How Acing the PSAT Can Lead to Scholarship Money

If you’re like most high schoolers, you probably think of the PSAT as a practice run for the SAT. But this test actually has some pretty high stakes of its own.

In fact, its full name is the PSAT/NMSQT, or National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test. If you get a top score on the test, you could qualify for a National Merit Scholarship in the amount of $2,500.

Plus, you could be in the running for college-sponsored, corporate-sponsored, or “special” scholarships.

For now, let’s focus on the National Merit Scholarship of $2,500. Here’s what you need to know about winning this scholarship opportunity.

1. Take the PSAT in 11th grade

Before winning a National Merit Scholarship, you’ll need to take the PSAT. Fortunately, you probably don’t have to worry about signing up for the test. Most schools across the country administer the PSAT to students in the fall of their junior year.

That being said, you might ask your school counselor if you can take the PSAT 8/9 or PSAT 10 as a freshman or sophomore. That way, you’ll get a sense of what the test is like and you’ll learn how to perform under testing conditions.

Just keep in mind that only your 11th-grade PSAT scores count toward the National Merit Scholarship. Beyond taking the test as a junior, you also have to meet a few other eligibility requirements set by the National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC).

These include being a U.S. citizen or permanent resident and progressing normally toward graduation. And of course, you have to be one of the top PSAT scorers in the country.

2. Score in the top 1 percent

To stay in the running for a National Merit Scholarship, you have to do extremely well on the PSAT. In fact, you need to score in the top 1 percent of scorers across the country.

So, what is a good PSAT score for the National Merit Scholarship? That all depends on the state you live in, since NMSC compares scores on a state-by-state basis. Plus, it uses its own scoring system called the Selection Index.

To learn your state’s cutoff from previous years, call NMSC at (847) 866-5100. Keep in mind, though, that state cutoffs can change from year to year. A good PSAT score for the National Merit Scholarship in one year might not qualify the next.

Plus, scoring in the top 1 percent doesn’t guarantee you a scholarship. What it does mean is that you could be named a National Merit Semifinalist, a prestigious distinction in its own right. But you’ll have to wait to move from semifinalist to scholarship winner.

3. Wait for a notification letter

If you’ve got your sights set on a National Merit Scholarship, you’ll have to be patient. That’s because you don’t actually find out if you’re a semifinalist until almost a year after you take the PSAT.

Although you’ll take the PSAT in October of your junior year, you won’t hear from NMSC until September of your senior year.

Of the 1.6 million juniors who take the PSAT, 16,000 get a letter saying they became semifinalists. Of this group, 15,000 are invited to apply for the National Merit Scholarship. If you’re one of the invitees, your next step will be to put together a scholarship application.

4. Craft an outstanding application

Your National Merit Scholarship application is similar to a college application. In addition to your PSAT scores, the scholarship committee will look at your:

  • Academic transcript
  • Extracurricular involvement
  • SAT scores
  • A letter of recommendation from a school official
  • Your response to the National Merit essay prompt

Unlike a college application, your recommendation should come from your high school principal. Spend some time getting to know your principal so you can get a thorough and personal letter of recommendation.

Along similar lines, put effort into your National Merit application essay. According to NMSC, both your recommendation and essay can go a long way toward helping you win the scholarship.

After submitting your materials, you’ll find out in the spring of your senior year whether you won the scholarship. Of the 15,000 students who apply, 2,500 win the $2,500 National Merit Scholarship. Plus, an additional 6,200 students win other types of scholarships.

You could also win college or corporate scholarships

The official National Merit Scholarship isn’t the only prize you could win for your high PSAT scores. There are three other types of scholarship prizes for students who rock the PSAT:

  • Corporate-sponsored scholarships: About 230 businesses, including Macy’s, Pfizer, and UPS, partner with NMSC to give out 1,000 scholarships. Each business sets its own criteria and NMSC helps locate students. NMSC might look for children of employees, community residents, or finalists with career plans the company supports.
  • College-sponsored scholarships: Your college could give you a scholarship if you designated it as your first choice on your NMSC application. About 4,000 students win college-sponsored scholarships.
  • Special scholarships: About 1,200 special scholarships go to students who got high scores on the PSAT but didn’t become finalists. NMSC will notify you about applying to a special scholarship, and you might need to submit a separate entry form to be considered.

For full details on how to apply for each type of scholarship, check out the official NMSC website. Whichever award you’ve got your eye on, you’ll need to ensure you earn a top score on the PSAT.

Don’t put too much pressure on winning the National Merit Scholarship

As you can see, the National Merit Scholarship is extremely selective. Plus, applying for it is a long process that spans a year and a half.

Since there’s no guarantee of winning, make sure you’re applying to other scholarships in the meantime. There are tons of scholarship opportunities across the country that could help you pay for college.

You might get a scholarship for your academic achievements or community service work. Or you could find random prizes that reward you for being left-handed or having an unusual hobby.

Make the most of scholarship search engines, and apply for opportunities far and wide. Instead of placing all your eggs in the National Merit Scholarship basket, seek out alternate sources of funding.

That way, you’ll reduce the amount you have to pay for college and, hopefully, avoid taking on too much student debt.

The article How Acing the PSAT Can Lead to Scholarship Money originally appeared on

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Need-Based vs. Non-Need-Based Financial Aid: Here’s the Difference

In the spring of 2017, George Washington University President Steven Knapp visited high schools across Washington, D.C. He had amazing news for 10 talented students: They had earned full-ride scholarships to the university.

The university selected these students based on their achievements, but merit-based scholarships aren’t the only kind of aid that go into financial aid packages. Colleges also provide need-based financial aid to students who need help paying for college.

Read on to learn about both types of financial aid, and how you can get the most aid possible.

What is need-based financial aid?

Need-based financial aid is exactly what it sounds like — it’s doled out based on your financial need. Some colleges promise to cover your full financial need, while others only provide aid for part of it.

Each college’s financial aid office puts together your financial aid package. It could include a mix of federal, state, institutional, and private aid.

Need-based financial aid could include any of the following:

  • Federal Pell Grant: Pell Grants tend to go to students with major financial need. The maximum award for the 2017-2018 school year is $5,920.
  • Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG):You can receive between $100 and $4,000 per year through the FSEOG program. However, only some colleges participate.
  • Direct Subsidized Loan: Interest will not start accruing on these federal loans until you’re out of school and the six-month grace period has ended.
  • Federal Perkins Loan: These loans also don’t accrue interest during your grace period. After that, they have a fixed interest rate of 5.00%. Perkins Loans go to students with “exceptional financial need.”
  • Federal Work-StudyThis program provides you with a part-time, on-campus or off-campus job, so you can earn money to put toward school or living costs.

A college might offer need-based financial aid in the form of low-interest loans. Plus, the state or a private organization might give loans or grants to low-income students.

Massachusetts’ MASSGrant, for instance, gives grants to qualifying state residents with a family contribution equal to or lower than $5,328. And the Jack Kent Cooke Foundation provides up to $40,000 per year to high-achieving students with significant financial need.

Whether it’s federal, state, or private, need-based aid is largely based on your financial situation. Except in the case of private scholarships, your grades or extracurricular achievements don’t factor in.

How is need-based financial aid determined?

To figure out your financial need, most schools look at your FAFSA (a few also require the CSS Profile). After filling out the FAFSA, you’ll get an Estimated Family Contribution, or EFC.

As the name suggests, your EFC is how much your family is expected to pay toward college. The difference between the cost of tuition and your EFC is your financial need.

Let’s say a school costs $50,000 per year, and your EFC is $25,000. In this case, your financial need would be $25,000.

Most colleges will cover at least part of that $25,000 with need-based financial aid. Plus, they might provide additional non-need-based financial aid.

If not, you’d need to make up for the difference another way — such as by taking out private student loans or choosing a less expensive college.

What is non-need-based financial aid?

Non-need-based financial aid, like its need-based counterpart, is offered on both the federal and institutional level. The Office of Federal Student Aid provides the following types of non-need-based aid:

A financial aid office might include these loans in your financial aid package after it has exhausted need-based funding. Plus, it might award merit-based grants or scholarships based on your high school performance.

If you have excellent grades or a strong record of community service, for instance, you could get college scholarships, like the 10 students in Washington, D.C. Or, you could win scholarship money from an external organization.

Some organizations even give scholarships for unusual reasons. For instance, you could win scholarship money for being left-handed, having red hair, or winning a duck-calling contest.

Whether it’s an unsubsidized loan you have to repay or a scholarship you don’t, none of the aid on this list is based on financial need.

How do colleges give out non-need-based aid?

Unlike need-based aid, non-need-based aid doesn’t look at your EFC. Instead, your eligibility is based on the difference between the school’s cost of attendance and the amount of financial aid you’ve received so far, whether it’s from the college itself or an outside organization.

For example, let’s say your school’s cost of attendance is $20,000 per year, and you’ve received $15,000 in need-based financial aid.

In this scenario, you could qualify for up to $5,000 in non-need-based aid. You’re not guaranteed to get $5,000 — or even anything — but you are eligible for these additional funds.

How to get the most financial aid possible

To some extent, your financial aid package is out of your hands. Each college sets its own policies, and the financial aid offices will notify you of its decision.

But there are important steps you can take to qualify for aid, whether it’s based on financial need. Here are the top six:

  1. File the FAFSA as soon as possible. This application becomes available on Oct. 1. Submit it early, as some aid is given out on a first-come, first-served basis.
  2. Find out if your school requires the CSS Profile. Some colleges ask for the CSS Profile in addition to the FAFSA. They look at this document, along with the FAFSA, to determine financial aid.
  3. Communicate with the financial aid office. If you haven’t applied yet, speak with financial aid offices to learn about their policies. If you experience changes in your financial situation after submitting the FAFSA, let them know. They might be able to adjust your award.
  4. Use the FAFSA4Caster tool. This useful tool helps you estimate the cost of attendance at colleges around the country. You’ll get a sense of how much need-based financial aid you can get from each school. Use this info to be strategic about where you apply.
  5. Do your best in high school. You could end up getting serious merit-based aid for your achievements. Schools like Boston University and University of Texas at Austin offer full-ride scholarships to students with a record of academic and extracurricular achievement.
  6. Apply to outside scholarships. There are tons of organizations at the local and national level that award scholarships to students. Speak with your school counselor and browse scholarship search engines for opportunities.

By understanding the different types of financial aid — and being proactive when you apply to colleges — you can seriously reduce the cost of college.

Plus, you can avoid making the mistake that has burdened a generation of grads: taking on too much student debt to fund your education.

The article Need-Based vs. Non-Need-Based Financial Aid: Here’s the Difference originally appeared on

Complete Guide to Military Student Loan Forgiveness and Repayment

When Deborah Rykers graduated from college in 2008, she didn’t think she would spend eight years of her life in the United States Air Force. As an education graduate, that wasn’t her plan.

“An opportunity came my way, and I was recruited by a friend of mine,” said Rykers. “It was the best eight years of my life, but I wasn’t prepared to come back to civilian life, especially with the student loans I had taken out for my teaching degree.”

For many like Rykers, military enlistment can open up doors of opportunity and provide a fulfilling career. But one of the biggest drawbacks is being isolated from real world financial responsibilities like student loans, Rykers explained.

Rykers isn’t the only service member burdened with student loans. A 2012 study found that 41 percent of armed forces members held student loan debt, according to Reuters. Given the increase in student loan debt since that time, that number could be even higher today.

But there is good news for both active duty servicemen and veterans. Military student loan forgiveness, repayment relief, and refinancing options are available to those who qualify.

Here’s a list of options for military student loan repayment and forgiveness that will help you get out of debt fast.

Military student loan repayment assistance programs

What’s better than lower monthly payments or a reduced interest rate? How about no student loans at all?

There are several military student loan repayment assistance programs that can help eliminate some or all of your debt.

Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty

The Army Student Loan Repayment: Active Duty program offers military student loan repayment assistance to people on active duty. Among other requirements, you must enlist for at least three years and score 50 or higher on the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).

If you qualify, the Army will pay up to 33.33 percent of your principal balance each year for three years. You could receive up to $65,000 in loan assistance. Note that you can only use this money to pay off federal student loans, such as Direct, FFEL, and Perkins Loans. Private loans aren’t eligible.

Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program

If you’re in a qualifying Military Occupational Speciality (MOS), you could get assistance through the Army Reserve College Loan Repayment Program. You must enlist for at least six years and have loans before you go on active duty.

This program will pay 15 percent of your loan balance for up to $20,000. It applies primarily to federal student loans, not to private ones.

Health Professions Student Loan Repayment Program

The Health Professions Loan Repayment Program helps doctors, dentists, and other healthcare professionals on active duty or in the Army Reserve. Qualifying borrowers can receive up to $40,000 per year for up to three years. This $120,000 in military loan forgiveness could go a long way toward paying off medical or dental school loans.

Prior Service Soldier Loan Repayment Program

Army Reserve soldiers with prior military service can receive up to $50,000 toward student loan payments. You can request more information about student loan forgiveness for veterans through the U.S. Army website.

National Guard Student Loan Repayment Program

Members of the National Guard could receive up to $50,000 in military loan forgiveness. You must enlist for a minimum six-year term of service.

Navy Student Loan Repayment Program

If you’re in the Navy, you could receive up to $65,000 in student loan repayment assistance. The Navy program helps sailors in the first three years of service.

Air Force College Loan Repayment Program

The Air Force College Loan Repayment Program (CLRP) is available to any person enlisting with past student loan debt. It awards up to $10,000, made in yearly payments of 33.33 percent of the debt or up to $1,500 — whichever is higher.

Air Force Judge Advocate General’s Corps Loan Repayment Program

If you join the Air Force Judge Advocate General’s (JAG) Corps, you could get up to $65,000 in student loan repayment assistance. You’ll receive payments over a three year period after your first year of service as a JAG officer.

Military student loan forgiveness and discharge programs

Loan repayment assistance programs give you money to help pay off your student loans, but forgiveness and discharge programs get rid of your loans completely. Below are three options for military student loan forgiveness and cancellation.

National Defense Student Loan Discharge

The National Defense Student Loan Discharge is designed to help those who have put their lives on the line for their country. To qualify, you must have served at least one year in an area deemed imminent danger or in direct fire and have a Perkins or Direct student loan.

The application for the discharge includes a Department of Defense form and a letter explaining why you believe you qualify sent directly to the servicers of your loan. The amount discharged is partial and varies, so it is best to contact your loan company.

Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge

For those who have sacrificed so much, the Veterans Total and Permanent Disability Discharge is there to release you of your loans. To qualify, you must have a service-related disability documented by the Department of Veterans Affairs and been deemed permanently disabled. Most loans are eligible for military student loan forgiveness through this program.

Public Service Loan Forgiveness

Service to our country qualifies borrowers for one of the most popular student loan forgiveness programs — Public Service Loan Forgiveness. This program forgives all student loan debt after the borrower makes 120 qualifying payments while working full-time with the military or another qualifying non-profit.

Note that deferred payments do not count towards the 120 monthly payments and might extend your timeline to receive PSLF.

Other options for managing your student loan debt

Beyond military student loan forgiveness and repayment assistance, you have other options for making your student loans more manageable. The four approaches below can reduce your interest rate or lower your monthly payments. If you’re dealing with a lot of student debt, these four strategies could help ease the burden.

Cap interest through the Servicemembers Civil Relief Act (SCRA)

The Servicemembers Civil Relief Act could provide some relief from student loan debt. This act caps the amount of interest that can be collected on an active duty service person’s debt at 6.00%. This is especially good for borrowers with high-interest private loans, which often have higher rates than federal student loans.
For example, using our student loan payment calculator, a $20,000, 10-year loan at 8.5% interest has a monthly payment of $247. With the rate reduced to 6%, the monthly payment is lowered to $222. That’s a savings of $3,112 over the 10-year period. Apply those savings as extra payments on your loan and, you’ll cut a full year from your repayment plan.

To qualify for this benefit, your loans must be more recent than August 14, 2008. Contact your loan servicer for information about SCRA eligibility.

Defer your student loans while you’re on active duty

If you’re currently serving, your monthly payment doesn’t have to be a burden. The Department of Education allows you to defer your student loan payments during active duty service and 13 months after your return (or until you return to school with at least half-time status).

During this time, the government will pay the interest on your Federal Perkins, Direct Subsidized, and Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans while the principal is delayed. While you won’t pay your loans off any faster, you also won’t have to worry about accruing interest while your payments are paused.

This is not the case for unsubsidized loans, however. If you have an unsubsidized loan, you might benefit from using a student loan deferment calculator to see the amount of interest you will accrue while in deferment.

Lower your monthly payments with an income-driven repayment plan

Another way to manage your monthly payments is to apply for an income-driven repayment plan. These plans take into account your current discretionary income and family size in order adjust your monthly payments accordingly. In some cases, your new monthly payment could be as low as $0.

For example, Income-Based Repayment is one of the most popular plans. It limits your monthly payments to 10 or 15 percent of your discretionary income and results in forgiveness of any remaining debt after 25 years.

Overwhelmed by the thought of all the paperwork required to maintain enrollment? That’s where the Heroes Act Waiver comes in. With HAW, you’re not required to submit applications or proof of income during active duty periods. This means that even if your income increases, you can request to maintain the old, lower payment.

Note that this option does come with possible drawbacks. So always consider the pros and cons of income-driven repayment before enrolling.

Refinance your student loans for a lower interest rate

Whether you’re a civilian or an active duty member, an effective way to tackle student loan debt is by refinancing your loans. Refinancing is the process of paying off one or more student loans by obtaining a new, single loan through a private lender. Unlike the military loan repayment assistance program, refinancing applies to both federal and private loans.

Usually, the goal is to get a lower interest rate on the new loan, and in turn, enjoy smaller monthly payments. This move can save thousands of dollars in interest charges, too. You might also be able to extend your repayment period to lower monthly payments even more (though this could cancel out some or all interest savings).

It’s important to note that refinancing isn’t a magical solution to your debt problem and it’s not a great choice for all borrowers. There are several important pros and cons to consider, especially when it comes to refinancing federal student loans.

For example, refinancing federal loans with a private lender means permanently giving up access to government-backed benefits, including income-driven repayment options and the Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program.

However, if you have several high-interest loans or private loans — or don’t qualify for income-driven repayment — refinancing could be the answer to cutting the cost of that debt.

Student debt relief is available for servicemembers and veterans

Student loan debt shouldn’t be a burden to carry on and off the battlefield. The government has provided incentives, benefits, and student loan forgiveness for veterans and those on active duty.

“Without my student loans, I wouldn’t be a teacher today,” Rykers said. “But without my service, I wouldn’t be the person I am today.”

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5 Student Loan Tips You’re Better Off Ignoring

There’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to paying off student loan debt. You need to know what works for your personal situation. What helps one person could actually harm someone else.

Here are five common pieces of advice that don’t always pan out so well for borrowers. Read on to learn what’s wrong with these student loan tips and what you should do instead.

1. Switching to an income-driven repayment plan saves you money

If you have federal student loans, switching to an income-driven repayment plan can help lower your monthly payments. There are four income-driven repayment plans and each caps your monthly payment at 10 to 20 percent of your discretionary income. If you’re struggling to make your current payments, one of these plans could ease the burden.

But switching to an income-driven repayment plan also has downsides. To lower your monthly payments, these plans extend your repayment term to 20 or 25 years. Adding a decade or more to your standard repayment plan means you’ll pay a lot more in interest over the life of your loan.

After you make payments for 20 or 25 years, the remaining balance of your student loans is forgiven. It’s not free money though — the forgiven amount will be treated as taxable income. So even if your debt is forgiven, you could be hit with a hefty tax bill.

So before jumping onto an income-driven repayment plan, assess your financial needs. Perhaps you can increase your income or lower your cost of living to better afford your student loans. Maybe you can qualify for a student loan repayment assistance program.

If you can find a way to stay on the standard 10-year repayment plan, you could save a lot of money in the long run.

2. Refinancing your student loans is always beneficial

You may have heard about all the benefits of refinancing student loans. Depending on your creditworthiness and income, you could refinance for lower monthly payments and a better interest rate. Plus, you’ll simplify your monthly payments so you only have to deal with one loan servicer instead of multiple ones.

But before refinancing, make sure you understand the possible drawbacks. When you refinance with a private lender, you give up federal student loan programs. You’ll no longer have access to income-driven repayment plans or federal loan forgiveness programs, like Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF).

If you’re worried about losing your income or working toward federal loan forgiveness, refinancing could be a mistake. Refinancing has major benefits for some borrowers, but it’s not right for everyone.

3. Consolidation and refinancing are the same

It’s easy to confuse student loan consolidation with student loan refinancing. Both combine multiple loans into one new loan, but the similarities largely end there.

Consolidation refers to taking out a Direct Consolidation Loan from the federal government. You can only consolidate federal student loans such as Stafford, Perkins, and Direct PLUS loans.

Your new interest rate will be the average weighted interest rate of your old loans, rounded up to the nearest one-eighth of a percent. That means that consolidating does not lower your interest rate. It can help you by extending your repayment plan and it also helps rehabilitate student loans that have gone into default.

Refinancing, on the other hand, means combining all your private and federal student debt into one new loan with a private lender. It can help lower your interest rate and save you money in the long run. But, as mentioned above, refinancing means you lose access to certain federal loan programs.

People commonly confuse consolidation and refinancing, but the two processes are different. If you’re interested in simplifying your monthly payments, make sure you understand which approach is better for your individual situation.

4. You shouldn’t start paying back your loans right away

When you take out federal student loans, you have six months after you graduate before you have to start paying off student debt. This grace period gives you time to look for a job before your student loan bills come rolling in.

Unfortunately, unsubsidized student loans collect interest during this grace period. In fact, unsubsidized loans collect interest from the day they are disbursed.

So if you wait until the grace period is over, you might spend a long time paying off interest before you even make a dent in the principal. If possible, try to start paying your loans even before the grace period ends.

If you don’t have the means to start, at least review your loan terms and get a repayment plan in place. That way, you’ll be prepared when you have to start paying off student debt.

5. It helps to put your student loans into deferment or forbearance

Deferment and forbearance allow you to pause payments on your student loans. Often, borrowers defer their loans for up to three years when they go to grad school. Similarly, those faced with a short-term emergency, such as the loss of a job, can use forbearance for up to 12 months.

But there are risks with both of these options. If you have unsubsidized loans, your debt will continue to accrue interest. After months or even years, your student loan debt could get out of control. Once the deferment or forbearance period ends, you could be left with a huge bill that’s impossible to handle.

Be cautious about exercising either of these options and calculate exactly how much your student debt will grow if left in deferment or forbearance. Come up with a plan in advance so you’re not left scrambling in the future.

Educate yourself before accepting student loan advice

Before acting on student loan tips, make sure you understand all the benefits and drawbacks. A financial move that works for one person might not be right for you.

The best student loan tips take into account your unique circumstances. Make sure you see the whole picture before taking action on your student loans.

The article 5 Student Loan Tips You’re Better Off Ignoring originally appeared on

7 Convenient Bill-Splitting Apps for Happy Housemates

Remember how Chandler always covered Joey’s share of the rent in Friends?

Most of us don’t have Chandler Bings to foot our bills, but we do have something none of the Friends gang did in the ’90s — bill-splitting apps.

With these useful apps for roommates, you can divide everything even-steven, whether it’s rent, groceries, or a restaurant bill.

7 best bill-splitting apps for roommates

1. Splitwise

Running after your roommates to pay back every little expense is tiring, not to mention time-consuming. Bill-splitting app Splitwise tallies up all your IOUs so you can reimburse each other in one big payment, instead of a ton of little ones.

The app even sends reminder emails to help you keep up with payments, so you don’t have to nag your roomies. All you need to do is upload an expense and then choose who to share it with. You and your roommates can decide how often to settle the tab.

2. Venmo

Venmo is an easy, popular, and secure way to pay back your friends. With Venmo, you can add a bank account or debit card to transfer money between roommates at no charge.

Alternatively, you can keep money in your Venmo account and send it to your roommate — that $10 your friend paid you for dinner last week can go toward your electric bill, instead of getting lost in your bank account.

Venmo is a free way to transfer money between any two people who have the app. That means this bill-splitting app is not just useful for roommates — it’s also a great way to pay back friends and family.

3. IOU

IOU helps you keep track of all your debts to your roomies. You can upload expenses, share them equally among your housemates, and send each other email reminders.

You can even add recurring IOUs for monthly bills or create a payment plan for big purchases. For example, if your roommate breaks your TV and doesn’t have the cash now to pay you back, you can create incremental payments over a six month period.

With IOU, it’s easy to keep track of everything, plus you’ll have a record of your debt history. There will be no more confusion about whether your roomie paid you back yet for cleaning supplies or toilet paper.

4. RentShare

RentShare is helping the rental world do away with paper checks once and for all. It’s a secure way to pay your rent online from your bank account or credit card. If your landlord is on board, then she just needs to set up an account with direct deposit.

You can enable automatic payments or reminders among your housemates, so everyone is paying their share at the same time every month. There’s a $1.95 fee to pay from a bank account and 2.99 percent charge for credit cards.

5. Splitrr

Splitrr is an easy-to-use bill-splitting app that doesn’t even require a log-in. You can upload costs and choose even or uneven splittings with your roommates. You don’t even need internet access to use it – the app works offline.

If you want a history of debts, you can easily generate a PDF and email it to your housemates.

6. OurGroceries

Do you and your housemates share any food or drinks? If you have certain communal ingredients, you can share grocery lists through OurGroceries.

With this app, you can easily make and adjust grocery lists, crossing off any items that you’ve bought. You can also add random supplemental lists, like “our favorite wines” or “episodes to include in this weekend’s Friends marathon.”

7. Divvy

Speaking of food, Divvy is a great bill-splitting app to use at restaurants. If you and your roomies go to dinner and need to split the bill, app Divvy can photograph the bill, drag each item to the person who ordered it, and see each individual’s total.

With Divvy, you never have to write out math problems on the back of a restaurant bill or delivery receipt again.

Apps for roommates who care

More young people live with housemates today than ever before. According to Forbes, the number of people aged 25 to 34 who live with roommates increased by 39 percent from 2005 to 2015. While having roommates has lots of great benefits, it also requires compromise and open communication.

With these apps for roommates, you can head off any conflicts before they occur. By keeping everything transparent and accounted for, you can keep things running smoothly.

These apps split the bills, maintain household lists, and track expenses. Now if only they would take out the garbage and do the dishes for you!

Are you dealing with a shady landlord or noisy neighbors? This guide tells you your rights as a renter and how to resolve unpleasant issues.

The article 7 Convenient Bill-Splitting Apps for Happy Housemates originally appeared on Student Loan Hero.