Learning about financial aid
for your college experience can be an education in
itself. It isn’t always easy to know where to
start with this education or exactly what questions
to ask, and you may have a huge list of costs to consider
that accompany your degree work. From books and tuition
to cost of living expenses such as rent, food, entertainment,
and transportation, your expenses can start to accumulate,
picking up speed throughout your college career like
an avalanche coming down a mountain. In order to combat
this avalanche, it’s important to understand
as much as you can about what you can do and what
tools are at your disposal to help you find financial
aid and further your education.
Here are four tips that might help you to keep your educational
affairs in order when it comes to your finances and financial
Visit Your College Website
One of the best things you can do when educating yourself
regarding your school’s options for available student
aid may be to visit their website. Many schools will offer
information regarding financial aid and how to go about
getting it or finding out more about it. You can look for
tips, find out about scholarship, work study and assistantship
opportunities, and learn about grants and loan information.
It might also be important to visit your educational institution’s
website to determine where a student financial assistance
office is located, locate pertinent contact numbers or student
aid personnel, and find out about other relevant information
pertaining to financial aid and assistance.
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Financial aid can be a useful tool, but it’s important
not to let its consequences get away from you. Your studies
might come first and foremost in your mind, but keeping
an eye on those student loans that are stacking up is also
important. Coming out of school with hefty financial aid
responsibilities can be a burden that’s tough to bear.
There can be an inordinate amount of pressure after graduation
when you find yourself searching for a job and possibly
struggling to make it on your own. Finding that you’re
thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars in debt due
to your education can add to the stress you may experience.
It may therefore be a good idea to consider options other
than the typical student loan when it comes to financing
your college education. While you don’t want your
studies to suffer, taking on a part-time job, doing some
work study, and applying for scholarships might be pertinent
ways to spend at least some of your college career time.
If you have the opportunity, you might also consider family
loans. Doing so could afford you the opportunity to take
a bit more time paying back mom and dad than you would regular
student loans, and your parents might even consider not
charging you interest!
Much like the law, ignorance when it comes to the terms
of your financial aid is not an excuse for not abiding by
their terms. It is pertinent that you read and understand
your loan contracts and scholarship or grant requirements.
Losing such aid can be costly and can come at a time in
your life that could leave you without means to pay for
But reading these documents isn’t always enough to
give you a proper understanding of what you are signing
or agreeing to and how much this financial aid might cost
you over the loan haul. Therefore, if you are unsure as
to whether you are interpreting such contracts correctly,
or even just want some reassurance that what you understand
them to be saying is correct, it can be important to conduct
your due diligence. Just because these items are often issued
through reputable sources and are for a good cause (i.e.
your education) doesn’t mean you shouldn’t treat
them as you would a car loan or home mortgage. Be sure to
ask questions, talk to friends or family who have utilized
similar financial aid, and search the internet for problems
or issues others have encountered with similar aid programs.
Be On The Ball
Being on top of things when it comes to your financial situation
during your education may mean the difference between having
enough money to cover your expenses and having to set your
education aside due to insufficient funds. Being on time
with your applications, following up if you don’t
hear anything in a reasonable amount of time or provided
timeframe (things do get lost or misplaced along the way),
and keeping track of your applications, can help keep you
from costly errors.
To better assist you in tracking and organizing your financial
aid applications and information, consider keeping a file
for each loan/grant/scholarship for which you have applied,
as well as a calendar of important dates pertaining to these
items. Along with this information, you might consider adding
a ‘cheat sheet’ of sorts containing the name
of each loan/grant/scholarship and corresponding contact
personnel, telephone numbers, email addresses, etc.
Remember, a year or even months between re-applying for
financial aid may have you scratching your head trying to
remember how you handled the process and the steps involved
previously. Having a calendar, file, checklist, cheat sheet,
or whatever works well for keeping you organized, can make
this process easier, and keep you on track when it comes
to getting necessary funds for your education.
Finally, now a days more and more colleges are adopting
online courses into their class options every semester.
They are growing in popularity amongst students and universities
alike for a variety of reasons and this is something you
should feel free to explore. You can start by browsing through
a comprhensive list of programs and colleges in our online