TIME Saving & Spending

One (More) Shocking Way Colleges Are Ripping Off Kids

Marking up movie theater popcorn is one thing, but jacking the price of a laptop by more than 100% is another, especially when the would-be buyers are college kids. As students get ready to head to campus, college stores are making laptop shopping a buyer-beware endeavor.

An investigation by DealNews.com found that college bookstores hike prices on the laptops and tablets they sell by an average of 35% over the regular sale prices of retailers like Amazon, Best Buy and Staples. DealNews looked at prices for the cheapest tablets and laptops, plus the most expensive laptops, available at the online stores of five public and one private college, then compared those to back-to-school deals offered by other retailers on identical or very similar machines.

Not every single one is a rip-off, but more than two-thirds are, and some of the markups are pretty egregious.

DealNews finds that the University of Virginia sells a first-generation iPad mini for a staggering 135% more than the $199 sale price the site found on more than one occaision over the summer. The $469 price the campus store is charging is so high that even if you wanted to buy the newer model iPad mini, you could get it straight from Apple for $70 less.

As a matter of fact, if you’re a college kid (or the parent of one), you should probably just steer clear of the campus store entirely if you’re looking for electronics.

“Another example that stood out… were these headphones,” says DealNews’ Louis Ramirez. Although they cost $130 on Amazon, the University of Berkeley Student Store slaps a $49 markup on top of that.

We found other examples in just a cursory browsing of the sites supplied by DealNews, so it’s likely this just scratches the surface of a bigger issue in electronics markups.

One school site is selling a 32G Sandisk USB thumb drive for about $45. Wal-Mart sells the same model for less than $17. A wireless mouse sold by one school for just under $30 sells for half that amount at Office Depot. One Dell laptop “deal” on a school site was no cheaper than the price on Dell’s own website, and two schools’ “sale” prices on iPads are still $30 more than you’d pay at Wal-Mart.

College stores’ problems with electronics sales don’t end with the inflated prices, says Ramirez. While some schools sell up-to-date technology, the site’s investigation found that “others were selling older previous-generation tech at current-generation pricing,” he says. If you think you’re getting a deal, make sure to clarify the model — you could be paying top dollar for last year’s closeout.

And don’t be fooled into thinking that “student discount” translates to the best deal. Just like regular prices, you have to shop around because all student discounts aren’t created equal. “Campus stores aren’t the only retailers that offer student promos,” Ramirez says. As long as you have an active student account (one that ends in .edu), a number of other retailers offer discounts.

MONEY College

4 Best Credit Cards for College Students

Mom helping her daughter move in to college dorm
Make sure she's packed one of these cards. Blend Images—Alamy

Send your kid off with one of these options this fall, and you'll sleep better at night.

You’ve no doubt heard harrowing stories of college students applying for their first credit cards, then racking up thousands of dollars in debt. It’s the stuff of parents’ worst nightmares.

The CARD Act of 2009 lessened the potential trouble students could get themselves into. The law mandated that, in order to qualify for a card, applicants must be over 21, get an adult to co-sign or prove they earn enough money to make payments.

But it’s left many parents of underclassmen with a tricky decision. Do you sign on the dotted line for your kid—thus putting your own credit score on the hook if your kid doesn’t pay the bill?

Shielding Junior from having his own credit card may seem sensible, but it’s penny-wise and pound-foolish. Length of credit history accounts for 15% of one’s FICO score. So by protecting your son or daughter from plastic, you are inadvertently hurting his or her creditworthiness. You also miss out on the opportunity to handhold him or her through an important financial lesson.

Of course, striking a proper balance between the value of credit and the dangers of its excess is paramount. Revolving debt hurts a credit score, too, and can be very costly to a kid living on a ramen budget—with APRs averaging 15% and as high as 23%.

Three options for you to consider, depending upon how much risk you think your newly emancipated child can handle:

The Training Wheels: A secured card or a low-rate, low-limit unsecured card.

If you are worried that terms like “credit limit” and “due date” will be lost on your child, you might want to sign him up for a secured card, which uses cash as the credit limit collateral.

The benefit is that Junior won’t be able to spend beyond the cap, so it’s a good way to give him practice using a card of his own without doing a lot of damage to your finances or your credit score. The downsides: You’ll have to front the cash. And unless you set a large credit limit, he may use a high percentage of his available credit, which is bad for his credit score (ideally he should use no more than 20%).

Alternately, if you don’t want to put up your cash as collateral—or your kid has enough income to qualify on his own—you might start him off with an unsecured card that has a low rate and a low credit limit. This also pens him in until he demonstrates reliability.

Once he proves himself able to handle either of these cards, have him shift to one of the advanced cards in the next category.

The picks: MONEY’s Best Credit Cards winners Digital Credit Union Visa Platinum Secured or Northwest Federal Credit Union FirstCard Visa Platinum.

The APR on Digital Credit Union’s Visa starts at a low 11.5%. To apply for this secured card, you do have to be a member of the credit union, but that be accomplished with a $10 donation to Reach Out for Schools.

The FirstCard’s rate is even lower—a fixed 10% APR (most cards today are variable rate). This card, which has no annual fee, is designed for people who don’t have a credit history: It requires applicants to take a 10 question quiz on credit knowledge and has a credit limit of just $1,000.

The 10 Speed: A rewards card

Cards that offer rewards typically have higher APRs than those that don’t. So if you child revolves debt on one of these cards, he’ll likely erase the perks earned.

Thus, rewards cards are best reserved for those students who’ve already proven themselves capable of paying off a secured or low-limit card in full and on time for a year or so. These are also good choices for those students who are over 21.

The picks: Capital One Journey Student Rewards Card and Discover It for Students.

The no-fee Journey gets your kid 1% cash back on everything, but the reward is bumped up by 25% every month he pays his bill on time. “This is a good card for incentivizing students to have the right behavior,” says NerdWallet.com’s Kevin Yuann. There’s no foreign transaction fee (a plus for those studying abroad), but a late payment fee of up to $35 and a steep 19.8% APR should scare away parents who aren’t sure about their child’s bill-paying vigilance.

The It, which also has no annual fee and no foreign transaction costs, gets your kid 2% cash back on the first $1,000 at gas stations and restaurants each quarter, and 1% for everything else. Because of the extra rewards for gas, the It is a good card for commuters, says Yuann. Cardholders also receive a free FICO score, derived from TransUnion data, on monthly statements.

While there is no fee on the first late payment, your child will pay up to $35 after that; and after a six-month no-interest window, the APR ranges from 13% to 22%.

Whichever card you end up co-signing for your child, definitely make sure you ask to get account access—and sign up for balance alerts so that you know when you need to swoop in for a teaching moment.

RELATED:
Best Credit Cards of 2013
Money 101: How Do I Pick a Credit Card?

 

TIME Civil Rights

Howard University Students Stand Up for Michael Brown in Viral Photo

Howard Dont Shoot Ferguson
Howard University students pose with their hands raised in Cramton Auditorium in Washington on Aug. 13, 2014. Howard University

300 students got involved

An image of Howard University students standing up in protest against the shooting of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. went viral on Wednesday.

More than 300 students gathered in Cramton Auditorium on Howard University’s campus in Washington D.C. to stand together, hands raised, in a pose inspired by the presumed stance of the unarmed teen killed by a police officer last weekend. The incident has led to violent protests in the St. Louis suburb, and inspired a national conversation about race and policing.

The shooting also hit close to home in the Howard University community—a recent alum and St. Louis native, Mya White, was allegedly shot in the head on Tuesday during protests in the St. Louis town. The wounds were non-fatal and White is recovering, but the incident has resonated across the Washington D.C. campus. Vice President of the Howard University Student Association, and one of the photos organizers, Ikenna Ikeotuonye told TIME Thursday, he believes White’s injury sparked a sense of urgency among the student body.

“Howard has a history of social justice, inspiring social change,” Ikeotuonye, a senior chemical engineering major said. “Our idea was just to organize something—but the fact that there was a Bison hurting for protesting hit close to home.”

The image spread rapidly on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram Wednesday night, driven by hashtags including #dontshootus, #dontshootme, and #HowardU.

The post came as violent clashes between police and protesters escalated Wednesday night. A heavily militarized police force fired tear gas, smoke bombs and rubber bullets into crowds as protestors lobbed Molotov cocktails and rocks at police. At least 10 people were arrested.

MONEY Jobs

WATCH: My Worst Summer Job Ever

People on the streets of New York City tell our Mannes on the Street about their best and worst summer jobs.

TIME Gadgets

Now You Can Tour Colleges Using a Virtual Reality Headset

Virtual keggers aren't quite the same though

For those unable or unwilling to travel halfway across the country at huge expense for a college tour, there might be an answer. Virtual tour firm YouVisit now allows you to take virtual college tours using Oculus Rift, the virtual reality headset bought by Facebook for $2 billion earlier this year.

The technology tracks the user’s eye movements and allows them to see entire rooms from the ceiling to the floor, as if they are actually there.

YouVisit CTO, Taher Baderkhan, said “Our mission, from the day we started the company, is making the campus visit more attainable to students.”

Related:

MONEY’s Best Colleges

MONEY’s Best Colleges That You Can Actually Get Into

MONEY College

How Does Your School Really Match Up to Its Rival?

Left: University of North Carolina Tarheels fans.  Right: Duke University Blue Devils fans.
Left: University of North Carolina Tarheels fans. Right: Duke University Blue Devils fans. These same-state rivals end up in close proximity on our rankings list as well. (left) Margaret Bowles/Southcreek Global/ZUMApress.com—Alamy; (right) Lance King—Getty Images

You know who dominates on the playing field. Now see which schools are the victors when it comes to providing the most value for your money, based on MONEY's Best Colleges ranking.

College rivalries are usually played out on the football field or the basketball court—or, in some cases, the research lab. In the game of life, though, winners and losers are sometimes counted in dollars and cents, rather than points on a scoreboard. MONEY’s Best Colleges rankings evaluated some 665 schools on 18 separate measures of educational quality, affordability, and alumni career earnings. Here’s how 10 pairs of classic rivals did in head-to-head matchups.

 

The Match-Up: Alabama vs. Auburn
The University of Alabama holds the lead in what some have called the greatest football rivalry in college sports, with 42 Iron Bowl wins vs. 35 for Auburn University. But the Tigers crush the Crimson Tide on a variety of financial measures. The average net price of a degree at Auburn (ranked No. 183 on our list) is around $100,000, or about $13,000 less than the price of Alabama (No. 409). (Our net price calculation represents the estimated total cost of attendance from freshman year through graduation—including tuition, room, board, books, fees, and other incidentals—taking into account all scholarships and grants from the school, inflation, and the average time it takes students to graduate.) Meanwhile, the Crimson Tide lives up to its name, with graduates leaving the school substantially more in the red. Alabama students graduate owing about $25,000 (including private loans), compared with less than $10,000 for the typical Tiger. Yet Alabama’s higher debt doesn’t pay off in higher salaries, as Auburn grads report pull in about $4,000 more a year on average than the typical Alabama alum.
The Winner: AUBURN

The Match-Up: Berkeley vs. Stanford
In Big Game match-ups between these longtime Bay Area rivals, No. 5 Stanford has a clear edge (59-46-11). But when assessing which university offers students the best educational value, the winner is less clear-cut. As a state school, the University of California at Berkeley (No. 13 in the overall rankings and No. 2 among public schools) is substantially cheaper to attend, with an estimated net price of a degree ($126,800) that’s more than $40,000 below what the typical student pays to attend Stanford. Yet generous financial aid policies allow Stanford grads to emerge with less than half as much debt as Berkeley students. And while Stanford grads report earning a few thousand more a year over the course of their careers, alumni of both schools make substantially more than average—and more than would be predicted given the economic and academic profile of students who go there. Berkeley’s “value added” grade is a stellar A-minus, while Stanford gets a B-plus.
The Winner: IT’S A TIE

The Match-Up: Caltech vs. MIT
The simmering rivalry between these two top science and engineering schools is traditionally played out in pranks rather than on a sports field. The latest: At an event for prospective students earlier this year, Caltechies handed out mugs that featured the MIT logo when cold but, when filled with hot liquid, changed to read, “Caltech: The Hotter Institute of Technology.” As for which school is the better value, MIT (No. 3 in our rankings) costs the typical student about $20,000 less than Caltech (No. 10) after factoring in aid. Still, alums from both schools go on to earn an average salary of more than $68,000 annually within five years of graduation—among the highest salaries reported by students of any of the colleges in our rankings.
The Winner: MIT, by a nose

The Match-Up: Duke vs. UNC
These same-state private-public school rivals end up in close proximity on our rankings list as well, with Duke at No. 32 and the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill landing at No. 40. As a state school, UNC is considerably cheaper to attend, with an estimated average net price of a degree of just $84,000, almost half what it costs to attend Duke (net price of a degree: $192,800). But Duke students tend to earn considerably more, with a gap that widens from early to mid-career, according to the salary figures that alums of both schools report to Payscale.com, our earnings data supplier. Meanwhile, both schools get an impressive grade of A-minus on our value-added measures, which look at how well an institution helps its graduates exceed expectations, given the academic and economic profile of the student body.
The Winner: IT’S A TIE

The Match-Up: Florida vs. Georgia
These southern schools have been fighting hard on the football field for nearly 100 years, maybe more (there’s disagreement over when the rivalry began). The Georgia Bulldogs have won more games but the Florida Gators top them on our financial measures. University of Florida, ranked No. 28 on MONEY’s Best Colleges list and seventh among public schools, charges the typical student less to get a degree (around $87,000 vs. roughly $100,000 at Georgia), according to our calculations. That enables attendees to graduate with less debt (average amount owed: $7,000 vs. $10,000). And Florida students also tend to earn somewhat higher salaries, about $3,000 more a year, early in their careers. Take note, Bulldogs: Georgia’s top 100 showing—the school came in at No. 62 overall and No. 17 on the best public colleges list—is still impressive, putting it among the best values in the country.
The Winner: FLORIDA

The Match-Up: Georgetown vs. Syracuse
To the delight of fans, the competition between these two basketball powerhouses, on hold since Syracuse left the Big East Conference for the ACC in 2013, resumes next year, with the recent announcement of annual games scheduled for four years starting in the 2015-16 season. The Orange holds the edge on the court (‘Cuse has won 49 of the 90 meetings between the two teams), but in MONEY college rankings metrics, it’s a slam-dunk for the Hoyas. Despite having one of the highest net price tags on our list at $204,480 (partly due to the high cost of living in the nation’s capital, where the school is located), the average Georgetown student borrows just over $7,100 to get an undergraduate degree—that’s a third of the amount the typical Syracuse student owes (average debt on graduation: $21,450). And Georgetown students tend to earn more after they graduate too—$53,000 on average vs. $47,700 for Syracuse alum. That helps explains why Georgetown landed at No. 37 in our rankings, while Syracuse, at No. 246, failed to crack the top third.
The Winner: GEORGETOWN

The Match-Up: Harvard vs. Yale

Harvard (ranked sixth overall in our rankings) and Yale (No. 15) cost nearly the same amount to attend on average, according to MONEY’s estimated net price of a degree: $181,200 for Harvard, $182,800 for Yale. Yet alums from Cambridge earn about $55,300 within the first five years of graduations, or about $5,000 more than the New Haven crowd. That may help explain Harvard’s special allure for prospective students. Some 84% of applicants admitted to Harvard enrolled in the university for the 2012-13 academic year (the most recent stats available from the Department of Education when we collected the data earlier this year), vs. 64% of admitted applicants who choose to attend Yale.
The Winner: HARVARD

The Match-Up: Michigan vs. Ohio State
Go Blue: At $94,500, the average net price of a degree from the University of Michigan (No. 22 overall and No. 5 among public colleges) is about $10,000 less than the roughly $105,000 cost of a BA from Ohio State University (No. 144), according to our estimates. Plus, Wolverines typically graduate with less debt and earn about $8,000 more a year over the course of their careers than Buckeyes. In this face-off, Michigan scores a touchdown.
The Winner: MICHIGAN

The Match-Up: Notre Dame vs. USC
Often called the greatest intersectional rivalry in college football, Notre Dame and the University of Southern California have combined to produce more national titles, Heisman trophy winners, All-Americans, and future NFL Hall of Famers than any other college football rivals. While the two schools are tied in the number of national titles each has won and Heisman trophy winners they’ve produced, the Fighting Irish lead their football series, with 45 wins in 85 meetings. And they beat the Trojans in many of MONEY’s key measures as well, though not by a wide margin. Notre Dame is a little less expensive (estimated net price of a degree: around $184,500 vs. $192,000 for USC), grads earn a little more ($54,000 a year early in their careers vs. about $51,000 for USC alums) and come out with a lot less debt, on average (about $5,600 for Notre Dame, compared with $15,500 for USC). That helps explain why, although both schools are highly ranked, more than 100 spots separate Notre Dame (No. 20) and USC (No. 129) on our list.
The Winner: NOTRE DAME

The Match-Up: Oklahoma vs. Texas
The University of Texas at Austin holds the lead in the annual Red River Showdown between the Sooners and the Longhorns, and has an edge off the football field as well. The flagship school at Austin is ranked No. 53 on our list (and No. 17 among public colleges), while Oklahoma-Norman comes in at No. 122. That’s still a high enough ranking for Sooners to brag about being one of the country’s top college values but not quite good enough to beat their old rival, which despite a somewhat higher price tag, produces graduates who emerge with less debt ($11,200, on average for UT grads vs. $13,200 for Oklahoma students) and go on to earn slightly higher salaries ($50,400 a year on average in the first five years of their careers vs. $47,700 reported by Oklahoma alums).
The Winner: TEXAS

See more of Money’s Best Colleges:
The 25 Most Affordable Colleges
The 25 Colleges That Add the Most Value
The 25 Best Colleges That You Can Actually Get Into

 

TIME animals

What’s This? Oh Nothing, Just a Bunch of Corgi Puppies Frolicking on a College Campus

The cuteness is ALMOST too much to handle. Almost.

A team of six intrepid young corgis were recruited to visit Georgia Tech to spread their unbelievable cuteness and undeniable charisma all over campus. Well, let’s just say that these little guys certainly met — nay, exceeded — those expectations.

Watch here as the pups casually take over the campus with their fluffy butts, floppy ears and big adorable puppy dog eyes. Oh, and if you’re wondering why they spend so much time hanging out in baking dishes, Jezebel got an explanation from the person who posted the video:

For some reason, they just really like sleeping in pans! … When we only had one pan out, they would all try to cram inside it!

(h/t Jezebel)

MONEY College

Why Veterans Will Soon Save Thousands on College

War veterans & co-eds taking notes during classroom lecture at crowded University of Iowa
The latest change to the GI Bill will help fill college classrooms for less. Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE P—Getty Images

A bill heading to the president's desk grants veterans and their families automatic in-state status at all public colleges, potentially saving them time and money.

Great news for college-bound veterans and their families: Starting next year—the fall of 2015—veterans and their dependents will be able to pay low in-state tuition at any public university in the country.

A bill granting veterans automatic in-state status at the nation’s public colleges got final bipartisan approval by Congress last Thursday, and President Obama has said he will sign it into law.

While public colleges are concerned that the new bill will cost them money, veteran’s organizations are thrilled. “We’re really excited,” says William Hubbard, vice president of government affairs for the Student Veterans of America, which estimates there are 550,000 veterans currently in higher education.

Because members of the military often spend long periods overseas, many don’t maintain residency in any U.S. state. So servicemen and women often can’t find an affordable college when they return home to start civilian life, Hubbard says.

Twenty-four states have passed state laws giving vets in-state status at their public colleges, but many veterans live or want to live in states that haven’t done so, such as California or North Carolina, he says. At the University of North Carolina, for example, in-state residents are charged tuition and fees of about $6,400 this year; out-of-state students pay roughly $31,800.

The bill could save families tens of thousands of dollars, since the automatic in-state status will also be granted to veterans’ spouses and children.

Because veterans won’t have to wait to establish residency in a state to pay the lower tuition, the new law will also save time and speed the transition to civilian life, says Ryan Tomlinson, education program coordinator of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America. “I’m happy for the vets,” he says. “This increases their access to good colleges.”

Public colleges and universities, while sympathetic to the veterans’ plight, expressed concern that Congress was forcing them to take on extra expenses. Peter McPherson, president of the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities, notes that states have been cutting the budgets of public colleges for years. This new law, by reducing their tuition revenues, “would add further financial strain to these institutions,” he warned.

Learn more about Money’s Best Colleges 2014-2015

TIME

Libertarian Student Activists Rally at National Convention

White House contender Rand Paul revved up the youthful crowd, asking "Anybody here from the 'Leave Me Alone' coalition? How about the 'Leave Me The Hell Alone' coalition?”

A crowd of college kids screamed and cheered, belting out chants and pumping their fists. The energy in the room was palpable. Some craned their necks to get a better view and others nudged their friends in excitement. The kids weren’t waiting for a rock concert to start or a celebrity to walk across the stage. They were waiting for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky) to kick off the annual Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) National Convention in Washington, D.C.

Almost 300 student activists for YAL traveled from around the country to convene for a five-day convention filled with talks about liberty and appearances by prominent libertarian leaders. The convention kicked off Wednesday evening with an address by Sen. Rand Paul followed by a House of Representatives panel, featuring six members of the House Liberty Caucus.

“Anybody here from the leave me alone coalition? How about the leave me the hell alone coalition?” Paul asked the room to a response of cheers. “Some people are writing and saying there’s a libertarian moment in our country right now.”

Speakers went on to talk about key libertarian party principles of personal and economic liberty, then touch on hot button issues for millennials, including the NSA, social security and the legalization of marijuana. The panel’s six congressional leaders detailed their personal journeys in politics and offered advice to the budding libertarian leaders. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky) urged the student activists to “find more of you” and Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) told students to “be willing to lose.”

The discussion was more than just an advice session for aspiring college students. It was also a clear call for young people to help broadcast the Libertarian message and to recruit more of their peers to join the party.

“I keep reminding my Republican colleagues that if you want to continue to have a bunch of old people with old ideas in the Republican Party, we will no longer have a vibrant party,” Rep. Raul Labrador (R-Wisc.) said at the panel on Wednesday. “If we can invite young people that will actually bring new ideas and will bring energy to the party then we will be the dominant party in the United States.”

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