Are Student Loans Becoming Necessary Evils
When it comes to getting a college education most people can agree that the costs can be staggering at best. Even the least expensive colleges in the nation can add up over a four or five year period of time creating crippling debt for those who do not qualify for some of the better grant programs of substantial scholarships.
The problem lies in the fact that the parents of most traditional college students make too much money to qualify for the free financial aid that is needs based and very few qualify for the limited number of scholarships that are available to students based on merit. Even among those that qualify competition and fierce and there are no guarantees. Enter the student loan. There are all kinds of student loans and unfortunately with rising costs associated with college attendence and the growing necessity of a college degree for success in this country it is becoming more and more difficult to pay the price that is associated with higher education.
There are three types of loans that are commonly found for college students. They include federal student loans, federal plus loans, and private student loans. Each type of loan has advantages and disadvantages that are unique to that particular loan. Below I will give a little information about each of the loan types and whom they may benefit.
Student loans. There are three different types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins loans.
Perkins loans are only available to students who display exceptional financial need. These loans are available at a 5% interest rate and are available to both graduate and undergraduate students. Perkins loans are extended through the university you attend and will be repaid to the university unlike the other types of student loans, which are repaid to the lending agency.
Subsidized student loans are loans in which the interest is deferred until graduation or you cease to be a qualifying student. What this means is that while you are responsible for repaying the loan upon graduation the interest on these loans does not begin to accrue until your begin repayment 6 months after graduation or your cease to be at least a half time student of the university. You must qualify based on your income in order to receive a subsidized student loan. While the needs requirements for these loans isn't as grave as those required in order to receive a Perkins loan you must still qualify.
Unsubsidized student loans do not require qualification on a needs basis. You must be a student and enrolled at least half time in order to receive an unsubsidized student loan. The good news however for those who do not qualify based on needs for other student loan options is that this type of loan is available to all qualifying students regardless of need. The interest on these loans however begins to accrue immediately, which means they can really add up over time.
PLUS loans are loans that are taken out by the parents of students who need the funds in order to cover educational expenses. The maximum amount that can be borrowed is the cost of attendence minus any financial aid awards the student has already received. The repayment on these loans begins 60 days after the loan is dispersed and the repayment period can be up to 10 years.
In order to cover the costs involved in education that go above and beyond what the government recognizes as acceptable college related expenses you can opt to go the route of private student loans rather then relying solely upon federal financial aid for your student loan source. These loans require that you qualify in order to receive them based on your credit rather than your need and must be used for educational purposes only. With these particular loans you really need to make sure you read all the fine print as different companies offer different conditions and different perks. You should really take the time and compare prices and options before taking out a private student loan and this should be done only as a last resort.
Student loans for many can be the difference in attending college and getting the education you are hoping for and not being able to pay the high costs that go along with higher education. For this reason you should treat them with respect and not take them lightly.
Common Types Of Financial Aid
If you are planning to attend college or the parent of a child you hope will attend college, I'm sure you are concerned over how you are going to be able to afford the process. A college education in many cases is a significant investment. The good news is that there are many options for the average family when it comes to paying the high costs involved in higher education.
Types of Financial Assistance for Educational Expenses
Scholarships. You will find that scholarships come in many different shapes and sizes and have all kinds of strange requirements in order to qualify to receive them. Some are based on need while others are based on merit. You will also find that there are many community and faith based organizations that offer scholarships in addition to certain corporations that offer scholarships in a gesture of good will to employees and the children of their employees. These are an excellent source of educational funding, as they do not need to be repaid.
Federal Pell Grants. This is another financial aid source that doesn't require repayment. However, you must qualify based on need in order to receive this particular type of college assistance. You can only obtain a Pell grant if you are an undergraduate college student who has not yet earned a college degree. There is a formula that is used to determine the amount of award for which you are eligible. This depends greatly on your means as a family and how much you can realistically expect to contribute towards the cost of your education.
Loans. This should be used as a last resort when it comes to paying your college expenses, as this is money that must be repaid with interest. There are several types of loans that are available and you should consider carefully and weigh your options before taking out a loan. However, if this is the only method you have for covering the cost of your tuition it will be money well spent once you've managed to repay the debt.
1) Student loans. There are three different types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins loans. You must qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized loan, which will put off your interest accumulation until after graduation or you cease to be enrolled the minimum number of hours. You do not however, need to qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized student loan, which will begin accruing interest immediately. If you happen to be in exceptional financial need you can apply through your university for a Perkins loans. These are low interest loans that must be repaid to the university.
2) Parent Loans. These are commonly referred to as PLUS loans (parent loan for undergraduate students). These loans allow parents to borrow the money required to cover the costs of education that are not covered by other means of financial assistance. Repayment on these loans begins 60 days after the funds are transferred and can take up to 10 years.
3) Private loans. These loans are not guaranteed and are solely credit-based loans. They do not however, have the same limited scope that government loans have and in many cases can help bridge the gaps in actual educational expenses and the amount of money that you are allowed to borrow through traditional financial aid opportunities.
Before signing up for any particular sort of financial aid it is a good idea to see a financial aid counselor at the university you are planning to attend. They will have the best information about what steps you need to take in order to apply for financial aid at that specific universities and unique scholarship or grant opportunities that might be available to you through your state or the college. Higher education is a dream that is definitely worth having. Do not allow financial limitations to keep you from your goal if possible but enter into all financial arrangements with great caution and thought.
Educational Savings Accounts
When it comes to getting a college education, financing is one of the most important considerations that you will need to make. Unfortunately for far too many it is one the last considerations that is made when it comes to the educations of our children. If you are a parent you owe it your child and yourself to plan ahead and plan carefully in order to cover the cost of your child's education. There are fortunately, a few great ways in which you can do this.
The most common is to begin by opening up an educational savings account for your child (under the age of 18). When you open up an educational savings account for your child, you can contribute up to $2,000 per year per child. This is a combined total contribution however and includes the contributions of grandparents, friends, and family in addition to your own personal contributions. The money from these funds can be withdrawn tax-free as long as they are used for educational purposes.
Educational expenses in this case include books, tuition, fees, supplies, and college room and board provided that your child is at least a part-time student. If you do not use all the funds for your child there are options as far as what to do with the remaining funds in the account. The first option would be to leave the funds in the account and allow the account beneficiary to withdraw them up until the age of 30. There is a penalty involved and the beneficiary will be required to pay income tax on those funds. You could also elect to roll those funds over to the next child under the age of 18 who will have educational expenses in the future.
The money you set aside in these accounts to cover the cost of the education of your child or children is not tax-deductible however, it is a great way to begin saving money and investing in the future of your child. If you begin investing the maximum amount $2,000 per year upon birth your child should have a nice nest egg to help cover educational expenses. If your child is fortunate enough to qualify for scholarships and other sources of financial aid you can turn the funds over as a graduation gift or save it for the next college student in your family that comes along. Either way you've saved yourself a good part of the worry that goes along with providing for your family by having this fund set up for your children.
You can sign up for programs like Upromise in order to subsidize your contributions with donations from corporate sponsors as their way of thanking you for buying their products or using their services on any credit cards that you, your friends, and your family members have registered to go into your child's account. Every edge you give yourself when it comes to investing in the education of your children is an edge worth having. College tuition rates are rising at an alarming rate while corporate expectations of college degrees are rising at the same near lightening speed. This means that a college degree is more critical for our children than in any past generations.
Take the time now to check into securing the future of your children by establishing an educational savings account. Let friends and family know that any gifts they are planning to give your children that involve money would be appreciated if they instead invested in the future of your children rather than the now. You can also ask your friends and family to sign up their credit cards with Upromise in order to provide a little bump in donations to your child's college savings account. These little steps add up to significant savings over the course of 18 years. You just might find that the investment you are making is adequate to cover the costs of your child's tuition in full.
The True Value Of A Two Year College
Higher education in this country is rapidly becoming a necessity in the business community rather than a luxury. There was a time when those who had a high school education still had the opportunity to build a better world for themselves and their families. Those days are rapidly becoming another dieing ember of the past. If you hope to have significant earning potential during your lifetime you are almost completely limited by your learning potential and the level of education you have received.
The good news is that you do not have to have an all or nothing approach when it comes to education. You can begin by taking baby steps when it comes to higher education. If you have a community college in your area, this is one of the greatest resources for beginning your college education at any stage in your life. Most community colleges offer classes at various times during the day and evening, even some on Saturday in order to accommodate students of different ages and backgrounds.
Community colleges also offer an excellent opportunity to begin your learning quest in a manner that is much more easily affordable to the average citizen than a full-blown university. These colleges are largely commuter colleges though there are several that allow students the experience of living on a college campus at a much lower price than most major universities charge for the same or very similar privileges.
Community colleges also allow you to explore your options if you aren't really sure what direction you wish for your education to take without paying such a high price for the process. If you know the career path you wish to take you might find a two-year degree program that can have you out of school and in a career much sooner than a four-year program will allow. If that isn't good enough news for you, many of the two-year programs of study that are offered at the community college level may very well transfer quite easily into bachelor degree programs at the university level.
Community colleges offer an excellent start for many people who are seeking higher education whether to further their careers or just to find fulfillment on a personal level in life. There are many wonderful programs in vocational fields as well as academic fields that can be explored and studies on the community college level.
For graduating high school students community colleges help students ease into the adjustment from high school to college without going through the culture shock that some universities can put students through. You will find that there are often many opportunities to meet educational as well as social needs on the community college level for students that are interested in pursuing a community college education.
You should also discover that community colleges are much easier to budget when it comes to setting aside funds and savings for either your personal college education or the educational expenses of your children. Having them attend a community college for two years then transferring to a University can save a great deal of money and provide you a little piece of mind that your children are still receiving an excellent level of education.
Seriously, if you are looking for an excellent value when it comes to education you would be doing yourself or your children a disservice if you do not check out the community college options in your area before taking the plunge and diving into the university lifestyle. You will find that community colleges often offer an equal level of education for the introductory classes that first and second year college students often take, they are a much better value for the money, and they are an outstanding values for those who are trying to juggle their education with family and work responsibilities.
Scholarships Are Excellent Source Of Financial Aid
If you are getting ready to attend college I'm sure you are wondering how on earth you are going to pay for it. Even graduating high school students are more and more often finding that they need to contribute in some manner to their college educations. Whether you will be taking out student loans, applying for scholarships or grants, or praying for some sort of work study program to come along there are a few things you need to know about financial aid at the college level.
First of all, financial aid can be a tricky beast. For this reason it is best to apply early and keep records of everything you send to the financial aid office. The information age has made things easier on one level and yet has eliminated the personal factor on other levels. However, if you own a personal computer you will find that Internet is an excellent source for financial aid and scholarship information. While the government offers a wide array of financial aid resources, there are many opportunities for you to get an education that do not revolve around government funding. You simply need to spend the time finding them.
Your local community is an excellent resource and a good place to start when it comes to financial opportunities for those preparing to attend college. Civic organizations and local businesses like to give out scholarships to promising students. Many of these have very specific requirements and you should pay close attention that you meet the qualifications before applying. There is no sense in wasting your time and that of the scholarship committee by applying for scholarships for which you do not qualify. Scholarships are preferable to student loans, as they do not need to be repaid. This is one of the most important things you need to understand when seeking financial aid for college. Loans are killers to your income for the first several years after graduation. The fewer loans you can manage to take out for your education the better. They are however there for those who couldn't possibly afford an education without them.
If you don't find the scholarships you are hoping to at the local level, you should check with the county in which you live, your state, and the school you plan to attend. There are excellent resources for each of these when it comes to financial aid. Within the college you will be attending you should consult your department head (for your chosen major) in order to see if there are any scholarships available. You will be surprised at the number of scholarships for which you may qualify. Apply for all that you meet the requirements in order to apply. Competition for these scholarships is often fierce but you never know when your letter of application might spark the interest of one of the panel members or you simply might be the most impressive candidate.
When applying for scholarships remember to read all the instructions carefully, make sure you have all the necessary documentation, and that you have checked and rechecked everything for accuracy and clarity. It takes time to make corrections and they can often be the difference in your being awarded a scholarship and the honor going to another student. Scholarships are by far the best route to go when it comes to applying for financial aid but you should be careful that you aren't placing all your eggs in one basket. Try for multiple scholarships, work-study programs, grants, and if necessary loans in order to achieve your educational goals.
The Benefits Of Online Learning
While there are all kinds of benefits that are associated with learning and furthering your educational goals there are even more benefits to those who wish to pursue online learning in order to achieve those goals. I hope you will find that many of these benefits are quite enlightening and carefully consider whether or not online learning for your secondary education needs will be in your best interests.
1) Convenience. This is a word we are quite familiar with. Right along with instant gratification. We are a society of people who have lived with drive thru banking and fast food and are rapidly moving in the direction of drive thru pharmacies and dry cleaning. We live in a fast paced world and when we can work education into our busy schedules and on our own terms we find that this is something we tend to like a lot. I recommend that you watch for a growing number of online classes and online students in the coming years as more and more professionals decide to further their degrees and their careers.
2) Flexibility. You can take these classes or do the work during your lunch break, while the kids are practicing soccer, or while cooking dinner (depending of course on how well you multitask). You do not need to be in the classroom every night at 6:00 pm for the next five years in order to get the same degree of education. This by no means indicates that you will not have to do the work. The work will not change nor will the fact that you have a limited time in which to complete the work. What will change is that you will have the option of doing the work in the morning, afternoon, or after those 2 a.m. feedings when you can't seem to get back to sleep.
3) Location. There isn't enough that can really be said about this. Online education comes to you wherever you happen to be able to connect to the Internet. Whether you are at home, at work, or your favorite Internet caf
Common Attendance Methods For Returning Students
Are you one of many Americans that dreams of returning to college but fears that option ended for your many years ago? If this is you, then you are in luck. There is no time like the present to go back and pursue your educational dreams. In fact, there has been no better time throughout history than today for those who wish to return to school but cannot give up their careers in order to do so.
Educational opportunities abound today in America and only show evidence of increasing and improving with time and technological advances. There are many options available for the returning students of today that would have been summarily designed to those hoping to further their educational goals in the past. If you are hoping to go back to school consider the options below very carefully before deciding which will be best for you.
The All or Nothing Approach
This endeavor is a giant leap of faith. It involves quitting your job, packing up your life and going back to college with every hope for a better future hinging on your performance. This is a high-risk endeavor for many professionals who have families and careers to consider. However, the rewards will be much quicker with this approach than most of the other available options. You should consider carefully whether this is an appropriate plan of action for your specific needs or if the risk would be too high for your family to endure.
Most community colleges and universities offer a wide assortment of night classes to those students who have daytime careers but are hoping to further their educations. You will find that despite common preconceived notions there is a wide mixture of students in night classes. There are first time college students who simply prefer night classes to early morning classes, retirees hoping to learn something new, and professionals hoping to grab a few more credit hours towards their degree. You never know whom you will find in your night classes but chances are you will find that there is a special sense of community among night school students that you won't find in traditional day classes.
Techno Wizards for Internet Courses
Believe it or not you do not need to have spectacular technical skills in order to take the average online or Internet course. The truth of the matter is that the most technical skill most of these classes require is the ability to visit websites, open email, and download an occasional file. Internet classes offer extreme flexibility for those with busy family and work schedules. This is the option of choice for many returning schools. The good news is that more and more universities and community colleges are offering these sorts of classes in many different fields and majors. The more demand grows for these classes the more classes will be offered.
The fact is that as consumers we have the right to ask for what we want or need. College students are consumers who are paying a hefty price for the product they hope to receive-a solid educational experience. Do not be afraid to request that the university you are attending offer more options for working students if you find that you are in need of a class that isn't offered in a flexible manner. Chances are if you need the course, there are others like you who will as well. If there is enough demand, most universities will oblige the demands of their students.
Student Loans Should Be Last Resort
Student loans are both a blessing and a curse to college students all across the country. On one hand, student loans allow you to have the money you need in many cases to attend college at all. On the other hand, most college students, particularly those entering college for the first time have inflated opinions of their starting salaries upon graduation and the bills they will face while living in the real world. In fact, most freshmen college students have no real concept of the limits of money in which to base their decisions as to whether or not they can realistically expect to repay those funds once they've graduated college.
The sad truth is that many college graduates find that for the first 10-15 years after they have graduated college, they are essentially indentured servants to their student loan debts. There are many reasons for this and different college graduates will find different things about their student loans when the appropriate time comes. First of all, those taking out student loans need to understand that a college degree does not guarantee a high starting salary. Beyond that, a college degree is no guarantee that there will be employers lining up to take your name and number upon graduation. The truth is that most college grads take anywhere from 6 months to a year to find a job in their fields and even then the starting salaries are often far less than anticipated.
Part of the blame for over-inflated expectations is the fault of universities attempting to validate their high tuition rates by displaying average starting salaries of only those that have successful offers in the field of study immediately upon graduation (which usually indicates a history of working with the company or another company as an intern prior to being hired) and not those students who have no prior work experience in their chosen fields. Part of the expectations is students reading job advertisements for experienced workers in a field and assuming that an education will provide the experience that employers require. Regardless of the reason, most starting salary expectations are not realistic in light of the current market.
The problem is that for many students a student loan is the difference in receiving a college education or not receiving one. For these students, there is no option. The price they will pay (with interest) for having student loans in order to get through the educational process will repay itself over the course of a lifetime if they are wise about making the necessary payments and stay on top of things such as consolidation loans and making payments on time.
Student loans are a great tool for those who have no other options when it comes to attending and affording to attend a university. On the other hand, for those who do not have an absolute need for the funds a student loan can provide they can prove to be problematic when trying to establish your career and your lifestyle upon graduation. This is a tool for education that should be used sparingly at best.
Whether or not you choose to take out student loans in order to fund your college education it is a good idea if you exhaust all other available resources first. Check out your options for grants, scholarships, and work-study programs before leaping into student loans to pay for your education.
Finding The Right College Program For You
There are all kinds of college programs that are available today for those seeking higher education and degrees in a wide variety of fields. The problem often lies in finding the type of education that is appropriate for your specific needs. We all learn best through different methods and identifying your learning method is a great way to understand what learning environment will work best for you.
The common learning environments for college level studies are the following: community colleges, universities, and online or distance learning opportunities. Community colleges tend to offer smaller classrooms with more discussion-oriented styles of learning and discourse. Universities tend to be more lecture oriented while distance and online learning opportunities are quite often self-directed learning opportunities that require a great deal of discipline in order to be successful.
When trying to identify the college that will work best for you, you should keep in mind your personal learning style. Beyond that you should also consider the type of environment you expect from your college education and the amount of time you wish to devote to the pursuit of your education and degree. Some people find that university life is far too distracting while others find that the solitude of online and distance learning is a distraction in and of itself.
You will find all kinds of cultural opportunities at a university that you will not find through home studies or on the community college level. For some students, these opportunities are icing on the cake and an important part of the learning experience as you delve into other cultures, art, music, and history. Others find these opportunities to be far too plentiful and far too distracting for their study needs. Whichever student you tend to be will make a huge difference in the best situation for your learning needs.
Another important consideration is housing. Most universities have ample on campus housing for their students while a few campuses experience on campus housing shortages and rely on housing that is located in and around the college area in order to fill in the gaps. Some universities will even offer limiting housing opportunities to students who have spouses and children. While housing on community college is seen, particularly in rural areas where there is limited housing available in and around the schools, these are more often the exception rather than the rule. Most community colleges are largely commuter campuses with very limited if any housing opportunities. Online and distance learning programs offer no housing to students.
Another concern that most also be considered carefully is the distance between classes and any special needs you may have. Universities tend to be large and spread out. It is quite possible to need to get from one end of campus to another (a mile or more in some cases) with a 10-minute window in which to get it done. For students with special needs or physical disabilities this can be quite problematic, especially on days of inclimate weather. Community colleges tend to have smaller campuses, which mean less real estate to cover in between classes. Online and distance learning classes go with you wherever you have access to a computer. This means that they are as portable as you need them to be if you have your own laptop and wireless Internet access.
You must consider all these things and so much more when narrowing down your college choices. Do you really want to take the personal responsibility required in order to succeed in online and distant learning courses? Do you want to be limited by the meager offerings of coursework available at the community college level? Is it worth it to you to pay the high price involved in a university education? These are all questions that you need to consider carefully before making the decision as to which college environment is the most desirable for you.
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