In a 2013 survey, nearly two thirds of the 1,602 polled undergraduates planned to use grants and scholarships to pay for college tuition. The reason? Increasingly cost-conscious parents. The recession not only took a toll on our bank accounts, but also on our mental understanding of finances. With more and more students seeking scholarships to fund their college education, it’s more important than ever to have a plan. Here are a few tips to help you find the financing you and your family will need:
1.) Seek Out the Free Money First
Often times, students don’t know how much aid there is available to them. That’s why it’s important that involved parents are aware of the resources and options.
Online scholarship databases can give you an idea of what’s available to students. However, that’s nowhere near the end of the list. Search for outside resources. For example, does your child share a unique heritage? Are they skilled in a unique sport or extra-curricular activity? Does your company offer any educational grants? All of these are areas to investigate for potential scholarship or grant funds.
2.) Don’t Fear the Loan
Of course, for many parents this is not ideal, but if it is a necessity, than there are options to look in to.
Federal loans are usually the less expensive route, as they carry lower interest rates and the repayment plans tend to be more flexible. There are three levels of federal college loans – Perkins loans, subsidized Stafford loans, and unsubsidized Stafford loans. The Perkins and subsidized Stafford loans each come with a set of qualifications, but the unsubsidized Stafford loan is available to any applicant. Each carry fairly low interest rates and offer a repayment plan that should be fairly easy to achieve, with most deferring repayment until several months after receiving a diploma.
Private loans can be a bit trickier. Lenders will base the loan amount off of your credit score, so if you have any gaps or snags affecting your number, ask us how to get them resolved as quickly as possible, and try to avoid applying for your loan until you’re able to clear things up.
Helping your child to enhance their future through higher education may be daunting, but it is possible. If scholarships and grants won’t be enough to fund college tuition, come in to talk with a qualified bank representative to help you sort out a financial plan that can get you on the right path.