World War II veteran, 96, receives college degree more than 60 years after his last class, report says

Several decades after last attending class, a 96-year-old World War II veteran on Saturday reportedly received his college diploma.

Bob Barger, who piloted Navy planes during the war, received his associate’s degree from the University of Toledo in Ohio to a standing ovation, according to The Associated Press. Dressed in the classic cap and gown, Barger beamed as he looked at his diploma.

Barger graduated on Saturday, more than 60 years since he last attended classes.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


The degree came more than 60 years after Barger last took a class. But when his records from the late 1940’s were recently looked at again, they indicated that he’d finished enough credits to receive the two-year degree, which hadn’t been an option when he was attending the university.


After Barger learned that he would be graduating, he told The Associated Press that it “was something I never dreamed of.”

“I’m going to be proud to hang that diploma on the wall and think about the friends behind it,” he previously said. “I found out without friends, this old world wouldn’t be worth living in.”

After serving in World War II, Barger returned to Toledo, Ohio and enrolled in college. But working and raising a family consumed his time and he ultimately didn’t finish his degree.


The decision to pull up his records came after Barger became friends with Haraz Ghanbari, the school’s director of military and veteran affairs. The pair met five years ago when Ghanbari, a Navy Reserve officer, asked Barger to officiate his promotion to lieutenant.

He soon learned that the veteran never graduated, despite taking a full course load from 1947 to 1950.

Barger, assisted by Ghanbari, greeted school officials at the University of Toledo graduation on Saturday.  (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)


Ghanbari was present at Saturday’s commencement ceremony, sitting with the 96-year-old and escorting him from the stage as Barger shook hands with school officials after receiving his diploma.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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How student loan companies pretend to be your friend

Private lenders are using free movies and happy hours to entice people to refinance their student debt

Are you one of the 44 million Americans drowning in student loans you fear you’ll never pay back? Worried that you’ll be in the red for the rest of your life? Well, why not forget about your spiraling debt by kicking back and watching a movie!

This month, banking company Laurel Road announced that if you refinance your student loan with them, they will give you a years membership to MoviePass, the movie theater subscription service.

The partnership shines a light on the growing market for private student loans. Private lenders currently hold less than 10% of the $1.4tn in outstanding student loan debt but have been aggressively lobbying for legislation that would loosen the government’s monopoly.

People mingle at a SoFi event in San Jose, California. Photograph: SoFi

Republican lawmakers have given them cause for optimism. Last year, congressional Republicans put forward the Prosper Act which would cap the federal loan amounts graduate students can receive. While private lenders often offer lower interest rates than the government, they don’t come with the same consumer protections as federal loans. Some experts worry that federal loan caps would steer students into private loans that aren’t necessarily in their best interests.

In an effort to make themselves seem more attractive than federal options, some private lenders are branding themselves more like lifestyle companies. They’re not just loaning you money, they’re your best friend!

The SoFi app lets you message people you have met at their events. Photograph: SoFi

Social Finance Inc (SoFi), one of the most high-profile private financial startups in the US, has led the charge in this regard. Since it launched in 2011 the company has attempted to differentiate itself by referring to its customers as members and inviting them to exclusive events like cocktail parties and cooking classes. In 2017, SoFi held 323 member events across the US (more than 60 cities), serving over 14,000 members. By the end of this year, the company says it will have organized more than 800 member events and hosted over 42,000 members in total. We don’t think of ourselves as a finance company, we think of ourselves as money, career, and relationships, the then CEO, Mike Cagney, said at a technology conference last May. Cagney stepped down from the company late last year after allegations of sexual harassment.

Before the Cagney controversy, SoFi floated the idea of launching a dating app, after seeing romances spring up between members at their events. While this idea was eventually scrapped the SoFi app does allow members who meet at events to message each other.

Laurel Roads partnership with MoviePass is more evidence of private lending companies trying to make student loan debt fun even as student debt per capita has doubled in the past decade and there has been a rise in the number of cases brought against federal lenders illegally harassing their customers. The student loan crisis is now so dire that a new game show, Paid Off with Michael Torpey, is giving students the chance to compete on TV to have their debt paid off. The series which premieres in July on TruTV is aimed at starting a conversation about the student debt crisis, not trivializing it, an executive from TruTV told the Guardian.

Still, there is something inherently dystopian in the fact that America has reached a place where the only hope some people have for getting out of debt is winning a game show.

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Was it worth getting a student loan?

I started this blog to document my thoughts and to do research about paying off my student loans.  I search frequently on the internet and other media resources for stories of why and how other people have successfully paid off student loans.  As a teacher, the amount of education decides how much you can earn each year.   When the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 defines highly qualified as a teacher with a Master’s Degree this was a determining factor during the economic collapse of 2007-2008 whether or not you kept your job as a teacher.  Between 2004 and 2017 I earned 3 graduate degrees and my annual pay never decreased because I was constantly column jumping because of my graduate degree progress.  There were also tax advantages because of the school tuition deductions and interest accumulations.  So was it worth it?

Pay Difference

In the current school district with a BA, my pay would have been frozen at $51, 952 after five years of service.  But with almost 15 years of service and a doctorate, the annual salary is approximately $93,000 for 186 days of work during the school year.  Currently, a doctorate earns an additional $91 dollars a month which doesn’t help much for repaying the student loans.  So while I am working everything is just fine.  But looking forward to retirement with a student loan does not look so good at all.  If I die then the wife does not have to worry about the debt under current statues.  But the current administration presents some worries that prompt this former student to look at ways of paying off the debt in seven years.


Teacher Loan Forgiveness

As a math teacher, I was anticipating getting my loans partly forgiven.  After completing my Masters I submitted for loan forgiveness and was denied because my school district had opted out of Title I status.  No Title I no loan forgiveness at least that is what I was told.  The only other way of loan forbearance is to become a lifetime learner.  If you stay in school you never make any payments and I know of quite a few teachers who were turned down for forgiveness just enrolled back into school to delay paying.  But this is only a delay because he or she can NEVER retire.  Lesson learned is to not trust anyone but make plans to pay off the loan somehow and someway.

Paying Off Your Student Loans

Debt can feel like a weight pressing down on you, but ignoring it doesn’t make things any better. To chart a path out of debt, the first step is figuring out how much you owe. Most people have a vague idea of how many loans they have, but many avoid facing the total head on.

The only way to get control over your finances is to take a full inventory. Add up all of your student loans, credit card balances, car loan balances, lines of credit, overdue bills, and other debts. The grand total can come as a shock, but once you know exactly what you’re dealing with, you have several avenues to explore — increasing your income, cutting back your spending, and decreasing the sum that you owe.

The last is the one that people overlook most often. But some debts, like medical bills, can be negotiated down. High-interest credit card balances can often be transferred to a new card with a 0% introductory APR. And student loans can often be refinanced or consolidated, saving thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.

8 Tips to Help You Pay Off Student Loans Faster

Paying off student loans isn’t easy, but the following strategies can help you get out from under your debt faster.

1. Refinance for a better rate

Don’t pay more interest than necessary. Refinancing or consolidating your loans could cut hundreds of dollars off of your monthly payments and save you tens of thousands of dollars over the life of your loan. Most federal student loans charge everyone the same percentage, a one-size-fits-all interest rate that is often higher than what private lenders offer, because it has to account for high-risk applicants who are more likely to default or not finish their degrees. People who have built up their credit in the years since graduation are often better off getting a new loan on their own merits. A recent review by the National Student Loan Union found that people who refinanced saved an average of $259 a month and $19,231 over the life of the loan. Some borrowers saved more, and some less, depending on the size of their debt and their credit histories. But the average amounts were pretty staggering.

2. Make extra payments any time you can

With most lenders, there is no penalty for paying early. So any time you have extra money – for example, if you get a tax refund, a bonus at work, or have a month with a third paycheck – it’s smart to make an extra loan payment. Someone with $35,000 of student loans and an interest rate of 6.8% would typically have to pay about $400 a month for 10 years to get out of debt. Adding an extra $100 a month would cut the payoff time by about 2½ years and save $3,583 in interest.

To get the most benefit from your extra payments, be sure to put them toward your highest interest loans first. Start by logging in to the Federal Student Aid website to find out your federal loan interest rates. If you have private loans, contact your student loan servicer to find out your rates. Rank them accordingly and put extra money toward the highest rate loans first.

3. Make a 3- to 5-year plan

It’s easier to make budget sacrifices when you know that it’s temporary. Focus on the end date of your loan, and consider doing things like living with a roommate or keeping an older vehicle until then. Returning to the nest, eating Ramen noodles, and embracing the college lifestyle for a bit longer might not sound that appealing, but committing to your goal will make it all worthwhile.

4. Set up autopay

You’re less likely to overspend if you schedule your loan payments to be debited as soon as you get paid. You won’t miss the money as much if you “take it off the top” and don’t see it in your account. Also, most lenders will give you a 0.25% interest rate discount when you sign up for automatic debit.

5. Explore freelance and “side hustle” opportunities

Doing freelance or part-time work can help keep debt down during and after college. Whether it’s photography, dog-walking, web design, or catering – anything you can do to earn extra money will get you out of debt faster.  Sites like UpworkiFreelance, and Project4hire have a wide range of short-term and long-term projects. You can also participate in the sharing economy with companies like Uber, Lyft, Airbnb, and TaskRabbit. Earning an extra $500 a month could cut your payoff time by 5 years or more, depending on how much you owe.

6. Use the buddy system

The buddy system is not just helpful for exercising or losing weight. A lot of people find paying off student loans easier if they have an “accountability partner” who shares the same goals. Things like shopping or going to happy hours can sabotage your financial plans. A buddy can help you stay motivated to cook at home, pursue extra income, decorate with “upcycled” thrift finds, travel cheaply, and avoid splurges. With a little creativity, it can also be fun. You can also read debt success stories and subscribe to couponing and savings blogs.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask for a raise

If you’ve been at your job for a while, you’ve been giving 100 percent, and especially if you have an annual review coming up, consider asking for a raise. Start by keeping track of ways you’ve helped your company save money or make money. Do some research about salaries in your industry and how yours compares. A week or so before your review, schedule time with your boss to discuss your goals with the company and make your case for a raise. They might say no. But if they say yes, you will get a bigger paycheck.

8. Monitor your credit score

Paying your student loans on time each month helps you establish a good credit history. It’s smart to monitor your FICO score for a variety of reasons like buying a car or home, and protecting yourself against identity theft. But as your score rises, you also might qualify for lower interest rates on your outstanding balance – particularly once your score gets above 700. Everyone is entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. You can check yours at




Supermarket Censors Teen’s ‘Summa Cum Laude’ Graduation Cake

A cake celebrating a South Carolina teen’s high school graduation turned into a not-so-sweet surprise when a Publix supermarket censored the inscription “summa cum laude.”

The grad’s mom, Cara Koscinski, said she ordered a cake online from her local Publix for a graduation party for her 18-year-old son, Jacob. The store allows customers to customize cake orders with a personalized inscription.


Koscinski said she ordered a cake the words: “Congrats Jacob! Summa Cum Laude Class of 2018.”


Instead, supermarket bakers wrote: “Congrats Jacob! Summa – – – Laude Class of 2018.”

Incredulous, Koscinski shared pictures of the censored cake on Facebook. “I seriously couldn’t make this crap up!!!!” she wrote. “Funny, not funny.”

The Washington Post, which did a deeper dive on the Publix website, reported that the online box where customers enter cake inscriptions is extremely temperamental, and filters “profane/special characters.” “Cum,” despite its use as a preposition meaning “with” in the Latin phrase summa cum laude “with the highest distinction” was rendered profane.


Koscinski told the newspaper that she “explained that Summa Cum Laude was a Latin term for high academic honor and was not profane” in the “special instructions” box on the Publix website, and included a link that defined the phrase.


She said she was busy with party preparations and didn’t notice the cake’s messed up message until it was time for dessert. The dashed-out message, she said, was humiliating for her teenage son.


“It was unbelievable. I ordered the special graduation edition cake. I can’t believe I’m the first one to ever write ‘Summa Cum Laude’ on a cake,” Koscinski told the Post.

Publix offered to make another cake, but Koscinski said she declined because Jacob would “only graduate once.” She said the store refunded $70 for the cake and gave her a store gift card.


Koscinski told HuffPost that she and her son “think it’s overwhelming and crazy.”

“But we are laughing about it,” she said, adding that she’ll “probably avoid” Publix “for now.”


Publix told HuffPost in a statement that satisfying customers is the “top priority” of the chain, which has locations in the Southeast.


“You can feel confident that this situation has been addressed, and the appropriate business areas and leaders are involved,” the statement said.


HuffPost spoke to Jeanne Neumann, a professor in the classics department at Davidson College, who shared this saucy tidbit about cakes and Latin over email: “A cake celebrating the end of a war of a simpler time might have proclaimed Gladii Omnes in vaginas recondantur! (May all swords be sheathed! (or) All swords should be put in their sheaths).” Neumann noted that “vagina” in Latin means “sheath for a sword.”

That might have passed the Publix censors, but what about words that might not have?

“The commands ‘tell me’ (dic) and ‘do it’ (fac) sound a bit like ‘dick’ and ‘fuck’ when pronounced. Just a bit, but enough to get students laughing,” said Neumann.

This article has been updated to include a statement from Publix and comment from Neumann.

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Navy mom surprises daughter in Texas after 7-month long deployment

A third-grade student at an elementary school in Texas got a special surprise Tuesday during lunchtime when her mother was brought home a day early after a seven-month deployment with the Navy.

The Hutto Independent School District organized the reunion for Navy Chief Petty Officer Marqueta Grant and her daughter, Christina Zamora.

“I know my baby so well. I know her so well. I just knew she would cry, and the arms would fly up. I anticipated it,” Grant told FOX7.


Grant, who has been in the Navy for 22 years, said she loves her job.

Navy Chief Petty Officer Marqueta Grant surprised her third grade daughter at her elementary school in Texas.  (FOX7)

“It teaches life lessons people don’t normally get,” she said.

But the deployments have become more difficult, especially leaving her family.

“It’s hard to be away from the family but I know what I’m doing serves a purpose,” Grant told FOX7.

Zamora said the deployments make her “really miss” her mom.

“I feel like she’s never coming home and it’s really emotional to think about her not coming home,” she said.


Grant will spend two weeks at home, then deploy for the very last time before returning home for good in August. Her 22 years of service is something her family told FOX7 they are thankful for.

“She told me to be brave sometimes when she’s overseas and to think about something else instead of crying,” Zamora told FOX7.

Travis Fedschun is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter @travfed

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8 Frozen Margarita Recipes That’ll Silence The Shamers

If you’ve ever felt a nagging sense of shame every time you crave a frozen margarita, you shouldn’t. But statements like these may be the reason you feel that way:

Frozen cocktails carry a good deal of baggage in the cultural imagination. … Your first vision at the mention of ‘frozen cocktail’ is that of a rotating slushie machine, dispensing candy-pink blends of cheap booze and artificially flavored mixers into plastic palm-tree-shaped novelty glasses.”


If you want a frozen margarita, don’t let the naysayers stop you. Make your own damn frozen margarita and enjoy every last icy crystal. There are just a few things to keep in mind.


Use good alcohol. Don’t use a crappy blender. And many would argue you should never use fresh fruit juice in a frozen marg. Rather, it’s suggested that you use a frozen fruit concentrate (preferably made of all-natural juice, with no sugar).

The eight recipes below don’t all adhere to that rule, but to each his own. Take your pick and find your best-frozen margarita.

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China-based online education companies just launched an aggressive hiring spree in search of U.S. teachers

Teachers have long supplemented their incomes by tutoring. And there’s perhaps never been a better, or easier, time to do it than right now.  The reason: China-based online education companies are in an apparent race with each other to hire U.S. teachers who’d like to work from home this summer and, using their webcams, “teach cute kids” the English language — in the marketing parlance of one of those companies, Beijing-based VIPKid.

If you doubt that’s true, you haven’t been looking at the classifieds. Just today, five-year-old VIPKid — which reportedly raised $200 million in fresh funding last summer at a $1.5 billion valuation — listed openings for thousands of U.S. teachers, from Jacksonville Beach, Florida, to Saint Joseph, Missouri, to Carmel, Indiana.

Its jobs offensive comes just three days after seven-year-old, Beijing-based China Online Education Group, known as 51Talk, did precisely the same thing.

Both companies are growing quickly and, in the process, trying to outgun competitors. These include 14-year-old, Goldman Sachs-backed iTutorGroup, which operates out of Shanghai as VIPABC and boasts of it’s $1 billion valuations on its home page, and 15-year-old TAL Education Group, a holding company for a group of tutoring-related companies that went public in 2010 and now enjoys a roughly $17 billion market cap. (51Talk is also publicly traded, having IPO’d in 2016. Its market cap is currently $215 million.)

There’s seemingly plenty of demand for all. According to a recent report from the China-focused consultancy iResearch, online language lessons in China represented a $4.5 billion market opportunity in 2016 and is expected to grow to nearly $8 billion by next year.

VIPKID seems to be winning the war for media attention, however.

Back in January, Forbes named the company the best employer when it comes to work-from-home jobs (up from fifth place in 2017). Its founder, Cindy Mi, has also received glowing coverage in Bloomberg, the Financial Times, and Fast Company, among numerous other English-language outlets. (We also featured Mi in a fireside chat at our signature Disrupt event in San Francisco last fall.)

According to one of its job listings today, teachers are paid on average between $14 and $18 an hour and the openings are available to candidates who are eligible to work in the U.S. or Canada, have a bachelor’s degree in any field, and have at least one school year of traditional teaching, mentoring, or tutoring experience.

The company — which is backed by Sequoia Capital, Learn Capital, and an investment firm co-founded by Alibaba’s Jack Ma, among others — says it already works with more than 30,000 teachers. We’ll have to see how much those numbers change after this summer.

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Rockets blow big lead again as Warriors set up Cavaliers NBA finals rematch

Kevin Durant scored 34 points and the Golden State Warriors are heading to their fourth straight NBA finals after fighting back from another big deficit

Kevin Durant scored 34 points and the Golden State Warriors are heading to their fourth straight NBA finals after fighting back from another big deficit with a huge third quarter. They beat the Houston Rockets 101-92 in Game 7 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

Stephen Curry and the defending champions trailed by as many as 15 in the first half after falling behind 17 in Game 6. Curry, who finished with 27 points, scored 14 of Golden States 33 points in the third quarter as Houstons shooting froze. The Rockets missed all 14 three-point attempts in that quarter as part of 27 misses from long range.

The Warriors will host LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 on Thursday night. The last three finals have been between the Warriors and Cavs, with the Warriors claiming two of them.

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Why Are Boomers Still Working? Maybe We Just Don’t Know How To Retire

Ann Brenoff’s “On The Fly” is a column about navigating growing older and a few other things.


I am a 68-year-old baby boomer who still works full time. I am precisely who younger people point to when they hear the reports that more of them can’t find jobs and more of me still have ours.


Even as their population numbers have swelled from 2007 to 2015, the number of  22- to 34-year-olds in the workplace has remained the same, while the number of retirement-age workers has grown 9 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

So why don’t I just retire and make room for someone younger to have a turn at the trough?


Every boomer has a different story, but as a collective group our defense has been a heartfelt “we need the money.” As a demographic, we got hit hard in the Great Recession, lost our jobs, our homes and our retirement savings, and so yes, we are still working to replace what we lost more than a decade ago. We are also caregivers to elderly parents, our adult children still live with us, our names are co-signed on college loans and second mortgages, so we have expenses many incurred in the pursuit of helping others. And lastly, we exist with the constant reminder that we could very well live into the triple digits whether we want to or not, thanks to modern science and right-to-die laws with more holes than Swiss cheese. Too bad neither Social Security or Medicare are enjoying the robust health or predictions of longevity that boomers appear to be having.

So yeah, we need the money. Except maybe that’s not all of it.


People need more than financial security to make the leap to retirement, says the Boston College Center for Retirement Research. Work gives us intangible benefits things like a sense of worth, the knowledge that we are making a contribution and a chance to be part of something. How do you replace all that?


It isn’t even just that my generation has “a notoriously hard-charging work ethic and drive to get ahead” that can “make it difficult to envision downshifting into the slower pace of retired life,” as Gallup found in 2014.


No, it is something else. I don’t know how to retire. While I never thought of how to retire as something that needed to be learned or taught, perhaps it is.

The good news is that some corporations are changing their benefits to accommodate workers age 55 and older, mostly because we will account for 25 percent of the labor force by 2020. And some of those benefits include helping people learn how to not work anymore. Lessons include the obvious things like understanding retiree health care options and financial planning, but they also delve into what your retirement goals are. What will you do when the alarm clock no longer rings each morning?


Some companies are also providing the option of a phased-in retirement, where you go from full-time to part-time hours but keep all-important health benefits for you and your family members who need them. Herman Miller, the Michigan-based furniture company that employs 8,000 people worldwide, has a flexible retirement program that couples the reduction of hours for pending retirees with a coaching service. You aren’t just handed a gold watch and shown the door with insincere promises made about staying in touch; you first discuss things like setting goals. And it’s a two-way street: Retiring employees put together a knowledge-transfer plan to mentor their replacements. The flex program gives employees six months to two years to phase out of their jobs.


Herman Miller also lets all workers take up to 12 unpaid weeks off while their health benefits continue. This provides a good taste of retired life, and we suspect that more than a few have used it to test their snowbird wings, trading in the cold Michigan winter for a warmer climate to see if they like it.


I like the idea of testing out retirement before jumping in the deep end. I also like the idea that retirement could be a gradual change where the balance shifts away from work and more into post-work leisure over the course of a few months or years.

In the meantime, I have regular conversations with my financial planner, Jason, who probably serves in equal parts as my financial advisor and therapist. When I ask Jason when I can retire, I secretly hope his answer will be, “When I tell you,” because honestly, I just might need someone else to decide this for me.

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Interesting Talks About Student Loans


Published on Jul 2, 2016

“Once upon a time in America,” says professor Sajay Samuel, “going to college did not mean graduating with debt.” Today, higher education has become a consumer product — costs have skyrocketed, saddling students with a combined debt of over $1 trillion, while universities and loan companies make massive profits. Samuel proposes a radical solution: link tuition costs to a degree’s expected earnings so that students can make informed decisions about their future, restore their love of learning and contribute to the world in a meaningful way.


Entrepreneur Dusty Wunderlich exposes the catastrophic consequences of the student loan crisis using simple economics and explains how an oversupply of highly educated Americans is flooding the market and crushing student borrowers’ ability to thrive. Dusty proposes solutions for a more sustainable economic future and outlines a new way of decision making for parents, students, universities, and employers.