Begin the road to higher education and a brighter future now.
Whether you are a high school student deciding what you want to be or a parent figuring out how to pay for college, EducationPlanner.org is your one-stop career- and college-planning site.
Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your starting point for most student financial assistance programs. Many states and schools also use the FAFSA as part of their application process for non-federal aid.
The FAFSA is a comprehensive form. Be prepared to provide extensive information about your family’s income and income taxes from the previous year, assets, family size, the number of family members attending college, and more.
To maximize your chances of getting student financial aid, submit the FAFSA as soon as possible after January 1st of the year for which you are requesting aid.
If you apply before January 1st or without a Social Security number, your application will not be processed.
Three Rules for Managing Student Loans Smartly
Whatever the expenditures are for, if you overspend, you’ll over-borrow. Unless you’re managing ALL your money wisely, you may indirectly be mismanaging your student loans, which will impact your lifestyle for years while you pay them off.
Borrow Only What You Need, Only When You Need It
Remember: the amount you borrowed is not the amount you’ll have to repay. By the time you finish paying off your student loans, you’ll probably end up paying around 30% more (in interest) than the amount you borrowed (depending on how many years you take to pay the loans off). If you don’t plan for this, your student loan payments may be much larger than you expected and take a bigger chunk out of your paycheck than you’re prepared to pay.
- When Calculating How Much Student Loan Money You’ll Need, Ask Yourself These QuestionsCan I reduce my expenses (the answer is almost always yes)?
Can I work more during the school year without jeopardizing my grades?
Can I work more during the summer or find a higher-paying job?
Keep track of what you owe in student loans and use an online calculator to estimate what your payments will be at today’s interest rates (while keeping in mind that rates could continue to go up).
- Use Your Student Loan Money to Finance Your Education, Not Your LifestyleMany college students honestly believe they are managing their student loans well. They keep the money separate from their other funds and use it only for tuition, books, and fees. In reality, many students who do exactly that are actually NOT using their student loans wisely. Why? Because when you’re in college, unless someone else is footing your entire bill, every dollar you spend unnecessarily will be a dollar you’ll have to borrow later, which means another dollar plus interest you’ll have to repay. If you could have used some of your own money for tuition and books, you wouldn’t have to borrow as much.
- The Grace Period and Repayment counseling provides schools with an opportunity to stay in contact with borrowers and help them prepare for loan repayment. This session provides information on how to manage student loans after college and serves as a refresher course for students who may not remember all of their options as outlined in their exit counseling session taken prior to leaving school.
Your loan repayment start date depends on the type of loan you borrowed. You are required to begin making payments on time, even if you have not received a payment notice or statement from your loan holder. If you do not receive a payment notice, request one from your loan holder immediately.
To find contact information for the loan servicer or lender for your loans, visit the National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS®). You will need the PIN you established when completing the FAFSA to access your information