In order to effectively manage your financial aid, you need to be informed about all of the resources and options available to you. We’ve collected a few tips and tools to help make financing your education more manageable.
Complete Required Financial Literacy Program
Grad Ready will walk you through all of the smart steps you need to take in order to pay for college, manage your money, and repay any student loans you choose to take. This financial literacy program is required for all incoming new students. The deadline to complete the required GradReady module for first-year students beginning January 2019 is Friday, January 18, 2019. Get instructions for logging in and completing the requirements.
Learn Financial Aid Terms
Financial Aid can sometimes be confusing, so make sure you are familiar with the terms and definitions surrounding your financial aid.
Develop a budget
It is important for you to budget during your college career. Keep in mind that budgeting involves both the short term and long term planning. Short term expenses are things like books for your classes, rent, and paying for other daily activities. The long term involves planning to repay your loans, buying a car, and planning for your future. Learning to budget now will make your future much easier to navigate. Check out the budgeting advice and tools provided by Federal Student Aid.
Monitor Your Loans
You will want to monitor your financial aid while you are in college. By logging onto your National Student Loan Data System record, you can view your federal financial aid. This site will allow you to monitor the types and amounts of your federal loans and Pell grants. This is especially important since some financial aid funds are limited or capped.
Know Your Federal Servicer
If you borrow a federal loan, you will work with a Federal Servicer. It is important to know who your servicer is and to have the contact information for them.
Understand your Gap Financing Options
If you are considering financing your education with a Parent PLUS Loan or a private student loan, it’s important to be informed when weighing your options. Check out these charts for undergraduate and graduate students for more information.
Understand Your Loan Repayment Options
Make sure you understand why and how to repay your student loans. You will want to research the variety of repayment options you may have. On the Federal Student Aid website, you can learn about forbearance, deferment, and all other pertinent information about your loans. Find out what you can expect when it’s time to repay federal loans.
Stay Informed About Financial Aid and Financial Literacy
The Pennsylvania Higher Education Assistance Agency (PHEAA) has many helpful tools to make the transition to college easier. On their website You Can Deal With It, they share things like information guides for borrowers and parents, tips on budgeting, and timelines for the financial aid process.
Consolidating Your Loans
Throughout your education, you may borrow loans from different loan servicers. Instead of having a separate payment for each individual servicer, you may have the option to consolidate your loan payments into one single payment.
Rehabilitate Your Loans
If you find yourself in default on a student loan, you may use loan rehabilitation as a way to get out of the default status.
Loan Forgiveness, Cancellation, or Discharge
There are certain situations where your loans may be forgiven, cancelled, or discharged including disability, type of employment, and other circumstances. In this case, you would no longer be expected to repay your loan. The Federal Student Aid website lists several qualifications for these conditions.