January 16, 2017

Guide for Parents | Learning About Student Loans, Scholarships, and Grants for College

If your child is a high school junior, no doubt you’ve already started the search for a college in earnest. This, of course, brings with it many mixed feelings – pride, joy, and the anticipation of loss. Finding the right college or university is one of the challenges of life that most parents face, and despite the current financial climate, it’s still a given for many families.

Although it is one of the major milestones of life, high school graduation is not the end. In fact, as the word “commencement” infers, it is just the beginning of tougher challenges that await your student in coming years – going deeper into studies to receive a college education.

It is never too early to begin planning how you will finance the studies of your college-bound child. With the increasing expense that tuition represents, it is essential to plan ahead of time to avoid any unforeseen surprises, especially if, like most people, you haven’t inherited great wealth. The sooner you start planning for the college education of your child, the less stress and pressure you will encounter later on.

To begin with, it is important that you educate yourself regarding the different financial aid programs available for college and university students. There are many options available, and your child’s school guidance counselor will help you sort out the possibilities. You may also find unexpected blessings as you search the Internet for loans and scholarships.

A basic type of college financial aid available is a GRANT. This form of assistance requires the completion of the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) form. This is a process that can be initiated online, and you can learn more by going to http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/. Once the application has been submitted, it will be evaluated to determine what sort of financial aid for which your student is qualified. The application will ask that you provide the name of the college(s) for which your child wants to apply, the FAFSA information will then be forwarded on to each school.

A second form of financial assistance is a SCHOLARSHIP. Although scholarships are usually assumed to be intended solely for students who have “brains” but do not have the “fortune”, not all college scholarships are limited to academics. Students who do not have the most pristine academic record can still qualify for many other college scholarships. For instance, many athletes are eligible for college sports scholarships, and other students qualify for community service work scholarships, social involvement scholarships, etc.

STUDENT LOANS provide a way to make college possible by offering lower interest rates as compared to traditional types of loans. At times the loans are subsidized, so that interest does not accumulate until a student finishes college. Furthermore, these loans are uncollateralized, which means there is no risk to your home when you get this student loan for your child. Most of these loans are available on a variety of repayment plans at low interest rates and low monthly installment payments.

If you have not begun to research various financial aid programs that might be available to your family, it is highly recommended that you begin sooner rather than later. Doing the legwork now will help you be prepared as your child grows toward the milestone of high school graduation and successful adulthood.

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