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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:03 PM   #1
GKDAIR
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Do you think it is wrong to use Financial Aid for things like Macs?

I don't think its wrong. If it is was that frowned upon I don't know why the government would give you back the money in the first place.

The only things I've ever used financial aid on was for fixing things or helping me out through college. I bought a macbook air because i didn't have a computer for college and quite frankly its the best computer I've owned. Ive also fixed me car from being an utter POS to drivable all through financial aid, and I don't feel like I've done anything wrong.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:05 PM   #2
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Sorry if I sound ignorant, but what's the point of this topic? It honestly sounds like you have your doubts about it being 'right', so you're looking for other people to validate your opinion so you don't feel so bad?
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:07 PM   #3
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Sorry if I sound ignorant, but what's the point of this topic? It honestly sounds like you have your doubts about it being 'right', so you're looking for other people to validate your opinion so you don't feel so bad?
No I don't have doubts. I'm just wondering what other people think.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:10 PM   #4
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No, it's totally fine. It should say somewhere on your loan disbursement or pre-loan counseling your school should've made you go through what you can spend the money on. Federal loans can be used for school and school expenses - which really means anything during your time in school. Tuition, books, rent, food, laptops and software are more than covered.

Pretty much anything is really. There's no accountability to track what you're using the money for. It's just not smart to take out more than you need - the interest is going to bite you down the road. It's important to note the only way to shed student loan debt is to (a) die or (b) become so disabled to not have a chance to earn money to pay off your debt. You can't discharge the debt in bankruptcy.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:24 PM   #5
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If you're in some graphic design, artsy program that leans heavily toward Mac based tools. Sure, its probably a necessity. Otherwise its a luxury extravagance.

Most would be more economically and practically served by a $3-400 wintel.

Years ago I picked up a refurb $500 Thinkpad in my third year of school, it was a work horse that lasted me until well past college. Reports, coding, linking to serial/parallel prototyping boards and robotics. And after school for use traveling mobile communications, web, email, IM etc. I think that refurb lasted me 8yrs. It finally died and now iPhone/iPad fill its void.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:36 PM   #6
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It's not wrong if you need it. If you don't need it though, I don't know why you got it. It's just spending more money that you don't have. That's why so many people are in debt today.

Honestly, there's nothing about a Macbook Air that you need, that a PC couldn't do. Is it right or wrong? Morality is tough to call, but was it a necessity? Definitely not. How do I know this? A mac for college is useful if you need it for film/photography/etc., in which case you'd opt for a computer with a larger hard drive and faster CPU.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:47 PM   #7
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A mac for college is useful if you need it for film/photography/etc., in which case you'd opt for a computer with a larger hard drive and faster CPU.
I would tend to agree there. If you're going to school in one of those areas, they tend to be very Mac driven. These days it matters less, but for many many years this stuff was better supported on a Mac. In one of those areas, I'd hate the small display and ram limitations (SSD helps somewhat, but it's not the same).
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:52 PM   #8
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It is one of those depends answers. None of the stuff you listed is in the wrong category assuming you either did not have a computer or were replacing a fairly old and out dated one.

Example of something that I have seen people do with Financial aid that I do not agree with. For example I knew one person who spent the money on getting a top of the line MacBook pro. Their major and what they used it for was a complete waste. They did do any heavy lifting type of work and was used for surfing the web and writing papers and then they replaced it 2 years later.
Another person used their aid to buy iPod touch and an iPad.
Now using it for that stuff is one thing but then they turned around and complained about their lack of funds and wish they got more aid.

Now in my financial aid I got left over after books I had around 400ish last semester and I am looking at around 200ish this semester. Differences in amount is this semesters books cost more and I did not get as much off selling my books. The money for me just gets tossed into my general funds which the aid turns out to be enough to slow down the bleed off my personal savings to make it to the end of school.

What have I been using my savings for? Things like gas for my car and food and little odds and end. The major purchases have been put on hold. Hell the first big thing I bought myself in the past 3 years was I bought myself skyrim. Yeah a 60 buck video game was my first real new toy that I bought myself in several years and I took the money off one of my books being sold.

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Originally Posted by thejadedmonkey View Post
Honestly, there's nothing about a Macbook Air that you need, that a PC couldn't do. Is it right or wrong? Morality is tough to call, but was it a necessity? Definitely not. How do I know this? A mac for college is useful if you need it for film/photography/etc., in which case you'd opt for a computer with a larger hard drive and faster CPU.
That is an it depends argument. Windows vs OSX. Even in photographery I could argue now against OSX easily as you can get a lot more horse power for less in Windows and OSX does not provide anything special in terms of tools. All of it is out there for Windows just fine. The only tool that is not out for both platforms is Final cut and lets faces it Final cut X is a joke and is not professional grade. As such the software in uses is out for both platforms.

If you are going into engineering or programming I would say getting a Mac is not worth it since in Engineering a lot of the software you need to use is Windows only and programming a lot of .net and windows studio stuff is used so you will be in that OS any how. Sorry but the dev software out there for OSX is no were near as good as what is out there for windows.
But over all it is a small group of people either way on which OS is better for them is effected by more than personal preferences.

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Old Jan 16, 2012, 06:39 AM   #9
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Most would be more economically and practically served by a $3-400 wintel.
Right now, $849 gets you a refurbished MBA, the latest model, while $300-$400 finds you in garbage territory. With the MBA, if you have any problems, you can go to the nearest Apple Store and there are people who will actually help you - that needs to be pointing out again and again; if you have any problems you will encounter people who are paid to keep Apple's customers happy, not people who get paid to get rid of you as quick as possible.

Look at it like this: $849 for an MBA. Or $400 for a cheap and nasty laptop plus $449 for cheap booze. The MBA will be considerably better for you.

That said, you can also spend $3,800 on a 17" MBP with a 512 GB SSD drive. If you do that with a student loan, you deserve to be kicked hard.
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Old Jan 16, 2012, 04:15 PM   #10
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Gnasher729 said it all. The additional money you spend on a Mac compared to a PC will save you countless hours of support, unnecessary reboots, even days of downtime when you will need to send back the PC to its manufacturer for warranty service if you need one, plus the money it typically cost to replace one part.

Granted, it's hard to know, in an academic setting, what downtime "costs"
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Old Jan 17, 2012, 09:43 AM   #11
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My take:

Is it wrong (morally): no.

Is it wise: depends.

As others have said, if you NEED a Mac, there's no choice. My sister went through a graphic design program in her college where every student was required to buy a Mac and a copy of Adobe CS2 or CS3 or whatever was current at the time.

If you don't need a Mac, then the thought has to cross your mind that if you're applying for financial aid in the first place, can you really afford to spend this much extra on a Mac? Or might that money be better spent elsewhere: tuition, textbooks, bus pass, a car, parking, dorm, food? If you think you can handle it, then go for it. If expenses are truly tight, then the wise thing to do is to get something cheaper.

You also have to think a few years ahead: sure, the loan is interest-free now, but in a few years you'll need to pay it off and interest may begin to accrue. The more you borrow, the longer that will take. How are your job prospects? How's the economic forecast looking?

Without going into my whole rant about taking out loans to buy unnecessary things, I'll just say that I financed the purchase of my first Mac, a 12" PowerBook G4, and that turned out to be a huge mistake because I fell behind on my loan payments in a hurry. So I learned this the hard way, and it's not something I ever want to do again.
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Old Jan 17, 2012, 01:30 PM   #12
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If you are using your mac for school, and will be using it for a long time (not upgrading when each new model comes out) then I can see financing it. Its an essential tool for college. I always recommend against the cheap route for computers unless you are doing something basic like word processing.

That being said do not make it a habit. I remember in my teens I said I'd never be one of those people that dig themselves into debt, and just like almost everyone else who says that, college dug me in to debt. Although I made all my payments on time I was in over my head and could only make minimum payments on things. Luckily I was blessed to land a job working overseas (in a war zone for three years) and was able to dig my way out quickly, and finish school.

You don't want to have to do that. Finance only what you absolutely need for school, put the refunds back in the bank and use them to pay off the debt you will come out of school with.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 12:39 PM   #13
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No, you probably don't need it. I took a loan for the Mac I "had-to-have" back in my senior year. After graduation, I worked 2 jobs to make ends meet and it gathered dust until I sold it for a song to help pay off the loan.

Although it behooves you to know all the tools of your trade, it will be greatly to your advantage to begin your post-college career with as little debt as humanly possible.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 03:52 PM   #14
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Yeah my views are that it doesn't really matter. I mean they give the money back to you with no strings attached, except for the whole paying off loans thing.

I picked a macbook cuz i was tired of all my windows problems but thats besides the point.

If someone bought a car with their financial aid money I really wouldn't care, id be jealous though, lol.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 04:12 PM   #15
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I certainly wouldn't be buying a Mac with financial aid $$ unless I needed it. That's all I can say.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 04:14 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by GKDAIR View Post
Yeah my views are that it doesn't really matter. I mean they give the money back to you with no strings attached, except for the whole paying off loans thing.

I picked a macbook cuz i was tired of all my windows problems but thats besides the point.

If someone bought a car with their financial aid money I really wouldn't care, id be jealous though, lol.
No, there are strings attached. It is for educational expenses only and if you get caught, you can get in trouble. Granted, what is educational expenses are is blurry (ie housing, transportation, etc)
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 04:58 PM   #17
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Heh, I once bought a car with my financial aid, so I would say buying a Mac isn't that big a deal. It's better than blowing it on partying.
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 05:05 PM   #18
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financial aid to buy a Mac? ... how is this possible?
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Old Jan 15, 2012, 05:09 PM   #19
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financial aid to buy a Mac? ... how is this possible?
(Loans you take out + grants + scholarships etc.) - (actual cost of tuition + fees etc.) = refund check sent to you from your school.
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 09:42 PM   #20
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Heh, I once bought a car with my financial aid, so I would say buying a Mac isn't that big a deal. It's better than blowing it on partying.
Hah I did this during graduate school. I used student loan money plus a trade in for it. I got a better interest rate on a student loan than any car dealership or bank would've given me.
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Old Jan 20, 2012, 10:35 PM   #21
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Hah I did this during graduate school. I used student loan money plus a trade in for it. I got a better interest rate on a student loan than any car dealership or bank would've given me.
That's very true. I bought an old beater, so I didn't have to finance it. I totaled out my 10 year old truck when it was attacked by a suicidal deer. Since I lived off campus, this became a big problem. I got a big refund, so I used it plus a bit of money I had saved from my part time job and bought the car. Given how long it took to pay back that loan, it ended up being an expensive car, but I didn't have much of a choice at the time.
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Old Jan 21, 2012, 03:33 PM   #22
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Yeah my views are that it doesn't really matter. I mean they give the money back to you with no strings attached, except for the whole paying off loans thing.
Back in the 80s, I borrowed some money from my GrandPa, telling him it was for education.

Instead of going to class, I raided the computer shows popular at the time.

Researched/bought parts and carefully built a computer, which really lit a fire in me for useable technology. I've been in IT in one capacity or the other ever since.

I confessed to him years later, he laughed, saying "I never said what kind of education you had to use it for. It worked anyway."

So yes, if a mac is getting you where you are trying to go, no worries.
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 06:18 PM   #23
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If anyone reads this again:

Is this a discussion on scholarship money or other funds given by the school, federal student loans, or private loans applied for through the FAFSA process and funded by third parties? I assume it is the latter two.

If you apply for federal student aid, you borrow from the federal government which you repay with interest. If you apply for a PLUS loan, you borrow from a private corporation which you repay with interest as well.

You are not given this money. You must return it and then some. It is yours. There is no moral quandry here. There are limits on how much one can borrow based on a variety of factors that have been determined by the legislature. If you meet the criteria, you can use, temporarily, and for a price, another party's money - and you can use it for whatever you please.


Also, the notion that this (nonexistant) moral quandry would be resolved if someone "needed" it - for art school or graphic design no less - is ridiculous. Nobody needs a Mac. It's a brand. If you are enrolled in a university that requires one... wow.

You should rethink things if you believe there are "strings attached" to financial aid money. I am no accountant, but I can tell you that loan money is yours. It's not a car loan from a bank applied for in an exact amount calculated off of the specific value of the vehicle in question, drafted to be used for that purpose. It is a loan, period.

Being a student is a precursor to receiving the loan. You are not restricted to using the loan for school purposes. Obviously, you will use most of it for that. You may need to pay rent, too. As for the "get a job" argument: sure, you can work in undergrad, grad school in the liberal arts. What about JD or MD programs, some of which have first-year employment restrictions and all of which are incredibly time consuming, often necessitating unpaid internships for long periods as prerequisites to gainful employment? Personally I would rather my doctor have been funded my loan money and focused on learning medicine than have had to work five days a week while engaging in what I imagine to be a difficult, time-consuming endeavor which, by the way, relates to people's health and safety.

You can borrow as much as you can and feel, morally, just fine about it. Financially speaking, however, you may not feel as good. You benefit in the present - more money; US citizens, present and future, benefit - more government money (interest) when you repay; the nation benefits - more educated people. You pay the price in the future no matter what. If you borrow too much, you pay for it eventually. The real moral quandry should be the way everyone else feels, benefiting off the government resources procured from excessive loans taken out by potentially ignorant students, right? Nah...
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Old Dec 7, 2012, 08:29 PM   #24
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This was an old topic to bring back, but that was a great reply. If the government gives me a loan at 6.8% (!) I will use it for whatever I need in order to fund my education. If tuition and books are paid for then sure, why not a Mac? Or even buy food with it? It's still money I need to get through college. Most college students do work already. How much time can someone really spend at work though while getting a degree? The whole point of college is to spend 4 years learning, specifically so you don't have to spend 12 hours a day for the rest of your life working.
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Old Dec 10, 2012, 12:12 PM   #25
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Also, the notion that this (nonexistant) moral quandry would be resolved if someone "needed" it - for art school or graphic design no less - is ridiculous. Nobody needs a Mac. It's a brand. If you are enrolled in a university that requires one... wow.
You may scoff, but these do exist. As I said, my sister went through one such program. Students were required to purchase a MacBook and a license for the particular software used in their courses. I'm sure that wasn't/isn't the only such program in the world.
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