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The number of people enrolled in the health care exchanges surpassed the revised CBO estimate.

By Money Staff Mar 28, 2014 12:37PM

This post comes from Louise Radnofsky and Colleen McCain Nelson at partner site The Wall Street Journal.

The Wall Street Journal on MSN MoneyThe White House said the Affordable Care Act crossed a key threshold as it announced Thursday that more than six million people have signed up for private health coverage through state and federal insurance exchanges.

The number, released days before the Monday deadline for most people to enroll for this year, surpasses the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office's revised estimate that six million people would enroll in private health plans for 2014 -- down from its initial forecast of seven million.


Low-income, high-achieving high school students may be able to visit some college campuses at no cost when deciding where to apply.

By Mar 28, 2014 11:36AM
This post comes from Louis DeNicola at partner site on MSN MoneyAs high school students prepare to spend the next several years and thousands of dollars earning an undergraduate degree, finding the right college is critical. The atmosphere on campus, the diversity of the student body, and the local surroundings all weigh on the decision.

Cornell University © Hemera Technologies/JupiterimagesBut it's hard to judge these things from a distance, which is why pre-application campus visits are so important. The costs of doing so, however, add up quickly.

Fortunately, there are ways qualified students can visit a campus for free or at minimal cost. One option, open to every student, is a well-planned road trip to nearby colleges and universities. This is an efficient and money-saving approach that minimizes the cost of transportation, food, and lodging.

But jaunts to schools beyond driving range can be prohibitive, especially for families on a tight budget. Students in this situation can look to a number of colleges and special programs that underwrite the cost of campus visits, even for those who need to fly in. This help isn't offered to just anyone, though. It's typically reserved for students who meet income and academic eligibility standards. Many programs also give priority to students from traditionally underrepresented demographic groups and to first-generation college students.

Still trying to decide whether you should consolidate your student loans? Here are a few things to keep in mind.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 27, 2014 2:06PM

This post comes from Allison Martin at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyAre your student loans putting a dent in your wallet? Fortunately, there are forms of relief available to assist.

College diploma on top of cash © Corbis Whether you're having a tough time keeping up with the payments due to carelessness on your part or a lack of funds, consolidation is an option worth considering.

How it works

A direct consolidation loan, which is offered by the federal government, lumps all outstanding federal student loan balances into one new loan and grants you a repayment term of anywhere between 10 and 30 years.

About 60 days after the new loan is disbursed, repayment commences.

Important considerations

While it may be convenient to consolidate all of your loans into one product, here are some factors you should consider before moving forward:


A new report finds that lost transfer credits can sometimes doom graduation plans for college students.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 27, 2014 12:46PM

This post comes from Krystal Steinmetz at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyA new study suggests that 1 in 7 transfer students lose nearly all of their course credits when they switch from a community college to a four-year university.

The research paper -- "The Community College Route to the Bachelor's Degree" -- was co-authored by two academics from the City University of New York and funded by the Bill and Melissa Gates Foundation.

College student © Stockbyte, Getty ImagesThe unfortunate result of requiring those students to essentially start over by accepting only a scant 10 percent of college credits they earned is that they're much less likely to earn a bachelor's degree. According to Inside Higher Ed:

The research also dumps cold water on several other explanations for why many community college students fail to eventually complete bachelor’s degrees, such as assumptions about lowered expectations, a vocational focus or inadequate academic rigor during their time at two-year colleges.

In fact, students who were able to transfer nearly all of their credits were 2.5 times more likely to go on to earn a bachelor's degree than students who transferred less than half of their credits, the study said.

Inside Higher Ed also said it pointed out that "community college transfer students are just as likely to earn a bachelor's degree as equivalent students who started at a four-year college."


Several forces are conspiring to raise your bar tab.

By Money Staff Mar 27, 2014 12:07PM

This post comes from Catey Hill at partner site MarketWatch.

MarketWatch on MSN MoneyYou're not seeing double: Your bar tab really is that big.

Man with tropical drink © CorbisMargaritas, screwdrivers and Bloody Mary's are among the cocktails that could become more expensive in coming months. And drinkers can't blame the actual alcohol for that -- thanks to a convergence of factors ranging from weather to bacteria, the price of many of the ingredients in cocktail mixers has jumped.

In general, the prices for fresh fruits — including many used as cocktail mixers — climbed 2.5 percent from January to February this year, compared with just 0.4 percent for food overall. And Vernon Crowder, the senior vice president and senior analyst at Food & Agribusiness Research and Advisory, says that fruit prices could continue to climb through the summer.


The second-ranking Republican in the US House says the minimum wage doesn't need to be raised -- it's the Affordable Care Act that's hurting workers' wages.

By Mar 27, 2014 11:00AM

This post comes from House Majority Leader Eric Cantor at partner site on MSN MoneyOn Jan. 31, a fry cook asked President Obama why his hours were being cut to part time because of Obamacare, and the President responded by saying he was pushing to raise the minimum wage.

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, R-Va © J. Scott Applewhite/AP
This moment between the fry cook and the president reveals the entire reasoning of the Democratic Party’s push to raise the minimum wage. Rather than restore wages and hours lost by working middle-class Americans due to Obamacare, Democrats are hiding these losses behind a false debate about the minimum wage.

Just look at the math. In 2013, President Obama supported a $9 minimum wage. This year, he proposed a $10.10 minimum wage, which at the federal level turns out to be an increase roughly equal to the amount of wages a minimum wage employee would lose if they had their hours cut by 25 percent, as is happening under one provision of Obamacare. Coincidence?


U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren writes that the minimum wage in the US is too low to raise a child in a secure environment. The Massachusetts Democrat says almost 5 million single mothers would get a needed raise.

By Mar 26, 2014 5:20PM

This post comes from U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., at partner site on MSN MoneyI have 17 million reasons for wanting to increase the minimum wage.  Yes, 17 million -- the number of children whose lives would be a little more secure if their moms and dads earned at least $10.10 an hour.

Caption: Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) © Joshua Roberts/Reuters
When I was in junior high, my daddy had a heart attack. He was home for a while, the medical bills piled up, and we lost our family station wagon.

So my mother did what she had to do: She went to work answering the phones at Sears. The job paid only minimum wage, but it was enough to make sure we could keep our home.

No one should work full time and live in poverty. In 1968, the minimum wage was high enough to keep a family of three out of poverty. In 1980, the minimum wage was at least high enough to keep a family of two out of poverty. 


Looking for nearly new gizmos at a lower the price? Buying reconditioned laptops, phones and more is a good way to go.

By MSN Money Partner Mar 26, 2014 1:51PM

This post comes from Maryalene LaPonsie at partner site Money Talks News.

Money Talks News on MSN MoneyRight now, you could spend $299 on a brand-new 32GB iPod Touch or you could spend $219 for the refurbished version. Both come from the Apple store in a sparkling white box with new accessories, a new battery and a one-year warranty.

Which do you choose?

You may be hesitant to go the refurbished route, but have no fear. Refurbished electronics are an awesome deal and can save you up to 50 percent off the sticker price.



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