8 Financial Aid Tips for Students

Financial Aid Tips for student-athletes

Important financial aid tips for students and parents. Protect yourself financially with these tips.

Borrow only what you need. After you look at your full financial picture — education cost, awarded aid and family share — determine the amount you actually need to borrow. You’re not required to accept all you’re offered.

Understand what you’ve been offered. Look at your award letter, focus on any need-based loans and note the amount. If you feel you need to borrow more, and get advice from a financial aid officer at the college if needed.

Finalize your loans on time and follow instructions. Make sure you check with your financial aid officer to ensure you know the rules, deadlines and requirements for applying for federal loans.

Shop around. If you decide you need a private (alternative) loan, take the time to compare interest rates, fees, repayment options and borrower benefits. Your college can probably recommend certain lenders, but you are not obligated to borrow from them.

Ask questions about your loans. Find out from your financial aid officer: How much will this loan cost me in total? What are my monthly payments going to be? Can I qualify for a lower interest rate? Is the rate fixed or variable?

Apply with a creditworthy co-signer – A co-signer will almost always be required for an application to get approved. The co-signer must have strong credit score and verifiable income. For best results on your student loan application, apply to the loan while your co-signer is present.

Know what you’re signing. Before borrowing, make sure you understand the terms and conditions, such as repayment requirements, spelled out in your promissory note (loan contract).

Look at the APR – The Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”) on a loan factors in all the costs associated with the loan so that you can compare one loan to another on an apples-to-apples basis. Interest rate alone is not an adequate point for comparison. For example, a loan with a high interest rate might look worse than a loan with a lower interest rate, but high fees on the lower-rate loan mean that it might actually be more expensive. The APR would reflect this difference.

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