Help for #gradschoolproblems that are outside of grad school

We all know the huge amount of stress that we’re put under as graduate students, and to top it off, we all have other tasks to accomplish that are outside grad school. Some things, like forgetting to file taxes, will likely result in an arrest and hours of interrogation with Chinese water torture – or at least the government calling about an audit. Others, like forgetting to change oil or pay the electric bill can cause other issues. So, here’s a few non-academic resources that have helped me out this year, or at least places where I’ve sought help.

TurboTax – Tax season is already over, but in the future, if you’re independent and your only income is a grad student stipend, you are likely well below the poverty line. Fortunately, tax agencies like TurboTax have agreed to file simple tax forms (1040EZ, for one) for people below a certain income. TurboTax also assists in finding deductions that you would otherwise not think to look for (at least I wouldn’t). Plus, it’s possible to file taxes for the feds and the state in one place. Since I changed my residency from Indiana to West Virginia this year, I had to file for both states, and since those states have both approved TurboTax, I was able to file all my returns with one program (yay!).

Housing/Neighborhood/Infrastructure Issues: By no means am I an expert on local building code, but Morgantown has a convenient online system for reporting everything from building code violations (i.e., if bricks are consistently falling off your building, it’s probably a violation) to burn permits to reporting graffiti to  inquiries about establishing a new crosswalk. I’ve never had any such issues, but I can see how certain problems may come up in other parts of town. Visit the FAQ page for common questions.

Towing problems: Morgantown is notorious for having cars towed throughout the day, whether by the city or by a private landowner (This is one of my alternative careers – open a towing company in a college town. I’d be rich in a week). However, the tow-happy people that summon the truck-of-no-return to your car may not have the right to have you towed. In addition, accidents and incidents can happen, and if you feel you were wrongfully towed or treated, you can contact the Public Service Commission of West Virginia. That information is listed here. But, you won’t get towed in the first place if you use…

#PUBLICTRANSPO: (yes, this is a real hashtag). I’ve posted before about using alternate transportation to get out of town, but in Mon County, the Mountain Line operates a pretty decent bus service that goes just about everywhere. Schedules and routes are on busride.org. Or, just walk. Both are better for the environment, and a lot better than sitting in traffic waiting for some Jersey or out-of-area driver in their Acura SUV to realize that green means go.

Finally, utilities: In Morgantown, a common list of utility providers are MUB for water and sewer, Allied Waste for trash, Comcast for cable and MonPower for electric. If you live at a residential property in most parts of the city, recycling should come with trash service. If you’re like me and live in an apartment, dropping off recycling is convenient. Some of the more-used locations are at the Wal-Mart at the University Town Center, Wal-Mart off Grafton Road and behind the Star City municipal building in Star City.

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2 thoughts on “Help for #gradschoolproblems that are outside of grad school

  1. Ali Young says:

    I wish I would’ve known about the Public Service Commission. I’ve been towed twice in four years and only one of them was for a legitimate reason. Last year I was towed from the place where I live because they claimed it was a handicap spot, yet the lines hadn’t been paved yet. I should’ve looked into my rights because it seems they take advantage of college students. Better yet, I should’ve lived closer to campus so I wouldn’t have even needed a car. Between towing, parking, and traffic it just isn’t worth it!

  2. Taxes are a major pain, and they can be a bigger pain if you’re a freelancer (pro tip: they don’t take taxes out of your freelance pay!). Turbo Tax definitely makes the process easier, but if it’s your first time and you’re doing it by yourself, things can get pretty hairy, and you don’t to deal with hairy. At WVU, the Accounting department in the Business College offers free tax services to students, and I would highly recommend everyone take advantage of that (or if you are not attending WVU, find out if your University offers a similar service).

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