering this education program in an online format. But, even an online exceptional student education degree can help you make a career working with disabled and/or gifted children. In fact, once you complete your education, you could easily avail a job as a special education teacher or as an advanced education teacher. Today it is one of the few fields in the education industry that has pulled the attention of many young aspirants. In fact, if we talk in terms of future prospects then it seems to be very promising.

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Education Reform

I remember 20 plus years ago when I was getting my graduate degree in Special Education and a buddy of mine getting his degree in elementary education told me that his father, a school principal, said that I probably shouldn’t waste my time getting a masters in Special Education. He said that Special Education would be eventually fading out of public education. I was almost done with my masters at this point so I figured I would have to take my chances with it, besides what other choice did I have anyways at that point?

I got a Special Education job and taught for about 10 year. There were a lot of ups and downs over those 10 years, and eventually I decided that I wanted a change so I got certified and switched over to high school history. At this point in my career I remembered what my friend had said a decade ago and wondered if I was ahead of the curve on schools no longer needing special education teachers, even though it was 10 years later. I wondered if my job was now safe in my new-found home in the history department.

Well, I loved teaching history, but life has its own funny ways that aren’t aligned to us and what we want, so after a decade of teaching history I personally got a first class education on budget cuts and my job was eliminated. Thankfully, I landed on my feet back in Special Education, believe it or not.

It had been more than two decades since my old graduate school buddy told me that the need for special education teachers was disappearing. During the previous two decades my friend had gone from graduate school to elementary school teacher to assistant principal to principal, just like his father had done. I had gone from graduate school to special education teacher to history teacher to back to special education teacher, like nobody else that I know had done. And believe it or not there was still a bunch of special education jobs available when I landed there for a second time. As a matter of fact, there was actually plenty of jobs there because there is a shortage of special education teachers in 49 out of our 50 states. Imagine that… Two decades after I was told that Special Education was going away, and I find that they still can’t seem to get enough special education teachers.

Fast-forward a few more years to today and there is a new and interesting twist affecting Special Education called full inclusion. Now inclusion isn’t a new thing to our schools. As a matter of fact inclusion has a long interesting history in our schools.

Six decades ago there was the Supreme Court Case of Brown v. Board of Education. In 1954 the new law of the land became integrated schools for all races. Four decades ago the ground-breaking law of Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) began to take effect and help ensure that more than six million students with disabilities have the right to a free and appropriate education, which means they too get to be included in with the general education population.

To help this happen schools create a Planning and Placement Team (PPT) that meet and discuss a student’s Individual Education Program (IEP) and then place the student in the appropriate educational setting based on the student’s needs and the law. The placement also needs to be the least restrictive environment (LRE). I can still remember my college professor describing the least restrictive environment in a short story that one would not bring a machine gun to take care of a fly. Rather, one would just bring a fly-swatter to take care of a fly. In other words, if a kid’s disability can be dealt with in the neighborhood school, then the kid doesn’t have to be sent across town or even to another town’s special school.

Today, many schools are trying to improve on this inclusion model and least restrictive environment by going from a partial to a full-inclusion model. Schools in the Los Angeles School District have moved a vast majority of their students out of their special education centers within the last three years and into neighborhood schools where they are fully integrated into elective classes like physical education, gardening and cooking. They are also integrated into regular main stream academic classes as well, but it’s usually not to the same degree as electives.

Michigan schools say that want to break down the walls between general education and Special Education creating a system in which students will get more help when they need it, and that support doesn’t need to be in a separate special education classroom.

Some school districts in Portland, Oregon are a little further along than the Los Angeles schools that are just bringing special education students back from special schools and Michigan schools that are just beginning to try full integration of its students and eliminating most of the special education classrooms.

Being a little further along in the process Portland makes an interesting case study. Many of the parents who initially supported the idea of integrating special education students into regular education classrooms in Portland are now worried about how the Portland Public School System is doing it. Portland is aiming for full-inclusion by the year 2020. However, some of the teachers in Portland are saying, “Obviously the special education students are going to fail and they are going to act out because we are not meeting their needs… If there’s not the right support there, that’s not acceptable, not only for the child, but for the general education teacher as well.”

A Portland parent said, “I would rather have my child feel successful than for them to be ‘college-ready’.” She further states, “I want my children to be good, well-rounded human beings that make the world a better place. I don’t think they necessarily need to go to college to do that. I think that children are individuals, and when we stop treating them as individuals, there’s a problem.” Sadly, many parents and teachers have left the Portland School District, and many more are fantasizing about it because they feel the full-inclusion model isn’t working there how they pictured it would.

How much should schools integrate the special education students is the burning question of the hour. In my personal experience some integration is not only possible, but it’s a must. With some support many of the special education students can be in the regular education classrooms.

A few years ago I even had a non-speaking paraplegic boy in a wheel chair who was on a breathing respirator sitting in my regular education social studies class. Every day his para professional and his nurse rolled him into and sat with him. He always smiled at the tales I told of Alexander the Great marching across 11,000 miles of territory and conquering much of the known world at that time. By the way, Alexander the Great also practiced his own model of inclusion by encouraging kindness to the conquered and encouraging his soldiers to marry the captured territory’s women in order to create a lasting peace.

Other important factors to consider in special education inclusion is the much needed socialization and the saving of money integration offers. Kids learn from other kids and money not spent on Special Education could be spent on general education, right? Hmm…

If you noticed, I said a little bit earlier that many special education students could be integrated, but I did not say all or even most should be integrated. There are just some students that are going to take away too much of the teacher’s time and attention from other students, such as, in the case of students with severe behavior problems. When we put severe behavior problems in regular education classes it’s just outright unfair to all of the other children in there. Similar cases could be made for other severe disabilities too that demand too much of the main stream teacher’s individual time and attention.

Hey, I’m not saying to never try out a kid with a severe disability in a general education setting. But what I am saying is that schools need to have a better system of monitoring these placements and be able to quickly remove students that aren’t working out, and are taking precious learning time away from other students. Furthermore, schools need to do this without shaming the teacher because the teacher complained that the student wasn’t a good fit and was disrupting the educational learning process of the other students. Leaving a kid in an inappropriate placement isn’t good for any of the parties involved. Period.

Over the last two decades I have worked with more special education students than I can remember as a special education teacher and a regular education teacher teaching inclusion classes. I have learned to become extremely flexible and patient and thus have had some of the toughest and most needy kids placed in my classes. I have worked miracles with these kids over the years and I know that I am not the only teacher out there doing this. There are many more out there just like me. But, what I worry about is that because teachers are so dedicated and pulling off daily miracles in the classroom, districts, community leaders, and politician may be pushing too hard for the full-inclusion model thinking that the teachers will just have to figure it out. Setting up teachers and students for failure is never a good idea.

Furthermore, I hope it’s just not the money that they are trying to save while pushing this full-inclusion model forward because what we should really be trying to save is our children. As Fredrick Douglas said, “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.” Regardless of how the financial educational pie is sliced, the bottom line is that the pie is just too small and our special education teachers and our special education students shouldn’t be made to pay for this.

In addition, I have been a teacher for too long to not be at least a little skeptical when I hear the bosses say that the reason they are pushing for the full-inclusion model is because socialization is so important. I know it’s important. But, I also know that too many people are hanging their hats on that socialization excuse rather than education our special needs students and providing them what they really need. I have seen special education students whose abilities only let them draw pictures sitting in honors classes. There is no real socialization taking place here. It just doesn’t make sense.

Well, finally coming full circle. It will be interesting to see where this full inclusion thing goes. The wise ones won’t let their special education teachers go, or get rid of their classrooms. And for the school districts that do, I imagine that it won’t take long before they realize the mistake they made and start hiring special education teachers back. To my friend and his now ex-principal father from all those years ago who thought special education was going away, well, we’re not there yet, and to tell you the truth, I don’t think we ever will be.

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Affordable Online Education

Right now, post-secondary education is a very expensive endeavor. Depending on the school, students can end up with hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, making the idea of attending somewhat terrifying. With so much money on the line, and no promise of a tuition decrease in the near future, it is inevitable that students and their parents will start looking into other options for quality education. Are relatively few right now and most only offer courses, not degrees, but as more people realize that they can take courses from Stanford for free (or at least a fraction of the on-campus cost) on the internet, more and more people are going to choose that route. This means that more sites offering this service will pop up, more universities will offer their courses, and the average cost of a degree will be driven down. It will no longer be necessary to pay $200,000 for a degree, and more people will be able to access higher education.

This trend breaks down several other barriers that stop people from attending university beyond the financial ones. People who live far away from a campus or even in different parts of the world can access courses now without having to leave their homes. Technology has advanced to the point where there is internet access even in some of the poor countries of the world. The opportunity to access online education for people in poorer countries is a significant turning point: more education means more knowledge and progress which would contribute to the development and enrichment of the country. Online education also allows people who must work to support themselves and their families to access courses and degrees that they would not otherwise have been able to obtain. A single mother, for example, who must work to keep her family afloat, would be able to access courses online whenever she was available. Working at her own pace, she could obtain a degree and increase the likelihood that she will get a better job and be better able to support her family. A recent survey indicated that nearly 70% of employers thought that an online degree is no less credible than an offline one.

Online education also allows for instructors to reach many more students than they would ever be able to in a traditional setting. In one of the first Stanford courses offered by Coursera, more than 100 000 people from all over the world enrolled. It would take several lifetimes for one instructor to reach that many students in an offline setting. Online education allows professors and their knowledge to be much more far-reaching.

Online education also provides the opportunity for some innovative types of teaching. This form of education allows students to be engaged in a way that they might not be otherwise. Being in a lecture theatre with three hundred other students is not the best venue for an involved, intellectual discussion, but the chat rooms of online education allow for students to interact with many others, to create small groups, and engage in conversations with students who have different worldviews and knowledge than they do. There are also comprehension quizzes that students must do throughout the lecture, with instant feedback about the correctness of their answers. This encourages students to really pay attention and helps cement the knowledge in their minds faster.

Online education also allows schools the opportunity to change the way they funnel their funds. If more courses are offered online, schools can save on facility costs, and save the facilities for other uses, such as demonstrations and conferences. The extra money that they save can then be channeled into the teaching and learning aspects, rather than the buildings, thus increasing the quality of students’ experience.

Affordable online education offers students more choices for their degrees than before: on-campus, on-campus/online, and online. Students are able to get their education in a way that best fits them, the way they learn, and the time they have available. Due to this flexibility, lower cost, innovation, and far-reaching access, affordable online education will continue to grow and become more popular.

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