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Guide to PLUS Loans

August 18th, 2011 at 02:51 pm

If your child is going to college and needs financial assistance you may want to look into the possibility of getting a Direct PLUS Loan. Loans of this type are provided through the federal government if certain criteria are met. A Direct PLUS Loan is different from a student loan because it is taken out by the parents, not by the student. Following is a guide to PLUS loans.

Dependent Children

One of the main components of a Direct PLUS Loan is the fact that the parents take out the loan for a dependent child. A dependent child is defined as a child less than 24 years of age who does not have any dependents of their own. The child canít be married. They also can not be a veteran, or have a graduate or professional degree. The dependent child must not be a ward of the court. If these conditions are met you should be able to qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan--depending on your financial situation. Graduate and professional students may apply for PLUS loans on their own.

Additional Qualifications

A few additional qualifications apply. You must be the studentís real or adoptive parent. In some cases you may qualify if youíre a stepparent. The child must go to a school that participates in the Direct Loan Program, and they must attend classes at least half-time. This may include traditional schools that award a campus-based degree or web-based schools that award an online degree. Your credit rating canít be in question. If you fail a credit check, the only way to qualify--unless there are extenuating circumstances--is if someone who does pass the credit check is willing to cosign the loan. Other qualifications are U.S. citizenship--noncitizens may be accepted provided they are eligible--and not being in arrears on a federal student loan.

How to Get a Direct PLUS Loan

You must fill out a Direct PLUS Loan application and a Master Promissory Note (MPN), which is a legal document stating that you will repay the loan, including interest and applicable fees, according to agreed upon criteria. Usually one MPN will suffice for your childís academic career. Instructions on filling out the forms are available through the financial aid office at your childís school. You may also be able to fill out the applicable forms online by visiting the Internet website, https://studentloans.gov.

Loan Details

There are no definite limits on the amount of money you can borrow in a Direct PLUS Loan. The only limitation is the fact that you can only borrow an amount equal to the difference between actual costs and the amount of any other sort of financial aid. For instance, if the annual cost for your childís high education comes to $20,000, and they receive aid in other forms, such as student loans, of $15,000, then, if youíre eligible, you are allowed to borrow the remaining $5,000 through a Direct PLUS Loan. The money will go to the school to be applied to the studentís costs, such as tuition, room and board, and other related expenses. The money will usually be given to the school in two payments. If any money is left over it goes to you unless you specify it for release to the student, or to be applied by the school toward future expenses.

Repayment

You must begin repaying a Direct PLUS Loan within 60 days of the time the last of the loan money has been handed out. In certain cases a deferment may be granted. Repayment of the loan includes accrued interest and a 4% fee. At the time the loan is approved you will be put in touch with a loan servicer. Details of the loan will be discussed with the loan servicer, and you will have to agree to the stipulations before the loan is approved. A payment schedule will be provided by the loan servicer, and you will be provided with regular updates on the status of the loan. You can access details of your account by visiting the Internet website, www.nslds.ed.gov. The details of your loan will be determined by your financial status. A Direct PLUS Loan offers three payment plans, standard, extended, and graduated, and will usually need to be repaid between 10 and 25 years from the time the loan is granted.

How to Find a College with Reasonable Tuition

August 10th, 2011 at 05:13 pm

A college education is almost a Ďmust haveí these days. The time of walking in off the street with only a high school diploma and being hired at a decent pay rate, with benefits, is pretty much a thing of the past. Instead you need to have a degree in something useful to be assured of being hired at anything more than a subsistence wage. Unfortunately college is expensive, so most people need to find a way of going to school on the cheap without sacrificing the quality of their education. Following are a few tips that may help you find a college with reasonable tuition.

Scholarships

The first, best way of paying for a college education, with the exception of being financially independent, is to get a full-ride scholarship. Sadly those are few and far between. Only very gifted athletes and brainiacs get those. Partial scholarships are different. Many charitable organizations contribute scholarship money to chosen individuals every year. Some scholarships go unclaimed because no one applies. If you spend some time researching scholarships you may run across something youíre qualified to receive.

College Payment Options

Barring a scholarship of some sort, or a college fund supplied by forward-thinking family members, you may be forced to foot the entire bill for your education yourself. There are many ways of doing this. The history books are filled with cases of people working their way through school. While this is an option that shouldnít be overlooked studying for a college degree can be extremely draining, both physically and emotionally, and it is also time consuming. Finding time to work and keep your grades up at the same time may be difficult. Taking out a student loan or joining a Federal Work Study Program are viable options. Another way of doing it is to look for a college with somewhat more affordable tuition.

Choose a Smaller School

Instead of opting for a large prestigious school you may want to consider going to a community college for the first two years. If you go this route be sure you select courses that earn credits that can be transferred to a state school. The tuition rates at community colleges are significantly lower than larger schools. You will also have save money because associated costs, such as housing, may be lower--you may even be able to live at home or in a small apartment close to the school. Travel expenses should also be minimal if you choose a school close to home.

Go to a State School

Whether or not you choose to go to a community college for the first couple of years you can still save money by attending a state school in the state in which you reside. Residents of any given state usually receive lower tuition rates than out-of-state students. As with a community college you can also save money by living at home if you choose a state school near your home.

Decide on a Major Later

By delaying your choice of major you can save money by attending a Liberal Arts college in order to satisfy your core course requirements. Depending on what major you select you can transfer to a school later on that specializes in your field of choice--just make sure the courses you choose offer credits that can be transferred.

Location Is Important

Geographical location may also have an effect on tuition rates. Generally speaking, schools in the South and Southwest have somewhat lower tuition. You may find the cost of living to be a little lower, as well. Schools in urban areas also carry higher tuition rates. Suburban schools are somewhat cheaper, but for the lowest tuition rates, generally speaking, seek out small colleges in more out-of-the-way areas. The cost of living will also be less in a rural area than in an urban environment.

Online Schools

In order to find the schools that have the best tuition rates it would be a good idea to do some research. The Internet is a good place to begin your search. While youíre online you may want to look into the possibility of getting your college degree online. Your research should include the http://www.bestonlinecolleges.com because many online colleges have significantly less expensive tuition rates. By perusing the websites of different schools you can compare the price of their courses, which will help you decide on which school is best for you.

How to Apply for a Student Loan

August 5th, 2011 at 11:41 am

Attending school to further your education is admirable, but itís not free and a lot of people simply canít afford it. Fortunately, by requesting a student loan you may be able to overcome your lack of funds and get a college degree. Student loans can be used to pay for courses at campus-based schools and http://www.accreditedonlinecolleges.com. Following are a few tips on how to apply for a student loan.

Financial Aid Counseling

It may be a good idea to seek financial aid counseling before taking out a student loan. In some cases, it may even be mandatory. The counseling process will help you understand your commitment and provide you with help in the application process. Since itís possible that this will be the first loan youíve taken out, you will need to be apprised of your duties and responsibilities before and after the process. Taking out a loan is not a small matter. Loans are expected to be paid back, and financial aid counseling will help you understand the process.

Get Organized

Prior to filling out an application, you need to gather all the pertinent information youíll need. Organize the information so it will be readily at hand when you begin the application process. You will need your tax return information from the previous year as well as the tax information of your parents. You will need to know your driverís license number, social security number, and have access to all pertinent bank account information, including recent bank statements. If you or your parents have a mortgage or investments that information will also be needed. By getting organized in advance the application process will go much more smoothly.

Fill Out the Form

The first step in the application process is to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) form. You can access this form by going to the Internet website, www.fafsa.ed.gov. By following the instruction on the website you can begin filling out the form. You must fill out the FAFSA each and every year you expect to receive help; it doesnít carry over from year to year. Your qualifications for receiving student loans are reevaluated each year, because your financial situation may have changed. The application must be filled out line by line, which is why itís important to have your documents at hand. You will be assigned a PIN number, which is how you can access the form. This number is important, so memorize it, or keep it somewhere close by.

There Is a Deadline

The FAFSA form must be completed and sent in before the end of June for the upcoming school period. This deadline may vary depending on the state you live in, but usually the funds are dispersed between the middle of February and the 1st of July. In order to be sure youíll receive your allotted funds, providing you qualify, it would be a good idea to find out what the deadline is in your state. You can verify the deadline on the FAFSA website.

You Must Meet the Eligibility Requirements

There are a lot of things that are taken into consideration before you are deemed eligible to receive a student loan. The amount of the loan, if you are qualified to receive one, also varies depending on how much money you or your family can contribute to your education. While youíre waiting to hear whether or not you meet the eligibility requirements you can get an idea of how much you could receive by visiting the Internet website, www.finaid.org. On that website there is an EFC (Expected Family Contribution) calculator which will help you determine the extent of your potential financial aid. Enter the information youíre asked for and the calculator will give you an estimated total. Among the factors the government checks on while determining whether or not you qualify for a federal student loan is the amount of tuition youíll be paying as well as how much money your parents have available to them.

Hurry Up and Wait

After youíve filled out the FAFSA form youíll be anxious to find out the results and see if you qualify for financial assistance. Be patient. The average wait time is somewhere between four and six weeks. If you meet the eligibility requirements, you will receive a check before the school year begins.

How to Save on Tuition and Other College Costs

July 29th, 2011 at 11:16 am

Like just about everything in the world today, the price of a college education is not cheap. There are so many things that must be purchased and taken into consideration before class even starts. If you are stressing about the price of tuition and other college costs, you will be glad to know there are ways to save money on these things. You should definitely take a moment to look into them.

Scholarships

If you think scholarships are only for the most exceptional students, think again. Many scholarships nowadays only require you to carry a 2.5 GPA in order to be eligible for them, meaning they are fair game to average students as well. Scholarships are a great way to lower the amount of money you pay for college tuition, show initiative, and they look great on a resume as well. If you are wondering where to look for scholarships, it is a good idea to start at businesses in your community. Consider your parentsí places of work as well, as they often offer scholarships to children of employees. This of course depends on the type of business, but it is worth looking into. Websites that list about every type of scholarship available are worth checking out, too. There are scholarships that recognize your heritage, college major, year in college, and more. You should apply for as many scholarships as possible, because the more scholarships you receive, the less you will have to pay in tuition.

Community Colleges

Community colleges are great places for students to start out, as they are smaller and much more affordable. This means you will be saving money on tuition and other college costs, while still receiving a quality education. Many students choose to attend community colleges for their first two years of school, and then transfer to larger universities to complete their education. The amount of money you can save by doing this is quite astounding. Just be sure that the credits you receive from your community college will transfer to the university of your choice. These days, many large universities offer incentive programs that include scholarships and guaranteed acceptance for transfer students. You may also want to consider http://www.onlinecolleges.net, which sometimes charge lower tuition and eliminate the cost to commute.

Consider Used Books

Many students do not realize how expensive college textbooks can be and are blindsided when it comes time to buy them. Luckily many books can be bought in used condition. Purchasing used books can save you quite a large sum of money. Although they are not always in perfect shape, the material is present and that is what matters. It is good to know that not all books can be purchased used, as some courses and instructors require new books. You should also keep in mind that many books can be sold after you have completed a course. This can give you extra money in your pocket, which is always a plus while in college.

These things can really help you save money on college-related expenses. There are also various other costs to consider when it comes to college, such as supplies, transportation, and housing. If you can be smart and frugal when it comes to these things, you should save money as well. It is not always easy to be that way, but in the long run it will be worth it.