Posts Tagged ‘student loans’

Scholarships vs. Student Loans

MoneyFinancial aid is a wonderful resource that you can use to get yourself through school. Whether you absolutely need large loans or choose to apply for small scholarships here and there, it is important to know the major differences between your financial aid options. Here are some key points to keep in mind when comparing financial aid options:


  • Scholarships are usually awarded to students based on merit or an application process.
  • It is typically a fixed amount of money granted for the student to use towards his or her studies. The student does not need to repay this money.
  • Sometimes the funds are given directly to the student to use as he or she deems necessary. Other times – usually when a university provides the scholarship – students can only access funds through their student account. This varies depending on the organization donating the scholarship money.
  • Applications vary greatly for each scholarship. Most require written essays and academic transcripts.
  • An important element to remember about scholarships is that they are not necessarily based on financial need. Many scholarships are available to students based on their academic performance and application, as opposed to income.
  • Some scholarships include perks like membership to the donating organization or post-graduate career assistance.

Student Loans

  • Loans come with more responsibility post-graduation than scholarships because students are borrowing money, not being given a fixed amount.
  • The amount a student can borrow depends on his or her year in school (freshman, sophomore, junior, senior), degree level (undergraduate vs. graduate) and dependency status (independent vs. dependent).
  • The borrowed money must be repaid after graduation. If you have subsidized federal loans, you’re required to pay interest after the grace period which is typically six to 12 months after graduation. For unsubsidized loans, you’ll be required to pay back interest accumulated since you took out the loan.
  • While some loans are administered by the Federal Government, private loans do exist.
  • Students interested in receiving federal student loans must fill out the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid).
  • You can borrow money regardless of your income or your parent’s income. However, you will be excluded from these government loans if you’ve been unable to pay them back in the past or have been convicted of drug offenses. Failure to maintain satisfactory academic progress, maintain at least half-time status, or register with Selective Service can also render you ineligible for federal student loans.

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Halfway Through Your Grace Period: How to Prepare for Student Loan Payments

While you can still vividly remember your name being called and the president of your college shaking your hand as if it had just happened yesterday, the fact is, that day was nearly three months ago now! You have been a college graduate for almost 90 days. You are 90 days richer in real life experiences. You are also 90 days closer to having your first student loan bill come in the mail. That six month grace period doesn’t seem like such a long time anymore! Whether you have been planning for your student loan payments since graduation, or thinking about them now has thrown you into a complete and utter panic, check out these ways you can prepare yourself for the day you have to begin paying off those four years of wisdom.

Find Out What You Owe

If you haven’t already looked into how much money you owe, and how much your monthly payments will be, now is the time to do it. Yes, it’s scary. Yes, it’s easier to just pretend your debt doesn’t exist for as long as you possibly can, but believe it or not, taking control of the situation will feel better! You can find out what you owe in federal loans by logging onto My Fed Loan. Take a deep breath, and click on the link.

Create a Budget

Now that you know what you owe, and you lived to tell about it, it’s time to take a look at your budget. All this means is getting an idea on what you’re making and what you’re spending. You can start by making a list of all of your bills as well as how much you spend on things like rent, gas, and food. Use online banking, or your past receipts for some guidance. Once you have completed your list, add up the total amount you spend each month. Subtract it from your income. This will give you an idea on whether or not your student loan payments can currently fit into your budget.

Adjust Your Budget

If you can comfortably fit your student loans into your budget, then nice job! You can congratulate yourself on being a super financial planner. However, many will find that their student loan payment isn’t affordable given their current financial situation. In this case, you will first want to see where you can adjust your budget. What can you cut back on? What can save you money?

Adjust Your Payment Plan

Sometimes, no amount of budget adjustments could allow you to afford your student loan payments as they are. In this case, you will want to explore one of the numerous alternate payment plans at your disposal. You can research and switch your payment plans at My Fed Loan.

Last Resort

If your grace period is up, and you have yet to find a job that allows you to pay even the minimum amount possible on your loans, you have the option to defer for six months.


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Half of Recent College Grads Unemployed/Underemployed

According to the Associated Press, half of recent College graduates are either unemployed or underemployed. Young adults have been hit extremely hard by the weak economy and are having a hard time finding work in their field. The “lost generation” as many label them are having a harder and harder time entering the workforce.

With high tuition and student loans, many recent graduates are barely scraping by working lower-wage jobs such as retail clerk, bartender or server.  As the loan payments pile up, your local barista might be standing at work wondering why he majored in a liberal arts field.

The prospects for graduates are highly uneven depending on what field they studied in school. There are significantly more opportunities in the sciences, education and health fields, while those who studied arts and humanities are finding opportunities scarce.

The median income for those with bachelor’s degrees is down from where it was in 2000. Another bad sign is that projections are showing that many of the futures jobs will be in low-skilled fields.

Harvard economist Richard Freeman notes, “you can make more money on average if you go to college, but it’s not true for everybody. If you’re not sure what you’re going to be doing, it probably bodes well to take some job, if you can get one, and get a sense first of what you want from college.”

According to Andrew Sum, director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, “simply put, we’re failing kids coming out of college. We’re going to need a lot better job growth and connections to the labor market, otherwise college debt will grow.”

The AP states “About 1.5 million, or 53.6 percent, of bachelor’s degree-holders under the age of 25 last year were jobless or underemployed, the highest share in at least 11 years. In 2000, the share was at a low of 41 percent, before the dot-com bust erased job gains for college graduates in the telecommunications and IT fields.”

This is why it is so important to search for as many scholarships as possible to make college as affordable as possible!

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