Many of us dream of obtaining a higher education in order to fulfill our dreams; however the financial reality is that obtaining a college education can be difficult. While there are myths commonly circulating that there are a number of scholarships available to help defray the costs of college, the truth is that while you may be eligible for one or more scholarships these generally won't cover the entire cost of your education. Even in the event that you obtain a full ride scholarship covering the duration of your college there are other expenses that won't be covered. Therefore, it is imperative to look at all the ways you can utilize to fund your college education.
It's always a good idea to begin exploring financial aid as quickly as possible. Depending on your parent's income you may or may not be eligible for federal financial aid; however, you never know unless you try. As soon as your parents have their income tax return information it is important to go ahead and fill out your FAFSA application and get it into the system. If you are eligible for financial aid you may qualify for grants, which do not have to be repaid once you graduate.
You should also begin exploring various scholarships for which you might qualify and start getting the applications filled out. Ideally, you should start this as soon as you begin your senior year because some deadlines may arrive sooner than others.
While most people would prefer not to end their college education by being in debt the reality is that it may be quite necessary, particularly if you are attending a private college or you plan on completing post-graduate work. When it comes to student loans, there are a number of options.
One such option is a federal student loan. This type of loan has a number of advantages, including lower interest rates and being able to defer the loan until after you graduate. A federal student loan can be either subsidized or unsubsidized. If the loan is subsidized then the government will cover the interest on the loan until about six months after you graduate, at which time you become responsible for the loan. An unsubsidized loan is not covered for the interest and you may need to pick up the tab for the interest before graduation. The amount of money you can borrow with either type of loan varies based on how far you are in school and whether you live at home or independently. Federal student loans are not based on income or credit guidelines.
Another option would be to take out a private student loan. You will be susceptible to credit and income guidelines with this type of loan and there may also be maximum loan amounts that apply as well. In addition, interest rates may be higher and repayment terms may not be as flexible as with a federal student loan. Still, if funds from other sources including federal student loans are not enough to cover all of your education costs, a private student loan may be a good option.
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