Paying for College Tips

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How important is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)?

Complete Your FAFSA Early

The first, and most important, thing you need to do when researching sources of financial aid assistance for college is to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. This form needs to be submitted as soon as possible after January 1 of the year that you plan to start college. The earlier you complete your FAFSA, the sooner you will have a solid understanding of what types of financial aid assistance you qualify for, and what options are available to you.

The fastest and most secure way to complete your FAFSA is via the Department of Education's online form. When you complete your FAFSA online, it will be processed much more quickly than if you submit paper-based forms. Additionally, there are no worries about someone using information from your paper forms to commit identity theft when you utilize the government's secure online system.

Once your FAFSA has been processed, you will receive financial aid information from the Department of Education and your school regarding what types of Federal Financial Aid you are eligible to receive. Additionally, many state grant programs use information from the FAFSA, as do a number of institutional scholarship programs that have need-based components. Students who get their FAFSA paperwork turned in early often have priority when it comes to being considered for such programs.

If you have any questions regarding the FAFSA, call the Federal Student Aid Information Center at 1-800-4-FED-AID.

   
Are there any circumstances under which I don’t have to repay my student loans?

Loan Forgiveness Programs Unique Solution to Paying For College

One of the most unique ways to pay for college is to participate in a loan forgiveness program following graduation. There are several situations in which the federal government might cancel all or part of your student loan debt.

Examples of Student Loan Forgiveness Programs:

AmeriCorps : Students who participate in the AmeriCorps network of service programs can receive money to assist with school loans. Those who work full time with AmeriCorp for a y ear can earn up to a $4725 education award. Those who serve part time can receive partial awards.

National Health Service Corps : Eligible health professionals who enter the National Health Service corps and work in underserved areas receive up to $25,000 per year toward their student loan debt, in addition to competitive salaries and tax benefits.

Peace Corps : If you have Perkins loan, and you join the Peace Corps, you will earn a 15% cancellation of your debt (under the Perkins program only) for each year that you serve. You can also defer most other Federal Student Loans while in service in the Peace Corps.

Teach for America Program : The Teach for America program selects 2,000 recent graduates every year and place them in teaching positions in rural and urban public schools. Teach For America participants receive salary and benefits similar to those offered to any entry-level teacher. They are able to put their student loans in forbearance status while in the program, and they receive $4,725 to apply toward existing student loans or future educational expenses for every year of service in the program.

These are just a few examples of the programs that allow students to earn loan forgiveness by working off debt in approved programs. It is important to note that there is no guarantee of being accepted into one of these programs upon graduation, so if you take out student loans, you need to be prepared to pay them back.

   
How can joining the military help me pay for college?

Military Tuition Assistance Programs Provide Money for College

Getting involved with the United States military can help students get money for college. The different branches of the service offer a number of programs that provide access to educational money for college students.

Military tuition assistance programs include:

Reserve Officer Training Corps (ROTC) - The ROTC program provides scholarships that cover up to 4 years of full tuition and an annual stipend. Program participants enter active duty military service following graduation at an officer rank.

Montgomery GI Bill - Many members of the Reserves or National Guard and veterans honorably discharged from active duty are eligible to receive money to pay for college tuition or other training programs under the Montgomery GI bill.

GI Bill Kicker (Army, Navy, and Marine Corp College Funds) - Eligible reservists and active duty personnel who meet specific requirements upon initial enlistment may qualify for additional funds that will nearly double the value of their GI Bill funding.

Loan Repayment Program - In some situations, the military may help active duty personnel repay approved Perkins, Stafford, or other Federal Student loan programs.

Tuition Assistance - Each branch of the military service offer up to 100% reimbursement to active duty personnel who take classes at accredited institutions while off-duty.

   
Is the Hope Scholarship Tax Credit an actual scholarship?

The Hope Scholarship Tax Credit

The Hope Scholarship Tax Credit is not a scholarship at all, nor is it related to Georgia's Hope Scholarship in any way. The Hope Scholarship Tax Credit is a tax break offered to taxpayers with dependants in the first two years of undergraduate schooling.

The credit does not guarantee a refund and the amount of the credit is depending on income and other qualifications. A tax preparation specialist or accountant can help assess what a person is editable for.

   
How can I find a scholarship.

How to Find a Scholarship

Is the thought of paying for college enough to make you break out in a cold sweat? If so, start thinking about finding financial aid. There are many available resources that can help you locate financial assistance. A good place to start looking is on the Internet but there are also books available that can be quite useful.

Many educational publishing companies annually publish books on grants and scholarships. These books organize awards based on requirements, awards sizes, and degree majors. Most local libraries have copies and they are well worth a flip through. You may be surprised at what's out there. If you choose to use these books, however, make sure that you have the most recent editions or the information may not be updated.

   
Are there any benefits to starting out at a community college and then transferring to a senior university?

Save Money by Starting at a Community College

Many students who choose to attend a two-year community college prior to transferring to a four-year university as a means of controlling college tuition costs. Tuition tends to be less expensive at community colleges than at senior universities. Regardless of your major, it is likely that your first two years of classes will be core courses such as math, science, English, etc. that will be basically the same no matter where you take them. When looking for college tuition help, it makes sense to help yourself by choosing the least expensive option for taking your core classes.

Typically, as long as you stay within the same state when you transfer from the community college to a senior university, you will get transfer credit for all of the core courses you took at the community college level (assuming you passed them). Most states require state-supported universities to accept transfer credit from state supported community colleges. By taking many of your core courses at a community college before transferring in to a 4-year Bachelor's degree program, you will reduce the total cost of your education.

   
Is an internship the same as work study?

Internships

Internships are not the same as work study. Students are not paid during an internship. The point of an internship is to gain work related experience in a chosen field.

Many schools assign internships as classes and grades are given based on a completion of a project or other criteria.

   
What do I do with all these loans that I have?

Consolidation, Forgiveness and Cancellation

Many students graduate from college with not only a degree, but with a student loan as well. If you have multiple loans, consolidation is always a good step. If you plan to attend graduate school, you can combine your new graduate loans with existing undergraduate loans and combine the payments into a more manageable schedule.

Students entering certain underrepresented professions, such as nursing and teaching, may qualify for loan forgiveness or cancellation. In addition, child care providers who applied for loans after 1998 may be able to have some of their loans forgiven.

   
How will I pay for college?

How to Pay for College

Congratulations! You (or your child) have been accepted to college. Now you just have to find out how to pay to make your dreams come true. Scholarships are a great way to supplement the rising cost of education.

A scholarship is a monetary award offered to a student who demonstrates certain characteristics. Scholarships can be awarded to students based on a variety of reasons, such as their scholastic achievements, area of study, athletic abilities, physical characteristics, hobbies, etc. No matter what your achievements, abilities, or interests are, there is probably a scholarship out there for you.

   
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