Friday, May 16, 2008

Assessing Options

Options for Students Still Exist

If students and their families have been paying attention to recent publications concerning the student loan industry, they may be alarmed. However, there are still billions of dollars in financial aid that students can apply for. With all of the different outlets, such as scholarships, federal grants, federal loans, and alternative loans, most students and families can find a way to go to school.

While much of the recent press may be discouraging, it is important to remember to weigh the cost of the education with the opportunities a degree can provide. According to the College Board’s 2007 study, Education Pays, people with a bachelor’s degree on average make 60% more a year than those with only high school diplomas. Additionally they make more than $800,000 more in a lifetime. In the short-term, the sticker shock of whatever bills a student and their families may have to pay is offset by the long-term benefits.

Enrollment in universities is expected to increase over 10% in the next few years, according to American Student Assistance, and this follows a trend in the number of students who have to take out private student loans (growing 30% between 2004 and 2005). Given these facts, there’s bound to be a compromise for those students who want an education, but are unable to pay all the costs out of their own pocket.

Here are some steps that you can take when student loan shopping:

1. Start early – DO NOT start the process of learning about the loan process a few weeks before you have to pay school bills. Start early, especially this year. 10-12 weeks before the tuition bill is due is a good time to start. That will provide enough time to educate yourself on the options that best fit your needs.

2. Shop around – If you have exhausted all of your federal aid, you need to educate yourself in the process of obtaining other types of school loans. Check the APR, interest rate, borrower benefits, and the fees that you will have to pay on the loans.

3. Network – The odds are that you know people who are going through the same situation. Hundreds of thousands of students will be searching for ways to pay for college. By sharing information, you can save yourselves a lot of time and potentially a lot of money.

At Fynanz, we believe that education is an opportunity that should be open to all who wish to pursue their dreams. We and the lenders in our community are here to help students overcome the challenges they may face in making those dreams come true.

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