Ah, college. A time of learning about you, parties, lack of sleep, and good ‘old adolescent shenanigans. Getting into college is a pain staking process of applications, interviews, and paper trails a mile long.
The biggest issues is not so much writing that essay to get in, it is once accepted, how to pay that hefty educational price tag. It might feel like avoiding personal loans is like trying to avoid a raindrop in a torrential downpour. Knowing how to take advantage of financial aid will ease those personal loan amounts. Let’s look at 3 tips to assist you in this crazy mess of money:
1. FAFSA and you
Free Application for Federal Student Aid, of FAFSA, is the go to form for applying for financial aid. The key to this form is to get it in as early as you can. Submissions for this usually start in January. There two key reasons for getting this in as early as possible.
Reason one is to get as much out of the school as you can. If you wait until May to get this form of goodness in, you will find the school has already doled out most of its coin.
Reason two is to get more state and federal grants. You are not just competing with other college bound beer pong junkies; you are competing with book nerd junior across the country. The state and federal government are cheap. They are not going to wait for you if little missy five states away have already applied.
2. The scholarship hunt
So, the FAFSA is turned in. This does not end the hunt for money. Remember we are trying to cut any personal loans down as much as possible. It is now time to hunt down some scholarships.
This might feel like a lot of work for a measly $500. After four scholarships of a measly $500, you now have $2000. Again, in the overall scheme this might not feel like a large amount, but figure out the interest from a personal loan on that amount. Above all, it is free money. Would you turn down a free $5 just because it was not $10? I didn’t think so.
3. Communication is essential
Keep in touch with those people in the financial aid office. They are paid to help you. Something major like someone getting laid off, a death, divorce, or even a salary cut can all make a drastic difference in how much financial aid you can get. It might suck to tell the financial aid office of a divorce, but this change can mean the world of difference when it comes to free money.
This is just a primer. There are many ways to get money for schooling. The biggest part to cutting down those personal loans is to do your research. Find out what is available and talk to financial aid offices. It is a lot of work up front, but when you have small loans to pay off at the end, you’ll be much happier!