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Financing Your Degree in Higher Education: Control What You Can Control

There are some things you simply cannot control—tuition increases, reduced access to private education loans, and fewer personal financing options—due to recent challenges in the credit markets.

On the flip-side, there are some factors of the financial aid process that are within your control:

You can apply early and talk to your school’s financial aid office about grants and scholarships.

You can exhaust all eligibility for federal loans before considering private loans.

You can stick to a budget while in school and live within your means.

You can maintain good credit, paying your bills on time and using available credit wisely (which will affect your FICO score and future borrowing ability).

Politics and Student Aid

Despite the economic downturn, recent legislation is helping to ensure that students and families who need assistance are able to find it. Barack Obama’s presidential administration supports simplification of the application process for federal financial aid and creating a new American Opportunity Tax Credit, the receipt of which is tied to community service.

Additionally, the passage of the 2008 Higher Education Opportunity Act provides for increased disclosure to consumers regarding items such as college costs and the terms and conditions on student loans.

Some other practical legislative changes include:

Interest rate reductions on Subsidized Stafford Loans for undergraduates.

Increased lending limits on federal loan programs, thereby helping reduce dependency on private loan programs that may be less accessible, more expensive, and more restrictive in terms of repayment options.

New post-enrollment deferment option for loans disbursed through the Parent Loans for Undergraduate Student (PLUS) program.

New repayment program based on income, including loan forgiveness provisions.

Armed with this valuable information, you may be able to help ease the financial burden of higher education costs so you can devote more time focusing on learning.

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