· This year more than ever, the economy is making it more difficult for families to pay for college.
· The number of financial aid applications is up more than 10% over last year. Lenders are suspending loan programs and tightening credit standards. Families are concerned really concerned about obtaining loans and paying for college.
· Add in the possibility of job losses and plummeting college savings plans, and you’ve got a recipe for panic.
· But don’t panic just yet— here are 12 tips that can help you make your tuition, without losing it.
1. Minimize debt. Take advantage of grants and scholarships and other sources of free money for college before resorting to loans. If you will be borrowing more for your entire education than your expected starting salary, consider switching to a less expensive college.
· Live like a student while you are in school so you don’t have to live like a student after you graduate.
2. Submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).
You can submit the FAFSA
online at www.fafsa.ed.gov
. It’s free and is the first step toward money from the government and most colleges. Submit the FAFSA
every year, even if you didn’t qualify last year. Financial aid rules change every year.
· If you have unusual financial circumstances, such as a big drop in income or high unreimbursed medical expenses, ask the college for a professional judgment review. Give them photocopies of independent third party documentation of the unusual financial circumstances.
3. Search for Scholarships.
Search for scholarships at free scholarship matching sites like Fastweb.com
as soon as possible.
The more scholarships you win, the less you’ll need to borrow.
4. Education Tax Benefits. File for education tax benefits on your federal income tax return. These include the Hope Scholarship, Lifetime Learning Tax Credit and the Tuition and Fees Deduction. (Congress just increased the maximum Hope Scholarship to $2,500 and made it available for four years.) Up to $2,500 in student loan interest is deductible even if you don’t itemize.
5. Borrow Federal First. Federal education loans are cheaper, more available, and have better repayment terms than private student loans. You can get the unsubsidized Stafford loan and the Parent PLUS loan even if you do not have financial need.
· Let your college’s financial aid office know if your parents were denied a Parent PLUS loan, as they can make you eligible for higher unsubsidized Stafford loan limits.
6. Apply for private student loans with a creditworthy cosigner. Applying with a cosigner not only increases your chances of getting the loan, but also often results in a lower cost loan as the interest rates and fees are based on the higher of the two credit scores.
7. Pay at least the interest that accrues while you are in school. This avoids the capitalization of interest, which adds the interest to the loan balance. This will keep your loan balance from growing because of negative amortization. Some lenders offer lower fees on private student loans for borrowers who pay the interest instead of deferring it.
8. Talk to the Lender to Get Repayment Relief. If you are having trouble affording the monthly payments on your education loans, talk to the lender. Lenders can offer a temporary suspension of payments through a deferment or forbearance. You lose these options if you default first. Lenders can also provide alternate repayment plans, such as extended repayment and income-based repayment. (Try to avoid overusing these options, as it can cost you. Interest may continue to accrue during a deferment and forbearance. Alternate repayment plans cut the monthly payment by increasing the loan term, which increases the total interest paid over the life of the loan.)
Additional repayment options may be obtained by consolidating your federal loans. If you are having trouble finding a lender to consolidate your federal student loans, use the Federal Direct Consolidation Loan Program at loanconsolidation.ed.gov
9. Ask the bursar about tuition installment plans. Most colleges offer these plans, which let you spread out the college bills over 9-12 months for a one-time fee of $50 to $100.
10. Continue saving for college. 529 college savings plans remain one of the best ways of saving for college. Many offer low-risk investment options. Investing a fixed amount every month gets you the benefit of dollar cost averaging, a strategy that works best when the stock market is volatile. Be sure to use an age-based asset allocation strategy, where the mix of investments becomes more conservative as college approaches. This will protect your savings from losses. (When your children are young you can afford to use a more aggressive strategy as the potential losses are smaller and there’s more time to recover from market downturns.)
11. Beware of Scholarship Scams. It is especially important to be vigilant about scholarship scams and advance fee loan scams. If you have to pay money to get money, it’s probably a scam. Do not give out your bank account number, credit card number or social security number to apply for a scholarship. Education loans never require up front payment of fees. Instead, they deduct the fees from the disbursement check.
12. Cut College Costs. To cut college costs, try to graduate in three years instead of four by taking extra classes or getting credits through Advanced Placement tests. Double major to get two degrees for the price of one. Live at home or get a roommate to save on housing costs. Buy used textbooks or sell your textbooks back to the bookstore at the end of the semester.
Types of Financial Aid The biggest misconceptions about financial aid are that only students who are exceptionally smart or exceptionally poor qualify for financial aid.
Although there is need-based financial aid that may not be available to the wealthiest students, the truth is that there are many forms of financial aid that are not determined by financial need at all. And for those of you that aren't the best scholars, you will be happy to know that most forms of aid only require the student to maintain a passing average — no dean's list required.
You'd even be surprised how many people never apply because they think they won't get anything. Don't be fooled!
Financial aid comes in many forms, and there is a lot of it out there to assist you with financing your higher education.
College can be expensive. And if you need help paying for it you will need to take initiative. Plan to take the first step. Apply for all the financial aid you want and need. Start by completing and submitting the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). You've got a lot to lose if you don't!
For more information Contact the financial aid office of the schools you're interested in attending for information on financial aid programs, application procedures and forms, deadlines, and awarding policies. A financial aid counselor can help you if you have problems or unusual circumstances. They can help also you discover financial aid programs to meet your needs and qualifications.
Scholarship scams There isn't a fool-proof method for identifying scholarship scams, but some warning signs include guarantees of winning, implying that anyone is eligible, and pressure tactics. Watch out for the following well-known scams:
- The Free Seminar. A letter invites you to an interview or free seminar at a nearby hotel, activity center, or even a school. These seminars are usually sales pitches for financial aid/scholarship consultants.
- Ego Stroking. You receive an offer to see your name and achievements in print for a fee and to compete with others in the directory for scholarship awards. These scholarships typically only cover 5–10 percent of all entries.
- Pay to Play. A letter indicates that you have already won a scholarship. However, it states that you have to mail in a "shipping and handling fee" or pay taxes on the award up-front.
- Notification by Phone. All scholarship organizations notify winners by writing. Even calls from organizations by a scholarship sponsor are followed with written notification.
- Time Pressure. Be wary of phrases such as "first-come, first-served" or others that pressure you to make a decision in a short time frame.
- The Name Game. This scam uses similar or official sounding names by using words like national, federation, administration, or bureau (for example, the National Federation of Education, the Bureau of Educational Administration, or State Scholarship Federation).
- No Phone Number. Legitimate organizations and foundations always give a phone number on scholarship application materials.
- False Sponsorship. The Better Business Bureau and federal agencies do not endorse private enterprises.
- Personal Information Requests. Do not give out your bank account number, credit card number, or Social Security Number. None of these are needed to process or award private scholarships.
- Application Fees. Most scholarship foundations are nonprofits and cannot charge an application fee.
Make plans now to attend the RMACAC Denver Spring College Fair at the University of Denver, Ritchie Center on Sunday, April 22, 2012, from 1– 3:30 p.m.
The State ACT test will be administered on Tuesday, April 24, 2012. Now is the perfect time to begin preparing.
ACT Prep Course at SHHS
(through Sycamore Learning Company ACT/SAT Seminars)
April 2nd and 3rd from 3:00 - 5:30 p.m.
Registration information was sent home to all juniors in February.
Method Test Prep
This new and improved online test preparation for the ACT and SAT is available on Naviance for sophomores, juniors and seniors. It provides an easy and efficient way to do a full test prep curriculum or to target specific areas that students may need to work on. For example, many students struggle with the pace of the Reading section of the ACT and score lower on this section than others. If that is the case, a student may want to practice specific reading questions, and read up on this site that will help a student better pace themselves.
Follow the steps below to access Method Test Prep:
1. Log onto Naviance
2. Click on “Method Test Prep 2.0” on the left hand side of your home page under “Resources.
3. Click “continue” to go to the website
4. Provide your email and hit “submit”.
5. Click on either ACT or SAT test prep
AP Exam Registration
Smoky Hill students can register for their AP exams online by going to www.TotalRegistration.net/AP/60452. Students must register for exams by 2:45 a.m., Thursday, April 5, 2012. For the 2012 AP Exams, the cost is $87.00 per exam.
Once registration is complete, students will need to print a copy of the confirmation form, bring that and payment to the Post Grad Center. Payment MUST accompany your confirmation. You can pay with cash, credit card or a check payable to Smoky Hill High School. Exams will not be ordered until full payment has been received.
Keep checking your email for any spring college visits, scholarships and other important messages from Post Grad.