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Questions marks - To Borrow or Not to Borrow

Trying to get a handle on paying for college this fall? Start by reviewing your financial aid offer from the college, then consider ways to cover any remaining balance. While student loans are an option, there are other alternatives to consider.

Alternative Ways to Pay for College

It’s late in the game to look for scholarships, but that should not stop you. Ask your college, social network, and community members about available scholarships. You can also use ScholarshipQuest to search for Nebraska-based awards. 

Work-Study Programs
Many colleges offer work-study programs, allowing students to work part-time while attending school. If you qualify for this type of financial aid, it will be included in your financial aid offer. Contact your college’s financial aid office to learn about available work-study jobs.

Part-Time Employment
Working part-time during college can help cover living expenses. Look for jobs that fit your class schedule and won’t impact your academics. Check with other students or college staff for job openings on or near campus.

Start at a Community College 
To lower tuition costs, consider starting at a community college for your general education credits. Before taking any classes, make sure you can transfer credits to a four-year school. This option can prevent high debt in the future.

Savings and Budgeting
Hopefully, you’ve been saving for college for years and have a decent amount in your savings account to get you started. The next step is to create a budget so you don’t run through your savings too quickly. Saving and budgeting will serve you well your entire life. If you have money set aside, don’t borrow for college!

Borrowing Federal Loans: Steps to Follow

Federal loans offer advantages like fixed interest rates, flexible repayment options, and loan forgiveness programs. Here’s how to borrow a federal loan:

Complete the FAFSA
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in applying for financial aid. Your college will use your FAFSA results to determine your eligibility for grants, work-study, and federal loans. For assistance with the FAFSA, contact EducationQuest for FREE help.

Two Types of Federal Student Loans
Subsidized Loans are based on financial need, with the government paying interest while the student is in school. Unsubsidized Loans accrue interest from the time they’re disbursed. Your college will tell you which type of loan you qualify to borrow. This Loan Chart will provide information about interest rates, fees, and repayment. 

Parent PLUS Loans
Parents can borrow federal loans known as Parent PLUS loans. After completing the FAFSA, the college will indicate how much the parent can borrow. These loans require a separate application and credit check. Contact your college for more information. 

Borrow Responsibly
Borrow only what you need to make repayment easier. If you have questions, EducationQuest is here to support you.

By Alex Jurgens