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Graduate Peers' Schedules

Fall 2014
Peer Advisor Availability

Professional Development Peer:
Shawn Warner-Garcia
Tue: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Thu: 10 a.m. to noon, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Diversity & Outreach Peer:

Funding Peer:
Kyle Crocco
Wed: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Thu: 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Writing Peer:
Ryan Dippre
Mon: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Tue: 9 to 11 a.m., 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Wed: 1:30 to 4:30 p.m.

Communications Peer:
Melissa Rapp
Wed: 9:45 to 11:45 a.m.
Thu: 1 to 5 p.m.

The peers sometimes hold events or attend meetings during their regular office hours. To assure you connect with your Graduate Peer Advisor, we encourage you to contact them by email and make an appointment.


Campus Map


View UCSB Graduate Student Resources in a larger map


When to Use Cashier's Checks and Money Orders

So what's the deal with cashier's checks and money orders, anyway? Can't I just pay with my phone app?

Not for everything. Even in this age of phone app payments, paper checks still have a place in our financial lives.

So what's the difference beween them and and why should you care?

Cashier's checks

Hello Kitty checkNot a cashier's check. Credit: costco.comCashier's checks are considered a secure form of payment because the issuing bank gurantees the money, not you. This is why many businesses and landlords insist on them. They are normally used for large financial transactions ($1,000 and above).

They work like this.

Instead of you writing one of your Hello Kitty checks, the bank issues an official check addressed to the person you wish to pay. Once the check is made, funds are withdrawn from your personal account and deposited into the bank's escrow account. Therefore, you cannot even be issued a cashier's check unless you have enough funds to cover the check, which is why they are considered a safe and secure payment.

The good thing about cashier's checks is they normally have no fees. The downside is you must have an account with a bank or credit union to get one.

Money Orders

Money OrderSample USPS money order. Credit. usps.comMoney orders (or money grams) are also considered a safe and secure payment because they must be purchased with cash. You can buy them at the post office, money transfer businesses, and some retail stores. They are considered secure because the money is guaranteed by the business that issues them.

You may want to use a money order for many reasons: you do not have a bank account, you happen to use a lot of cash you don't want to declare, or you want to protect your check account information from identity theft, which appears on your personal check.

The upside to money orders is they are convenient to use and can be purchased almost anywhere without a bank account. The downside is you must pay a fee per check (about a dollar or so per check) and the individual checks are for a $1,000 or less, depending on the institution who issues it. Therefore, it's difficult to do high dollar transactions with them.

For more information on checks, see

About Money: Cashier's Checks Overview

About Money: Money Order Basics


Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar Awards: Upcoming Application Cycle

Fulbright logoPostdocs rejoice!

In order to better accommodate the interests and commitments of early career scholars, the Fulbright Program is now offering an additional application cycle for a select number of 2015-2016 postdoctoral awards. Check out the catalog of awards for these select opportunities.

Scholars who win the Fulbright will be expected to engage with graduate students in the host country and to be involved with host university training in cutting edge research in their specializations. In addition to their primary research or teaching activities, Fulbright winners will be asked to give public talks, mentor students, and otherwise engage with the host country academic community.

Fulbright Postdoctoral Scholar Awards

Deadline: Thursday, Jan. 15

Eligibility: U.S. citizens who have completed their doctoral degrees within the past five years in the fields of STEM, arts, humanities, and social sciences.

Support: Stipend amounts vary, but all awards cover travel and living costs for the award winner and their dependents.

Duration: Between 3 to 12 months.

For more information: Read the program description.

STEM fields, the arts, humanities and social sciences - See more at:
Fulbright Arctic Initiative
The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience - See more at:
WanThe Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience - See more at:
The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience - See more at:
The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience - See more at:
The Fulbright Arctic Initiative will bring together a network of scholars, professionals and applied researchers from the United States, Canada, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway, Russia and Sweden for a series of three seminar meetings and a Fulbright exchange experience - See more at:

Chicano Studies Needs TAs for Winter Quarter

Chicano Studies LogoThe Chicano Studies department is looking for a few good TAs this Winter Quarter.

If you have applied before, simply reapply by submitting an updated  employment form and CV.

For all new applicants, submit the following items:

  1. Application for employment form (contact Shariq Hashmi for form; see information below).
  2. CV.
  3. One letter of recommendation.
  4. Teaching evaluations (from 3 most recent quarters).

Deadline: Monday, Dec. 1, by 8 a.m.

Eligibility: All graduate students.

Funding: 50% appointment.

Questions: Call Shariq Hashmi at 805-893-5269 or email

To apply: Submit all items as a hard copy to Shariq Hashmi, South Hall 1722, Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to noon and 1 to 5 p.m, or by email to

TA Vacancies:

CHST 1B Introduction to Chicana/o Studies: Introduction to the historical and contemporary development of the Chicano/a community. Course is interdisciplinary in nature. Focuses by quarter on A. history, B. gender, and C. culture.

Professor Edwina Barvosa.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2 to 3:15 p.m. (lecture).

See Gold for section times.


5 Types of Insurance Grad Students Don't Need 

Insurance cartoonDon't pay for insurance you don't need. Credit: and insurance companies are always offering you insurance and warranties to protect you and your money. Unfortunately, you end up buying something you will never need or which may not be even that useful if you do need it. Save some of your precious grad dollars for GSA Happy Hour.

5 Types of Insurance Grad Students Don't Need

Credit Card Insurance: The credit card company offers to pay your minimum balance if you're unemployed or disabled. Sounds great, right? Typically, it's difficult to get credit card companies to pay for this benefit if you ever need it. A better plan is to use that same money to invest in your rainy day fund.

Extended Warranties: Want to protect that purchase for a few more years? Don't. If you buy a reputable, brand name electronics product, it will most likely work as advertised. You may want the warranty for peace of mind, but in practice you'll never use it.

Flight Insurance: Plane crashes your love ones get paid. Nice idea. However, planes rarely crash and life insurance covers these benefits anyway. Also, if you purchase your plane tickets with a credit card, you are often covered for this, so check your credit card policy first.

ID Theft Insurance: Someone steals your credit card and ID and now you have to pay the bill. This policy is the bigger thief. The typical ID theft policy charges you hundred of dollars a year. In reality, you will end up paying very little to nothing for ID theft because of federal protections. For example, for credit card identity theft your maximum liability is $50. 

Rental Car Insurance: Rental car companies ask you to buy their car insurance when you rent and tell you that you will pay for the whole car if you get in an accident if you don't. Good deal, right? No way. Typically, your car rental is covered under your car insurance policy and, sometimes, by your credit card provider too. Check both of these policies before paying the price.

For more insurance you don't need, read

Consumer Reports: Insurance Policies You Don't Need

Daily Finance: 7 Insurance Policies You Don't Need

Investopedia: 15 Insurance Polices You Don't Need

US News & World Report: 3 Types of Insurance You Need And Three You Don't


Got Financial Record Clutter? Here's What to Keep and What to Shred

Paper shredderCredit: openclipart.comAn important part of your financial literacy are your financial records. Even if you have so-called "paperless" billing,  paper financial records accumulate all the time, such as credit card recepits, cancelled checks, medical bills, tax returns, etc. If you're not careful, you'll end dying under an avalanche of old ATM receipts.

Here's how to save your life and know what to keep and when to shred.

When to Shred

Variable Time

  • *Sales receipts: Keep until you can no longer return the item or the warranty expires.

One Month

  • ATM receipts: keep until you reconcile with your monthly bank statement.
  • Bank deposit slips: keep until you reconcile with your monthly bank statement.
  • *Credit card receipts: shred after you have reconciled with your credit card statement
  • Grocery receipts: shred these when you have the time.

One Year (or End of Year)

  • *Cancelled Checks
  • Insurance polices: Shred the old one when the new one arrives.
  • Investment statements: once you get you annual statement, you can throw out the old annual one. You can shred monthly and quarterly ones when the new one arrives.
  • Pay stubs: You can shred them after you reconcile them with your yearly W-2.

Seven Years or More

  • Records for tax deduction: if you use it to deduct something, then you need it as long as you keep the tax return.
  • Tax returns: just in case they decide to audit you. If you commit fraud, you need to keep these for more than seven years. Just sayin'.

Until Death Do You Part

  • Birth and death certificates
  • Marriage and divorce decrees
  • Social Security card
  • Wills, estate planning, and life insurance

Note: Items with an asterisk * you need to keep seven years if you use them for tax purposes.

Don't see what you're looking for? For more information (and nifty tables also), see

Bankrate: How long to keep financial records

Consumer Reports: Conquer the paper piles

Suze Orman: Financial Clutter, What to Keep and What to Get Rid Of



10 Things Graduate Students Should Buy Used

Want to save some money when buying stuff? One of the best ways is to buy something used. Many used items are just as good as a new item. So why pay more? Check out this list and start spending less.

10 Things You Should Buy Used

Man with dollar sign1. Books and textbooks. You know why. Amazon is a good place to find that discounted book or textbook. And using interlibrary loan is free.

2. Cars. Forget that new car smell. How about that pre-owned car price? Cars that are two to three years old with less than 30,000 miles are great deals. Check out this article on buying used cars for more advice.

3. Clothing (designer, formal wear, maternity, and baby clothes). If that thriftshop song didn't sell you on the idea of used clothing, then let me persuade you. People often wear formal wear once, just like you will, so why pay full price for a pink tuxedo? Check out thrift shops. For designer labels check out Ebay. For baby and maternity clothes check out garage sales and thrift shops.

4. DVDs, CDs, and video games. People get tired of the stuff that you love to watch and play all the time. Why pay full price when you might get tired of it too? Check out Amazon for videos and Gamestop for discounted games.

5. Furniture and baby furniture. Used doesn't always mean worn out or dirty. Some people remodel their homes or move to a new location and can no longer use great things. Take advantage. Check out Craigslist.

6. Musical Instruments. People have no discipline to learn music. You're probably are the same way, so why fork over full price for that oboe? Plenty of stuff on Craigslist. Ebay also.

7. Phones. Let's face it, those new features on the latest phones aren't worth spending hundreds of dollars on so you can keep texting the same old friends. So why not save hundreds of dollars by buying a pre-owned phone model or older model? For warranty protection, look for refurbished models or older models from mobile providers or mobile makers.

8. Sports and Fitness Equipment. People give up on their dreams of a healthy body all the time. Why shouldn't you benefit from their lack of will? Check out Craigslist, Ebay, and

9. Tools. If you have to own a tool, then don't buy it new (unless maybe it's motor operated). A used hammer is just as good as an old one for banging a nail. Just type in "used tools" on Google and lots of sites will show up for savings.

10. Toys. Some toys like legos, blocks, tea sets, and trucks are classics and just as good used as new. Why pay more? Just make sure the toys are clean.

For more information, see

Main Street: 10 Things You Should Always Buy Used

Moneycrashers: 10 Things You Should Always Buy Used

Practical Money Skills: 10 Things You Should Buy Used

Time: 10 Things You Should Buy Used


Thermo Scientific Pierce Scholarship Program for Spring 2015 

Thermo Scientific LogoThe Thermo Scientific Pierce Scholarship Program will award two $10,000 scholarships and four $5,000 scholarships for the Spring 2015 semester. Scholarships are for graduate students in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or a related life-science field.

Thermo Scientific Pierce Scholarship Program

Deadline: Monday, Dec. 29

Eligibility: U.S. graduate students in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or a related life-science field and a GPA of 3.0 or above on a 4.0 scale.

Support: Two $10,000 scholarships and four $5,000 scholarships.

More Info: See the program description for more details and to apply.


Your Insurance Credit Score and What It Means

Did you know that your credit score not only affects how much you pay for your loans, but also how much you pay to insure your house or car?

It's true. Those with good credit will end up paying less for their car or auto insurance, while those people who make a late payment or two will end up with higher insurance rates.

No one is sure why there is a relationship between credit behavior and making insurance claims, but once the insurance companies noticed this relationship, they used this information to create an Insurance Credit Score to determine how much a person pays.

Insurance Credit Scoring

Insurance credit scores are based on two things: your credit report and your insurance claims history. Scores range from 200-997 and like the FICO credit score, the higher the number, the better it is for you and your wallet. Scores above 770 are considered good and those below 500 are considered bad.

Zombie headImproving your insurance score is so easy this zombie can do it. Credit: openclipart.comThe credit part of your score is determined just like your regular credit score and breaks down like this.

  • Your Payment History (35%): Late payments and bankruptcy can lower your score.
  • Total Amount of Debt (30%): The more you owe relative to how much you credit you have available can lower your insurance score. Having a wider spread between available credit and debt is better for you.
  • Length of Credit History (15%): The older your credit accounts are, the better credit history you have, and the less you will pay for insurance.
  • Amount of New Credit (10%): The more new credit lines you open in a short period of time can lower your score.
  • Types of Credit Used (10%): The more types of credit you use, the better the insurance credit score you will have.

(Note: the percentages for each category can vary slightly depending on what source you read).

Improve Your Score

Since your credit score and your insurance credit score are so closely related, you can improve your insurance rates by improving your credit score. To do so, you should:

  • Pay your bills on time.
  • Pay down your debt.
  • Keep long-term accounts.
  • Don't add more credit cards in a short period of time.

Zombie crossing traffic signImprove your auto insurance score by obeying traffic signs. Credit: openclipart.comYou can also improve yoru score by making fewer insurance claims.

Auto Insurance Score

Yes, you also have an auto insurance score. Your auto insurance score is similar to your insurance credit score, but is based on your credit score and your auto insurance history, which includes traffic tickets, accidents, and insurance claims.

Auto insurance scores range from 300 to 900 (or 997, depending on the scale used by your insurer). Scores above 700 are considered good, while those above 800 are considered great.

You can improve your auto insurance score the same way as improving your insurance credit score, by increasing your credit score. You can also increase it by being a safer driver.

For more information, see

Credit Based Insurance Scores

Insurance Scores: What You Should Know

What Is Your Insurance Score and How Does It Affect You

Insurance Credit Scoring in the book "Personal Finance" by Arthur Keown.


Loan Repayment Plans and Spiraling Graduate Debt

Loan RepaymentCredit: Funding PeerIf you didn't have time to read Jon Marcus's article "Spiraling Graduate Debt Raises Alarms" in the Hechinger Report, I'll save you some time and give you the gist.

Since there is no cap on how much graduate students can borrow for their education, it's now estimated that graduate students owe up to 40% of the estimated $1.2 trillion in outstanding student debt.

The problem is that after grads borrow so much money to pay for their graduate degree, they may not be able to earn enough to pay it back with the job they find.

The news isn't all bad for grads, however. There is a repayment plan called Income Based Repayment that can help out graduate students who borrow too much and end up in jobs where they earn too little.

Income Based Repayment means that graduate students can limit their payments to 10 percent of their monthly income. What remains of their loan after 20 years is forgiven. (This is a change to the original plan, which used to be 15% of your income and the loan was forgiven after 25 years). However, you must qualify for a partial financial hardship.

While the news isn't all bad for grads, it is bad for taxpayers, who will bear the burden of paying for all the student loans that are forgiven.

For more on loan repayment plans, see

Federal Student Aid

Reasonable Loan Repayment Plans and Loan Forgiveness Programs


Five Common Funding Mistakes Grad Students Make

In life, sometimes we learn things too late. While this may not be a tragedy for your violin playing career (hey, you always have time to learn that concerto), it can sometimes be a setback in terms of funding.

Fortunately for you, I have compiled a list of the common funding mistakes so you can avoid making them. It doesn't guarantee you will find funding, but it might stop you from losing out on it.

Five Common Funding Mistakes Grads Make

1. Not Applying On Time: A common mistake grads make is looking too late in the year for funding; they wait Plan ahead for your funding future. Credit: openclipart.comuntil the spring or summer to look. Most fellowships and grants have already been awarded by then. The majority of application deadlines are in the fall quarter for funding for the following academic year. Therefore, you should be applying fall quarter 2014 for money you wish to spend in 2015-2016. The exception to this is on-campus funding, which everyone applies for in the winter quarter. If you're looking for money for this year, it's too late.

2. Not Planning For Funding Gaps: Funding only covers expenses for the academic year. Many students fail to plan for how they will support themselves over the summer. Summer funding usually comes in terms of work opportunities, either on or off-campus. Competition is fierce for work if you believe anything you read in the news: academic and other positions are few. If you need a summer job, you should start searching in the winter and spring quarter for the one you want.

3. Not Knowing Your Funding Options: Your typical new grad doesn't know how funding works on campus or during their career.

  • First, many students are unaware of campus funding resources. There are several travel, childcare, emergency, and health grants to help you out.
  • Second, some students are unaware of the different types of funding to apply for in the different stages of their academic career. In your first years, you should look for predoctoral funding. When you are ABD, Use the pivot database to search for fudning. you should be looking for dissertation completion funding. After you get your PhD, there is postdoctoral funding.
  • Third, some students are unaware of who to ask. Use your Graduate Program Assistants (GPAs), faculty advisors, fellow peers, graduate division funding peer (that's me) to learn about funding opportunities.
  • Fourth, funding databases: some students do not know of or do not know how to use the free funding database called Pivot. Use Pivot to search for funding opportunities!

4. Not Making Any Connections: Many students hope funding will find them. It doesn't. You have to go out and Make connections with people who can help you. Credit: openclipart.comgrab it. Make connections with professors, departments, and employers to get the grants, research positions, or teaching positions you deserve. If you don't let these people know you are interested, willing, and available, they will never contact you for work or offer you grants.

5. Not Being Persistent: Some students apply once and then give up. Don't give up. If you want the funding, you have to keep sending out applications to departments, asking professors to help on their research or teach their classes, and you have to keep applying for fellowships year after year. If you didn't get the job or fellowship the first time, then ask why. Improve your application for the next time so you can get that funding or position you deserve.