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Financial Aid and Student Loan Introduction

Let's begin with some general advice:

Beware of Sticker Shock

Undoubtedly, there are going to be large numbers thrown around in your research and discussions with schools. Don't dismiss a school because of its high cost. Learn more about the school's financial aid policies and consider the benefits of an education from that institution. Then, relate those factors to your resources and how you might meet the costs. Bear in mind that shopping for college is a lot like shopping for a car - the sticker price is rarely your final price. If a school wants you (for your academic, athletic, or other achievements), they will find a way to help finance your education.

Do as much as you can

Really get a handle on your financial aid situation. Develop a budget of your monthly income and expenses and figure out how you can pay educational costs from assets, savings, or cash. Remember, every dollar you pay (rather than borrow) will save on repayment and interest charges. If you don't feel up to the task of reconciling all your finances by yourself, consider assistance from a CPA or other financial counselor. Many banks and credit unions offer low cost or free financial consultation to customers.

The bottom line is lower than you think

What's the best value you can get from a college or university? We don't mean the cheapest school - we mean the best value, the school that will help stretch your education dollar the furthest. Be sure to schedule time when visiting prospective schools to sit with someone in the financial aid office and review all your options. If you're already enrolled, take some time to discuss financial aid options with your financial aid officers - they're the most knowledgeable people around when it comes to your school's financial aid.

Never stop looking for aid

There are numerous scholarship searches, organizations and foundations that may be able to help. Take an active role in seeking these resources and start with our Scholarship Search page.

Consider Student Loans

Student Loan Network helps students and parents find the best federal student loans, alternative student loans and loan consolidation. Our goal is to provide you with the necessary knowledge, products and information to finance your education.

The Department of Education provides a wonderful online resource -- "Funding Your Education". Click here for details.