Students primarily use two forms of funding to pay for college: loans and scholarships. Scholarships are money given to a student based on specific characteristics, such as academic or athletic ability. Scholarship money never has to be paid back. Loans are money borrowed by a student or the student's parents. Loan money has to be paid back once a student graduates or leaves college. If loans are part of your college affordability plan, it is prudent to choose those with the lowest interest rate. Talk to the Office of Student Financial Planning for assistance determining what loan is best for your particular situation.
Other forms of aid that do not need to be paid back include grants (such as the Opportunity Grant) and, for in-state students, KEES money. Students might be eligible for this aid based on factors like their high school grades or overall financial need. It is important to file a FAFSA as soon as it opens each year in order to receive as much free money as possible, especially since state grants can run out.
QUICK TIPS FOR TAKING OUT LOANS: ENTRANCE COUNSELING AND MASTER PROMISSORY NOTES
When students request a loan, they need to complete a process called entrance counseling. Students also need to sign a master promissory note for their loans. Financial Planning cannot add loans to a student's bill to help them pay for college until the student has taken these steps. To complete this process, visit www.studentaid.gov. You will need your FSA user ID and password, which is the same information that you use to file your FAFSA, to complete this process.
If a parent decides to take out a Parent Plus loan and help their child pay for college, the parent must also visit www.studentaid.gov to apply for this loan. They will also need their FSA user ID and password to complete the credit check process. If the parent is approved, they will need to complete a master promissory note as well. If the parent is declined, the student will qualify for other unsubsidized loans in their own name.