It’s that time of year again and, if you’re a student, you may be preparing to head off to college in a few months. Paying for that education is not for the faint of heart, so read on for tips on how to finance it.
Paying for College 101
The U.S. Department of Education provides information on preparing for and funding education beyond high school with details on the federal aid programs. Another source of information on financial assistance is www.finaid.org. Both sites offer calculators to help you determine how much school will cost, how much you need to pay, and how much aid you will need.
Other helpful college planning tips:
- Pay close attention to state and federal financial aid deadlines. You’ll want to file well before the deadline though, so you can receive aid before funds run out.
- Check the Department of Education’s student budget calculator. You can plug in tuition costs, room and board and other expenses along with how much money you have in student loans or grants to get an idea of where you stand financially.
- Get involved in the process. Visit College.gov to learn about managing money in college and how to avoid common scams that target students.
Student Financial Aid
Student Financial Aid is available from a wide variety of sources including the federal government, individual states, directly from colleges and universities, as well as from numerous other public and private agencies and organizations. Whatever the source, all forms of college aid fall into four basic categories:
- Grants. Gift aid from grants does not have to be repaid and is generally awarded based at least partially on financial need.
- Work Study. The Federal Work-Study Program (FWS) is a federally funded source of financial assistance used to offset financial education costs. Students earn money by working and attending school. The money does not have to be repaid.
- Loans. Funds that are borrowed and must be repaid with interest are loans. As a general rule, educational loans have far more favorable terms and interest rates than traditional consumer loans.
- Scholarships. Offered by schools, local/community organizations, private institutions and trusts, scholarships do not have to be repaid and are generally awarded based on some specific criteria.
Federal Student Aid Information Center
The Federal Student Aid Information Center (FSAIC) can answer your federal student financial aid questions and can give you all the help you need for free. You can also use the FSAIC automated response system to find out whether your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application has been processed and to request a copy of your Student Aid Report (SAR).
Federal Loan Program Repayment Information
- Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program. Offers forgiveness for outstanding federal loans for individuals working full time in public service jobs.
- Income-Based Repayment Plan. Helps to make repaying education loans more affordable for low-income borrowers.
- Both programs offer generous benefits, but the rules may seem complex, so it is important to get all of the details. For more information on these repayment options:
- Department of Education
- Federal Student Aid
- National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators
CU Student Choice Program
The NASA Federal Credit Union CU Student Choice Loan can help you pay for the education expenses not covered by your financial aid package. Get competitive interest rates and generous repayment terms. Plus, with our fast online application, get the money you need to pay for college quickly.
- Deferred payments while you’re in school
- Flexible repayment options
- Pay no origination fees
- Get competitive interest rates
- Apply quickly and easily online or call 1-800-322-8816 to apply by phone