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Answers to Your College Questions

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Your interest rates for subsidized Direct student loans could increase this year. In 2008, a law was enacted to temporarily reduce interest rates on these loans from 6.8% to 3.4%. However, on July 1st, this bill is set to expire. Without further action from the government, increased interest rates could end up creating thousands of dollars in additional payments for students—particularly students in great financial need.

To understand the issue at hand, one needs to better understand how student loan interest rates function today. With the Direct loan (also commonly referred to as the Stafford loan), all dependent students in pursuit of an undergraduate degree may obtain $5,500 during their freshman year, $6,500 during their sophomore year, and $7,500 in each of their junior and senior years.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

financial-questions-students-should-askSummer is a great time to head to college campuses for a visit. Not only can you learn more about schools and get a feel for whether they’re a good fit for you, but campus visits are also an ideal opportunity to speak to admissions representatives and financial aid officers one-on-one about college costs and financial aid. When speaking to these college representatives, consider asking these ten questions to ensure you find the school that fits you best in every way, including financially.

1. What is the current cost of tuition and fees? Room and board?

Some colleges know what their listed charges (sticker prices) will be years in advance. Most don’t, but obtaining the current sticker price will at minimum provide you with an initial starting point for determining the affordability of the institution. If you intend to live in university housing for more than one year, be sure to ask how room and board plans typically fluctuate from year to year. Are all room prices the same? How about meal plan prices?

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Posted by on in Paying for College

By Todd Weaver

How much of your financial aid award is “gift aid” versus “self-help?” Does it matter? How can you tell a good award from a bad one?

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Posted by on in Paying for College

Now that we are well into spring, it is that time of the year for seniors and their parents to receive college financial aid award letters. Of course, with the costs of colleges as they are, these official award letters offer critical pieces of information to help families determine their final college choice—a decision that must be made by May 1st.

Follow these five steps as you read your college award letter (or look to the sample award letter provided below) to ensure that you understand the exact amount each college will cost.

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Posted by on in Paying for College

After filing your FAFSA (your Free Application for Federal Student Aid), you will receive a very important number in your Student Aid Report—your EFC. The EFC, or your Expected Family Contribution number, is critically important to determining the cost of your college options.   But many families don’t understand what this number actually means and how colleges use it.

So what is the EFC? Look to these four commonly asked questions to fully understand your EFC and how it will affect your college costs.

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Tagged in: EFC FAFSA Financial Aid
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