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Getting Financial Aid

Loan Alternatives: Cutting College Costs Without Going Into More Debt
A list of ways to reduce college costs at points in time ranging from high school to after graduation. Includes tips and links on Crowd Funding, Military Benefits, Grants & Scholarships,Work-Study Programs, Employer Tuition Reimbursement, Tax Credits and Deductions, Cheap Textbooks and more.

Free Scholarship Search Services
Compare the top free websites where you can search for scholarships and grants. Use more than one.

Masters and Graduate Students: Paying For Your Degree
Grants, Scholarships, Fellowships, Assistanceships, and lastly, student loans too. Here are links to specific programs and how to avoid crushing student loan debt.

Free Scholarships Resources
Websites that offer billions of dollars in free grants.

Scholarship & Grant Information (All 50 States & DC)

Types Of Aid Available for Undergrads, Graduate Studies, Distance Learning, Minorities and The Disabled

Comparing Financial Aid Awards

Law School Loans: What You Need To Know (Google)

Key Questions Families Should Ask-But Often Don't 

Samples Of Student Loans & Their Interest Rates

Direct Loans—A Better Way to Borrow (US Dept Of Education)

Increasing Your Financial Aid Package (Consumer-SOS)

Student Guide (Go to Main page for The New Guide Each Year)
The Student Guide is the most comprehensive resource on student financial aid from the U.S. Department of Education. Grants, loans, and work-study are the three major forms of student financial aid available through the federal Student Financial Assistance Programs. Updated each award year, The Student Guide tells you about the programs and how to apply for them.

Search here to find the best schools and graduate programs for you as well as information about financial aid.

Financial Aid For Grad Students 
Where to find grants and scholarships.

Finding Out About Financial Aid (US Dept. Of Education)
Provides general information about the major federal student aid programs (who is eligible and how to apply), tax credits for education expenses, and other federal, state, and private sources of information.

Applying for Federal Student Aid (US Dept. Of Education)
Helps you pick an electronic aid application (FAFSA), so you can apply for student aid right over the Internet. If you're applying using a paper application, you can also use this site to find your Federal (Title IV) School Code.

Direct Loans Repayment (Google Search)

Exit Counseling Guide for Borrowers
(download PDF file [494K])

US News Articles On Financial Aid, Working Part Time,
Remarriage and it's Effect on Financial Aid, Financial Aid Myths, Schools That Are The Best Values

Brochures From The Direct Loan Program

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Repayment Options

Pros & Cons of Loan Consolidation
Consolidation is similar to refinancing a loan but it's not always a good idea. See when it's good and bad to do so.

Differences Between Direct Loan and FFEL Program Repayment Plans
The difference between "Pay As You Earn", "Income Based Repayment Plans", "Graduated-Extended Plans" and Standard Plans. Learn who qualifies and more.

Hardship Deferments Where You Don't Have To Pay Principle or Interest (Consumer-SOS)
Broke? Unemployed, Pregnant? Have a Low Paying Job? You may qualify for all sorts of government subsidized repayment plans where you can stop or reduce your student loan payments, without paying the interest. May also apply to some private loans. 

Your Student Loan Repayment Options (Nolo.com)
Most lenders offer a variety of repayment plans. 

Loan Forgiveness in 10 years Through The Public Service Loan Forgiveness Program And Similar Programs  (Consumer-SOS)
Yes! Your reduced payments under IBR and ICR programs will count as full payments toward your loan forgiveness!

FAQs On Consolidating Your Federal Loans
Re-consolidate your federal loans at a lower rate and without fees.

FAQs On Reconsolidating Your Loans
Hope for some on getting a lower interest rate.

Direct Loans Online Loan Application 
Application for student loans and loan consolidations.

Student Loan Calculator
Before you borrow or consolidate to a longer repayment term, find out your minimum monthly payments and total cost of the loan.  Just punch in the amount you owe, the interest rate of the loan, and how long you have to repay it.

When You Can't Pay: Cancellation, Deferment and Forbearance (Nolo.com)
How to postpone payments--and when you can cancel your loans altogether. 

Deferments & Cancellations For Direct Loans
Describes the deferments and cancellations for teaching in low-income schools or shortage areas and connects you to the Direct Loan Program, where you can consolidate your existing loans.  If your loan is in default, our Guide to Defaulted Student Loans can tell you how to get out of default. 

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Borrowing Responsibly-How Much Is Too Much?
Even when the economy looks good it could change drastically by the time you graduate! Just a few years ago the job market was extremely competitive. New graduates found themselves fresh out of school and head to head with highly skilled workers who wanted the same jobs.  As a result of this, many wound up in miserable low pay positions and unable to repay their college loans.  This can happen again.  Believe it.

But you may be able to avoid this plight through a little research and planning. 
Before you borrow, find out what your monthly payments will be. Check out the The Student Loan Calculator which tells prospective borrowers their estimated monthly payments and the total cost of borrowing the money. To cut down costs even further, consider taking your first two years at a community college and then transferring to a four year school.

Also check out the
Dept Of Labor Occupational Handbook
. The Handbook  lists the average salaries in each occupation and the fields which will be most in demand.  If you have firm career goals, you can use this guide to plan how much to borrow based on an estimate of your potential earnings.  Keep in mind that college freshmen may change majors and often have no specific career plans.  So if you're the wishy washy type, play it smart and work part time to avoid student loans. 

Also, check to see if your college offers a work-study program.  If you qualify, you could get a job right on campus, earn some money and avoid loans you're sure to regret later. 

One final word of warning: Don't believe the hype put out by college career offices about how easy it is to get hired. And no matter what they tell you, don't be fooled into taking out more loans. Remember it's their job to make the college look good.  Don't expect them to level with you about your earning potential, especially when times are tough.

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Avoiding Late Payments

Making late payments on monthly installments can really cost you. Some lenders now assess a 6% penalty on all delinquent accounts.  Thus, a debtor owing $800 for being two months late will now have to fork up an extra $48 in addition to the $800.  If the debt becomes three months late, the amount skyrockets to $72.00!  And borrowers who make partial payments could still be penalized for 6% of the full amount due for that month!  So if you pay $398 of your $400 monthly installment, your late fee will be 6% of $400, not 6% of $2.00.

While making prompt payments can avoid this problem, for some this is not an option.  If you live from paycheck to paycheck and find yourself always missing the deadline by a few days, consider the following: 

Many lenders now allow monthly payments to be taken directly from your bank account.  This instant funds transfer eliminates mailing delays and makes it easier for you to avoid late payment fees.  And often this electronic transfer is free.  But keep in mind that while they post the payment to your account immediately, it still may take a few days for them to debit your bank account. 

Ask your lender if they allow electronic transfers and the steps you must follow.  Usually, all you need do is log into their website. You may even be able to transfer different amounts each month, as long as such payments are over the agreed minimum.

Late payments can severely hurt your credit, especially when you're more than two months delinquent.  To protect your credit, play it safe and at the slightest sign of trouble file for a hardship deferment or forbearance. Never gamble on the money coming in before hand unless you're absolutely sure it will do so. Things can and often do go wrong.  And a single miscalculation can be disastrous.  It's better to get the deferment first-you can always change your mind and begin making payments if your money arrives on time.  This protects your credit, which you'll need
for renting an apartment, or buying the car or house you've always dreamed of.

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Related Topics
Credit & Debt

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Student Rights

Student Records-Your Right To Keep Them Private (ACLU)
Also learn what you can see and what's off limits to you. 

Tapping Official Secrets (All 50 states & DC)
A complete reference work to open records and open meeting statutes in every state & DC.

Student Rights-Due Process & Fair Treatment (ACLU)
These Legal Principles Apply Even More So To State & Federal Supported Colleges.

Student Rights To Free Expression (ACLU)
These Legal Principles Apply Even More So To State & Federal Supported Colleges.

Student Press Law Center
The SPLC On-Line Legal Clinic contains ready information on censorship, libel, copyright, freedom of information and other
media law topics of interest to the student press. The SPLC Report: On-line version of the SPLC magazine 

What Are "Sunshine" Laws? (Good Overview)

Freedom Of Information Laws (Overview)

Access To Electronic Records (All 50 States & DC)
Guide to gaining access to computer records. Includes state Universities and may extend to schools which receive state and federal funding.

Your Right To Federal Records

Automatic Public Records Request
Letter Generator
: (Just Fill In The Blanks)
Use this letter generator to request access to records held by a state or local government agency or body (e.g., public school district, public university campus police, state board of health, etc.). If you want to obtain records held by the federal government click here.

For More See Consumer-SOS/Public Records

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College-Grants and Loans