24 November 2011

Financing Your College Education

There are so many options out there for financing your college education, and unless you have a full scholarship or other means to pay in full out of pocket, chances are you need to look at these options.  With so many different options to choose from, it can be tricky to figure out what is best for you and your situation.  Pick wisely, as your financing decisions will impact you later on, and hopefully not in a bad way!

First off you are going to want to fill out a FAFSA { Free Application for Federal Student Aid }.  Even if you think you won't be eligible to receive any help, you may be suprised at what you can receive, not to mention you need one filled out to be eligible for a Pell Grant { which is also financial assistance you do not need to repay like the FAFSA }.  Filling out a FAFSA will also help determine certain scholarship qualifiers.

Tip: Fill out your FAFSA as soon as you can for the year you will be attending.  I've learned that the quicker you get this in, the more money is available to you.  Wait too long and you may be limited on what you receive.

My next tip is to jump on board and first apply for all the scholarships you qualify for that are accessed through your college.  Colleges offer many of these just for attending students, helping your chances of receiving one!  After that, go online and apply for relevant scholarships.  There are many online scholarship databases out there to search through.  There's no hurt in trying!  This is free money towards your education and it's all up for grabs!

 The Breakdown of Loans:

* Perkins Loan - Need based.  Through the Federal Government.  5% fixed interest rate.

* Subsidized Stafford Loan - Need based.  Through the Federal Government.  3.4% fixed interest rate.

* Unsubsidized Stafford Loan - Not limited to need based.  Through the Federal Government.  6.8% fixed  interest rate.

* Parent PLUS Loan - Not limited to need based.  Through the Federal Government.  Borrowed by a parent.  7.9% fixed interest rate.

* Private Loans - Not limited to need based.  Issued through banks, colleges, and state agencies.  Borrowed by the student with usually a parent co-signer.  Interest rates vary, but usually higher than federal rates.

You can learn more about these different types of loans in detail here!

A handy tip for helping you figure out how much you can safely afford to borrow and pay back, is by using a studentloan.com calculator.  I highly recommend taking advantage of using one!  It can be easy to just borrow the money and then think of the repayment as an after thought.  Don't get trapped by this!  Borrow wisely to make life easier after graduation so you can enjoy that new career of yours worry free.

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