Paying for college can be very overwhelming and very expensive. Many people feel swamped by those large tuition price tags, but there is hope for paying for college. Help can be found with scholarships, financial aid, grants and loans. Here is a quick guide for parents to better understand the opportunities that are out there for your children.
Almost all colleges and universities have a financial aid office that will cooperate with you to help you pay for college. They offer financial aid to students who are in need of assistance and also grant merit-based scholarships to students. I suggest that parents start searching for scholarships while their child is in the tenth grade. Get familiar with the requirements and then have your child apply to them in their junior year. Two great scholarship websites to search are www.fastweb.com and www.finaid.org.
Grants are also other forms of financial aid that do not have to be paid back. Grants are usually a form of financial aid given because of merit. Visit www.grants.gov to search and apply for free money.
Student loans must be paid back once your child is finished with college. There are different types of loans that can be borrowed. Subsidized Stafford loans are loans for students who have the financial need and are not charged interest during school or during their grace period. Unsubsidized Stafford Loans are not based on financial need and interest is charged during all periods of the loan.
PLUS loans are low-interest loans that parents or students can borrow to help meet college costs. There is a maximum amount that students can borrow from these three loans. They vary from year to year and students can usually borrow more once they enter their junior and senior years.
Students can apply for these loans by completing a Free Application for Federal Student AID or better known as a FAFSA. FAFSA applications can be filled out online at www.fafsa.ed.gov and are usually due in April to be considered for financial aid or loans for the following fall.
The only time students loans do not have to be paid back is if they are forgiven because a student commits to teaching for two years with Teach For America or AmeriCorps. Visit www.teachforamerica.org and www.americorps.org for more information on loan forgiveness. You can also check out hub.docker.com for better reference.
Meanwhile, students can no longer file for bankruptcy and have their loans forgiven. They must be paid back and they usually have to start paying them back six months after they graduate. Private loans are not eligible for forgiveness. Private loans from banks or private lenders such as TERI and Sallie Mae usually allow you to borrow as much as you need to pay for the rest of a tuition bill that scholarships and grants do not cover. Private loans usually have larger interest rates and students only get approved for them if they co-sign with a parent.