Let’s face it – when it comes to financing a college education, most people can use a little help. Few students have enough funds set aside to finance the tuition and other costs associated with earning that degree. To make the goal of a college dream a reality, many people have to turn to outside sources.
Everyone should first investigate any available sources of “free money.” Free money is usually found in the form of government grants and/or scholarships. Government grants are needs-based, so recipients must meet specific financial criteria. There is some paperwork involved in qualifying for a grant, but the time and effort are well worth it because these government grants do not have to be repaid.
Literally hundreds of scholarships are available to qualified applicants. A large number of these scholarships are awarded on the basis of academic excellence. However, a significant number of scholarships are available to applicants who meet criteria other than high academics. Prospective students are encouraged to apply for all scholarships for which they may be qualified. Don’t make the mistake of ignoring smaller scholarships. These are typically easier to earn, and every little bit of financial help will benefit you.
Every college in the nation has a financial aid office staffed with personnel who are well versed in the financial opportunities available to students. Contact this office early so that financial arrangements can be in place when you are ready to begin your studies.
Not everyone will qualify for government grants or scholarships. There is still plenty of help available. A number of institutions can assist you with obtaining a private student loan. Unlike government grants, private student loans must be repaid. They are usually granted to credit-worthy individuals, but credit standards are often not as strict as for some other types of loans. Most lenders strongly recommend adding a co-signer to your loan application. Typical college students have not established a strong credit history. Securing a co-signer on your private student loan application will not only increase your chances of approval, but will most likely earn you a more attractive interest rate.
There are a number of other advantages for obtaining a private student loan. Qualified students can often borrow over and above the costs of tuition, room and board, and books. These loans can be used to fund meals, transportation costs, lab fees, and all sorts of expenses the typical college student will incur. Even students who are awarded grants or scholarships will often secure a private student loan to cover these additional expenses.
Many students worry about repaying a loan while earning a degree. Private student loans take the worry out of that. Repayment is deferred until after graduation. Simply put, no payments are due until after the student has completed school. The money is yours to use for the term of your education. The lenders understand that this will typically be for four or more years. Some lenders will even lower the anticipated interest rate after graduation.
If your loan just doesn’t go as far as you thought it would, or for some reason you find yourself needing additional money, students may apply for an additional loan. Most lenders will allow borrowers to consolidate loans. A number of borrowers find this to be very beneficial.
Another major advantage of private student loans is the flexibility factor. Most grants do not fund until the semester is underway. Private loans, on the other hand, are usually disbursed within days after your application has been completed and approved.
Student loans are flexible, easily obtainable, and repayment terms are convenient. You might think that a loan with all of these advantages will be costly. Fortunately, this is not the case. Private student loans typically come with a very attractive interest rate. Of course, rates change from time to time, but by shopping around with some of the best lenders, borrowers can lock in a fair rate.
A recent report indicates that college costs have risen between 8% and 10% this year. Even more staggering increases are expected to come. In today’s economy, having a college degree is essential to landing a job with a guaranteed future. There is no need to forego that college degree because you don’t have access to ready cash. A number of qualified lenders are eager to help you on your journey to that coveted degree. Check with a number of lenders. While many lenders offer similar benefits, it is possible to find different interest rates, more flexible repayment schedules, and some lenders may even offer a principal reduction after graduation. Shop around for the best private student loan for you.
There is nothing stopping you from earning that college degree. Never before has it been so easy to borrow the money that you need. The investment you make in your education is well worth the cost. You will reap the rewards from that investment for years to come.