Review Your Financial Aid Award Letter
After you submit your FAFSA, the schools you applied to will send you a financial aid award letter. This letter might provide information on:
- The total estimated cost of attendance, including tuition and fees, housing and meals, books and supplies and personal and miscellaneous expenses
- Scholarships and grants you qualified for
- Work-study opportunities
Letters will vary from school to school. This sample letter shows you what type of information you can expect:
Image: Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
If you want to accept the financial aid award, youll generally need to sign and return the letter. Most schools send letters by mail that youll need to mail back, but some have established secure online portals for the exchange of documents.
If you receive multiple financial aid letters, you can make objective comparisons using our awards comparison tool.
Financial Aid Guide For University And College Students In Canada
By Cameron Yee on December 2, 2020
Post-secondary education costsfrom tuition and books to living expenses and extracurricularsadd up. The good news is that numerous grants, bursaries and loans are available to help shoulder the financial burden. Heres how to access them.
Financial aid is rarely an after-thought, but student debt is often a bigger problem than most university and college students in Canada anticipate. Rising tuition fees and expenses of going to college or university have become increasingly large burdens to bear for studentsmany of whom are already dealing with pressures from the cost of living on their own for the first time. Add on the economy-pausing pandemic, and its easy to understand why students are looking for financial help for school. A 2020 poll by conducted by CIBC showed that about 7 out of 10 students admitted their income has been affected by the COVID-19 situation.
School is expensiveeven without a pandemic. A 2018 Canadian University Survey Consortium survey of graduating students shows that, of the 50% of students finishing school with debt, the average amount owed is about $28,000. And for many that debt can be crippling. According to an eight-year study by independent personal insolvency firm Hoyes, Michalos & Associates Inc., approximately 22,000 ex-students filed for bankruptcy in 2018 to address their student debt.
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Consider these features to help with research and student loan comparison. Learn how to compare private student loans at Discover.com.
When evaluating student loan options you should consider a number of factors. Fees, interest rates, monthly payment, and total loan costs should be considered.
Did you get a student loan refund? Before rushing out to spend it all, find out the best way to use your student loan refund to avoid costly mistakes.
Find out what student loans cover and how they might help you pay for college. Learn how student loans may help cover the cost of housing, books and other necessary expenses.
Student loans can cover more than just tuition. Learn what you can pay for using a student loan. Find useful tips on what can you use a student loan for and what your student loan should not cover.
Save money on your student loan by making payments while you’re still in school. Learn more about payment options at Discover Student Loans.
Understanding what determines interest rates for private student loans can help you make an informed borrowing decision. Learn more about what determines interest rates.
The advertised interest rate for student loans can be confusing. Here are four tips that can help you compare interest rates.
Learn about the ways the application process for private vs federal student loans differs.
Follow easy steps to help you determine how much you need to borrow in student loans from Discover Student Loans.
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Student Loans: Next Steps
While the fixes to student loan forgiveness will help more student loan borrowers get student loan forgiveness, its possible that more changes may follow. No matter where you stand on student loan forgiveness, the editorial board raises important questions about the future of student loans. As legislators and policymakers consider student loan forgiveness, how should they balance student loan relief for student loan borrowers with protecting taxpayers from more federal spending? Its a philosophical question with deep, practical implications. The next step for your student loans is to prepare for the end of student loan relief due to the Covid-19 pandemic on January 31, 2022. Thereafter, you will start making federal student loan payments again with your regular interest rate. Dont wait a few more months assess all your options for student loan repayment now.
Make sure you understand these popular ways to save money with your student loans:
Understand Private Student Loans
Private student loans are different than federal loans.
Theyre credit-based. That means the lender will review your creditworthinessyour ability and willingness to repaybefore making the loan.
Your interest rate is based on several factors. How youve managed your credit in the past and what loan terms and options you choose are considered.
You have options. Most private student loans are taken out by the student , but some private student loans can also be taken out by a parent or creditworthy individual, such as a legal guardian, or relative.
You can choose different ways to pay. Some private student loans offer different repayment options which can help reduce your interest rate and/or total loan cost.
Before applying for a private student loan, remember that regardless of whether you actually graduate from school or not, you need to pay back student loans. Defaulting on a student loan can have a negative impact on your credit health.
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Grants And Loans For Full
The Canada Student Financial Assistance Program offers student grants and loans to full-time and part-time students. Grants and loans help students pay for their post-secondary education.
- Apply for grants and loans in one application, directly with your province of residence
- You don’t need to repay grants you receive
- You need to repay loans after finishing school, with interest
- You may be eligible for more than 1 type of grant – when you apply with your province, they will assess your eligibility for all available grants
How Will I Get Financial Aid For College
If you meet all the standards proposed by the Federal Student Aid , you can start the financial aid application process.
The first step is to fill out a special form called the Free Application for Federal Student Aid . Its purpose is to provide complete information about your financial situation and help institutions decide if you are eligible for college or graduate school support. You must fill it out every year to keep getting the necessary financial help.
Before you proceed with completing the form, make sure you:
- Check the application deadlines for the current year, as they may vary from state to state or from college to college
- Prepare the necessary documentation since you will have to complete the form by entering details from your ID, Social Security Card, or bank statements
The FAFSA form contains more than 100 questions and covers your personal details, household information, annual income, and tax return details. Make sure you answer the questions carefully since even the slightest mistake can cause difficulties in your application procedure.
Once the form is filled out, you can submit it:
- Online, via your FSA accountyou must create it before completing your FAFSA form and receive your unique FSA ID number to be able to sign the document electronically
- Via myStudentAid app
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Tips For Comparing Private Student Loans
As you prepare to get a private student loan, dont wait for your school to decide how much of a loan you can handle do the due diligence yourself. Experts recommend borrowing no more than what youll most likely earn in your first year out of college. This can protect you from having unmanageable monthly payments after you leave school.
Some private student loan lenders dont cap the amount of money you can borrow each year, but yours may. As you evaluate which loan suits you best, find out how the loan will be disbursed and what costs it will cover.
When picking a private student loan, look at the overall cost of the loanincluding its interest rate and feesand what help the lender offers if you have trouble affording your payments. Just one of the lenders on this list charges origination fees, and all except for one wait until at least 120 days of nonpayment before putting loans into default status.
When comparing rates, know the low end of the rate ranges will only be available to those with good or excellent credit scores. Also, all rates listed below include a standard 0.25% interest rate discount for using automatic payments.
Using Student Loans For Personal Expenses
To attend college, you wont only have to pay for tuition and fees youll likely also have to cover personal expenses like college housing, textbooks, and transportation. Because of this, both federal and private student loans can be used for personal expenses while youre going to school.
Keep in mind:
With private student loans, you might be able to borrow up to your schools cost of attendance, depending on the lender.
If you decide to take out a private student loan, be sure to consider as many lenders as possible to find the right loan for your needs. Credible makes this easy you can compare your prequalified rates from multiple lenders in two minutes.
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Start With Federal Student Loans
When choosing student loans to pay for college, it is always best to start with Direct Federal Student Loans . Thats because federal student loans come with certain benefits that private student loans do not offer, such as generous periods of deferment and forbearance, and income-based repayment plans and public service loan forgiveness for those who qualify.
There are three primary types of federal student loans each with their own unique characteristics.
Do Private Student Loans Allow Deferment Or Forbearance
Federal student loans allow you to delay your loan payments while you are attending school. Some private student loans offer this, too, but interest still will accrue on these loans.
There are lenders that offer other types of deferment. For example, some allow you to delay your payments due to a financial hardship, like unemployment, or during military deployment.
Be mindful of the amount of interest youll owe and any fees the lender may charge for deferment. Youll want to review your deferment options before choosing a loan.
Like deferment, forbearance lets you suspend payments for a certain period of time. Private lenders may use forbearance and deferment interchangeably. During forbearance on federal loans, interest continues to accrue, which differentiates it from deferment.
Regardless of whether the suspended payments are referred to as deferment or forbearance, on a private loan, the unpaid interest gets added to your principal, causing your monthly payments to increase once repayment begins again.
Editors note: Under the CARES Act, which was passed in response to the coronavirus pandemic, federal student loan borrowers do not have to make payments for a period of six months, from March 13 through Jan. 31, 2021. Additionally, federal student loan interest rates are set at 0% during that time.
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Can You Get A Student Loan With Bad Credit
It is possible to get a student loan even if you have bad credit or no credit history. That said, it will be more difficult to qualify, and rates will be higher. Federal student loans are the easiest to qualify for, since most won’t do a credit check and don’t consider your credit score, and interest rates are the same for all borrowers. If you need to borrow private loans, you can look for lenders that have low credit score requirements, take other eligibility requirements into account or let you add a co-signer to your loan.
How To Apply For A Federal Student Loan
To apply for a federal student loan, you first need to file the FAFSA.
The simplest way to file the FAFSA is online at studentaid.gov or through the MyFAFSA mobile app. To file the FAFSA electronically, you will need your FSA ID. If you dont have one, you can register at studentaid.gov.
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You may also choose to file a paper FAFSA, but this will take longer to process.
To apply for a parent PLUS loan, your child will first need to complete and submit the FAFSA. Once this is done, the parent can log into studentaid.gov with their own FAFSA ID and complete the PLUS loan application. Here you will indicate how much you would like to borrow and agree to a credit check to see if you have adverse credit as determined by the program.
Note: Before you borrow from the parent PLUS loan program, make sure to exhaust Direct subsidized and unsubsidized loan options first as these loans have lower interest rates and fees.
Once you have accepted your federal student loans, you may still have funding gaps. Or you may want to forgo PLUS loans for a more competitive interest rate and loan with no origination fees. This is where private student loans come in.
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How To Get Approved For A Private Student Loan
Most private lenders will require borrowers to have good credit and an income that can support loan payments while meeting other debts . If you don’t meet those qualifications, you’ll need a co-signer who can.
Private lenders don’t technically list a co-signer as a requirement, but you’ll have difficulty getting a private loan without one. About 87% of all new undergraduate private student loans had a co-signer for the 2020-21 academic year, according to a 2021 report by MeasureOne.
If you don’t have a co-signer, a few private lenders gear loans toward independent students, but youll pay more.
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Parents looking for loans to pay for their childs education have federal and private loan options available. Each option will require a credit check. There are three primary options to consider:
Direct PLUS loans:Direct PLUS loans are the only federal student loan that parents can take. Youll need to submit a FAFSA with your child and complete a parent direct PLUS loan application to borrow. Co-signed private student loan: Co-signing a loan with your child will make you equal borrowers. Its best if you have good credit, a steady income and are willing to take on the responsibility of paying the debt if your child cant. Private college loans for parents: Certain private lenders may offer private college loans for parents to borrow rather than co-signing on a student loan. The debt is your sole responsibility.
Should You Still Make Student Loan Payments While Waiting For Forgiveness
Student loan forgiveness is not guaranteed if you stop making your student loan payments in the hopes that your loans will one day be wiped away, you could be setting yourself up for financial trouble.
That said, there’s little harm in taking advantage of administrative forbearance now, especially if you’re having trouble paying other bills. Because federal student loan payments are not required, you could temporarily pause those payments and instead put the money toward your private loans, credit card debt, an emergency fund or day-to-day bills.
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How Are Private Student Loans And Personal Loans For College Paid Out
Certified private student loans are typically paid out directly to your school, with anything left over being sent back to you from your school. Noncertified private student loans and personal loans, on the other hand, are typically paid out directly to you. This can be both good and bad. On one hand, its easier to get the money quickly, but on the other, you might be tempted to use it for other things or take out more than you need.
Tax Deductibility And Student Loans
Though you cant deduct the interest paid on personal loans on your taxes, you may be able to write off the interest paid on your private student loans. This tool from the IRS can help you determine if your loan is eligible.
And one of the benefits of the student loan interest deduction is that you may be able to take advantage of it even if you claim the standard deduction rather than itemizing deductions.
But not all good things last forever: If you become a high-earner, this deduction gradually phases out after your income reaches $65,000 .
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Take Advantage Of Federal Student Loans First
Students receive between $5,500 and $12,500 per year in direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans for undergraduate degrees and up to $20,500 per year toward a graduate degree.
Students with demonstrated financial need may also be eligible to receive additional funds through the Federal Perkins loan program, which offers an additional $5,500 per year for undergrads and $8,000 per year for grad students.
And these programs dont require a credit check, so bad credit wont be an issue.
Because the federal government backs and insures these loans, they dont require any specific credit criteria. They are available to all students who are enrolled at an accredited college or university.
The Federal PLUS loan program for independent students, graduate students, and parents of dependent undergrads will require a credit check, although its likely that their credit requirements are less stringent than many those used by most private lenders.