All across the land parents are in shock. They’ve just opened the first of many bills for college and the numbers aren’t pretty. Combined with meal plans, housing costs, spending money, books, fees, and tuition college expenses total more than they ever imagined. Even considering all the pre-college expenses they paid, they’re still in shock.
Even though your new student has entered college, there are still some ways to defray some of the costs by applying for financial aid, loans, and even scholarships! Even if your student opted to go for an online degree, financial aid options are still available (getting a degree online is a great way to reduced college costs).
“Sending a kid to college is like buying a new car every year … and never getting to drive it.” — Anonymous parent
Most schools award financial aid in the spring, but if your college bound student has already entered school and you’ve experienced some financial setbacks, you might be able to convince the student financial aid office to reconsider your situation. Most aid is awarded based on last year’s tax returns, but schools can consider your current year’s income and assets.
The key to getting the help you need is documentation, documentation, documentation. Have copies of any documents to prove you’ve had a financial setback – medical bills, unemployment paperwork, or paycheck stubs.
Scholarships are awarded in the spring, but many go unclaimed. Take some time and research available scholarships to see which ones your student may qualify for. Take the next step and ask if money is available year round for those in need. Asking is free.
Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students
Also known as a PLUS Loan, this loan is made to the parents. Its repayment schedule can be delayed until the student graduates and currently has a fixed rate of 8.5 percent.
Typically, PLUS Loans do not require a very high credit score, but a bankruptcy or a home foreclosure could derail your application as could defaulted loans or those more than 90 days past due.
BUT, if you are rejected for a PLUS Loan, you are automatically eligible for a higher limit on the most popular student loan, the Stafford Loan.
Stafford Loans or Federal Student Loans
This is the type of student loan I received and the one that helped me finish my degree and later, to help me get an MBA. It’s the most common student loan most students receive.
Stafford loans are available to all full-time students regardless of income or need (certain limits do apply). Right now a Stafford loan’s fixed rate is 6.8 percent and, depending on your classification in college, you can annually borrow $5,500 (freshmen), $6,500 (sophomores), or $7,500 (juniors and seniors).
Private educational loans from financial institutions haven’t completely dried up, but the credit crunch has caused them to severely shrivel. I’ve heard that some credit unions are beginning to loosen the purse strings and are offering very good rates. Try visiting custudentloans.org and search for participating credit unions.
Loans MUST be repaid!
Most of you are thinking, “DUH!” but there are more and more people out there that are bemoaning the fact that they have to repay student loans. Failure to do so will damage your credit score and most student loans aren’t eligible to be included in bankruptcy. So plan now to make your payments!
[tags]financial aid, college tuition, tuition, college expenses, scholarships, student loan, PLUS loan[/tags]