Return to Headlines

Conrad Teacher Leigh Weldin Starts a Personal Finance Blog

Often times one of the biggest unknowns to students and families readying for a post-secondary academic life is financial well being as it relates to paying for college. The process of knowing when and how to apply for financial aid and understanding the myriad of loan options can be overwhelming to some.  To help her students and the entire Red Clay community, Conrad teacher Leigh Weldin has started a personal finance blog. Read her first blog entry here, and read her interview below.  


Thank you for sitting with us. Please tell us about your role at Conrad Schools of Science?


Greetings, thank you for having me. My name is Leigh Weldin, and I teach College Prep, Honors, 11th grade AP US History, and 11th grade Personal Finance at Conrad Schools of Science.


A personal finance newsletter is such a dynamic idea?  Where did the inspiration come from?

I was inspired to create a personal finance newsletter while attending a Next-Gen Personal Finance conference this spring.  I was looking for a way to engage with students, families, and our community to provide resources about personal finance to increase overall financial well-being.  This was my first one, but I am planning to publish two more before the end of this school year.  The next newsletter will focus on saving and investing. I hope to have it released around spring break. The goal is to create a bi-monthly newsletter.  Additionally, I am building an archive for the newsletters, student spotlights, and guest columnists. Here is the link.

Financial Aid can be an overwhelming process. What advice would give to parents & students entering the process for the first time? 

  1. Start Early-  during the summer before senior year
    • Create an FSA ID for both the student and parent/guardian
    • Estimate the amount of federal financial aid your family may receive by completing the FASFA4Caster
    • Begin looking for scholarships to reduce the sticker cost of colleges
  2. Completing the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is essential for ALL families.
    • FAFSA filing begins on Oct 1, 2019
    • The earlier you complete the FAFSA the more money you may receive. Students who file the FAFSA during the first three months tend to receive double the grants.
  3. Research the different types of federal financial aid
  4. Check out this infographic that provides a road map to the financial aid process

Student loans and potential debt are always a hot topic. What are some tips for navigating the process and understanding student loans?

  • Federal student loans- “You’ll have to repay the money with interest. Subsidized loans don’t start accruing (accumulating) interest until you leave school, so accept a subsidized loan before an unsubsidized loan.”
  • The Parent PLUS Loan is a federal student unsubsidized loan available to the parents of dependent undergraduate students.  To be eligible, a parent cannot have an adverse credit history.
  • Private loans- “You’ll have to repay the money with interest, and the terms and conditions of the loan almost certainly will not be as good as those of a federal student loan.”1
    • The rule of thumb for a student taking on loan debt is that it should NOT exceed a student’s expected first-year salary after graduating.
    • Students/families are offered loans as part of the college/university's financial aid offer.  It is okay to accept less loan money than the school offered.
    • Most common types of loans:
    • Undergraduate students are limited to a total of $57,500 in federal student loans.  No more than $23,000 of this amount may be in subsidized loans.
    • Check out the U.S. Department of Education’s information on student loans
    • When you receive your financial aid award letters be sure to compare them using this amazing tool from Finaid
  • I also have a running resources list that I frequently update the link is here.  

Thank you for time and sharing these wonderful newsletters with us. Where can you be reached on Social Media?

    • Twitter- Lmweldin
    • Instagram- WeldinatConrad