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Financing your College Education  

This year, more than 1.5 million students and their families will go through about 5 million college acceptance letters looking for the perfect fit for their educational needs. However, an even bigger consideration is finding the money to finance that education.  According to the College Board, the average annual cost to attend a four-year public college is $8,244. For out of state students that number more than doubles to $20,770 and for private schools, it triples to $28,500.  Those costs do not include housing, living expenses or textbooks. It’s no wonder the national student loan debt is $1 billion. It is very important for students and their families to not only seek out resources that will decrease out of pocket educational expenses, but also to have a realistic expectation of what their student loan payment will be after graduation. Apprisen offers these resources to help you navigate your way through, what could be, the student loan nightmare.

Research various loan options to choose the best one for you.

  • Pell Grants are federal grants that do not have to be repaid and are awarded based on your financial need, up to $5,550 per year.
  • Military Tuition Assistance: Service members (active & reserve) are eligible to receive up to $4,500 per year. Military TA benefits do not need to be repaid.
  • GI Bill Benefits offer education benefits for service members and veterans. This funding covers tuition & fees, a monthly living allowance, and an annual book stipend. GI Bill benefits do not need to be repaid.
  • Perkins Loans are low-interest loan for students with exceptional financial need and do not accrue interest while students are enrolled in school, up to $5,500/year. 
  • Subsidized Stafford Loans are federal loans for students who demonstrate financial need and do not accrue interest while students are enrolled in school. These loans, which must be repaid, are available for up to $3,500 per year.
  • Unsubsidized Stafford Loans do not require students to demonstrate financial need; but, do accrue interest while students are in school. All dependent, undergraduate students may borrow up to $5,500/year. For independent undergraduate students, this limit rises to $9,500/year.
  • Private Loans often have variable interest rates, require a credit check and/or a cosigner and lack many of the repayment options of federal student loans. Students should exhaust all of their federal grant and loan options before taking out a private student loan.

The Consumer Finance Protection Bureau is launching a new tool on their website that will allow students and their families an opportunity to assess an easy to understand view of how their decisions today, when considering student loans, could impact their debt burden after graduation. Although only a prototype at this time, this tool can provide side by side cost comparisons of different universities, and of what your estimated monthly student loan payment might be. Although they are still working on enhancing this resource, this tool will give you some basic information so that you can make a more informed financial decision. To access this tool, visit www.consumerfinance.gov.

How to finance a college education is a decision that will impact your finances for many years to come. Take the time to do your homework and you can ensure that you make an informed decision.

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