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Paying for College during Coronavirus


June 26, 2020 3:48 PM
by Susan Dutca-Lovell
If you're worried about how you will pay for college during the COVID-19 pandemic, you're not alone. Students and families are concerned about the college financial ramifications as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and higher education institutions are anticipating an increase in students' financial aid need, as well as a large number of college financial aid appeals. Fortunately, there are ample options and resources to help you pay for college these coming semesters. Explore the various options to find out which works best for your situation - from scholarship deadline extensions to relief provided through the CARES Act and more.

If you're worried about how you will pay for college during the COVID-19 pandemic, you're not alone. Students and families are concerned about the college financial ramifications as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and higher education institutions are anticipating an increase in students' financial aid need, as well as a large number of college financial aid appeals. Fortunately, there are ample options and resources to help you pay for college these coming semesters. Explore the various options to find out which works best for your situation - from scholarship deadline extensions to relief provided through the CARES Act and more.

File Your FAFSA

There is still time to file a federal FAFSA for the 2019-2020 year - the deadline is June 30, 2020. The federal deadline for 2020-2021 is June 30, 2021. To find out if your state has extended its FAFSA deadline, click here. You will need to contact the financial aid office at your school in order to determine if they have extended their FAFSA deadline.

If you or your family have been affected by the coronavirus pandemic, you may qualify to have your financial aid adjusted accordingly. To do this, complete your FAFSA and then contact your school directly to inform them of any changes.

Apply for Scholarships &Grants

Scholarships and grants should always be the most prioritized forms of financial aid for which you apply, as they do not need to be repaid. Due to COVID-19, many scholarship providers have extended their scholarship application deadlines, giving applicants like you more time to apply. Don't wait until the next academic semester begins to find out you need more financial aid - apply for scholarships now while you have more downtime.

Talk to Your College Financial Aid Office

Colleges are looking forward to having students back on campus following the coronavirus pandemic and are likely to offer unique college funding options, especially if students experienced financial hardship due to COVID-19. Contact your college financial office directly to determine if you qualify for scholarships or additional financial aid. In addition, you can appeal your initial financial aid package. Another option would be to explore the various payment plans offered by your college or university, including deferment commitment deposits for qualifying students. Check all of the payment options at your school's website and select the one that best suits your induvial and family's financial needs.

College Student Loans

If you've exhausted all scholarship and grant options and still need help paying for college, consider taking out a student loan. Since interest rates are at an all-time low - and federal loans come with many protections and payment plans - this "would be the year" to borrow with the Federal Direct Loan Program. The current interest rate for undergraduate students is 2.75 percent for 2020-21 in contrast to the 4.529 percent in 2019-2020.

If you are currently repaying your federal student loans, be advised that from March 13, 2020, through September 30, 2020, the interest rate has been automatically and temporarily set at 0%. For a list of 0% federal student loans, click here. If your loan is not owned by the Education Department and you still want to take advantage of the 0% interest rate, contact your lender or school directly. All student loan payments during this period will go directly to the principal of the loan. The administrative forbearance (temporary suspension of payments) will also run during this time period. For more information on coronavirus and forbearance information, please visit studentaid.gov.

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