Timely, Expert Advice on Where to Find Scholarships

OK, so the government's rules say you have to wait until January 1, 2015, to apply for financial aid for the 2015-16 award year via the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, a.k.a. the FAFSA. So, that means you have time right now to kick-start your search for scholarships and grants offered by big corporations, local employers, foundations, professional organizations, labor unions, fraternal organizations, and more. The CollegeUp.org home page offers a link to a very helpful blog: The...Read More
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Financial Aid Finality Part 2 – Subsidized Direct Loan Time Limit

As noted in my previous post on financial aid time limits, the federal government offers financial aid to help students afford a college education. But the government’s charity doesn’t last forever. There have long been annual and aggregate limits on how much a student can borrow (see second table below) under the federal student loan programs, but those limits are tied to dollar amounts. Uncle Sam recently instituted a regulatory stopwatch to limit the amount of time undergraduate students have...Read More
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Financial Aid Finality Part I – Pell Grant Lifetime Eligibility

Federal financial aid programs are in place to help students pursue and afford their educational goals.  These programs, including Federal Pell Grants and federal loans, are subject to a number of eligibility rules that govern just how much federal funding an individual student can receive. Limits on Pell Grant Eligibility and Awards Two key limits have been in place for quite some time, and you may already know of them:
  • The Pell Grant program can be used up to and until you earn your first bachelor’s degree.
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Follow These Steps to Get a Direct PLUS Loan

Editor's Note:  In a follow-up to her August 19, 2014, blog post detailing the nuts and bolts of getting a Direct Subsidized or Unsubsidized student loan, Susan Shogren tackles the paperwork requirements for Direct PLUS loans. Student Loan Promissory Notes - The Fine Print Are you planning to borrow a Direct PLUS loan? This federal loan program is open to graduate students and to parents of dependent undergraduate students. The application process includes completing several important steps, all of which can easily be handled online....Read More
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Take Some Time to Study Your Student Loan Documents

Student Loan Master Promissory Note - The Fine Print Will you be a student loan borrower this fall? If so, you’ll probably be asked to read and click through a number of online loan documents. If you’re a first-time student loan borrower, you’ll have extra steps to complete. This paperwork is required.... and important. After all, you can’t receive your loan funds until you complete all of the steps your school tells you are necessary.  What is all this paperwork anyway? Loans don’t happen accidentally, or automatically. If you want a federal...Read More
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Advanced Placement Exam Fee Reductions Are Available to Low-Income Students

Your college guidance counselor is encouraging you to take several advanced placement classes before you graduate from high school. You may be willing to brave a college-level course in U.S. history, biology, chemistry, psychology, or even calculus. Reasons to Take Advanced Placement Classess and ExamsYou know that taking college-level coursework can help you earn college credit – all you have to do is score well enough on the advanced placement exams that are typically administered in the spring.  But what if you don’t have the money to pay the...Read More
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10 Frequently Asked Questions About Federal Pell Grants

Established more than 40 years ago, the Federal Pell Grant program is the nation's largest source of need-based grants for undergraduate college students. But if you're just now starting college and applying for financial aid, there's a good chance you're asking one or more of the following 10 questions about how Pell Grants work. Pell Grant Facts1. Just who gets a Federal Pell Grant? Students who demonstrate the greatest financial need. This need is determined by a federal formula that can only be officially...Read More
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Parent PLUS FAQs: Which Loan Should You Get: A Parent PLUS Loan or a Private Education Loan?

Today, our ongoing series of Parent PLUS loan FAQs tackles just one question, but it's one a lot of families are pondering. Which loan should you get: a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan? This is that time of year when many parents are trying to determine whether they should use a Direct Parent PLUS loan or a private education loan to pay for college when financial aid and family resources fall short. The Parent PLUS loan is available only from the federal government (and only to parents of dependent students who submit a FAFSA). Private education loans are...Read More
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Making This FAFSA Mistake Could Be Very Costly

2014 FAFSA Processing ErrorFirst, the bad news: Nearly 200,000 students inadvertently entered inflated income or other financial information into their 2014-15 FAFSAs, according to officials at the U.S. Department of Education.  A design flaw in the federal government’s online aid applicationmade it easy to accidentally enter cents as dollars. So, an income of, say, $21,375.45 might accidentally be entered as $2,137,545, which means these students could be missing out on Federal Pell Grants or other need-based aid. That’s...Read More
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Federal Student Loan Options for the 2014-15 Financial Aid Award Year

So you have been admitted to college, received your award letter and paid your housing deposit. Your next step is to figure out, from your award letter, what types of student loans you may be eligible to receive and to determine whether and how much you need to borrow under each of the loan programs offered to you. Your award letter could list one or more types of federal student loans that you are eligible to receive as a student borrower.  Loan options for undergraduate student borrowers...Read More
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