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Posted April 23, 2016 by

Financial aid secrets for college students

Financial aid web browser sign concept courtesy of Shutterstock.com

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With graduation season looming, high school seniors throughout the country are receiving their college acceptance letters and celebrating their impending sense of freedom. At the same time, parents are studying financial aid options and scratching their heads trying to figure out how to pay for the upcoming four (or more) years.

As the costs of attending college rise, it’s important to consider scholarships, grants, and student loans to assist with the hefty fees. There are also some innovative tricks that can help reduce this cost. Here are some insights gleaned from real university financial aid employees, parents, and former college students all high school seniors and their families should know.

Use your FAFSA

The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is an important financial aid document college students shouldn’t skip. Even if they don’t think they’ll qualify for any money, it’s important to fill this form out annually. This is how the federal government and schools determine what type of aid to give students. There are many subtle things that can impact the grants offered, many of which are unknown to the average person, and may change the amount a family qualifies for.

Attend class

Many universities have strict attendance and truancy policies to prevent abuse of the grants offered. If a student withdraws from a class due to non-attendance in the first few classes or consistent unexplained absences, their course load may drop below the mandatory credits needed to qualify for certain grants. If you have a scholarship or grant already, make sure you know the terms and what’s expected from your end.

Become a Resident Advisor (RA)

Aside from tuition, room and board are the most expensive costs incurred during college. With the average college student paying $8,535 a year just for a place to stay, it makes sense to try to skimp on this fee. Students who work as a Resident Advisor often wind up with free or significantly reduced room and board in exchange for their services, making this one of the most lucrative student jobs available.

Learn to cook

While Top Ramen may be students best friend those first few months, anything prepared at home is bound to be more affordable than college meal plans and eating out at restaurants. Even if a student’s cooking skills need some brushing up, this is one of the easiest ways to save money. Don’t be afraid of the kitchen.

Find freebies

So much of an average college student’s budget is spent on personal expenses, which often includes entertainment. Seek free options available through the university instead. Campuses are loaded with free amenities, from swimming pools and libraries to dorm dinners, guest lecture speakers, and student clubs.

Join a credit union

Since credit unions are run as cooperatives, they can afford giving customers extra perks that wind up saving them a lot of money. They typically feature lower credit card interest rates, higher interest rates paid out on savings accounts, and reduced-fee ATMs and online banking services.

While the term “starving student” has origins in truth, it doesn’t need to be a reality for all. Instead, research financial aid opportunities and spend wisely to save money and stick to a good budget throughout your academic career.

If you’re interested in more information on financial aid, please visit our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter.

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan, guest writer

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information on first time budgeting, see what a Bountiful Utah Credit Union might recommend. Brooke is available via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.

Posted October 17, 2015 by

Grueling FAFSA application process leaves money on the table, hurts students

directly above photograph of a grant application

Directly above photograph of a grant application. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

As the cost of college tuitions skyrocket, the world of academia is constantly growing more competitive, which is causing a large number of students to second guess their options for college. Today, a college education can be financially intimidating, especially when your main form of payment is through some sort of government aid, student loan, or the hope for a potential scholarship. With college costing an average student more than $30,000 per year, students are actively seeking any monetary help possible to ensure they are not haunted by a mountain of debt after graduation. (more…)

Posted July 31, 2014 by

3 Tips to Graduate College Debt-Free (or Close to It)

Young male graduate in cap and gown holding piggy bank

Young male graduate in cap and gown holding piggy bank. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

The severity of the student loan debt crisis in the U.S. varies depending on whom you ask. The average 2013 college graduate left school with $29,400 in student loan debt, according to the Project On Student Debt. But a 2014 report by the Brookings Institute indicates that student loan debt is no more of a detriment to borrowers today than it was 25 years ago. One key finding from the same study is that the median amount of student loan debt for 20 to 40 year-olds is only $8,500, indicating the average is skewed by extreme outliers.

Either way, the best way to handle student loan debt and the effects thereof is to not accumulate any in the first place. These three tips will help you graduate with little to no debt. (more…)

Posted April 17, 2014 by

Four Costly Student Loan Mistakes And How To Avoid Them

Gold image of graduate chained to debt

Gold image of graduate chained to debt. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

In case you haven’t noticed, we’re in a lot of student loan debt. In fact, as a country we’re in considerably more student loan debt than we are in credit card debt. However, student loan debt isn’t necessarily a bad thing especially if it helped or is helping to fund an education that will pay dividends for the next several decades in the form of a higher income. Having said (or written) that, there are several mistakes that students make regarding the use of student loans and they can be easily avoided. (more…)

Posted July 23, 2013 by

Getting the Most Out of Your Financial Aid Options

Green box with financial aid and dollar sign

Green box with financial aid and dollar sign. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Graduating with a diploma in one hand and a hefty I-owe-you in the other hand has increasingly become the new normal.

There are more than 37 million borrowers with outstanding student loans in the United States and their numbers are rising. Meanwhile, interest rates on federal loans are rising steadily. While you may panic when you imagine that first monthly loan payment bill arriving in the mail, remember that you have options you can pursue before signing any promissory notes. Also, if you do decide to borrow, remember that not every loan offers comparable terms. (more…)

Posted July 01, 2013 by

4 Things Parents Should Know Before Paying for College

From $20,000 to $65,000 a year – that’s the tuition cost for one year of college, says John McDonough, a money expert who helps retirees and parents plan for their families’ futures.

John McDonough

John McDonough, CEO of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions

“For the 2012–2013 academic year, the average cost for an in-state public college is $22,261. A moderate budget for a private college averaged $43,289,” says McDonough, CEO of Studemont Group College Funding Solutions. “But for elite schools, we’re talking about three times the cost of your local state school. Either way, your kid’s higher education can easily shoot into six figures after four years.” (more…)

Posted May 24, 2013 by

How to Pay for College and Avoid Expensive Loans

Bag of money for college plan

Bag of money for college plan. Photo courtesy of Shutterstock.

Most college students enter the workplace in debt, according to a report published by the Institute for College Access & Success. The report states that the average college student graduates owing $26,600. This debt can really put a damper on a person’s after-college plans. It means hitting the job marketplace right away and often accepting the first job, as opposed to your dream job. In order to keep costs down, it’s recommended that students find ways to pay for college as they’re taking classes. (more…)

Posted May 13, 2013 by

Ways to Fund a Postgraduate Education As You Search for Recent Graduate Jobs

Even though you may be interested in searching for recent graduate jobs, continuing your education beyond a four year degree might be a priority.  However, where do you find assistance with your tuition?  Learn more in the following post.

Yes, sugar daddy! With student loan debt topping a trillion dollars, it doesn’t sound half bad, does it? But before you start getting vulgar ideas, we’re talking about legal ways to get other people to pay for some or all of your educational expenses. If you’ve been in the business world

Link:

How to Find a Graduate School Sugar Daddy

Posted March 05, 2013 by

Financial Aid: Three Tips to Move Foward in the Process

With college tuition increasing these days, prospective and current students should consider financial aid.  The following post has three tips to help them proceed in getting some assistance.

For two million-plus college applicants and millions of current college students, how to afford tuition is always top-of-mind, particularly in an economy where many household incomes have remained stagnant.  Competition for much-coveted financial aid remains as fierce as the admissions process itself. Below are three key tips in the race for money – which unofficially kicked off January 1 with the opening of FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) – with advice on how to successfully navigate the financial aid frenzy: (more…)

Posted January 20, 2012 by

College Financial Aid Process Myths and Realities

Are you bound for college?  Here are some things to think about concerning what is true and false about financial aid.

For two million-plus college applicants, how to pay for college is always top-of- mind – particularly during today’s tough economic times.  Competition for much-coveted financial aid remains as fierce as the college admissions process itself, so it’s imperative that applicants and their parents know fact from fiction.  Below are three common myths about the college financial process, followed by advice for students and their parents. (more…)