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Common Types of Financial Aid

Are Student Loans Becoming Necessary Evils?

When it comes to getting a college education most people can agree that the costs can be staggering at best. Even the least expensive colleges in the nation can add up over a four or five year period of time creating crippling debt for those who do not qualify for some of the better grant programs of substantial scholarships.

The problem lies in the fact that the parents of most traditional college students make too much money to qualify for the free financial aid that is needs based and very few qualify for the limited number of scholarships that are available to students based on merit. Even among those that qualify competition and fierce and there are no guarantees. Enter the student loan. There are all kinds of student loans and unfortunately with rising costs associated with college attendence and the growing necessity of a college degree for success in this country it is becoming more and more difficult to pay the price that is associated with higher education.

There are three types of loans that are commonly found for college students. They include federal student loans, federal plus loans, and private student loans. Each type of loan has advantages and disadvantages that are unique to that particular loan. Below I will give a little information about each of the loan types and whom they may benefit.

Student loans. There are three different types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins loans.

Perkins loans are only available to students who display exceptional financial need. These loans are available at a 5% interest rate and are available to both graduate and undergraduate students. Perkins loans are extended through the university you attend and will be repaid to the university unlike the other types of student loans, which are repaid to the lending agency.

Subsidized student loans are loans in which the interest is deferred until graduation or you cease to be a qualifying student.  What this means is that while you are responsible for repaying the loan upon graduation the interest on these loans does not begin to accrue until your begin repayment 6 months after graduation or your cease to be at least a half time student of the university. You must qualify based on your income in order to receive a subsidized student loan. While the needs requirements for these loans isn't as grave as those required in order to receive a Perkins loan you must still qualify.

Unsubsidized student loans do not require qualification on a needs basis. You must be a student and enrolled at least half time in order to receive an unsubsidized student loan. The good news however for those who do not qualify based on needs for other student loan options is that this type of loan is available to all qualifying students regardless of need. The interest on these loans however begins to accrue immediately, which means they can really add up over time.

PLUS loans are loans that are taken out by the parents of students who need the funds in order to cover educational expenses. The maximum amount that can be borrowed is the cost of attendence minus any financial aid awards the student has already received. The repayment on these loans begins 60 days after the loan is dispersed and the repayment period can be up to 10 years.

In order to cover the costs involved in education that go above and beyond what the government recognizes as acceptable college related expenses you can opt to go the route of private student loans rather then relying solely upon federal financial aid for your student loan source. These loans require that you qualify in order to receive them based on your credit rather than your need and must be used for educational purposes only. With these particular loans you really need to make sure you read all the fine print as different companies offer different conditions and different perks. You should really take the time and compare prices and options before taking out a private student loan and this should be done only as a last resort.

Student loans for many can be the difference in attending college and getting the education you are hoping for and not being able to pay the high costs that go along with higher education. For this reason you should treat them with respect and not take them lightly.

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Associate Degree Vs. Bachelor Degree

There really are few ways to compare a two-year education with a four-year education that would be fair to either degree program. The truth of the matter is that both are excellent for certain things while both also offer serious limitations. When it comes to pros and cons they both have their own set of both that make excellent food for thoughts.

Two-Year Education

Pros

When it comes to a two-year college program there are several things you should consider in its favor before you take the plunge. First of all, you should keep in mind that the degree or certification at the end of your studies doesn't necessarily indicate the end of your education. Two-year degrees are excellent starting points for four-year degrees but also allow you the option to venture out into the workplace with your own skills and knowledge that will allow you greater earning potential than a high school diploma. You will also have the benefit of entering the work place much sooner with an associate's degree than with a bachelor's degree. Most importantly for many who are limited by budgets, two-year colleges offer an affordable alternative for an education or even the first two years of your education.

Cons

The biggest cons that most people find when it comes to getting a two-year degree is the growing competition for limited jobs. In fact, it is difficult to remain competitive in any industry when there are more and more entering the work force with bachelor's degrees. It is simply more difficult to maintain a competitive edge with only a two-year degree though it is not impossible. The other obvious con when it comes to two-year college degrees is that fact that some positions will not even consider anyone with less than a four-year degree. This means that you aren't even in the running required to worry about competition.

Four-Year Degrees

Pros

A bachelor's degree will earn you far greater earning potential in your lifetime than a high school education without a doubt. It will also place you in a position of serious competition within your chosen field or industry. This means that you will often be given preference when seeking jobs over those who do not have degrees or those with lesser degrees regardless of experience. There is also not enough that can be said about the personal confidence that goes along with earning your degree. You will find that you are much more confident on both a personal and a professional level once you've earned your bachelor's degree.

Cons

The single largest con associated with a bachelor's degree is the expense. Both in terms of time and money bachelor's degrees exact a price. You should be certain that you are both willing and able to pay that price before setting out to get your degree.

Regardless of whether a two-year degree or a four-year degree is in your personal best interest at the moment neither are a waste of time or effort. I hope that you will eventually seek a four-year degree, as this will give you a competitive edge in business, however, even the smallest improvement in your education level can mean big changes over the course of your lifetime. Sometimes it helps to improve your education in steps. Take one class at a time until you have your associate's degree then repeat until you have your bachelor's degree. Good luck!

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Common Attendance Methods for Returning Students

Are you one of many Americans that dreams of returning to college but fears that option ended for your many years ago? If this is you, then you are in luck. There is no time like the present to go back and pursue your educational dreams. In fact, there has been no better time throughout history than today for those who wish to return to school but cannot give up their careers in order to do so.

Educational opportunities abound today in America and only show evidence of increasing and improving with time and technological advances. There are many options available for the returning students of today that would have been summarily designed to those hoping to further their educational goals in the past. If you are hoping to go back to school consider the options below very carefully before deciding which will be best for you.

The All or Nothing Approach

This endeavor is a giant leap of faith. It involves quitting your job, packing up your life and going back to college with every hope for a better future hinging on your performance. This is a high-risk endeavor for many professionals who have families and careers to consider. However, the rewards will be much quicker with this approach than most of the other available options. You should consider carefully whether this is an appropriate plan of action for your specific needs or if the risk would be too high for your family to endure.

Night School

Most community colleges and universities offer a wide assortment of night classes to those students who have daytime careers but are hoping to further their educations. You will find that despite common preconceived notions there is a wide mixture of students in night classes. There are first time college students who simply prefer night classes to early morning classes, retirees hoping to learn something new, and professionals hoping to grab a few more credit hours towards their degree. You never know whom you will find in your night classes but chances are you will find that there is a special sense of community among night school students that you won't find in traditional day classes.

Techno Wizards for Internet Courses

Believe it or not you do not need to have spectacular technical skills in order to take the average online or Internet course. The truth of the matter is that the most technical skill most of these classes require is the ability to visit websites, open email, and download an occasional file. Internet classes offer extreme flexibility for those with busy family and work schedules. This is the option of choice for many returning schools. The good news is that more and more universities and community colleges are offering these sorts of classes in many different fields and majors. The more demand grows for these classes the more classes will be offered.

The fact is that as consumers we have the right to ask for what we want or need. College students are consumers who are paying a hefty price for the product they hope to receive-a solid educational experience. Do not be afraid to request that the university you are attending offer more options for working students if you find that you are in need of a class that isn't offered in a flexible manner. Chances are if you need the course, there are others like you who will as well. If there is enough demand, most universities will oblige the demands of their students.

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Common Types of Financial Aid

If you are planning to attend college or the parent of a child you hope will attend college, I'm sure you are concerned over how you are going to be able to afford the process. A college education in many cases is a significant investment. The good news is that there are many options for the average family when it comes to paying the high costs involved in higher education.

Types of Financial Assistance for Educational Expenses

Scholarships. You will find that scholarships come in many different shapes and sizes and have all kinds of strange requirements in order to qualify to receive them. Some are based on need while others are based on merit. You will also find that there are many community and faith based organizations that offer scholarships in addition to certain corporations that offer scholarships in a gesture of good will to employees and the children of their employees. These are an excellent source of educational funding, as they do not need to be repaid.

Federal Pell Grants. This is another financial aid source that doesn't require repayment. However, you must qualify based on need in order to receive this particular type of college assistance. You can only obtain a Pell grant if you are an undergraduate college student who has not yet earned a college degree. There is a formula that is used to determine the amount of award for which you are eligible. This depends greatly on your means as a family and how much you can realistically expect to contribute towards the cost of your education.

Loans. This should be used as a last resort when it comes to paying your college expenses, as this is money that must be repaid with interest. There are several types of loans that are available and you should consider carefully and weigh your options before taking out a loan. However, if this is the only method you have for covering the cost of your tuition it will be money well spent once you've managed to repay the debt.
1) Student loans. There are three different types of student loans: subsidized, unsubsidized, and Perkins loans.  You must qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized loan, which will put off your interest accumulation until after graduation or you cease to be enrolled the minimum number of hours. You do not however, need to qualify in order to receive an unsubsidized student loan, which will begin accruing interest immediately. If you happen to be in exceptional financial need you can apply through your university for a Perkins loans. These are low interest loans that must be repaid to the university.
2) Parent Loans. These are commonly referred to as PLUS loans (parent loan for undergraduate students). These loans allow parents to borrow the money required to cover the costs of education that are not covered by other means of financial assistance. Repayment on these loans begins 60 days after the funds are transferred and can take up to 10 years.
3) Private loans. These loans are not guaranteed and are solely credit-based loans. They do not however, have the same limited scope that government loans have and in many cases can help bridge the gaps in actual educational expenses and the amount of money that you are allowed to borrow through traditional financial aid opportunities.

Before signing up for any particular sort of financial aid it is a good idea to see a financial aid counselor at the university you are planning to attend. They will have the best information about what steps you need to take in order to apply for financial aid at that specific universities and unique scholarship or grant opportunities that might be available to you through your state or the college. Higher education is a dream that is definitely worth having. Do not allow financial limitations to keep you from your goal if possible but enter into all financial arrangements with great caution and thought.

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