Pay for School
Those who, after taking advantage of all federal loans, still needed money to pay for school often turned to private, more expensive student loans for assistance. Were these students more aware of different federal aid opportunities, they may have been able to save thousands. Myriad federal grants and financial aid programs have been created to help students pay for school. Before turning to student loans, or at least before repaying them completely, students should research the options below.
Completing the FAFSA on the Web is one of the easiest ways for students to obtain the money they need to pay for school. Because the most commonly awarded government grant, Federal Pell Grants are based on financial need rather than grades, students can receive thousands just by filling out the form. Another option, the Federal Supplemental Education Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), is a Pell Grant adjunct that can help undergraduate students with exceptional need pay for school. Between $100 and $4,000 per year is available to those who are eligible.
Students who are interested in teaching and those who plan to major in the math and sciences may also receive assistance based on major. To help them pay for school, the government has developed the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education Grant (TEACH Grant) as well as The National Science & Mathematics Access to Retain Talent Grant (National SMART Grant). Those who are not interested in the aforementioned fields but have demonstrated exceptional academic merit and have completed a rigorous high school curriculum may still find funding through the relatively new federal grant option, the Academic Competitiveness Grant.
Federal Loan Repayment Options
When students have used up all grants and scholarship awards, there may be no alternative but to pay for school with borrowed money. However, under certain circumstances, students may be eligible to have their loans discharged (canceled). Individuals who choose to take out student loans should familiarize themselves with their options. If all criteria are met, their loans may be sizably reduced.
Those who plan to teach math, science or special education at elementary or secondary schools deemed low income by the government may be forgiven up to $17,500 in Stafford Loans. Those who become full-time teachers for at least five years but do not teach the aforementioned subjects may still have $5,000 in student loan bills canceled.
Students who do not plan to enter the teaching field but are still interested in certain public service professions may still be eligible for a discharge through the Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees program (PSLF). If they serve the government, the military, the law enforcement, libraries and certain tax-exempt organizations, among others, student may meet the requirements for a partial loan cancellation.