You’re probably already well aware of numerous and diverse expenses that will be associated with getting a higher education. You must try to prepare for some of them trough looking for appropriate financial aid. Financial aid is available for many students; you just need to find out what you’re eligible for. We understand your time and energy are not unlimited, so we’ve prepared a guide for you to follow, to not lose track of your progress.
Scholarships and Grants
We can’t state enough how amazing scholarships and grants are! You need to let go of the myth that they are unavailable to most students and just focus on finding the right ones for you. Sending less well thought applications on carefully researched scholarships is better than sending a generic application everywhere, but try to cover as many different areas of interest as possible. Look for scholarships that value more than just academic achievements and try to apply for scholarships that match your general interests in life. If you have a dream, a passion or a cause you truly care for, try to find like-minded people or organizations, you might be shocked to discover they offer some kind of financial aid. Don’t be afraid of the essay requirement, even if writing is not your strongest skill, because those scholarships usually have a lot less applicants. Getting any scholarship, no matter how small amount it might be, is the easiest option for you financially, even if applying for them seems boring and tedious.
This is another good option, because you won’t be in debt after you use federal-work study program. If you’re determined to be eligible after completing your FAFSA application, based on your financial situation, you’ll be able to get part-time jobs with certain employers who participate in the program. This is different than most other part time jobs, because the money you earn this way will not be considered as additional income when you fill out your FAFSA next year. You will have to work to earn your money, but the work schedule will be made to work around your class schedule, because education comes first. You’re responsible for your behavior on the job and for transferring the money you earn into appropriate educational expenses. You’ll be getting a paycheck once a week, so you need to plan how to manage your money yourself.
Federal Student Loans
There’s a variety of different student loans available, but filling out the FAFSA is the first step towards determining which of them can be given to you. In general, the most desirable are Stafford loans, subsidized or unsubsidized. You’ll be eligible for subsidized, that come with lower interest rates, if you demonstrate financial hardships. However, if you’re not eligible for subsidized loans, unsubsidized are still a useful option, because their fixed interest rates allow you to plan ahead realistically and not get nasty surprises during the life of your loan. PLUS loans can be taken with a cosigner, which is not a bad option if you can rely on loved ones with good credit scores. Of course, you’re responsible for making timely payments that won’t endanger their credit scores in the future. Federal loans should be taken before the ones from private companies, because you can stop with your payments for a while if you experience unplanned expenses or apply for different repayment plans, based on your income after you graduate.
Private Student Loans
This should be your last option for financial aid. It will be the best to apply for assessment of your credit score, at annualcreditreport.com or by calling 1-877-322-8228. Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are three major credit bureaus and you can request a free report from each of them once a year. Based on your score, private lenders will offer you different interest rates. Choose the lowest ones offered to you and don’t rely on just one company. Look around for the best rates and take only the minimal amount of money you need, because private loans are the least favorable option for student financial aid.