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Congratulations. You’ve done it! You were accepted into college and begin in the fall. Now comes the fun stuff: How will you pay for school? Scholarships, grants, savings and loans are all great options for you, but maybe that scholarship you were hoping for fell through. There is no denying that college is expensive and without scholarships or assistance from your parents. The good thing for you however, is there are other options available such as student loans. Millions of students rely on student loans to pay for some or all of college, so you won’t be alone.
When searching for financial assistance, you should always start with scholarships and grants, which cost you nothing and do not have to be repaid (Free money!). These can be in the form of need-based (those who can’t afford to go to college through their family’s financial means alone), merit-based (awarded because of a specific achievement, talent, skill or characteristic), or gift-aid. Check with your guidance counselor, ask the schools you want to attend and even do a little internet research on your own to find out how to apply. Most likely any money received through scholarships and grants will not be enough to fully fund your education. However, the more free money you receive, the less you have to pay back later.
Once you have minimized how much you’ll have to borrow through scholarships, grants, and savings, you can begin applying for student loans. It’s important to know that there are two different types of student loans: Federal (those backed by the federal government) and Private (ones by credit unions, banks and other private lenders). Federal loans have lower fixed interest rates and are more easily available. A fixed interest rate means that the rate at which you are quoted will not change throughout the life of the loan. In contrast, interest rates on private loans vary, depending on the lender and the borrower’s credit rating.
The first thing you should do when applying for Federal financial aid is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application automatically applies you for monies awarded from most federal and state agencies and will be processed and sent to the institutions you list on the form. If you are eligible for loans, your school will provide you with an Award Letter explaining the types of aid you are eligible to receive. If the Financial Aid Office has determined you need a loan, you will need to contact the appropriate parties to apply.
Once you have thoroughly exhausted all sources of free and low-cost financial aid, you might find you still have a need of financial assistance. Private student loans are meant to fill this gap that is left between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Federal loans/aid you’ve received. Private loans are not offered through the federal government, so it’s important to look for a loan program from an institution you trust, such as Georgia’s Own Credit Union. These loans are in the name of the student but often require a co-signer and are not guaranteed or subsidized by the government. Instead, they are based on the credit score of the student and/or the credit score of any co-signer they have on the loan. They also allow flexible repayment options so that you will have lower initial payments after graduation. More information on Georgia’s Own student lending program can be found at http://georgiasown.studentchoice.org.
There are numerous options and places to get information these days. Get smart, plan ahead and put your plan into action. While the process of funding your continuing education may seem daunting, planning carefully and researching all of your options can save you thousands! Remember, college is an investment, not an expense.
Anyone who has watched television late at night is aware of the plethora of “Get out of Credit Debt” companies with their sappily sentimental infomercials and catchy 1-800 phone numbers. But credit card debt isn’t even America’s leading form of financial crisis. Student loan debt has not only surpassed credit card debt for the first time in history, it has also eclipsed the trillion-dollar mark. Yet there don’t seem to be scads of non-profit organizations offering “x” number of “easy” steps to get out from under tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding student loans. Luckily, i[x] is here to help keep you from getting into that position in the first place.
In addition to grants and scholarships, a great way to help pay for the ever-rising cost of higher education is through Cooperative Education Programs (co-ops). Co-ops incorporate internships into the academic curriculum. Whether it is full-time work for one or two semesters, or part-time work over the course of several semesters, a co-op program can leave a student with over $10,000 for just six months’ work. Not only can these earnings immediately be applied to paying off loans, but connections made during these work experiences often lead directly to employment opportunities, helping graduates avoid the dreaded “underemployed” status that leads to loan deferments and much more money to make up in the long run.
Co-op programs exist at Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, as well as scores of other schools throughout the nation. While they are primarily offered in engineering and mathematical fields of study, co-op programs are expanding to a wider range of studies regularly. Contact your school’s (or schools’ of interest) academic office for information about what co-op opportunities they offer, and take another step toward a debt-free college graduate existence.
Hola guys and gals! I wanted to let you all know about some exciting news regarding student loans from Georgia’s Own. GOCU is pleased to announce it has extended it’s partnership with Credit Union Student Choice with the introduction of a Graduate Line of Credit. So if you are looking help for financing graduate school, look no further than Georgia’s Own! If you want to learn more about our Graduate Business Line of Credit, click here.
Don’t forget we also have options for undergraduate students!No Comments »
Hey guys! Hope everyone is enjoying Christmas break! I wanted to let you know about a few things going on right now with i[x] and Georgia’s Own…
-Join the i[x] College Bowl Pick’em Contest for a chance to win a $50 gift card! We are also giving away prizes for 2nd and 3rd places. So submit your picks by Dec. 25 to be entered!
-We are still accepting applications for the Georgia’s Own Credit Union Youth Advisory Board. Applications are being accepted until Dec. 31. This a great opportunity for you guys to make a difference in the lives of your peers around Georgia.
-Want to be in an upcoming Georgia’s Own commercial? Tell us what makes you one of Georgia’s Own and you could be featured. For more info and submit your story, visit iamgeorgiasown.com.
-Lastly, I ran across this article recently about changes in student lending and wanted to share it with everyone. Just a reminder, we offer a great alternative to other higher priced, private student loans with Credit Union Student Choice. To find out more info or apply, click here.
Have a Happy Holidays!No Comments »
So I wanted to let everyone know some exciting news from Georgia’s Own. GOCU and i[x] are proud to announce your newest benefit of membership: BALANCE Financial Fitness Program.
BALANCE is a free and confidential money management tool to help you stay on the path to financial freedom. Whether you’re interested in developing an easy spending and savings plan, getting out of debt, taking a look at your credit report, or buying a home, i[x] and BALANCE can help. They have chapters for you to look over and even provide a quiz to allow you to test your knowledge of the subject.
BALANCE also has counselors available throughout the day to answer any questions you might have. To use the program, visit BALANCEpro.net or call 888-456-2227 to begin taking advantage of this FREE resource!No Comments »
We are excited to announce that the 2010 Georgia’s Own scholarship winners have been selected. Congrats are in order for our $5,000 winner, Omar Haque (Johns Hopkins University). our $3,000 winner, Mary Rose Darr (University of Georgia), our $2,000 winner, Michelle Chang (Harvard University), and our $1,000 winners, Emily Chasteen (Furman University), Grace Hazlett (Andrew College), Kristen Holmes (Oglethorpe University), Victoria Chambers (University of Georgia), and Meagin Drummond (Gordon College).2 Comments »
Georgia’s Own will be awarding $15,000 in college scholarships to eight outstanding students. The scholarships are given to students who demonstrate good financial habits, a commitment to the community, and a commendable academic record. Our first place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Our second and third place winners will receive a $3,000 and $2,000 scholarship, respectively. In addition, 5 runner-ups will win $1,000 each. The deadline to apply is July 1st. For more details and an application, click here.2 Comments »
Did you know that the best time to buy a car is during the last two weeks in December or anytime between July and October? If you’re looking for a car right now, then it’s time to start planning for how you’re going to go about getting one.
The biggest decision deals with how you will pay for the car. You need to determine what you can afford, and based on that, decide new or used and what type. Most of us need to finance a car purchase. There are two common options for doing this; through the dealership or through your financial institution. Dealerships are convenient because you’re already there, but they can also be pushy, aggressive, non-competitive and add on lots of fees. Sometime the dealership makes more money on financing a car than the actual sale of the car itself! On the other hand, financial institutions usually have more competitive rates, personalized service and no add-on fees. The choice is yours and the time is now. Start planning and be prepared when summertime comes!
For information on Georgia’s Own Credit Union car loans for first time buyers, college grad buyers or ’green’ car purchases click here.No Comments »
So, you are starting to think about college. Good for you! Only, going to college means paying for college and this can present a problem.
Obviously, if you have the cash or the time to save up it is best to pay directly for your education. Even student loans have interest and every dollar you save now is a dollar you will not have to pay interest on. That said, a good education is one of the best investments you can make and you should not let money stand between you and your degree when there are so many great student loan programs.
So, how does one go about getting a student loan you ask? Here are a few simple steps to getting your student loan lined up.
Step 1. Get into school
In order to qualify for a student loan you have to be accepted to (or enrolled in) a college. Duh. So, hit the books junior and make sure you get in!
Step 2. Fill out your FAFSA
You will need to download your “Free Application for Federal Student Aid” off the FAFSA web site. This needs to be filled out before you can start the process for any federal aid. This will take some time and at moments you may feel yourself falling into a deep, deep sleep but snap out of it! Get that thing filled out and get moving.
Step 3. Find the Right Lender:
Here at i[x] we are obviously in favor of Georgia’s Own Credit Union for your student loan needs. You need to find the right lender for yourself but we think low rates and great customer service are a good combination. You’re smart, check them out and decide for yourself.
Step 4. Decide what type of loan to get
When it comes to student loans you have a number of choices. You can get a federal loan (Stafford, Perkins), your parents can get the loan (PLUS) or you can get a private loan. The two most common types of student loans are Stafford and PLUS loans. Here is a little more info on these two loan types:
Stafford Loans: These are low-cost loans from the federal government designed for undergraduate or graduate students. There are several different types of Stafford loans so be sure to talk to your Georgia’s Own loan representative to learn about which one is the best fit for you. The options vary on how much of a loan you need, how soon you have to pay it back and how the loan handles interest.
PLUS Loans: A PLUS loan (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) is designed for parents who want to pay the school costs for their child instead of the student borrowing the money directly. PLUS loans are arranged directly by your parents and have a number of different options and features depending on your financial status, your class load and payback options.
This is just an overview on a very complicated topic but dive in and take action. Stay tuned to the i[x] blog as well because we will be putting together more info on student loans in the future.No Comments »
There’s a pretty cool, although slightly intimidating looking, web site out there called SavingForCollege.com The site is run by an informative fellow by the name of Joseph Hurley. Hurley has also written a terrific book on the same subject, The Best Way to Save for College. The web site tends to be a little easier to digest—but the book is always good reference to put in your master library next to all those Harry Potter books (don’t be acting like you don’t know what I’m talking about).
What’s a 529? Short story: it’s a education savings plan operated by a state or educational institution designed to help families set aside funds for future college costs. Because it doesn’t matter what school you go to, college is tré expensive. At some schools, the cost to attend full-time for just one year is equal to buying 150 iPod Touch’s. That’s a lot of touchscreen love there.
Now that doesn’t mean you have to pick what college you’re going to when you’re six years old or anything, for all intents and purposes a 529 is a 529 is a 529. Did I mention this is a 529? Basically they are like a prepaid or savings plan solely for the purpose of school.
Hurley’s site gives some great quick info on the subject and points you in the right direction for getting one for yourself. Although hopefully in your case, you’ve got one rolling along already, since you’re so close to ‘that age.’ But if all else fails it’s never too late to start, plus you can recommend it to your parents for any little brothers or sisters you have. Then you look like the hero of the day, good karma goes around I tell you.
529s aren’t the only way to pay for college, but they are one way that helps make it easier to pay. The schools will get you one way or another. And the less ways you allow them to run rampant through your fundage, the better.
MissMC1 Comment »