COLLEGE PLANNING: It Pays To Apply For College Aid

On average, students attending private colleges only pay one-half of a school’s “sticker price.” The rest is usually made up in scholarships, grants and loans.

college-planning(NAPSI)-The cost of college is going up, and has been for years. But college-bound students shouldn’t assume that their family will have to pay for everything. They may qualify for scholarships and loans based on financial need.

That’s one of the messages of the Guide to Getting Financial Aid, a new book published by the College Board.

“Every year, thousands of families miss out on grants, scholarships and low-interest loans because they don’t apply for student financial aid,” says Jack Joyce, the Board’s director of college-planning services and one of the contributors to the book.

“In many cases, parents assume that they earn too much to qualify for aid, but they’re often wrong. Since it costs nothing to apply for federal aid, it’s better to apply and find out for sure.”

The Guide to Getting Financial Aid offers dozens of other tips and strategies for families, including:

• Apply on time. Most colleges award aid after a “priority date” in February or early March. This can be confusing, because the application forms are based on the family’s tax returns. But waiting until April 15th to submit the financial aid forms can mean missing out on opportunity.

• If in doubt, contact the colleges. If you have questions at any point in the process, don’t hesitate to contact the colleges to which you’re applying for aid.

• Private schools cost more but also award more aid. The “sticker price” for a private college may be twice as high as a public university, but these schools also award much more financial aid. “Students shouldn’t let cost discourage them from applying to any school they’re interested in,” says Joyce, “because financial aid may make up the difference.”

• It pays to save. Even with financial aid, almost every family will be expected to pay something to support its child’s education. College savings can make it much easier to meet this “expected family contribution,” as it’s called by the financial aid officers who distribute federal funds.

More information about college financial aid can be found on the federal student aid Web site, www.studentaid.ed.gov, and the College Board Web site, www.collegeboard.com.

The Guide to Getting Financial Aid can be found wherever books are sold.

Get An “A” In Financial Aid 101

Simple Tips For Funding Your College Education

(NAPSI)-In today’s job market, very few dispute the importance and benefits of higher education. The record number of students enrolling in colleges and universities across the country certainly backs this belief. However, while incoming students get ready to embrace the academic and social rigors of college life, many will have their most difficult test before they even arrive on campus…paying for tuition.

The cost of tuition continues to skyrocket. In fact, on average, the cost of college tuition at both public and private universities has doubled over the last 20 years. The news is not all bad though, as the selection of financing options and financial aid packages available to students continues to grow. Before you begin exploring the many different choices, consider these tips from GMAC Bank, which offers private education loans for undergraduate, graduate and continuing education students.

• Know your costs. The first step in financing a college education is to get a clear picture of how much it will cost and to begin building an annual budget for each year of college, per student.

“You need to look beyond just the tuition of a college or university,” said Debra Scott, director of the education loan program for GMAC Bank. “College expenses also include dorm fees or rent for off-campus apartments, meal plans, the cost of books and other miscellaneous fees, even the cost of traveling home during school breaks.”

• Know your options. Today’s students and parents need to be savvy about uncovering programs that can offer financial assistance. While the variety and choice of options might seem confusing, the best starting point is to consider three primary sources: federal assistance, scholarships and private student loans.

• Federal Assistance–Begin your financial aid quest by looking into grants and loans offered by the federal government. For example, federal grants such as Pell Grants can range from $100 to $4,000 per year based on level of need and do not require repayment. Federal student loans, such as the well-known Stafford or Perkins loans, are available for undergraduate students, graduate students and for parents of dependent undergraduate students and do require repayment.

• Scholarships–Like grants, these are funds used to pay for higher education that do not need to be repaid. Scholarships are offered by a wide range of institutions–from awards offered by your potential college or university to those bestowed by local organizations, corporations and a variety of other sources. Scholarships are awarded based on a variety of criteria (not all are based on academic performance or financial need), so be sure to check for further information on eligibility. Leave no stone unturned in your search, as many scholarships go unused each year.

• Private Student Loans–Another option is the private student loan. Flexible by nature, these types of loans can cover all or a significant amount of your tuition and other expenses. Private loans can be used to cover any cost associated with attending school, such as tuition, books, computers, travel and living expenses. Typically deferred until after graduation, they can also be used in coordination with other sources of funding. For example, a financial aid package may only cover tuition and board, so a private student loan may be helpful in paying for other education-related expenses.

“Students should realize that they are not limited to one type of financial aid,” added Scott. “More and more students are funding their education through a variety of sources including a financial aid mix of private loans in combination with savings, federal loans, grants, or scholarships and part-time jobs.”

Arranging financing for college is the first real-life lesson in managing money that many young people will experience. With some thorough research, you could be well on your way to getting an “A” in Financial Aid 101. For more information, visit http://www.edloans.gmacbank.com.

Children’s Books Online: the Rosetta Project, Inc.

childrensbooksonlineThe Rosetta Project’s collections currently contain about 2,000 antique children’s books which were published in the 19th and early 20th century. They are currently available for free and can be read online or downloaded and saved for future readings offline. Translations into multiple languages are also available for many of the books.

Donations of old books, or financial aid for the non-profit group is welcomed. More details are available at their site. The Rosetta Project

When Securing A Student Loan, Going Direct Is The New Reality For Savvy Students And Parents

(NAPSI)-The government introduced sudent lending as a means of paying tuition and other college-related expenses 41 years ago. Since then, students have routinely relied on the financial aid office at their school to make critical decisions regarding their future student loan debt. However, a lack of control over these decisions, compounded by the rising costs of higher education, has led to a national student loan debt dilemma.

Up to 90 percent of students require some kind of financial aid to pay for education. While the average student will leave school with approximately $20,000 of loans to repay, that number skyrockets for those seeking graduate and professional degrees. Today, young college graduates are forgoing or postponing major life decisions–such as marriage, children and real estate purchases–in order to pay down their student loan debt.

Student loan company MyRichUncle launched a campaign earlier this year to encourage greater consumer awareness about the student loan industry–in particular, the areas that directly affect students. “It Matters Now,” a core company belief, stresses one important point: The choices made today about student loans could negatively impact a student’s future.

Direct-to-Student Lending

With other industries, cutting out the middleman has proven effective in forcing companies to compete for business. Now, the direct-to-consumer concept is gaining momentum in the student loan arena.

There are several advantages to direct-to-student lending, namely:

  • The lender list a financial aid office provides could lead students to unwittingly pay a premium for their loans. The best-priced lenders may not be included on these lists, based on a school’s preference and other variables.
  • What’s more, rates and borrower benefits can change at any time and it is unlikely a financial aid office can be kept apprised of the absolute best rates all the time.
  • Schools do not spend enough time researching lenders’ offerings. Bypassing the financial aid office and going direct allows students to control the loan process and consider all options.
  • By comparing lender against lender, you, the consumer, will encourage a more price-competitive market to evolve.

“Shop around. Compare offers. The consumer is the best manager in preventing a future financial pitfall,” said Raza Khan, MyRichUncle president and co-founder. “Our customers shop direct and realize a substantial savings on their loans because of it.”

Know Your Options: Federal and Private Student Loans

Federal loans include subsidized (when the government pays the interest on a loan while the student is in school) and unsubsidized Stafford Loans and Parent Loans for Undergraduate Study (PLUS). MyRichUncle is the first to introduce price competition on federal loans-cutting the rate on these loans by up to 2 percent. This can ultimately save a student thousands of dollars over the long run.

The fastest-growing segment of financial aid is private student loans, another area where going direct is the best route for students to secure the best rates. MyRichUncle provides loan options that are both competitively priced and innovative, in order to fund the widest demographic of borrowers, including those with little or no credit history.

For more information, visit www.MyRichUncle.com.