Posts Tagged ‘stafford loan’

How to File the 2011-12 FAFSA

Tuesday, January 11th, 2011


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Useful Tips for Financing A Graduate School Education

Monday, December 27th, 2010

There is plenty of financial aid available for worthy graduate students, as long as they apply for it as early as possible. Graduate students taking out loans need to be realistic about the job opportunities and additional income generated by obtaining a graduate degree.

You can typically save thousands of dollars by enrolling in a graduate degree program at a public university in the state where you’re a legal resident. Also, some states have reciprocal agreements with neighboring states which lets each state’s residents attend their colleges and universities at state tuition rates. For more information contact your state department of education or some schools of interest. Some states consider out-of-state students as residents after they have attended the school for one year.

Government Assistance

  • Federal Perkins Loans: Need-based program.
  • Subsidized Federal Stafford Loans: Students must have financial need as determined by their school.
  • Federal Unsubsidized Stafford Loans: Not based on financial need.
  • Cooperative Education: Combines education with an off-campus job related to the student’s program.
  • Work-Study: Need-based program in which the college finds jobs for students. Salary is usually close to minimum wage.

Graduate Stafford Loans

Graduate Stafford Loans are fixed rate loans for graduate students attending a college or university on at least a half-time basis. These loans are one of the lowest-cost ways to pay for graduate school. Graduate students using Subsidized Stafford Loans are not charged interest before they begin repayment or during periods of deferment.

Graduate PLUS Loan

The Graduate PLUS Loan is a non-need credit based loan, guaranteed by the Federal Government. Students can borrow the total cost of graduate school, including tuition, supplies, room and board, travel, and lab expenses. It’s a fixed rate student loan and payment can be deferred while students are attending college.

School Financial Assistance

Many colleges and universities offer teaching assistantships, research assistantships, and administrative fellowships. These positions typically include tuition waivers and some of them offer health insurance.

The recipients of departmental fellowships and scholarships are often determined by the departmental chair and not the financial aid office. Prospective graduate students should talk to a department staff member who’s knowledgeable about financial aid opportunities.

Perhaps the best type of college based financial aid is the fellowship. It’s a cash reward that doesn’t need to be repaid and typically doesn’t require the student to work. Most are based on an excellent academic record, however some are based on financial need. Fellowships usually include a stipend.

Corporations

Many companies sponsor tuition assistance programs. According to IRS regulations, employers can provide up to $5,250 for each employee per year on a tax-free basis. Additional employer tuition assistance is taxed. Employers may restrict the choice of a major to a subject related to the employee’s current or future position at the company. Some employers stipulate that the employee work for the company for a specific length of time after obtaining the degree.

Foundations

The Foundation Center in New York City publishes a reference book about graduate study financial aid. Grants provided in different fields are included in Grant Guides, a fee-based databank.

The National Research Council provides hundreds of fellowships of up to $14,000 per year for students in the natural sciences, social sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

Mellon Fellowships cover tuition and provide stipends for graduates students in the humanities.

Medical School

Some of the loans available for Medical School are MedSHARE-Nellie Mae, AAMC Medloans-Alternative Loan Program, and Medical Access Loans-Access Group.

Business School Loans

Some of the loans available for business school are MBADHARE-New England Loan Marketing Association-Nellie Mae, Business Access Loan Program-Access Group, and M.B.A. Loans/Tuition Loan Plan.

Online Resources

There are numerous online resources that help students find graduate education funding, and these include the following:

  • National Association of Graduate and Professional Studies
  • FastWEB
  • Thomson Peterson’s Graduate School Planning
  • The Foundation Center
  • Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Programs
  • Education World
  • FinAid!
  • Education World

Putting together the best financial aid package requires a lot of research. However, taking the time to do this research could save you a lot of money on your graduate education.

Brian Jenkins writes about a variety of education topics for BrainTrack, including financial aid opportunities for college students.

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Paying for college with the TEACH Grant

Wednesday, January 27th, 2010

Are you interested in becoming a teacher?  Are you willing to teach in a high-need subject area in a low-income school?  If so, you may be eligible for the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant.  The TEACH program was created in 2007 to help provide highly qualified teachers to low-income schools for the most needed subjects.  The grant is a non-need based program (meaning you can qualify no matter what your income), provides up to $4,000 each year and can be renewed each year for a total of $16,000 for undergraduate students and up to $8,000 for masters students.

The grant is provided to students who intend to teach in either a public or private elementary or secondary school that serves low-income students.  Low-income, for the TEACH grant, is defined as any school receiving Title I funding or on an Indian reservation.  You can search for which schools are identified as “low-income” in your area by visiting: www.tcli.ed.gov.

Recipients of the TEACH grant must also work in a high-need or teacher shortage field.  These fields are defined as subject shortage areas, not geographic areas (unlike some other programs).  The TEACH program defines national high-need fields as: Bilingual Education or English Language Acquisition, Foreign Language, Mathematics, Reading Specialist, Science and Special Education.  However, recipients can also work in state-wide or local high-need subject areas, which often provide a much broader list of subjects.  You can see a complete list of state-by-state subject need areas here: www.ed.gov/about/offices/list/ope/pol/tsa.doc.

TEACH grant applicants must work as a highly qualified teacher in a high-need subject at a low-income school as defined above for at least 4 years within the first 8 years after finishing college or grad school.  Here are the other eligibility requirements to receive a TEACH grant:

  • Must complete a FAFSA (though you do not have to demonstrate financial need)
  • Must be a US citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Must be enrolled in a school that participate in the TEACH program (which is most of them)
  • Must be enrolled in coursework that is necessary to becoming a teach or building your knowledge in the field you want to teach
  • Much sign a TEACH Grant Agreement to Serve (which just says that you understand the conditions of the program)
  • Must meet certain academic achievement requirements, which usually means maintaining a minimum 3.25 GPA in High School or in your first year of college OR scoring above the 75th percentile on a college admissions test

It’s important to be sure that you want to be a teacher before taking the TEACH grant, because if you do not fulfill the service requirements of the grant or you decide you do not want to be a teacher, the TEACH grant will be converted into an Unsubsidized Stafford Loan- meaning you will have to repay the cost of the grant with interest.  But if you are sure you want to teach and you are willing to spend a few years as a teacher in a high-need subject at a low-income school, the TEACH grant can be a great way get money for college without having financial need or extremely high test scores and grades.  You can find out more about the TEACH grant by visiting: https://teach-ats.ed.gov/ats/index.action.

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Filing the 2010-11 FAFSA

Tuesday, January 19th, 2010


Watch How to File the 2010-11 FAFSA in Family Videos | View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

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Paying for College

Thursday, July 2nd, 2009

The last week has brought about a number of different items of news related to how we pay for college.  I just wanted to take this opportunity to summarize some of the key changes:

  • The Obama administration has made it a priority to increase access to a college education.  To date, they have increased the size of the Pell grant, planned to modernize the Perkins Loan program, and offered the American Opportunity Tax Credit, a $2,500 tax credit each year for four years of college.  There most recent efforts have been aimed at simplifying the FAFSA.  The online FAFSA no has improved programming to make it possible to skip more of the unnecessary questions.  They are also working with the IRS to allow students to seemlessly retrieve relevant tax data.  This will be available in January of 2010 for students applying for aid for the Spring semester.  They hope to expand that program.  To read more about the changes, view this post on the Department of Education web page.
  • As of July 1 the interest rate on Subsidized Stafford Loans dropped to 5.6%.  Unfortunately, over the past month more lenders have dropped out of the program, the Connecticut Student Loan Foundation being one of the most recent casualties.  Also as of July 1, students who owe on FFEL program loans are now eligible for Income Based Repayment (IBR).  Visit the department fo education website to learn more about this program. View this document to learn more about Loan Forgiveness for Public Service Employees, and view this document to learn more about Loan Forgiveness for teachers.
  • Finally, this post on the Choice College Blog talks about how scholarships are becoming more difficult to find.  We are currently updating the database of college-based merit scholarships on collegetreasure.com and we have noticed that while some colleges are becoming more generous in these tough times, many colleges are actually reducing the size and number of their scholarships.  This as tuition continues to rise, and while this past year it rose at the lowest rate in almost 40 years, it is still outpacing inflation, so you would naturally expect scholarships to increase to cover that increased tuition.  There are still opportunities out there, we just recommend that students start looking for them earlier.  Now more than every it is critical that you have a financial safety as well as an admissions safety.

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