October 19, 2012

Search for Scholarships with New Search Engine

Posted in Grants, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:11 PM by Joe From Boston


StudentScholarshipSearch.com has recently been redesigned and relaunched.  The goal of the new design is to provide better resources and tools for students in their search for scholarships and financial aid.  The new site offers a “Scholarship Matcher” tool allowing students to answer a few simple questions to get a short list of relevant scholarships.  Unlike other scholarship search sites wich require students to complete 3-5 pages of questions, StudentScholarshipSearch.com offers an open tool with no registration requirements.

Users are encouraged to search through custom lists of scholarships created by students, for students.  I especially like their “Tips and Advice” section.

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March 19, 2012

Scholarship Search Advice

Posted in Grants, Saving for College, Scholarships, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , at 9:49 AM by plusloans


What are the best resources for students and parents when searching for scholarships?  To start, you need a plan.  Think about how much time you can spend on the process, how early you can start, who can help, etc.  Some advice – you can never start too early or get enough help.

I can provide a few links to resources but would love to get your thoughts and suggestions.

For searching, try the Student Scholarship Search website which offers a free open directory of thousands of awards, grants and scholarships.  Their new design offers tools for saving scholarships that are relevant and tips for improving your chances of qualifying.  They recently published Scholarship Search Mistakes which  lists the top 5 mistakes students make when searching for scholarships.

Another great site is http://www.scholarshippoints.com which gives out scholarships every month with a chance to win $10,000 every 3 months!

What are you favorite resources?  Do you have any advice for the rest of us??

December 28, 2011

Student Loan Options for 2012

Posted in Legislation Affecting Students, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 1:32 PM by Joe From Boston


Looking into our crystal ball, we see tuitions continuing to rise.  At the same time, state and federal governments are reducing the amount of funding available to pay for college.  For a quick refresher on your financial aid options, check out our Financial Aid Roadmap to get some insight.

The bottom line, you are going to have to be creative in funding your child’s education going forward.  Search for scholarships, talk with your financial aid office, ask friends and family for help.  As a last options, consider loans.  Some tops student loan sites include:

August 28, 2011

How do I Fill the Gap between what College Costs and the Financial Aid Awarded?

Posted in Graduate Students, Grants, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 12:48 PM by plusloans


Struggling with finding the last dollar to pay that college tuition bill???  Here is a good overview of the challenges and some options to manage them…

It is no secret that college is expensive and tuition costs are continuing to rise. We put together the infographic below to examine the costs associated with a college education, including the hidden costs you may not be factoring in like health fees, gas money, entertainment and all the Red Bull you’ll consume during finals. The graphic also outlines how funding occurs and how students can fill the gaps left in paying for college. Feel free to share with your fellow students, friends and family!

Link: http://www.privatestudentloans.com/fill-the-gap/

August 10, 2011

Parent PLUS or Private Loan: Which is Better?

Posted in Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News tagged , , , , at 4:56 PM by plusloans


One question that comes up a lot from parents is how to fund the remainder of your child’s education, after federal loans of course. There are a variety of options out there including Federal PLUS loans and private college loans. It can be difficult to decide on which loan is right for your family, so to help you in the process, I’ve explained some of the major benefits and drawbacks of each below.

Parent PLUS Loans

Parent plus loans are available through the government and offer a variety of benefits. Benefits such as deferment, forbearance, and even some cancellation options are a perk of PLUS loans that are not always available with private loans. However, the interest rate is a fixed 7.9%, and higher than some private loans.

One of the most common questions from parents about the PLUS loan is in regards to the credit check. The credit check for PLUS loans is minimal and it’s mostly to make sure that there is no recent bankruptcy or adverse history on record within the past 5 years. If you’re still concerned that your credit will hinder your ability to receive the loan, you should continue with the application process, as students whose parent’s get denied a PLUS loan are entitled to further Stafford loans (at lower interest rates than the PLUS).

>>Read more answers to Parent PLUS loan FAQs

Private Loans

Private loans may actually be a better option than the PLUS loan for some families. Interest rates are now very competitive and come in both fixed and variable. This would allow for less interest over the lifetime of the loan than the Parent PLUS. You should also note that while the loan holder in this case is the student, most loans will suggest that a parent cosign for the student, which is generally a good idea anyway, as it improves approval chances and may lower the interest rate for the loan.

A downside of private loans is that many of the repayment benefits that you find with federal loans are not all available, however, the lower interest rates could outweigh this point. There are also other benefits of private loans to consider, such as the disbursal method. Unlike federal loans, private loans get disbursed directly to the student, so they can pay for immediate expenses such as books, or room and board.

>>Compare private student loan options

There is no real answer to “what is the best loan” because this is too subjective and is different for everyone. There are a lot of different factors to consider when looking into funding your child’s education and it comes down to not which loan is the best, but which is best for your family. To help you decide, you’ll simply have to weigh the pros and cons of each option.

January 27, 2011

Five websites to help pay for college

Posted in Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , at 9:35 AM by plusloans


Here is a list of 5 useful websites from Edvisors that will help you pay for college:

1) http://www.StudentScholarshipSearch.com – Offers a free open directory of scholarships for college.

2) http://www.ScholarshipSearch.com – A college student membership rewards program; join, earn points, win free scholarships!

3) http://www.StudentLoanNetwork.com – Everything you need to know about student loans and a great overview of financial aid in general.

4) http://www.FinancialAidNews.com – Daily news updates on financial aid, scholarships and paying for college.

5) http://www.FinancialAidForum.com – A financial aid discussion board discussing all things relating to paying for college.

January 12, 2011

5 Financial Aid Tips for 2011

Posted in FAFSA, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, Student Loan News, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , , , , , at 1:19 PM by plusloans


Here is another list – this time about financial aid:

  1. Complete the FAFSA application to qualify for federal and institutional financial aid.  Applying early will increase your eligibility for aid.  Those who wait may loose out.
  2. Once you complete the FAFSA, apply for scholarships.  There are thousands of private and free scholarship programs.  Again, apply early to get the best chance of securing money for 2011.
  3. Research and apply for federal student loans.  These loans are great options.  The Stafford loan has a low rate and interest as well as payments are deferred until after graduation for the “subsidized” Stafford loan.
  4. Review private student loans and student loans from banks.  These loans offer some different options and may be at lower (variable) rates compared to the fixed plus loan rate.
  5. Dig deep into your savings – you’ll need it…

Good luck with funding the next year of school.  The costs continue to rise.

April 26, 2010

Parent PLUS Loan Rejected. What Now?

Posted in Grants, Parent PLUS Loans, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 10:49 AM by plusloans


Getting a loan rejection letter can be very disheartening and exhausting after the work you put into helping your child(ren) pay for their education. However, there are still ways to gain more financial aid through what is called an “appeal” process.

Most schools have these in place and you can get the specific details through their financial aid department. The most common way this process is handled is by sending in proof of income and a formal letter stating exactly where your finances are at, and why you or your child needs more money for school. It is best to do this process as early as possible because as the months move forward toward the beginning of the academic year, the financial aid pie is allocated to students on a first-come basis. Read the rest of this entry »

October 15, 2009

Independent Students Have Options Beyond the Parent Plus

Posted in FAFSA, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans tagged , , at 9:27 AM by dbonvie


The Parent Plus loan is a great option for parents to help their children with the cost of education, however, if your student is 24 or older they are viewed as an independent through the schools eyes which means the Parent Plus loan option is not a viable one. However, that certainly does not mean that your student is out of loan options.

If your student is viewed as independent the next best loan option is a private student loan which isn’t the worst thing. Actually, in some ways this loan alternative actually helps the parent because the parent is listed as the secondary borrower on the loan and not the primary. With the Parent Plus loan the parent is the primary. Interest rates are also at historic lows making this a great time to take out a private loan. In addition, repayment does not begin until after the student graduates.

APPLY for a Private Loan Today!

September 10, 2009

How is my EFC calculated?

Posted in FAFSA, Parent PLUS Loans, Private Loans, Saving for College, Scholarships, Stafford Loans, The Financial Aid Process tagged , , , at 1:22 PM by Joe From Boston


Calculate your EFC

Calculate your EFC

The EFC, or Expected Family Contribution is the amount you and your family is expected to contribute towards college education.

The federal government gives you an official federal EFC calculation after you have complete the FAFSA form.  This calculation determines family resources available from a family’s income (less allowances for taxes and living expenses) and assets (less allowances for retirement).  A percentage of these available amounts are earmarked as EFC. Read more about the Cost and your EFC.

The EFC formula is used to determine the EFC and ultimately determine the need for assistance from the following types of federal student financial assistance: Federal Pell Grants, subsidized Stafford Loans (though the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan [DL] Program or through the Federal Family Education Loan Program [FFEL]), and assistance from the “campus-based” programs—Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG), Federal Perkins Loans, and Federal Work-Study (FWS).

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