Drowning In Student Debt

a cartoon of a student in thinking pose, weighted down by debt

Student loans are currently at an all time high. While loan free graduates can immediately begin starting their life, indebted graduates have to spend years paying principal and interest on loans. The standard time that students take to repay loans tend to be 10 years, but can be much longer.

A 2012 Pew Research Center analysis of government data, found that nearly 40% of households, led by someone 35 or younger, have student debt.

Of the nearly 20 million Americans who attend college each year, about 12 million of them are forced to take out loans, according to the Almanac of Higher Education. Estimates show that the average four year graduate rakes up between $26,000 to $29,000 in loan. Increasing tuition seems to be the major cause due to reduced state funding and other campus costs.

But college graduates do have something to look forward to. Young adults, ages 25 to 32, who work full time, earn anywhere around $45,500 a year. That’s $17,500 more than people who only have a high school diploma.

I believe it’s high time that states begin to re-think college financing options to bring debt down and graduation rates up!

The Samsung Galaxy S5 – Is It Worth It?

The Samsung Galaxy S5 – Is It Worth It?

the galaxy s5 phone in colors

Ladies and gentlemen, it’s time (again) for a new Samsung Galaxy phone to be released. On April 11th (or right now if you live in South Korea) phone enthusiasts in over 100 countries will be able to get their hands on what may be the hottest phone of the year. At 5.59 by 2.85 inches and boasting a quad-core 2.4GHz processor, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of built in storage (expandable up to 128GB with a microSD memory card) the Galaxy S5 is a very impressive phone.

the s5 phone submerged in water










One of the S5’s greatest features lies in its durability. It was made to meet International Protection marketing standards against water and solids. In English, it’s highly resistant to dust and while not perfect, is somewhat waterproof. If your phone in 3 or so feet of water, there’s a slight chance it’ll fry, but some protection is better than none at all. Another new feature on the S5 is the addition of a fingerprint scanner. Unlike Apple, Samsung is allowing developers to create apps that use the scanner, however, whether or not it will be better than Apple’s attempt at a finger print scanner remains to be seen.


The Samsung Galaxy camera









The S5 also comes with a 16 megapixel camera rear facing camera (complete with Autofocus, Phase detection, High Dynamic Range mode and digital image stabilization), and a 2.1 megapixel front facing camera. The S5’s camera also has selective focus, a feature available on most DSLR cameras – a major step towards making separate, more expensive camera equipment obsolete.


At launch, the S5 will be available from AT&T, MetroPCS, Sprint, T-Mobile, Boost Mobile, and Virgin Mobile.

T Mobile
  • $27.50 plus Contract
  • $199.99 w/ 2 Year Contract
  • $649.99 w/ no Annual Contract
  • $199.99 w/ 2 Year Contract
  • $649.99 w/ no Annual Contract
  • $24 / $32.50 per Month** w/ qualifying Phone Plan
US Cellular
  • $199.99 w/ 2 Year Contract

**AT&T Next 12 & Next 18

Verizon, despite being confirmed as a carrier for the S5 at launch, has declined to release any details on the device. It should also be noted that while Boost Mobile and Virgin Mobile are contract free (meaning you will have to pay the full price of the phone), that they’re both owned and operated by Sprint and that they will run on the same network.


Do You Need It?

If you’ve recently sprung for an S4 or aren’t eligible for an upgrade yet, you don’t need a new phone just yet. (If you have an S3 and it’s in your budget, feel free to splurge though). If you have an iPhone, the decision is purely up to you. The argument of iPhone vs Android boils down to preference and (in my opinion) isn’t a debate that can be settled with shiny new features. No matter what you choose, Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is a highly anticipated phone sure to boost profits and break wallets in the very near future.

















Photo Credits:





Mayor Bill De Blasio Is Officially Cool!

The annual Inner Circle show was held this past Saturday in New York City. The Inner Circle show, which is a spin-off of the White House Correspondents Association dinner, is an opportunity for journalists to roast the mayor through different forms, such as song and dance.

Though Mayor Bill de Blasio didn’t wait for any reporters, as he quickly started to poke fun of himself, leaving nothing off the table. He made fun of his frequent tardiness, his low approval ratings, his tendency to leave school open during big storms, and other bumps he has suffered while in office. With the help of celebrities, such as Steve Buscemi and Cynthia Nixon, the annual Inner Circle show was an event to remember.

In one skit, Mayor de Blasio was pitted against the Rev. Al Sharpton, as contestants in Jeopardy. When the host asked “39 and heading down to the teens by tomorrow morning,” Sharpton answered, “The mayor’s approval rating?”

Next was Al Roker, a weatherman for the Today Show. Roker had waged a Twitter war last month with Blasio, over his decision to open schools, despite a heavy snowstorm. In his skit, he was shown on the set of the “Today” show, complimenting him. After someone calls “cut” and they go off the air, Roker then retorts, “Great mayor? What a freaking joke.”

First lady Chirlane McCray was also a part of the show, playing opposite Nixon on a take on “The Honeymooners.” Producers also played several minutes of footage from de Blasio and McCray’s 1994 wedding, with a longhaired de Blasio dancing goofily.

One must love a guy that can so easily pick on himself. Now start to close schools more during blizzards and you might get my vote again during the next election.

Cheap Alternatives to Cable: The Roku Box

a Roku Box

The Pricing Problem

By now, the ever shrinking communities of cable and satellite subscribers have noticed a sharp decline in the content of high priced television. Excluding on demand TV, who hasn’t had a moment where they’ve wondered why, despite having over 300 channels, that there’s nothing on? This lack of content however, has not deterred providers from upping the price.

DirecTV Logo

DirecTV’s Plus-HD-DVR package will run you about $90 a month. It comes with around 200 channels, 68 XM Satellite Radio channels, HD Programming and DVR service. DirecTV service however has a tendency to be very weather sensitive.


Time Warner Logo

Time Warner costs upwards of $100 per month. For a little less than the price of a monthly MetroCard, you can get 300+ digital channels, 47 music channels and for $9.95 extra (per month) you can gain access to 16 HD channels. Assuming you’re willing to pay the extra $7.95 for the receiver and $6.99 per room for a converter box.


the Optimum logo

Optimum (also known as cablevision) will cost $80 a month minimum, excluding $7 or so extra per month for each extra box. The most basic plan Optimum offers will only get you about 120 channels – assuming you spring the extra for an HD box.


One of Many Plausible Solutions

There are plenty of alternatives to paying an overpriced cable bill (including Apple TV and Chromecast). In the world of set-top-boxes however, the Roku Box is the one that stood out to me.

There are currently 4 different ‘Roku’ models:

Roku Box Models

The Roku 3 and the Streaming Stick are usable only on HD TV’s, but the Roku 1 and Roku 2 can work on almost anything. Size wise, the Roku is much more manageable than a cable or satellite box. The Streaming Stick (due out next month) is the size of a USB stick and plugs directly into an HDMI port.


Roku Channels

Roku provides its content through ‘channels’ – applications that allow you to view streaming audio and video.

Some channels like Netflix and Hulu Plus require you to pay a subscription fee ($8.99 for Netflix and $7.99 for Hulu Plus) to access their content from devices like the Roku.

Others like Amazon Instant Video and Vudu Movies let you buy content and own it – allowing you to view it as many times as you want, whenever you want.

There’s a channel for just about everything on the Roku marketplace, including Fitness, Religion, Travel, Sports, Science & Technology, and Family television. On the off chance there’s something you think should be on Roku that isn’t, developers have the opportunity to make private channels. Outside of checking for copyright infringement, private Roku channels are unmonitored and uncensored. View them at your own risk.


Roku Games


There are plenty of paid and free games to download and play on the Roku market place. As with channels, developers can try their hand at making free or paid games.



Pros and Cons of going Roku

For all its content, the Roku is still a streaming player – meaning you’re going to have to shell out money for internet service. Most people already have existing internet service with a decent amount of bandwidth but with the increased use of streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, more and more people have begun to experience what’s known as ‘throttling’ from their Internet Service Providers.

ISPs like Verizon, AT&T and Comcast are (allegedly) slowing down their customer’s internet speeds, reducing the quality of their streaming experience – making it difficult, and in some cases, impossible to watch anything. No company in their right mind would fess up to that sort of thing, but that’s beside the point. For a device that’s made solely to deliver streaming content, bandwidth throttling is a definite downside to using a Roku.

Another strike against the Roku lies in its channels. Things like HBO GO, Showtime Anytime, Disney Channel, WatchESPN and Fox Now require an existing subscription to a TV provider. Even after you’ve paid for it, some channels are blocked by certain ISPs. For example, Comcast, DirecTV and Time Warner block access to HBO GO and ESPN3 is blocked by Time Warner.


Is It Right For You?

The Roku is versatile, portable and for the most part easy to use, but it isn’t for everybody. If you already have a game console (because almost all of the current and previous generation consoles can use streaming applications just as well as a Roku), you don’t need a Roku. If you’re perfectly content to hook a laptop or desktop up to your 50-inch TV, you don’t need a Roku. For the people with wallets that can’t quite support a cable subscription however, the Roku is the perfect box for you.















Image Sources:






Tuition Fees Are No More!

Ever wish that you could attend college for free? Prepare to jump for joy, because you might be getting your wish! Well, that is if a proposed legislation, called Tuition Free-NY, is passed. The potential legislation, would offer students free tuition at New York’s public colleges. Sound appealing so far? Don’t get too excited just yet, for there is a catch. In exchange for free tuition, you must volunteer for 250 hours of community service, during your college years. And if that isn’t hard enough, you are not allowed to relocate outside of New York once you graduate, for at least 5 years.

With Tuition Free-NY, college grads would get a chance to start out with lower student debt, which is at a all time high this year. Assemblyman James Skoufis, whose sponsoring the legislation, hopes that this will keep students in the state, and not have NYC lose it’s intellect and income.

Honestly, with the amount of loans I owe, I’m on my knees praying that this legislation is passed. But then again, while I’d gladly take community service, over paying thousands of dollars, I’m not so sure how I feel about being forced to stick around in NYC, for the next 5 years. That’s a long time, especially when you have no idea what the future holds.

I guess the real question is, do the pro’s out way the negative?