Concerned that the weak economy means you can’t get that college degree you’ve always dreamed of? Don’t be. There are financial aid options out there for every student to pay for school. There are some new ones to check into and some old ones you might not have considered.
Federal Financial Aid
Now that the stimulus bill is signed into law, there is more money than ever in the Pell Grant and Perkins Loan programs, which means more students can get access to money for college. Each student who qualifies will receive more money from these programs, which means a bigger chunk of that tuition bill is getting paid. And these plans are now getting a yearly boost in funds so students won’t have to worry about tuition hikes and making their dollars stretch.
There are also federal Stafford and PLUS loans for those students who qualify. These loan programs have relatively low interest rates that assist students in paying them off and can be used for undergraduate or graduate school. Stafford loans are for students who are paying their own way, and PLUS loans are for parents who are footing the bill or for graduate students paying for masters degrees and doctorate degrees.
Other Financing Options
In addition to federal loans, there are private loans available to students. The financial aid office at your school can help you find private loans with interest rates that are lower than the personal loans your local bank offers. And there are some new lending options called social loans or peer lending, in which online sites are pairing students with friends and family who will loan or gift them money. These are formal loans and gifts with real interest rates and repayment plans and real paperwork so everything is legitimate according to the IRS and the federal government.
And lastly, there are always scholarships. There are organizations across the country that give students much-needed money based on all sorts of criteria. Some scholarships are given for academic achievement and may be given out in yearly amounts over the course of the student’s entire college career. These may require the student to maintain a certain grade point average in order receive the money. Other scholarships are based on such traits as religion, ethnicity, gender, political affiliation, or artistic or sports talent. Because this is gift aid that doesn’t need to be repaid, it’s worth your time to seek out these scholarships. Many students have funded large portions of their tuition with scholarships. If fact, some students have gone to college entirely for free on certain sports scholarships.
Online Learning Saves Money
Another trend in education is online learning. It’s a great way to get a top-notch education at a lower price than regular classroom learning. Many schools offer full degree programs online or at least some classes within a program. There are many benefits of online schools; among them, students can take courses at their own pace, and from the comfort of home.