Monthly Archives: February 2014



February 19, 2014


The Council of Graduate Schools and TIAA-CREF Collaborate to Deliver GradSense Website   to Help Students Make Informed Financial Decisions about Their Education and Careers

Washington, D.C. – The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS), a nonprofit organization devoted to graduate education and research, today launched GradSense, a novel online tool designed to help students plan financially for their education and future careers.

With student debt at historically high levels, students have a limited number of resources for assessing the investment they will be making in an advanced degree. To fill this knowledge gap, CGS collaborated with leading financial services provider TIAA-CREF to design and develop GradSense, which features a Debt to Salary calculator, among other tools.

In developing GradSense, CGS researchers brought together two important pieces of information for the first time –federal data on education debt and federal data on median salaries for specific occupations. While this information is available, it is not easily accessible. Students must sift through these datasets using separate databases, which obscures the relationship between investing in a specific degree to pursue a desired profession. To help students make more informed career decisions, GradSense combines these two pieces of information in a simple-to-use tool, providing students with one screen of data that allows them to more accurately align their choice of degree and field of study with their desired career.

Using GradSense, students enter their degree type, desired field of study and preferred career. The student is then shown the median debt of students pursuing their specific degree, along with the starting, median and expert salary levels expected in their desired career. Together, these two informative data sets can help students better understand the impact of their chosen degree on future earnings.

GradSense is part of the Enhancing Student Financial Education project, an initiative of CGS in collaboration with TIAA-CREF.  The program has awarded grants to 15 colleges and universities across the country to develop innovative financial literacy programs that teach students about successful strategies for borrowing, lending and managing personal finances. Lessons and data from each of the 15 university programs and many of the 19 affiliate universities will inform the development of new financial education resources for students nationwide.

“The best practices developed through this program – and the GradSense tool – can help prepare our nation’s students for lifelong financial well-being,” said Laura Levine, president and CEO of Jump$tart Coalition. “I applaud the commitment of CGS, TIAA-CREF and the participating universities.”

The GradSense website also includes a compound interest calculator that shows students the long-term impact of common spending decisions, advice for repaying student loans, guidance on transitioning from graduate school to a career and tips for evaluating and negotiating job offers.

“GradSense provides students with crucial financial information that was never easily accessible or available before,” said Debra W. Stewart, president of CGS. “This clear, customized tool empowers students to make more informed decisions about their educational and career pathways.”

“We are extremely proud of our collaboration with the Council of Graduate Schools, and especially pleased to see tangible results and useful tools already emerging from this program,” said Roger W. Ferguson, president and CEO of TIAA-CREF. “This underscores the combined strengths the business and education sectors bring to bear on addressing the student loan debt issue, and when working together, the valuable impact we can have on the financial futures of our nation’s students.”

In addition to the GradSense website, the tool will also be featured on the websites of universities participating in the Enhancing Student Financial Education program, as well as the websites of other CGS member schools. To use GradSense, visit:

Julia Kent, CGS: (202) 223-3791 /
John McCool, TIAA-CREF: (888) 200-4062 /


About GradSense
GradSense is a unique online education platform that provides students with important financial information about the value of pursuing an advanced degree. Based on data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the National Science Foundation and the National Center for Education Statistics, GradSense was researched, designed and developed by CGS in collaboration with TIAA-CREF. Along with median debt and income data, the GradSense website also provides students with loan repayment advice, spending tips, and career guidance. For more information and updates about GradSense, like it on Facebook and follow it on Twitter: @GradSense.

About CGS
The Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) is an organization of over 500 institutions of higher education in the United States and Canada engaged in graduate education, research, and the preparation of candidates for advanced degrees. Among U.S. institutions, CGS members award 92% of the doctoral degrees and 78% of the master’s degrees.* The organization’s mission is to improve and advance graduate education, which it accomplishes through advocacy in the federal policy arena, research, and the development and dissemination of best practices.

*Based on data from the 2012 CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees

TIAA-CREF ( is a national financial services organization with $564 billion in assets under management (as of 12/31/13) and is the leading provider of retirement services in the academic, research, medical and cultural fields.

TIAA-CREF Individual & Institutional Services, LLC and Teachers Personal Investors Services, Inc., members FINRA, distribute securities products.




~Argo Tea provides unique and nutritious on-the-go options for college students as Millennials challenge traditional cafeteria dining~

Chicago, IL – February 12, 2014 –Today’s Millennials offer an interesting challenge to colleges. They want diversity and authenticity and wear their social conscience on their sleeves. Argo Tea, the largest tea-café chain in the world, has learned that when it comes to food, Millennials are health conscious−demanding natural and fresh−and yet prone to fits of decadence, all the while expecting convenience. Recognizing the college experience triggers changing food and beverage preferences among people ages 18-24* and the eating habits formed influence healthy food choices later in life, Argo Tea is quickly becoming a student favorite at colleges and universities across the country as the tea café’s menu reflects what students want.

“At Argo Tea, we deliver all-natural, real ingredients and smart calories,” said founder and CEO of Argo Tea, Arsen Avakian. “We provide students with great-tasting options that will fuel their bodies and minds with ingredients that will keep them healthy and happy.”

From unique signature beverages like Green Tea Ginger Twist to White Tea Acai Squeeze, Argo Tea sources the best ingredients from around the world to create drinks that taste good and are good for you. Students also benefit from Argo Tea’s wide selection of raw, vegan, and gluten-free foods that are baked and prepared in-store daily.

Argo Tea already has ten college campus area cafés with more scheduled to open in the near future. Current campus locations include New York University, Northeastern University, Saint Louis University, Grand Valley State University, University of North Carolina at Asheville, and Buffalo State, which opened just last week.

“The Buffalo State community is excited about the opening of the new Argo Tea Café in the Butler Library,” said Timothy Ecklund, associate vice president, student affairs at Buffalo State. “This initiative will put the campus in line with the new trend in tea as a preferred beverage by college students and also bring Argo’s new healthy food offerings to the campus.”

Argo Tea now operates 32 cafés in the U.S. and internationally, with more than 15 locations scheduled to open in the next 12 months. Customers can also find Argo Tea’s most popular beverages in ready-to-drink bottles at more than 10,000 retailers across the country, including Walgreens and Whole Foods.

About Argo Tea
Argo Tea, Inc. is a Chicago-based food and beverage company responsible for creating custom tea experiences. We focus on six key pillars: CommuniTEA, DiversiTEA, SustainabiliTEA, ChariTEA, QualiTEA and CreativiTEA. We are passionate about bringing teas directly from growers around the world, and blending them into unique and delicious signature beverages and teas. We are committed to sustainability by working with the best local and global tea, coffee, and food artisans, and by contributing back to our communities to promote a healthy lifestyle and the conservation of natural resources. We are dedicated to delivering consistent quality, combining all-natural, real ingredients and sharing a genuine customer experience “one customer and one cup at a time.” Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, we now have retail partners across the world, and coming soon to a location near you. Our products are available for distribution in more than 10,000 premier retailers, including foodservice, retail, and hospitality companies in the U.S. and internationally. Learn more at

Media Contact:
Rory Swikle
Ogilvy Public Relations

*The Hartman Group; Outlook on the Millennial Consumer study 2011

InsureXSolutions Helps U.S. College Students Find Insurance Before New Health Law Penalties Hit

Private health insurance exchange lets students shop, compare and purchase plans. Universities can launch integrated exchange to provide students with choices and guidance.

ROSEMONT, Ill. – February 3, 2014 – Flexible Benefit Service Corporation (Flex) today announced that the InsureXSolutions® private health insurance exchange is helping college students in Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma, Montana and New Mexico find coverage before the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalties go into effect on April 1. The web-based insurance marketplace is available to individual students and their families, as well as universities and colleges that want to provide their students with an online platform where they can shop, compare and enroll in health plans.

According to the ACA, students can remain on their parent’s health coverage until age 26, but many students will not have this option. A 2012 study by the National Student Clearinghouse found that more than one third of students are 25 years of age or older and 54% of students age 25 to 29 study full-time, making it unlikely that they will receive insurance coverage from an employer.

Like families and working individuals, students will have to pay ACA penalties if they do not obtain health coverage by March 31, 2014. Any individual or family that fails to get insurance will have to pay $95 per adult and $47.50 per child or 1 percent of income—whichever is greater. This fee will climb to $695 per adult and $347.50 per child or 2.5 percent of family income in 2016.

“Students entering 2014 without health insurance face a lot of uncertainty,” said John DiVito, President of Flex. “It’s been reported that some universities have discontinued student health plans that are not ACA-compliant or have raised prices. In many cases, college health plans and ‘catastrophic’ coverage plans simply do not provide adequate coverage for students. Instead of feeling trapped, we believe students should have choices and resources, and that’s what we provide through InsureXSolutions.”

InsureXSolutions offers students a wealth of resources for finding affordable coverage. The InsureXSolutions Plan Finder takes into account annual doctor visits, prescription medications, budget considerations and other factors to recommend personalized plans. Users can then refine their selection by insurance company, monthly premium, deductible, coinsurance, HSA eligibility and plan type, or they can select plans and compare them side by side in a simple and informative interface.

The private exchange also features educational resources like, the exchangebuzz health care blog, Health Law 101 and other materials that can help students navigate the complexities of the ACA and insurance. Students can even call InsureXSolutions to speak directly with a licensed insurance professional.

Rather than offering a single college health plan or referring students to government marketplaces, universities can also launch their own private exchange with InsureXSolutions. The integrated student insurance exchange allows educational institutions to connect students with a wide range of choices without incurring high costs or administrative burdens. InsureXSolutions features a large variety of plans from leading providers of health and dental insurance.

Today, the number of uninsured students in the United States is unclear. A 2013 report by the Commonwealth Fund, however, found that nearly one third of young adults who graduated from or left college were uninsured or lost their health insurance.

“Not all students are ‘invincible,’” said DiVito. “Some have chronic health issues, some have families to care for and many participate in athletics. Avoiding penalties is important, but helping students find plans that fit their lifestyle and personal needs is our highest priority.”

To learn more about InsureXSolutions, visit

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About Flexible Benefit Service Corporation 
Flexible Benefit Service Corporation (Flex) is a leader in the health insurance and benefits administration marketplace. Since 1988, Flex has continuously offered cost-effective health care solutions for producers, employers, employees and individuals. Through their consumer-driven strategies, tax-advantaged programs and insurance offerings, Flex serves as a full service general agency and benefits administrator. The comprehensive Flex product portfolio includes flexible spending accounts (FSAs), health reimbursement arrangements (HRAs), health savings accounts (HSAs), transit/parking reimbursement accounts (TRAs), COBRA administration and more. Flex also blends its in-house expertise from both divisions to offer a private insurance exchange showcasing integrated resources and innovative technology. Flex is an accredited business with the Better Business Bureau and maintains an A+ rating. Learn more at

Media Contact
Nick Severino, Director of Marketing
Flexible Benefit Service Corporation (Flex)
888-353-9178 |