It wasn’t too long ago that I was trying to figure out how to handle my own college financial aid problems.
The FAFSA was a foreign document to me that I had never seen before applying to college and I literally had no clue how to find competitive student loans so that my interest rates weren’t crazy.
In addition to being thrown into this foreign world of tuition payments and other fees, I was chosen for verification – a not so fun experience if I do say so myself.
That’s Why I’m Sharing My Solutions for College Financial Aid Problems
Throughout the past decade, I’ve learned almost all there is to know about college financial aid, including what problems you may encounter.
Keep in mind that there are many other questions you may have that aren’t answered in this post. Should you not find a helpful answer here, I highly encourage you to talk to your financial aid counselor on-campus so that they can walk you through exactly what your options are for your situation.
Problem 1: I qualified for a Federal PLUS loan but my parent(s) can’t or won’t accept it
The PLUS loan is a popular one in college financial aid packages. Although it’s a great form of aid for some students, others see it as a roadblock since they know their parent(s) won’t agree to take out the loan. Consider talking to your parents on the possibility of taking a Parent PLUS loan, as they can be transferred directly to you if they don’t want to be responsible for paying your college education.
If this is you, one of the options you have is to ask your financial aid office to amend your award package to include a different loan or a higher loan amount for your federal subsidized and unsubsidized loans.
There is a limit as to how much money you can take out in federal loans every year, so make sure you aren’t asking to go above that threshold!
The financial aid office should submit a request to the U.S. Department of Education for acceptance after you’ve asked for your funding to be amended.
If your request gets denied, you can deny the PLUS loan and take out a private student loan instead. If you do this, make sure you shop around for low interest rates!
Problem 2: I lost my scholarship due to having a tough semester and now I need to figure out how to make up that money
You are definitely not alone in this boat. College is challenging and it’s not uncommon to have a rough semester.
Since a lot of academic scholarships have a GPA attached to them, it’s important to do whatever you can beforehand to keep those grades up!
If you do find yourself in a situation where you’ve lost your scholarship, then it’s time to do a few things:
- Ask your financial aid office about what other scholarships and grants are available for students
- Look for scholarships online
- Look at the terms of the scholarship and see if there is a way to get it back or to receive a prorated amount
Problem 3: Student loan debt is intimidating and I’m not sure what I should be doing now to make sure I don’t spend the rest of my life paying it off
Lucky for you, I’ve written a few posts on student loans and paying for college. Definitely take the time to check these out… You’ll find at least one of two ideas to reduce costs and save money so that you aren’t sinking in debt later on!
- 7 Tips for Paying Off Student Loans
- Financial Advice for College Students: A Graduate’s Tips
- Reduce College Costs with These 7 Tips
- How Long to Pay Off Student Loans – The Basics
All if these articles should be helpful, whether you’re looking for 6 ultimate ways to fight down student debt in Australia or you need help balancing cash for your education in the states.
Problem 4: My financial aid package was nowhere near what I thought it would be
Sticker shock tends to happen to students and it’s a common college financial aid problem that surfaces.
When you initially apply for college, all the pretty brochures make it sound like your education is going to be affordable.
Unfortunately, a lot of students are smacked back into reality when they open their offer letter and see loan after loan listed.
Although student loans aren’t an awful thing, they certainly aren’t the first choice when it comes to paying for a higher education.
As a starting point, you should definitely talk to your school’s financial aid office about any alternatives they have, or to at least walk you through how they came up with your award package.
Make sure you do your research beforehand and see if there are any grants or scholarships you may be eligible for that might have been overlooked (mistakes happen, you know)!
You should also look at your award amount and see if you really need all the loan money that has been given to you. If you don’t, tell the financial aid you only want to accept “x” dollars of the total offered.
Another thing you can do is reduce your college costs by choosing a different meal plan and/or housing option. You can save a ton of money just by altering your choices with these two things!
Other Things to Keep in Mind When Addressing College Financial Aid Problems
The FAFSA is going to be changing soon, and that means your financial aid is going to be based off of the previous previous year. Currently, a FAFSA for the 2016-2017 school year would be completed based on 2014 taxes, but the 2017-2018 school year will be based off the 2015 taxes and can be completed beginning October 2016 rather than January 2017.
With these changes in mind, students and parents should be advised that their 2015 taxes will be used for two FAFSA years.
What other college financial aid problems have you faced? Feel free to ask questions in the comments below as well!