Gift Aid vs Self Help Aid For College

College tuition can be costly whether you are seeking an undergraduate and graduate degree, attending an out-of-state public university, or taking classes at a private university.

If you do not have adequate savings to pay for classes, room and board, food, travel and other necessities, then you may be considering how to pay for college.

The costs of attending college continue to rise each year for both public and private colleges and universities. The average tuition and fees at a public in-state college was $9,687 and at or private schools it $35,087 for the 2020-21 school year. Obtaining financial aid is one way students can afford to attend college.

One common type of financial aid is called gift aid and typically comes in the form of federal and state grants and a wide range of scholarships that are given by private donors, foundations, non-profit organizations and even the universities themselves.

These grants and scholarships do not have to be paid back, which is helpful for students who are on a tight budget or are considering obtaining a graduate degree.

Another type of aid is called self help aid and usually comes in a form of work study programs and student loans. Some work study programs are sponsored by the federal government and they provide part-time jobs for students who need help paying their tuition. These jobs can be either on the campus of the college or university or off campus nearby.

Self help aid also includes federal student loans which have to be paid back after a student graduates.

There are advantages and disadvantages of both gift aid and self help aid. Undergraduate and graduate students may only qualify for one type of aid, depending on their financial circumstances, where they are obtaining their college degree or other factors.

What Are The Pros and Cons of Gift Aid?

Grants and scholarships are considered gift aid. One common form of grants are called Pell grants. These are grants provided by the federal government and Pell grants are given to undergraduate students who have demonstrated financial need.

The maximum federal Pell grant award is $6,345 for the 2020–21 award year (July 1, 2020, to June 30, 2021), but amounts can change annually.

The main drawback of gift aid is that you may not know what amount you will receive and you may need to supplement paying for college by seeking more scholarships and grants or getting a part-time job.

Federal work study programs are available for both undergraduate and graduate students to help them pay for tuition and other educational costs. The program’s jobs are related to the student’s course of study and also include community service work.

Both full-time or part-time students may qualify for part-time employment while they are enrolled at their university or college and it is available to undergraduate and graduate and professional students who demonstrate financial aid.

The work study programs are operated by a college and university financial aid office and you will receive at least the federal minimum wage. These jobs are available both on-campus and off-campus which can be beneficial for students who do not have other means of transportation.

Students who work off campus typically work for a nonprofit organization or a public agency and the goal of the job is geared to be in the public interest. The number of jobs is limited, so students should apply early to ensure that they have a position for the following academic year.

Federal and Private Student Loans

Another type of self-help aid are federal and private student loans. Federal student loans are based upon the financial need of a student and their family. They are either subsidized or unsubsidized direct loans and may offer lower interest rates than private loans. One drawback is that the federal government will limit how much money you can borrow.

Undergraduate students may qualify for subsidized loans that are given based on their financial need. One benefit is that the federal government will pay the interest on these loans while you are attending school or at least taking classes half-time, during your grace period or when you have deferred the loan.

Both undergraduate and graduate students may qualify for unsubsidized loans and they are not based on financial need. These loans accrue interest while students are taking classes, during the loan’s grace period, or when you have deferred the loan.

Private student loans can be used to help make up the gap in what is needed to pay the remainder of tuition or living expenses. While both federal and private student loans may help students pay for their tuition; they must be repaid once a student graduates.

If you do not complete your course study and do not receive a degree, the student loans still have to be repaid.

Federal student loans have protections that private student loans do not offer. Students who have received federal student loans can seek several options after graduation to repay their loans including income-driven repayment programs.

Federal student loans also offer borrowers’ the ability to put loans in forbearance or deferment, allowing them to temporarily pause payments in certain situations.

Some borrowers will choose to refinance their federal student loans into new private student loans. But this option means that you lose the protection of the federal repayment plans. Private student loans have both fixed and variable interest rates.

Fixed interest rates are beneficial for people who want to know the exact amount of their loans each month helping them to budget more easily. The interest rate on variable student loans are sometimes lower than fixed rates but that means your payment amounts can fluctuate from month to month.

Shopping around can help you find the best private student loan that fits your financial needs and the amount that you can repay each month.

Qualifying For Gift Aid or Self Help Aid?

Qualifying for either gift aid or self help aid might depend on your financial circumstances. Students may want to apply early for grants, scholarships, work-study programs and student loans.

completing a FAFSA®, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This application must be completed every year.

Some states and colleges may have their own FAFSA deadlines , so double check to avoid missing any. Missing a deadline can mean forgoing some financial aid.

While some gift aid such as scholarships are given to students based on merit, grades or other accomplishments, grants, work study programs and student loans are typically based on your financial needs and the cost of tuition at your university.

Some universities use data from the FAFSA to determine gift aid like scholarships too. Students can also apply for scholarships and grants that aren’t associated with the FAFSA®.

Private Student Loans with SoFi

In some cases gift aid and federal aid aren’t enough to help students pay for their tuition. In that case, some students may consider private student loans.

SoFi offers private student loans with no late fees or origination fees with flexible repayment options. There are also interest rate discounts for eligible SoFi members.

Interested applicants can find out what rate and terms they could pre-qualify for in just a few minutes. Learn more.



SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

SoFi Private Student Loans
Please borrow responsibly. SoFi Private Student Loans are not a substitute for federal loans, grants, and work-study programs. You should exhaust all your federal student aid options before you consider any private loans, including ours. Read our FAQs.
SoFi Private Student Loans are subject to program terms and restrictions, and applicants must meet SoFi’s eligibility and underwriting requirements. See SoFi.com/eligibility for more information. To view payment examples, click here. SoFi reserves the right to modify eligibility criteria at any time. This information is subject to change.

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SoFi loans are originated by SoFi Lending Corp (dba SoFi), a lender licensed by the Department of Financial Protection and Innovation under the California Financing Law, license # 6054612; NMLS # 1121636 . For additional product-specific legal and licensing information, see SoFi.com/legal.

External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Third Party Brand Mentions: No brands or products mentioned are affiliated with SoFi, nor do they endorse or sponsor this article. Third party trademarks referenced herein are property of their respective owners.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
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Source: sofi.com

Will you get a second stimulus check?

The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice. See Lexington Law’s editorial disclosure for more information.

By mid-May 2020, the IRS had issued more than $218 billion in stimulus checks related to the CARES Act, and it was still working to ensure all eligible Americans received theirs. But in early August, 2020, almost five months after the CARES Act was passed, many people were wondering if they would receive a second stimulus check. Find out what’s known about stimulus checks and future financial assistance from the federal government in the article below.

Will There Be a Second Stimulus Check?

Judging on the number of bills being passed around Congress, there’s a possibility another stimulus act is coming, and it may come with a second round of stimulus checks. But the details—including how much the check will be worth and who will be eligible—depend on which of the acts ends up making it through.

Bills currently being discussed include:

By mid-May 2020, the IRS had issued more than $218 billion in stimulus checks related to the CARES Act.

The HEALS Act

The HEALS Act comes from the Republicans and is a stimulus package similar to the CARES Act. If this act passes in its current form it will include many of the details described below.

How Much Money Will People Get?

Yes, this act does include stimulus payments to many Americans. The details of how much and who might get what amount are included below.

  • Individuals making less than $75,000 per year will get $1,200.
  • Couples filing jointly and making less than $125,000 per year will get $2,400.
  • People making above those amounts may still get a check. The stimulus is reduced $5 for every $100 of income above those limits until it tapers off completely. So, someone making $80,000 per year would get $950, for example.
  • An additional $500 is also included for every dependent claimed on the person or couple’s tax return, which is different from the CARES Act, which excluded dependents over the age of 16.

Who Would Qualify?

The income and dependent restrictions explained above will determine who would qualify for the stimulus. Qualification would likely be based on tax returns or Social Security benefit statements as was the case with the CARES Act.

What Other Benefits Are Included?

The HEALS Act contains a number of other benefits and stimulus efforts for businesses, schools and workers. Some of the main provisions are highlighted below, but this is not a comprehensive list.

  • Additional unemployment benefits would be provided, but it would be less per week than under the CARES Act.
  • The act would expand the Paycheck Protection Program by another $190 billion and make it easier for businesses to comply with the payroll requirement.
  • A return-to-work bonus may be offered to unemployed workers who find new jobs.
  • Funds to schools to help support reopening efforts would be included.
  • Some protection against lawsuits related to COVID-19 would be provided for businesses.
  • The act also includes $16 billion in coronavirus testing support.

The HEROES Act

This is the stimulus act being proposed by the Democrats. It also includes stimulus payments and other benefits for individuals and businesses.

How Much Money Will People Get?

As with the other bills, the HEROES Act includes a round of stimulus payments for qualifying Americans. The details of the payment amounts being proposed are summarized below.

  • Individuals making less than $75,000 get a $1,200 check under this act.
  • Married people filing jointly making less than $125,000 total annually get a $2,400 check under this act.
  • The stimulus is reduced $5 for every $100 of income above those limits until it tapers off completely.
  • The HEROES Act provides $1,200 per dependent for the first three dependents for an individual or married couple with no age restrictions. So if you claim three children, you would get an additional $3,600 in stimulus funds.

Who Would Qualify?

The qualifications for stimulus checks would be similar to those under the HEALS and CARES Acts as represented above.

What Other Benefits Are Included?

Here are some of the other benefits included in the HEROES Act:

  • This act includes the same enhanced unemployment benefits available under CARES, just extended for a longer period of time.
  • The HEROES Act also includes expanded eligibility for the Paycheck Protection Program and a reduction in the payroll requirement.
  • An expansion and extension of the eviction moratorium and protections for renters is included in the HEROES Act but not the HEALS Act.
  • Funds to support school reopenings are also included in this act.

When Could a Second Stimulus Check Come?

When a second stimulus check might arrive depends heavily on when a bill is passed. Both the House and the Senate must pass the bill, and then it has to be signed by the president. But the hope is that it won’t take as long for the IRS to turn around payments as it did in March and April. Ideally it won’t—the IRS has now done this once already and has probably learned lessons and put a system in place that speeds up the second round.

In fact, Steven Mnuchin, the US Treasury Secretary, said that the IRS could start sending payments within a week of an act being passed. So, if the act is passed anytime in mid-September, for example, the checks could start rolling out before the calendar moved into October.

The Stimulus check process in 4 steps

Will This Be the Last Stimulus Check?

It’s pure speculation at this point to discuss a second, or even third or fourth stimulus check. But it’s not impossible. It likely depends on the state of the economy and job market as the COVID-19 pandemic continues. If future stimulus checks do come, though, they may become increasingly more targeted as time passes. For example, it’s possible stimulus funds might start to go to people who can demonstrate a need.

However, until this second act is passed and lawmakers move on to considering future bills, there’s simply no way to know.

Protecting Your Financial Status During COVID-19 and After

Whether you’re waiting for and relying on a second stimulus check or you’re beginning to see a light at the end of your own personal COVID-19 financial tunnel, it’s definitely important to keep an eye on your personal finances during these trying times. That can include checking your credit report to ensure all the information is accurate and disputing inaccurate items so they don’t drag down your score in the future. It can also include managing your debt, income and investments in the most responsible way. During COVID-19 and beyond, Lexington Law offers information that can help you navigate finances and plan for the future. Check out articles that range from student loans to mortgages, and consider our credit repair services if you need help getting your credit report back to rights.


Reviewed by Kenton Arbon, an Associate Attorney at Lexington Law Firm. Written by Lexington Law.

Kenton Arbon is an Associate Attorney in the Arizona office. Mr. Arbon was born in Bakersfield, California, and grew up in the Northwest. He earned his B.A. in Business Administration, Human Resources Management, while working as an Oregon State Trooper. His interest in the law lead him to relocate to Arizona, attend law school, and graduate from Arizona State College of Law in 2017. Since graduating from law school, Mr. Arbon has worked in multiple compliance domains including anti-money laundering, Medicare Part D, contracts, and debt negotiation. Mr. Arbon is licensed to practice law in Arizona. He is located in the Phoenix office.

Note: Articles have only been reviewed by the indicated attorney, not written by them. The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, act as legal, financial or credit advice; instead, it is for general informational purposes only. Use of, and access to, this website or any of the links or resources contained within the site do not create an attorney-client or fiduciary relationship between the reader, user, or browser and website owner, authors, reviewers, contributors, contributing firms, or their respective agents or employers.

Source: lexingtonlaw.com

10 Cities Near Seattle To Live in 2021

With its natural beauty and laid-back culture, there are many excellent reasons to move to the Seattle area. But the city has seen rapid population growth in recent years, along with an increased cost of living — causing a drawback for some. Fortunately, there are plenty of cities near Seattle that offer fantastic alternatives for every lifestyle.

Whether you’re looking for a safe suburb to raise a family in, a home base for outdoor excursions or a hip neighborhood with a thriving nightlife, there’s a city that offers what you’re looking for, all without traveling more than 30 minutes or so outside downtown Seattle. Consider adding the following places to your list.

Kirkland, WA. Kirkland, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 11.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,069 (down 3.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,521 (up 5.8 percent since last year)

Located on the Northeastern shore of Lake Washington, Kirkland offers easy proximity to downtown Seattle combined with a wooded, suburban feel. Many families find Kirkland appealing as an alternative to Seattle. They can find more space, excellent schools and the opportunity to live close to an urban center.

The city of Kirkland is on the waterfront. Its popular public parks on the lake offer opportunities for boating, swimming and beach volleyball. It also showcases a picturesque collection of restaurants and shops, perfect for an evening out.

Commuters to Seattle will enjoy a short drive into downtown, or you can choose the excellent public transit connections.

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Redmond, WA. Redmond, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 15.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141 (down 7.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,712 (down 5.8 percent since last year)

Redmond is perhaps best known as the home of Microsoft. A resulting concentration of tech talent has attracted other tech companies as well as their employees, creating a diverse community of young professionals and families.

Redmond is sprawling and spacious, with wide sidewalks and plenty of trees. Many streets have bike lanes and paved bike paths connect to other nearby cities.

The city is in a beautiful natural setting and is home to Marymoor Park, which hosts outdoor concerts and features dozens of sports fields and a climbing wall.

Redmond also has excellent schools and a pleasant, walkable downtown core with many shops and restaurants.

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Des Moines, WA. Des Moines, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 14.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,425 (down 1.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,767 (down 1.8 percent since last year)

Des Moines is a quiet, affordable waterfront city located midway between Seattle and Tacoma along the Interstate 5 corridor. The municipality stretches along the water, with many options for stunning views of Puget Sound.

The small downtown includes some great restaurants and waterfront walks, with plenty of nearby trails and parks that offer hiking, biking and even camping.

Des Moines is on a rapid transit line that makes it easy to access nearby SeaTac and the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport or commute south to Federal Way or Tacoma.

The city will appeal to families and young professionals seeking an affordable option without sacrificing livability.

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Issaquah, WA. Issaquah, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 17.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,013 (down 13.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,389 (down 14.7 percent since last year)

The city of Issaquah spreads from the Sammamish Highlands down across the valley and into the hills known as the Issaquah Alps. Homes on these hills have beautiful views of the valley, while those in the lowlands are close to the quaint downtown core, which offers restaurants, cafes and many shopping options.

A dispersed, suburban city with an excellent school system, Issaquah has long been a popular choice for families. Recent development has also added housing choices for young, single professionals seeking an option outside the city.

There are plenty of outdoor recreation opportunities in the area, including hiking and mountain biking trails at the popular Tiger Mountain. Close enough to the wilderness for the occasional cougar sighting, Issaquah is also near enough to Seattle for an easy commute along Interstate 90.

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Sammamish, WA. Sammamish, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 21 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,665 (up 1.0 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,945 (down 2.5 percent since last year)

The Sammamish Plateau is known for world-class golf courses, but that’s not all it has to offer. This city to the east of Seattle frequently appears on best-of lists for livability, yet it is still more affordable than many similar cities nearby.

Some areas of Sammamish have an almost rural feel, while others are much denser. It’s possible to find a home that feels tucked in among the woods or an urban apartment, all in the same city.

In addition to golf, outdoor enthusiasts will enjoy the bike path around nearby Lake Sammamish and the proximity to wooded trails in the mountains.

Families will appreciate the above-average schools and quiet, safe streets.

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Snoqualmie, WA. Snoqualmie, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.5 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,699

If you’ve chosen to live in the Pacific Northwest for the outdoor adventure opportunities, Snoqualmie has a lot to offer. Just under 30 miles east of Seattle along I-90, Snoqualmie is perhaps best known for the iconic Snoqualmie Falls, which are not only a scenic tourist attraction but also power generators that provide electricity to the town.

Natural beauty surrounds Snoqualmie, with plenty of opportunities to get out and explore the surrounding Cascade foothills in all seasons.

While it has become increasingly popular as a bedroom community for Seattle, Snoqualmie retains its own identity and small-town feel. It has a vibrant arts community, restaurants and shopping options.

In 2019, it was rated the safest city in Washington.

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Everett, WA. Everett, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 28.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,570 (down 6.1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,758 (up 3.6 percent since last year)

For those looking for an urban feel at an affordable price, Everett offers a great alternative to Seattle.

With an economy historically based on manufacturing for companies such as Boeing, Everett retains a blue-collar sensibility that does not prevent it from offering a vibrant art and culture scene, as well as many interesting restaurants and bars.

Sports fans can cheer on the Everett Aquasox, the local minor league baseball team, and for hockey enthusiasts, there is the Everett Silvertips. The Angel of the Winds Arena is one of the major sports and concert venues in the region, offering plenty of entertainment options.

With Puget Sound to the west and the Snohomish River to the East, Everett, like many nearby cities, has a deep, natural beauty that adds to the appeal.

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North Bend, WA. North Bend, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 29.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: N/A
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,014 (up 12.9 percent since last year)

North Bend is the ultimate destination for outdoor enthusiasts. Its location amid the Cascade mountains’ foothills puts you close to hiking trails, mountain biking and winter skiing opportunities.

Popular local hikes, such as Mount Si and Rattlesnake Ridge, are just minutes away. Even for those who are less inclined to search for adventure, picturesque peaks provide a gorgeous backdrop for everyday life.

Famous as the filming location of the TV show Twin Peaks, North Bend has a genuine small-town feel, with a quaint downtown featuring cafes, restaurants, boutiques and breweries.

North Bend has grown rapidly in recent years, with many of its 7,423 residents choosing it for its rural location. Despite the remote vibe, it is just over 30 minutes from Seattle along I-90, making it a popular choice for commuters.

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Tacoma, WA. Tacoma, WA.

  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 33.9 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,734 (up 11.2 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,978 (up 13.1 percent since last year)

Tacoma is a city with a lot to offer at an affordable price.

The historic downtown faces Puget Sound, with gorgeous waterfront views. You’ll find great restaurants and shopping options. The downtown area is compact and walkable, but you can also get around easily by bus and rapid transit.

In the downtown core, you’ll encounter young professionals and students from the University of Washington Tacoma campus.

Up the hill, you’ll find residential neighborhoods, each with its own unique feel. Families enjoy good schools and quiet neighborhood streets.

Anyone who has driven through the city will have seen the Tacoma Dome, an event space that hosts events from car shows to concerts. Those in search of culture will also enjoy the Tacoma Art Museum and the Museum of Glass.

On the waterfront, Point Defiance Park is a popular destination for hiking, boating or picnicking with a view.

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Lake Stevens, WA. Lake Stevens, WA.

Photo source: City of Lake Stevens, WA / Facebook
  • Distance from downtown Seattle: 36.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,500 (up 22.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: N/A

Located on the lake for which it’s named, Lake Stevens is a growing community that is particularly popular among families with children.

With more affordable prices than many surrounding cities due to its slightly longer drive time to Seattle, Lake Stevens has a small-town feel with an emphasis on community. The city is a good option for those looking for a calm, quiet location well outside of Seattle.

Lake Stevens is a popular boating destination in the summer, and the town and its surroundings are full of natural beauty.

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Make one of these cities near Seattle your next home

Find a home that’s right for you in one of these Pacific Northwest cities. Your next apartment near Seattle awaits.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory pulled in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

The Best Places to Live in Illinois in 2021

There is more to Illinois than Chicago, although the largest city in the state is home to almost three million people.

When thinking about some of the best places to live in Illinois, you probably immediately consider Chicago and its densely populated suburbs. While these are all great places to live, there are hidden gems all throughout Illinois that you should consider.

So, whether you’re seeking an affordable apartment in Chicago or a quiet tree-lined city downstate, you have a number of great options from which to choose.

Here are the best places to live in Illinois.

Aurora, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 199,687
  • Average age: 37
  • Median household income: $71,749
  • Average commute time: 35.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $1,142
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,590

The second-largest city in Illinois with almost 200,000 residents, Aurora offers a mix of options that appeal to everyone from young and single professionals to families.

During the first Friday of each month, food trucks serve up dishes along Benton Street Bridge. In addition, the revitalized downtown district has a great range of restaurants, from steakhouses to coffeehouses, and the area also has destination shopping outposts.

Plus, Aurora is nestled along Fox River, so nature-lovers will appreciate the opportunity to kayak and explore other activities nearby.

Bloomington, IL.

  • Population: 78,023
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $67,507
  • Average commute time: 20.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $827
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $865

Bloomington often shares the limelight with its neighboring city, Normal, since it’s the home of Illinois State University.

While Bloomington lies in the heart of Illinois, at the junction of Interstates 55, 39 and 74, and within a few hours from Chicago and St. Louis, there is plenty to do in Bloomington.

Residents enjoy great restaurants, shopping and visiting attractions such as the historic Ewing Manor, named Sunset Hill by the Ewing family, or the David Davis Mansion which delights history buffs and garden lovers alike.

Bloomington is also the headquarters for State Farm Insurance and COUNTRY Financial.

Champaign, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

Photo source: Visit Champaign County / Facebook
  • Population: 85,008
  • Average age: 36.5
  • Median household income: $48,415
  • Average commute time: 19.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 61
  • Studio average rent: $435
  • One-bedroom average rent: $629
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $947

Like Bloomington, Champaign is often associated with its neighboring city, Urbana, since the cities share the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign campus.

Champaign has a thriving arts scene, award-winning restaurants and great outdoor spaces. It’s a mix of rural and urban, giving residents options, whether they want a more quiet rural setting or a bustling urban environment.

Chicago, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 2,721,615
  • Average age: 40.2
  • Median household income: $58,247
  • Average commute time: 43.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,796
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,287
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $3,150

There is no shortage of things to do in the largest city in Illinois. Chicago is a city of neighborhoods and like any major metropolitan city in the country, it’s home to award-winning restaurants, world-class museums and Cloud Gate, the bean-like sculpture in Millennium Park also known as “The Bean” among locals.

In addition, the lakefront and the many parks throughout the city offer its residents a place to rest and enjoy their surroundings.

Rental rates vary based on the neighborhood but, in general, the closer to the downtown district and Lake Michigan, the higher the rental rates. Also, depending on where you live, it’s entirely possible to live in Chicago without needing a car since public transportation is pretty robust and accessible.

Evanston, IL.

Photo source: City of Evanston Illinois / Facebook
  • Population: 75,574
  • Average age: 41.4
  • Median household income: $78,904
  • Average commute time: 39.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 82
  • Studio average rent: $1,720
  • One-bedroom average rent: $2,141
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,974

Evanston borders the northern part of Chicago and while it’s a northern suburb, parts of it feel very much like a busy metropolitan city.

Northwestern University calls Evanston home so part of the north and east part of Evanston is home to students as well as established families who live in older and grand single-family homes.

Residents love their tree-lined and quiet streets and easy access to the beaches along Lake Michigan.

The city is large enough to have a few distinct shopping districts, including downtown Evanston, which has been completely transformed over the past decade with a large movie theater and larger retail establishments, while Central Street has more independent boutiques.

Naperville, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 144,752
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $125,926
  • Average commute time: 41.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: $1,286
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,483
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,828

The original home of the fictional Byrde family before they moved to the Ozarks, Naperville is a picturesque western suburb of Chicago.

The Naperville Riverwalk curves along the banks of the DuPage River and features independent boutiques, restaurants, bars and hotels with river views.

The DuPage Children’s Museum has fun hands-on exhibits that attract both residents and visitors to the area. In addition, the Naper Settlement is a family-friendly, 13-acre outdoor history museum that traces the history of Naperville.

Oak Park, IL.

  • Population: 52,227
  • Average age: 42.1
  • Median household income: $94,646
  • Average commute time: 43.1 minutes
  • Walk score: 84
  • Studio average rent: $1,427
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,651
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,707

Oak Park is a tree-lined suburb just west of Chicago.

The Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Green Line includes several Oak Park stops, making it particularly convenient for those who want to live in a suburb but still have easy access to Chicago.

Even so, Oak Park is a bustling city with an active downtown full of restaurants and independent boutiques, strong schools and active community members. It’s also home to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, which attracts thousands from around the world to see the architect’s prairie-style home.

Peoria, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 114,615
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $51,771
  • Average commute time: 22 minutes
  • Walk score: 44
  • Studio average rent: $678
  • One-bedroom average rent: $771
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $954

Peoria is a laid-back city and most residents work for one of the major employers: Caterpillar (which still employees thousands despite its corporate move to Chicago), OSF Healthcare Saint Francis Medical Center or the school district.

Nestled along the Illinois River, it’s located between St. Louis and Chicago, which is approximately a two-and-a-half-hour drive. There is a mix of things to do in the city, from hiking outdoors to enjoying a cocktail at one of the many restaurants, bars or casinos.

In mid-2014, Peoria began offering bus route service on Sundays, something it hadn’t been offering since 1970, making it easier to get around town for those without a car.

Rockford, IL.

  • Population: 148,485
  • Average age: 41.9
  • Median household income: $44,252
  • Average commute time: 25.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 46
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $714
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,070

There is no shortage of outdoor entertainment options for those living of visiting Rockford. There are pools to swim, a river to kayak and nature preserves to hike.

The Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden as well as the Anderson Japanese Garden attract thousands of garden lovers.

Residents can choose between downtown lofts to quieter tree-lined streets in historic neighborhoods. Each Rockford community is active in its own way, with great restaurants, museums and shops located throughout the fifth-largest city in the state.

Springfield, IL, one of the best places to live in illinois

  • Population: 115,968
  • Average age: 43.2
  • Median household income: $54,648
  • Average commute time: 22.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $665
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $749

Home to the Illinois State Capitol, Springfield is a mix of those who serve the legislative and executive branches of the government during sessions as well as residents who live in the city full-time.

It’s also home to the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum which honors and documents the life and work of the 16th U.S. President, Abraham Lincoln so the area gets a lot of tourists year-round.

Springfield feels a bit like living in a suburban setting but also has plenty of bars, restaurants and parks to keep locals and visitors entertained.

Choose among the best cities in Illinois

With world-class attractions, sprawling rural towns to fast-paced urban cities, Illinois has something for everyone. If you’re thinking about moving to the Land of Lincoln, we hope this list of the best places to live in Illinois helpful.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

10 Cities Near Dallas To Live In 2021

Dallas is the largest inland metropolitan area in the U.S., which probably seems daunting if you’re considering a move. Luckily, there are plenty of great suburbs and nearby cities that let you take advantage of everything the Big D offers from a lower-key base camp.

No matter what reason you have your sights set on the area, the following 10 cities near Dallas should also be on your radar.

Richardson, TX.Richardson, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 12.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,442 (down 1.9 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,763 (down 7.3 percent since last year)

With a population of just over 120,000, Richardson has a tight-knit community feel with big-city amenities.

The University of Texas at Dallas is in Richardson, and within the city, there are very desirable public and private schools. It makes living here attractive to young families.

There are excellent city services and fun community programs, including farmer’s markets, festivals and events.

The recreational facilities are top-notch and include gyms, aquatic centers, over 35 parks, playgrounds and nature preserves.

Richardson’s location is perfect — it’s bordered by Dallas and Plano and also provides access to four different DART (Dallas Area Rapid Transit) stations, which can get you to downtown Dallas in 20 minutes.

farmers branch txfarmers branch tx

Source: Apartment Guide / The Luxe at Mercer Crossing
  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 14.1 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,343 (down 0.5 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,993 (up 7.2 percent since last year)

Farmers Branch is one of the fastest-growing cities near Dallas and a great place to call home. Over 4,000 companies and more than 250 corporate headquarters are in Farmers Branch, making it Texas’s third-largest business center.

Its restaurant and entertainment scene have fully blossomed, and the area is now in high demand for families especially. The neighborhoods are safe and the schools are both excellent while the recreational facilities are state-of-the-art.

Farmers Branch is known as “The City in the Park” because it’s so green with over 30 award-winning parks, a community garden, rose gardens, walking trails and a 104-acre nature preserve.

Addison, TX. Addison, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 14.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,533 (down 13.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,181 (down 17.1 percent since last year)

If you’re looking for a cool city near Dallas to work and live in, Addison fits the bill.

Many perks include free membership to the Addison Athletic Club, a front-row seat to the famous firework show called Kaboom Town and easy access to the plethora of shopping and dining options.

There are more than 180 restaurants within the 4.4 square miles that make up Addison, ranging from fine dining to family-style establishments.

Addison is a small town in terms of numbers, but it doesn’t feel far from the action. It’s just 20 minutes from Dallas’s downtown with easy access off the tollway.

Plano, TX.Plano, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 18.3 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,764 (up 12.8 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,372 (up 12.5 percent since last year)

Plano is a highly desirable city to live in near Dallas. It’s just a short commute north of Dallas’s downtown and is home to some large corporations like J.C. Penney Company, Frito-Lay and Toyota, to name a few.

Plano is a great place to live and work. It takes on a life of its own with a small-town vibe even though it’s anything but small. Plano stands out because it has a charming historic downtown area with trendy shopping and dining, excellent schools and a strong sense of community.

There is no shortage of recreational activities in this city either with over 70 parks to explore, including hiking and bike trails.

carrollton txcarrollton tx

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 18.6 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,312 (up 4.4 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,660 (up 4.7 percent since last year)

A precious gem tucked into the Dallas metro area is Carrollton. Residents enjoy a high quality of life with top schools, safe neighborhoods and lots of recreational parks.

In this city, slightly northwest of downtown Dallas, you’ll find beautiful, spacious homes to fit a relaxed lifestyle. Carrollton real estate is some of the most expensive in Texas but proves to appreciate in value faster than neighboring cities.

The pristine Indian Creek Golf Club, a 36-hole golf course, is in Carrollton. You can also find many hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and playgrounds scattered throughout the city.

Additionally, there are more than 250 restaurants in Carrollton — so much variety, your tastebuds will thank you.

Grapevine, TX.Grapevine, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 22.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,419 (down 3.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,966 (down 3.5 percent since last year)

Located in between Dallas and Fort Worth is the city of Grapevine. Home to DFW International Airport, the third-largest airport in the world, this city offers accessibility like no other.

Living in Grapevine provides major conveniences with a suburban feel. There are plenty of restaurants, boutiques, wineries, art galleries, jewelry stores and more in the Historic Main Street District, a hot destination.

The beautiful Lake Grapevine offers 8,000 acres for outdoor recreation like fishing, stand-up paddleboarding, boating and hiking, making this an exciting place to live.

As the name Grapevine might hint, you’ll find many wineries linked by the city’s Urban Wine Trail. There’s even a multi-day annual wine festival called GrapeFest.

Rockwall, TX.Rockwall, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 23.4 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,472 (down 5.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,750 (down 1 percent since last year)

Rockwall is one of DFW’s best-kept secrets. The city has much to offer its residents, making it an attractive place to live near Dallas. Rockwall Parks and Recreation offers year-round events and classes for kids, as well as summer music events and movie nights in the park.

It’s a great city to raise a family and combine work with play. There are a few large employers in Rockwall, including many manufacturing companies and Texas Health Hospital Rockwall, which employs more than 600 people.

One of North Texas’s largest lakes, Lake Ray Hubbard, is in Rockwall and is great for fishing, skiing and recreational boating. Overall, Rockwall is a fun and relaxing place to live.

Allen, TX.Allen, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 24.2 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,330 (up 1 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,648 (down 3.7 percent since last year)

Allen is a booming suburb and a great place to live near Dallas. It’s known for premium shopping, excellent attractions, safe neighborhoods and a highly-ranked school system.

Some of the best shopping destinations in Allen are Allen Premium Outlets, which has over 120 outlet designer and name-brand stores, and Watters Creek at Montgomery Farms, a scenic, resort-style shopping center and entertainment destination.

Another perk of living in Allen is the number of recreational offerings. You can head to Don Rodenbaugh Natatorium, which offers an indoor water park, a competition-sized swimming pool and a rock-climbing wall, or try wakeboarding at Hydrous at Allen Station. Meanwhile, skaters can enjoy the Edge at Allen Station Skate Park, the largest outdoor skatepark in Texas.

Frisco, TX.Frisco, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 26.4 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,624 (up 17.3 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $2,269 (up 22.1 percent since last year)

Frisco has so much to offer — in 2018 Money magazine put it at number one on the “Best Places to Live in America” list. The city has undergone extreme growth in the last couple of decades and is an ideal place to raise a family.

Frisco is safer than surrounding areas, with a crime rate of 86 in 2019, which is 3.1 times lower than the U.S. average. Families also appreciate the excellent education opportunities. The school district is known for academic excellence and innovative programs.

Frisco is additionally becoming the epicenter for football fans since it’s the site of the Dallas Cowboys’ 91-acre campus, known as the Star.

McKinney, TX.McKinney, TX.

  • Distance from downtown Dallas: 30.8 miles
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,277 (down 4.7 percent since last year)
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,704 (up 1.5 percent since last year)

McKinney is an excellent option if you’re looking to live near Dallas but crave a slower-paced feel.

This blend of big-city and small-town culture is one of the many reasons young professionals and growing households move to the area. The historic downtown square draws visitors from all over with its unique locally-owned boutiques, gift stores, art exhibits, restaurants and coffee shops.

There are a few breweries in McKinney which add to the life of the city. There’s also a plethora of picturesque parks and the eight-mile Erwin Park Hike and Bike Trail for residents to enjoy.

Make one of these cities near Dallas your next home

If you’re looking for the amenities of a metropolis but prefer a more laid-back vibe, you’re bound to find it in these 10 great cities near Dallas. No matter where you decide to hang your hat, there are some things you’ll need to know before living near the Big D.

Get the 411 on living in Dallas and start preparing for your move today.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory pulled in April 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

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Source: apartmentguide.com

10 Money Books for Children and Teens

Reading is one of the most valuable skills children learn. Not only does reading enable us to navigate the modern world, it provides an endless source of learning and entertainment.

I am incredibly thankful that all of my children are avid readers who love nothing more than to have a fresh new book in their hands, but over the years, I’ve learned that you can’t just toss any book at them and expect them to read it. They’re engaged by compelling stories and by things that match up well with their interests in the moment. They’re not immediately going to gravitate to a book about money unless it speaks to them in some way.

Why worry about it at all? The reality is that financial education is a big part of modern parenting. Many schools provide very little in terms of practical financial education, leaving it up to parents to prepare their children for this aspect of adult life, and it can be a real challenge.

There’s an abundance of great financial books for adults, but it’s harder to find great options for children that really hit the sweet spot of being age-relevant and interesting to them. Here are 10 options that manage to balance these two goals.

In this article

The Berenstain Bears’ Trouble with Money by Stan and Jan Berenstain is a wonderful picture book for read aloud time or for early independent readers. It tells a relatable story from the perspective of the two younger Berenstain Bears about the challenge of having limited amounts of money. Children are going to be familiar with the idea of not having enough money to buy the things that they want, but what do they do in that situation? This book handles it with care.

Another good financially minded book choice for preschool children is Curious George Saves His Pennies by H.A. Rey. It focuses on the challenge of having enough patience to save for a large goal without getting distracted, balanced with George’s colorful adventures and distractions.

Brock, Rock, and the Savings Shock by Sheila Bair and Barry Gott takes the idea of compound interest and makes it into an accessible children’s book with a lot of clever rhyming and beautiful illustrations. The book focuses on twin brothers, one of whom chooses to spend on momentary impulses while the other saves his money, leading to the end when the saving brother has a lot of money built up thanks to the compounding.

Another great choice for early elementary children is The Squirrel Manifesto by Ric and Jean Edelman and illustrated by Dave Zaboski. It’s a beautifully illustrated book that brings to mind the fable of the grasshopper and the ant, focusing on a parable involving a squirrel saving resources for the winter to come.

For upper elementary kids: Lunch Money

Lunch Money by Andrew Clements and illustrated by Brian Selznick tells a great story of a rivalry between two entrepreneurially minded children, but within the rollicking tale comes a lot of good ideas about working to earn money, the value of cooperation, investing in yourself, and putting aside money for the long haul. These ideas are really effortlessly weaved into the story.

An alternative choice is How to Turn $100 into $1,000,000 by James McKenna, Jeannine Glista and Matt Fontaine. While this isn’t story-oriented like many of the other selections here, the provocative title and the perfect approach for older elementary-age children who are beginning to have somewhat more expensive tastes make this a great choice for adolescents.

Money Hungry by Sharon Flake tells a very memorable story about a 13-year-old girl who seems obsessed with money, finding all sorts of ways to earn a dollar here and a dollar there. As the story progresses, it becomes clear that she’s driven by a fear of poverty and some painful memories of not having enough when she was younger. This book has spurned some wonderful conversations in our home about money, needs and how different people see those things differently.

Another really great option for middle schoolers is Katie Bell and the Wishing Well by Nephi and Elizabeth Zufelt, which takes something of an opposite approach to Money Hungry. Here, the titular character finds all of her financial wishes easily granted, but finds that it’s not all it’s cracked up to be and that much of what we think of as a wealthy life comes from other things, like relationships.

The Truth About Forever by Sarah Dessen is a beautiful story about a teenager with a summer job who is using that opportunity to both earn money and escape from some difficult life issues, particularly the death of a parent. The book intertwines money issues with the multitude of concerns and difficulties teens often face, resulting in a wonderful story with a great conclusion.

A completely different type of financial book that might just click with your high schooler is I Want More Pizza by Steve Burkholder and editors Rebecca Maizel and David Aretha. This is a nonfiction book, but it’s extremely applicable to and targets almost perfectly the financial concerns of high schoolers. Should they get a job? Should they be saving for college or for a car? It does a great job of addressing the exact questions I often hear from the high schooler in my home.

We welcome your feedback on this article. Contact us at inquiries@thesimpledollar.com with comments or questions.

Source: thesimpledollar.com

The Best Places to Live in Wisconsin in 2021

When people think of Wisconsin, they usually think of cheese, the Green Bay Packers or its largest city, Milwaukee.

The best places to live in Wisconsin are scattered throughout the state and include communities both big and small. After all, this Midwest state is home to 777 cities, each with its own strong community and unique personality.

So, whether you’re looking for an apartment while attending one of their excellent universities or colleges, making a move for a new job or looking for something new and different, there is a city and community waiting for you.

Here are 10 of the best places to live in Wisconsin.

Appleton, WI.

Photo source: Fox Cities Convention & Visitors Bureau / Facebook
  • Population: 73,637
  • Average age: 40.8
  • Median household income: $58,112
  • Average commute time: 22.3 minutes
  • Walk score: 41
  • Studio average rent: N/A
  • One-bedroom average rent: $918
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,281

Creative outdoor murals line the buildings, while cute boutiques, cozy coffee shops, and delicious food is found throughout historic downtown Appleton.

The city is among more than a dozen that make up the Fox Cities community and overlooks the Fox River.

It’s family-friendly and has a dense suburban feel with highly-rated schools. It’s also home to Lawrence University, a residential liberal arts college and conservatory of music.

Eau-Claire, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

Photo source: Visit Eau-Claire / Facebook
  • Population: 67,250
  • Average age: 40
  • Median household income: $55,477
  • Average commute time: 20.9 minutes
  • Walk score: 47
  • Studio average rent: $608
  • One-bedroom average rent: $722
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $844

Whether it’s gathering with friends and neighbors to enjoy some of the many live music options throughout the city, including the Jazz Fest in the spring, followed by Country Fest, Rock Fest and Blue Ox Music Festival in the summer, or taking in some local art or walking along the historic bridges, Eau Claire is known for its welcoming vibe.

It’s especially welcoming to independent artists who create art installations, building murals and more.

According to a study released by Smart Asset, Eau Claire is also the third most livable small city in the country.

Fond-Du-Lac, WI.

  • Population: 43,145
  • Average age: 42.8
  • Median household income: $52,724
  • Average commute time: 22.4 minutes
  • Walk score: 49
  • Studio average rent: n/a
  • One-bedroom average rent: $822
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $895

Fond du Lac is a family-friendly community with a strong sense of history. The Fond du Lac County Historical Society connects residents to the local history of the town.

The public library and several sporting centers offer programming year-round and there is no shortage of restaurants and bars to enjoy dining and imbibing.

Green Bay, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 104,984
  • Average age: 39.8
  • Median household income: $49,251
  • Average commute time: 22.8 minutes
  • Walk score: 45
  • Studio average rent: $955
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,152
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,252

Most people know Green Bay for its football team (Fun fact: the Green Bay Packers football team is the only NFL team owned by its fans) but there is more than football in this northeastern part of Wisconsin and at the mouth of the Fox River.

While it can get cold during the winter months, Green Bay residents love spending time outdoors whenever possible. Easy access to the Fox River also means water-based activities such as fishing.

As the state’s oldest settlement, it’s also known for its family and business-friendly community.

Kenosha, WI.

  • Population: 98,545
  • Average age: 40.5
  • Median household income: $55,417
  • Average commute time: 29.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 51
  • Studio average rent: $1,254
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,344
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,581

Located on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan and at the northern border of Illinois, Kenosha is sometimes called a bedroom community between Chicago and Milwaukee.

Outdoor activities are popular, whether it’s water-based activities on Lake Michigan or playing a round of golf at one of the Kenosha County golf courses.

Kenosha is also home to Carthage College and the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

La Crosse, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 51,965
  • Average age: 39.1
  • Median household income: $45,233
  • Average commute time: 19.2 minutes
  • Walk score: 60
  • Studio average rent: $773
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,100
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,245

Nestled along the Mississippi River, La Crosse is the largest city on Wisconsin’s western border. It’s home to a few colleges, including the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse, Western Technical College and Viterbo University.

La Crosse has charming historic homes that have since been converted into bed and breakfasts, such as the Castle La Crosse Bed and Breakfast, while the Dahl Auto Museum pays tribute to the eight oldest Ford dealership under continuous family ownership in the nation.

Nature lovers can enjoy scenic views from 600-foot-high Grandad Bluff which overlooks the city of La Crosse.

Madison, WI.

  • Population: 249,409
  • Average age: 39
  • Median household income: $65,332
  • Average commute time: 23.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 64
  • Studio average rent: $969
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,350
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,935

Madison is the home of Wisconsin’s state capital as well as the University of Wisconsin-Madison. It’s also one of the best cities for millennials.

The second-largest city in the state, Madison is a progressive urban city that is both affordable and offers great employment opportunities.

Outdoor lovers will appreciate the hiking and biking trails and the walkable downtown has bookshops, coffee shops and restaurants around every corner.

Milwaukee, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 599,058
  • Average age: 37.8
  • Median household income: $41,838
  • Average commute time: 27.5 minutes
  • Walk score: 70
  • Studio average rent: $1,276
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,428
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,803

Milwaukee is Wisconsin’s largest and most populated city, with almost 600,000 residents calling it home.

Located in the southern part of the state and along Lake Michigan, it’s known for its many cultural offerings, from the architecturally significant Milwaukee Art Museum to the Milwaukee Repertory Theater to its wildly popular annual Summerfest, one of the largest music festivals in the world.

It’s also home to the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and Marquette University campus as well as two major professional sports teams: the Milwaukee Bucks and the Milwaukee Brewers. Several Fortune 500 companies have headquarters here too, including WEC Energy Group, Northwestern Mutual and Harley-Davidson.

Wauwatosa, WI.

Photo source: Discover Wauwatosa / Facebook
  • Population: 47,772
  • Average age: 43.9
  • Median household income: $82,392
  • Average commute time: 24.6 minutes
  • Walk score: 57
  • Studio average rent: $1,221
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,504
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,962

Wauwatosa, sometimes called Tosa by locals, is just 15 minutes west of downtown Milwaukee. Residents love the small-town feel and having easy access to independently-owned shops and restaurants.

A major employer is the Milwaukee Regional Medical Center and Wauwatosa is home to several colleges and universities.

Tosa Village, originally called Hart’s Mill in the 1800s, is a popular destination for locals and visitors alike as the thriving historic district includes parks, cultural attractions, restaurants, and bars.

Architecture fans will appreciate a trip to Annunciation Greek Orthodox Church, designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright in 1956 and completed in 1961. The church is on the National Register of Historic Places and among Wright’s last works and completed after his death.

Waukesha, WI, one of the best places to live in wisconsin

  • Population: 71,536
  • Average age: 41.3
  • Median household income: $65,260
  • Average commute time: 26.7 minutes
  • Walk score: 33
  • Studio average rent: $898
  • One-bedroom average rent: $1,012
  • Two-bedroom average rent: $1,299

Waukesha is a city of neighborhoods, filled with strong schools, great shops, and an abundance of green spaces to play.

An active farmers market during the summer takes place in downtown Waukesha, where families and friends meet up.

It’s ideal for those who want a suburban environment with access to urban amenities and residents include families as well as young professionals.

The city is also conveniently located close to Milwaukee, just 18 miles west of the largest city in Wisconsin, and 59 miles east of Madison, making it easy to get to either place.

Experience the best cities in Wisconsin

Wisconsin checks off a lot of checkmarks when it comes to living in a vibrant Midwest state with great attractions, schools, outdoor and recreational activities.

Whether you’re looking for a slower pace of life or the energy of a busy city, there is a Wisconsin community ready to welcome you. We hope this list of best places to live in Wisconsin helps you choose your next home.

Rent prices are based on a rolling weighted average from Apartment Guide and Rent.com’s multifamily rental property inventory of one-bedroom apartments in March 2021. Our team uses a weighted average formula that more accurately represents price availability for each individual unit type and reduces the influence of seasonality on rent prices in specific markets.
Other demographic data comes from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The rent information included in this article is used for illustrative purposes only. The data contained herein do not constitute financial advice or a pricing guarantee for any apartment.

Source: rent.com

A Look into the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program is a government program that was created with the College Cost Reduction and Access Act of 2007 .

The goal was to help professionals working in public service who have more federal student loans than their public sector salaries allow them to easily repay.

It’s aim is to ensure that the best and the brightest don’t feel as though they have to leave these important jobs to join corporate America just so they can pay down their student debt.

an income-driven repayment plan .

There are four income-driven repayment plans to choose from; There’s Pay As You Earn, income-based repayment, income-contingent repayment, or Revised Pay as You Earn. This will likely allow you to pay less per month toward your loans than you would on the standard plan.

There are separate eligibility requirements for these plans, so be sure to check if you qualify.

3. Certifying your employment. To do this, print out an Employment Certification form and get your employer to fill it out and send it in for approval. The Federal Student Aid website suggests filling this form out annually or at least every time you switch jobs.

You can also use the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Help Tool to find qualifying employers and get the forms that you’ll need to fill out.

4. Making 120 qualifying monthly payments on your student loans while you’re employed by a qualified public service employer. What if you switch employers? So long as you are still working for a qualifying employer, you’ll still qualify.

5. After you make the final payment, you can apply for forgiveness. You fill out an application , send it in, and wait. Then (hopefully!) you can celebrate your loan forgiveness.

The Current State of the Program

Because the program was created in 2007, the first people to qualify to have their loans forgiven applied for forgiveness in September 2017. But while the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the program could cost just under $24 billion in the next 10 years , and the U.S. Government Accountability Office believes that more than four million student loan borrowers qualify for the program, some aren’t aware that it exists. And even more graduates have gotten bad information from loan servicers that rendered them ineligible.

In 2018, just 1% of applicants were approved for loan forgiveness through PSLF. In November 2020, the US Department of Education released updated information indicating that 2.4% of applicants have been approved for PSLF.

Pros and Cons of the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program

The Advantages of the Program Are Pretty Straightforward:

1. Your balance of student loans are forgiven after a set time, which can be a relief. This works as a kind of bonus to make up for the low pay people working in the public sector may earn.

2. The amount forgiven usually isn’t considered income, so you aren’t taxed on it (that means you don’t have to save additional money to account for the IRS bill). There are other loan forgiveness programs that will forgive your loans, but you might see a big tax bill when they do.

3. You get rewarded for being a do-gooder (just like your mom promised you would). It will feel great to know that you’re making a difference, and your government appreciates it enough to give you a break on your federal student loans.

4. You may pay less monthly because you’re on an income-driven plan. This means paying out less of your hard-earned cash every month.

The Disadvantages of the Program Are That:

1. The program is only open to those with certain types of employers. And it’s contingent on you staying with a qualifying public service employer for 10 years, which might not be a guarantee.

2. Some people aren’t aware of the program, which is partly because of a lack of education by employers, loan servicers, and schools.

3. There are a lot of hoops to jump through to get your loans forgiven. Sounds fun, right? Plus, if you don’t jump through a hoop properly, you could jeopardize your forgiveness.

Teacher Loan Forgiveness program. This program is available to full-time teachers who have completed five consecutive years of teaching in a low-income school. This program also has strict eligibility requirements that must be met in order to receive forgiveness.

These federal forgiveness programs do not apply to private student loans. If you are looking for ways to reduce your interest rate or monthly payments on private student loans, refinancing with a private lender could be an option.

It is important to mention that refinancing your federal student loans with a private lender may make you ineligible for the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program should you choose that route.

The Takeaway

The Public Service Loan Forgiveness program can be one way for eligible borrowers to have their federal student loans forgiven. The program has stringent requirements that cna make successfully receiving forgiveness through PSLF challenging.

Refinancing is another option that can allow borrowers to secure a competitive interest rate on student loans. Refinancing federal loans eliminates them from borrower protections.

Interested in seeing if you qualify for a lower interest rate? Check out SoFi’s student loan refinancing to find out.



IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
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External Websites: The information and analysis provided through hyperlinks to third party websites, while believed to be accurate, cannot be guaranteed by SoFi. Links are provided for informational purposes and should not be viewed as an endorsement.
Financial Tips & Strategies: The tips provided on this website are of a general nature and do not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation, and needs. You should always consider their appropriateness given your own circumstances.
SoFi Student Loan Refinance
IF YOU ARE LOOKING TO REFINANCE FEDERAL STUDENT LOANS PLEASE BE AWARE OF RECENT LEGISLATIVE CHANGES THAT HAVE SUSPENDED ALL FEDERAL STUDENT LOAN PAYMENTS AND WAIVED INTEREST CHARGES ON FEDERALLY HELD LOANS UNTIL THE END OF SEPTEMBER DUE TO COVID-19. PLEASE CAREFULLY CONSIDER THESE CHANGES BEFORE REFINANCING FEDERALLY HELD LOANS WITH SOFI, SINCE IN DOING SO YOU WILL NO LONGER QUALIFY FOR THE FEDERAL LOAN PAYMENT SUSPENSION, INTEREST WAIVER, OR ANY OTHER CURRENT OR FUTURE BENEFITS APPLICABLE TO FEDERAL LOANS. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION.
Notice: SoFi refinance loans are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that the federal loan program offers such as Income-Driven Repayment plans, including Income-Contingent Repayment or PAYE. SoFi always recommends that you consult a qualified financial advisor to discuss what is best for your unique situation.

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Source: sofi.com

The 4 Biggest Budget Surprises for New College Grads

Life after graduating college is a time of surprises. You’re thrust into the adult world for the first time, forced to earn your way and find your place, all while still feeling like a kid inside. Some people make the transition smoothly, but most of us struggle a bit.  

That’s especially true when it comes to your finances. Given the poor state of financial education in American schools, most people graduate college barely able to write a check or remember the PIN number for their debit card.

So, a little stumbling is inevitable – but that doesn’t mean you need to fall on your face. The best way to avoid a rude awakening is to get ahead of the game. Here are some of the biggest budget surprises to look out for. 

Transportation 

Lots of students spend their college years without a car, opting to walk, bike or take the bus to class (or to the bars). When they graduate, it can be a shock to leave the comforts of a campus where everything is close by. 

While some opt for the sensible choice of buying a used car in cash, many more head for the dealership to purchase or lease a new car. That may have been a practical decision when their parents graduated, but these days the cost of a new car is prohibitive for most twentysomethings. In 2017 the average monthly payment for a new car was $479, not including the cost of insurance, gas and maintenance. 

How to avoid them: Buying a car you can’t afford is a common problem graduates run into. It’s so easy to let a smooth-talking salesman convince you to take the plunge, especially when your friends and family are making similar mistakes. But before you sign those papers, look at your budget and consider how much you can truly handle. 

Don’t be afraid to shop for a used car. If you look for a newer model, most people won’t even be able to tell the difference. There will always be time to upgrade your ride, but it’s probably not a good idea to start your adult life with a purchase that puts you $30,000 in the hole. 

If you still need a car loan, apply for one at a local credit union. They’ll almost certainly have better rates than the dealership, allowing you to put aside more for travel, hobbies and retirement saving. 

Health Insurance

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, college graduates have been able to stay on their parent’s health insurance until age 26. But if your mom or dad is ready to kick you off the family plan, you’ll have to buy your own coverage. 

The average health insurance premium in 2016 was $393, but costs vary widely depending on where you live and what kind of plan your employer offers. The premium isn’t the only thing a recent grad has to worry about – they also have to pay for any out-of-pocket expenses like deductibles, copays and prescriptions.  

How to avoid them: If you have a job, see what’s available through your employer. If you’re still considering offers, review the benefits packages closely. The difference in healthcare options could mean saving or spending thousands more each year. 

Most health insurance options have a few tiers of service, ranging from bare minimum to first-class insurance. Unless you have a chronic health condition or visit the doctor frequently, opt for the plan with the cheapest premium. You’ll pay a hefty sum when you visit the doctor, but save on monthly premiums. 

Emergencies

I’ll never forget it. I was running late to work one day, when I got in my car and noticed a big crack that covered the length of my windshield. I decided to replace it immediately, as it was almost winter and I was worried the windshield could shatter while I was driving. I found a company that came out to my office and replaced the windshield for $100, a small fortune for my 22 year-old self. 

I was so disappointed. Here I was, just a few weeks into my first real post-grad job, faced with an $100 emergency I wasn’t prepared for. That experience taught me a valuable lesson about always having a rainy day fund. If I was willing to plan ahead for vacations and concert tickets, I could plan ahead for stray rocks hitting my windshield. 

How to avoid them: Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do to completely avoid emergencies. Eventually, you’ll have a funeral to travel to, a car accident or a medical emergency.  

The only way to avoid being financially surprised is to plan ahead with an emergency fund. A starter emergency fund should have at least $1,000 in it, which will cover most minor incidents. If you have an unstable job or a lot of debt, you should save three month’s worth of expenses.  

Only use the emergency fund for unforeseen expenses – not for costs you can anticipate. Once you start dipping into your emergency fund for non-emergencies, there’s a good chance it won’t be there when you need it. 

Student Loans 

A 2014 study from the Brookings Institute found that most freshman college students had a poor idea of how much they owed in student loans. About 50% of them underestimated how much they owed by more than $5,000, and 28% claimed to have no student loans when they still owed money. That might explain why many graduates are shocked when they finally get the Sallie Mae bill in the mail.  

How to avoid them: All federal student loan servicers and some private lenders provide a six-month grace period after graduation, meant to help borrowers get settled before they start making payments. If you’re still in that sweet spot, use this time to build up a small emergency fund and prepare your budget for student loans. 

Explore your repayment options if you’re worried about affording the monthly bill. Borrowers with federal loans have access to several income-based plans which can significantly decrease how much they pay each month. A graphic designer earning $40,000 a year with $35,000 in student loans could pay as little as $183 a month if they choose a different repayment plan. 

Graduates with private loans usually don’t have extra repayment options. Instead, they can try to refinance their loans with another lender to get a lower interest rate. 

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