Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Campus Calling

MSNBC - Colleges' land lines nearing silent end

Time was, college dorms had a small phone booth at the end of the hall on each floor of the dormitory. When a student needed to make a phone call, he or she had to go there. If someone else was already using the phone, too bad. You just had to wait your turn. When a student received a call, whomever answered it had to go get the student out of their dorm room to take the call.

Then colleges updated their phone systems so that students had phones in each dorm room. The colleges liked this because they made lots of money on the high priced calls. Those phones are still in many dorm rooms, but the students forget they are there. Seems like nearly everyone on campus now has their own cell phone.

It seems like you can't go anywhere anymore without having a cell phone. With colleges removing the phone systems from dorm rooms, having your own cell phone will be nearly a requirement. Looks like a few colleges may provide the phones, but you should probably plan on getting your own cell phone plan.

There are two basic types of cell phone plans. The most common is the contract plan, where you commit for 1 or 2 years and need to pass a credit check. You choose the number of monthly minutes you expect to need, and you will pay a higher, per minute rate for usage over your limit. You need to be sure of the plan you select, because you can't change your mind later without paying a stiff penalty.

There are also pay as you go cell phone providers which meet the needs of anyone who is younger than 18, doesn't have a good credit history, or anyone who needs to control their spending, even if that means running out of minutes until the next month. These plans have no credit check and no contract. Some of these plans, such as Tracfone have cards that you must purchase each month to keep your phone activated. If you do not renew on time, your phone will be deactivated. When you reactivate later, you will be issued a new phone number.

A more reliable type of no contract cell phone plan will automatically charge your credit card each month. You still have limits, and if you use all of your minutes, you have the choice of either purchasing another block of time or not using your phone until you pay for the next month. You also have the option of canceling this plan at any time with no penalty.

Whichever type of cell phone plan suits you better, plan on bringing your own cell phone to college.

Shop online for contract and no contract cell phone plans.

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