Student loans help a lot of people afford a college education, but often times the loans end up crippling people in the long run because the never ending monthly payments are scheduled to last so many years into the future, people worry about only one thing in their early careers – paying off the loan. The way to avoid this is to think of student loans as a last resort instead of the first way to pay for your college education, or career training.
The most widely available and largest of the government grants for college is the Federal Pell Grant, which helps millions of college students afford college tuition every year. However, a Pell Grant will normally only provide a portion of your college tab. Regardless of how much money you need for tuition, books, etc., the Pell Grant will only help you with a grant of up to approximately $4,000 per year. Often times that amount is not enough for everything. When the academic advisers working with you on your financial aid tell you that you can’t have any more grant money, they also invariably say, “…but you can get a student loan to cover the rest”. Perhaps what they should be saying is “Go find some more grants”.
Unfortunately there have also been a large number of scandals where students were guided towards student loans offered by private banks on terms that were less than ideal for students, especially in comparison to other grants and student loans the government offers. The scandals have been a result of conflicts of interest within student financial aid offices. “When you strip away the ivy, you have a business,” says Kalman Chany, author of Paying for College Without Going Broke. School aid officers make decisions based not only on what is best for students but on their schools’ own bottom lines, he says.
Doing your own research can be a very good thing. If you’re not sure who to trust, a direct, non-biased source of information about government grants, students loans, etc. is the government’s own Free Application For Student Aid website.
The Federal government has almost 500 grant programs for college and occupational school students. It pays out over $30 BILLION every year to people trying to better themselves by increasing their level of education. And no matter what anyone tells you, it does not matter how old you are. One expert on the subject provides a number of examples such as these: As a senior citizen you can get grant money to learn everything from painting to cosmic physics. If you want to be a Federal agent, or a police officer, or work in the DNA forensic lab, then the Justice Department has career training programs to pay for your four year college degree as long as you promise to get a job doing something in law enforcement and stay with it for a certain number of years. If you want to be a librarian you can get $5,000 from the Department of Education to study library science. Over at the Department of Housing and Urban Development they will give you $11,000 to study community planning because HUD needs more community planners. Or you can get almost a thousand dollars from the Department of Energy if you are an engineer and attend certain conferences. They will even pay your air fare. The Department of Defense spends billions of dollars on education grants so that you and other people like you can study a variety of subjects spanning from foreign languages to mathematics. The Department of Health and Human Services has grant money for people who want to go to nursing school. Some of these grants can total out to $30,000.
The bottom line is that no matter who you are, where you are in your life, or what you want to do, there are education grants, government backed student loans (on good terms) and many other programs that can help you. Don’t be too quick to take out the first student loan you’re offered – be sure you’ve thoroughly explored all of the grants and other programs available for your area of study.
You may also be interested in the article: Finding Grants and Free Money You Qualify For