Paying For College With College Scholarships and Student Loans | Online University Colleges
Wed, Jul 14, 2010
Paying For College With College Scholarships and Student Loans
It is getting harder to pay for a college education these days, but it is by no means impossible. Getting college scholarships is still the best way to go, and there are plenty of them still around – even though money may be getting tighter. Here are some tips about how to get money to pay for your college education with college scholarships and student loans.
GET AS MANY COLLEGE SCHOLARSHIPS AS YOU CAN
The best way to go to college is to go free. College scholarships can enable a student to go to college without cost – if there are enough of them. In order to get as many as is needed to go without cost, you will need to apply to as many scholarships as possible. Of course, you want to only apply for those college scholarships that you have a good possibility of actually winning.
Finding the right college scholarships to apply to will require some work – and possibly some imagination, too. There are college scholarships for just about everything you can think of these days – and possibly some that are almost out of reach of the imagination, too. You can find them for academics, sports, hobbies, uniqueness – like a special last name or for left-handers, etc., your locale, and some that are just plain weird – like the duct tape prom college scholarship.
In order for you to learn about what college scholarships are available, you will need to do some homework. This includes researching them online, in the library, letting scholarship groups help you (be careful of these – some are scams), talking to your school counselors, and more. You can also look at the Web sites of the colleges that you are interested in, and they will show you what college scholarships are available there.
LOOK FOR COMPANY SCHOLARSHIPS AND INTERNSHIPS
Many companies also offer college scholarships, too. They do this because they want to have a qualified and trained pool of potential employees available when they need them. They usually look for exceptionally bright prospects that can bring much to the table if they should hire them.
Getting a college scholarship or an internship with a great company can lead to a great job right out of college. Sometimes, you may even be able to find your needed college scholarship simply by looking at the various companies you would dream of working for after you get your college degree. Look at their Web sites for more information.
APPLY FOR COLLEGE STUDENT LOANS
Because college scholarships may not cover your entire school bill, you may also need some college financing. Direct loans are available from the government, which will also give you the lowest interest rate possible on education loans.
Direct student loans, which includes the Stafford loans and the PLUS loans, accumulate no interest while you are in school (because the government pays for it while you are in college), or drop to less than half-time. You will not need to make any payments on the loan until you have been out of school for 6 months.
Graduate students and families of college students have access to PLUS loans for education and they also have the same terms as the Stafford loans – but a little higher interest rate. All government loans can be consolidated after graduation for easy payments.
GET STARTED EARLY
If you want to get the most out of college scholarships and student loans, then you will need to get started early. In fact, you should get started earlier than was necessary in previous years. With less money going around and with some college scholarships going on a first-come, first-served basis – you have no time to lose.
Finding the right college scholarships takes a considerable amount of time, and so does filling out scholarship applications and writing scholarship essays. In addition, in order to get a Direct loan, you will need to have filled out the FAFSA form, which is required for all government student loans.
FILL OUT SCHOLARSHIP APPLICATIONS CAREFULLY
College scholarship applications require that they be filled out accurately and carefully. A little carelessness (or haste) in answering a question or two could needlessly cost you a college scholarship. This could mean that you may need to take much longer to pay off a college loan – when you didn’t have to.
Writing a quality college scholarship essay that will win a scholarship requires that you understand what the group offering it is looking for. Make yourself look like the person that they would like to represent and promote their company, college, etc., and you could walk away with the free college education you want. Be honest, though, in what you write – and you’ll be glad you did.
I like the above article, but I’d like to add some more information that is from my book The Online Student’s User Manual:
Just because you want to go back to school doesn’t necessarily mean you have the money sitting around to pay for it. Many students are looking for ways to finance their education, and options include student loans, company reimbursement, grants and scholar-ships. There are some job areas where they need people so badly that there may be opportunities where the government forgives your loan. Some of the areas where there are currently shortages include nursing, teaching, law and the military. For more information on loan forgiveness, check out the following web site: http://www.opm.gov/oca/pay/studentloan/html/fy05report.pdf. For public service loan forgiveness programs,
check out: http://www.finaid.org/loans/publicservice.phtml.
Some fields allow volunteering your time to count toward loan relief. For example, check out the Ameri-Corps at http://www.americorps.org, the Peace Corps at http://www.peacecorps.gov and Volunteers in Ser-
vice to American (VISTA) at: http://www.friendsofvista.org.
Student loan areas to check out include the Stafford loan program. “Stafford loans are federal student loans made available to college and university students to supplement personal and family resources, scholarships, grants, and work-study. Nearly all students are eligible to receive Stafford loans regardless of credit. Stafford loans may be subsidized by the U.S. Gov-ernment or unsubsidized depending on the student’s need.” (Staffordloan.com, 2010).
Another program is the Pell Grant. “The Federal Pell Grant program is a federal aid program that pro-vides financial assistance to students otherwise unable to afford an undergraduate education. Your school can either credit the Pell Grant funds to your school account, pay you directly (usually by check), or combine these methods. The school must tell you in writing how and when you’ll be paid, and how much your award will be. Schools must pay you at least once per term (semester, trimester, or quarter). Schools that do not use formally defined, traditional terms must pay you at least twice per academic year” (college-scholarships-grants.biz, 2010).
There are other ways to help pay for your online education on your own. According to eLearners.com (2010) you should speak to your financial advisor about the possibility of using:
1. Personal savings
2. Credit cards
3. Funds borrowed from your 401k or Retirement Plan
4. Funds borrowed against a life insurance policy
5. A line of credit or HELOC (home equity line of credit)
6. A family loan or gift
7. Loans from the traditional lending agencies such as Sallie Mae at http://www.tuitionpay.com/ or Tuition Man-agement Systems at http://www.afford.com or FACTS Management Company at http://www.factsmgt.com/FACTS/Family.
The most important first step is to talk to your school’s financial advisors to find out what options are available to you. For more information about completing the ap-plication for federal student financial aid, be sure to check out http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. If you are not fa-miliar with FASFA, “Today, Federal Student Aid performs a range of critical functions that include, among others:
• Educating students and families on the process of obtaining aid;
• Processing millions of student financial aid applications each year;
• Disbursing billions of dollars in aid funds to students through schools;
• Enforcing financial aid rules and regulations;
• Servicing millions of student loan accounts, and securing repayment from borrowers who have defaulted on their loans; and
• Operating information technology systems and tools that manage billions in student aid dollars” (federalstudentaid.ed.gov, 2010).
Do not get discouraged, because there are many loans and finance programs out there. “During the 2006–07 academic year, more than $130 billion in financial aid was distributed to undergraduate and graduate students in the form of grants from all sources and federal loans, work-study, and tax credits and deductions. In addition, these students borrowed more than $18 billion from state and private sources to help finance their education” (collegeboard.com, 2010). I recommend that you download the most recent Trends in Student Aid report from <a href=”http://www.collegeboard.com/prod_downloads/about/news_info/trends/trends_aid_07.pdf.