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Paying for college: Why you shouldn't ignore local scholarships

Feb 28, 2013 8:40:00 AM

Local scholarships can often be dismissed by students because of their comparitively low values to national scholarships. While a local scholarship from the local Elk's club may be for $500, a national sweepstakes may offer a full ride. But it is very important to consider the number of applicants when applying to scholarships. With fewer applicants, as is the case with local scholarships, you have a much higher probability of winning the award. A few local scholarships could cover the costs of book and living expenses, reducing the amount you need to borrow and easing the burden of funding education costs.

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Topics: Scholarships for High School Students, College Financial Aid

Salary Profile - Know What You'll Make Before you Borrow for College

Feb 18, 2013 12:26:00 PM

Before you borrow for college, you should do very thorough research on salaries in your field or fields of choice. While not every student will know exactly what he or she wants to study before enrolling in school, it is a good idea to at least have an idea about some careers that interest you - and what you are likely to make after graduation. College isn't cheap these days and most students need to borrow to meet college costs. If you are borrowing without any idea of what your means will be to pay your loans back, you could get yourself in trouble.

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Topics: Borrowing for College

Paying for College: 10 ways to cut out overborrowing

Feb 12, 2013 9:51:00 AM

  1. Start a 529 Plan. The earlier you open this type of account, the better. Put any cash gifts your child receives directly into this account. Make a habit of deposting small amounts regularly throughout the year and if you get an unexpected amount of cash (great tax return, inheretance) consider putting it straight towards your savings instead of spending it. When you invest your money, it grows.
  2. Chef_Intern_iStock_000025923590Large_FBGet a summer job. If your child is of working age, encourage them to get a summer job and a part-time job during the school year, if he or she can manage it. Talk to your child about the importance of saving this money for college. Student savings can help cover the cost of books, fees, living expenses, and even tuition. Just keep in mind that when completing the FAFSA, students are expected to contribute a higher percentage of their savings to college costs than parents are, so you may want to consider putting your child's earnings in a savings account under your name.
  3. Search for Local Scholarships. Local scholarships are much less competitive than their national counterparts. The truth is, sometimes even local scholarships go un-used because there are no applicants. Yes, the total awards of these scholarships are certainly lower - $200, $500 or $1000, for example - but they are much more accessible. Any amount you can get that will reduce the amount you need to borrow is a good thing.RIScholarships.org: Start your free search
  4. Search for good value schools. Part of reducing your borrowing costs is choosing a school that offers good value for the particular program the student chooses to study. For example, Rhode Island College offers a tremedous teaching program. Regardless of where you graduate from, you are likely to earn the same amount as students who graduated from other schools, if you teach in the public school system. Rhode Island College is much less expensive than other schools and since the teaching program is so good, it would be considered a "good value."
  5. Complete the FAFSA, no matter what. Some families incorrectly assume they won't qualify for aid, or they believe the financial aid forms are too difficult to complete. No matter what, you should fill our the FAFSA, to ensure you are getting all of the aid you qualify for. If you need assistance, free help is available in Rhode Island: Book an appointment online
  6. Don't miss deadlines. Missing a deadline may mean you don't get aid you would otherwise qualify for. This could mean that you need to borrow more than necessary to make up costs. Each school has a financial aid deadline that you should pay very close attention to. March 1 is the deadline for filing the FAFSA in order to be considered for a Rhode Island state grant. You will automatically be considered if you are a Rhode Island resident and you file before this date.
  7. Consider investing in mutual funds, bonds or stocks. Any of these methods can help you build your money better than if you were just to put your money into a traditional savings account. Talk to your financial advisor about what is best for your family. 
  8. Find schools that meet 100% of need. Not all schools meet 100% of your financial need, according to the school's or Department of Education's methodology for eligibility. If you can find a school that has a policy of meeting 100% of need and your child can get in, it might be worth looking into.
  9. Apply to schools where your academic profile is above average. If a student's SAT scores and GPA are higher than the average student's scores at a particular college, that student may be eligible for merit based aid. Talk to schools before you apply to find out who qualifies for merit based aid, what the deadlines are for being considered, and consider applying to those schools to potentially reduce your borrowing requirements. 
  10. Investigate salaries. Your borrowing should be in line with what you will be able to afford to pay back after college. Search online to find starting salaries in different fields. Don't choose to go to a school that will require you to borrow more than you will be able to afford to pay back after school.
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It's FAFSA Time

Feb 7, 2013 2:02:00 PM

If you will need some help paying for college, you are not alone. Most famililes these days need some sort of financial assistance in order to meet college education costs.

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Topics: College Financial Aid, Borrowing for College