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Spring Cleaning Includes Student Finances

[May 14, 2007.]


Now that spring is officially in bloom, students heading to college have a perfect opportunity to do some "spring cleaning" when it comes to their finances. This is particularly important for college freshmen, who must weigh their financial options carefully before beginning classes.

What many prospective college students may not know is that, in the year 2007, there are numerous educational funding options available. For instance, students might first want to assess how much in "free money," or scholarships and grants, they can obtain before attempting to get loans. The chief advantage to scholarships and grants is that the money involved does not have to be repaid.

However, students should be aware of the fact that this year, as in other years, competition for such financial aid is extremely competitive. Students are encouraged to check with their high school guidance counselors in order to find out what types of scholarships and grants may be available in their area.

Another possible financial option is "earned money," otherwise known as work-study programs. These federal programs provide jobs to students in order to help them to pay their college expenses. It can be particularly helpful for students to obtain jobs in fields connected with their proposed majors.

A final source of money is federal and private loans. These can be borrowed by students or their parents and must be repaid with interest. While student loans might be considered the course of last resort, they can be an absolute necessity, particularly for middle-income and low-income students attending private colleges and universities.

Students should resist the urge to borrow more money than they can afford to pay back. In order to determine what kind of loan is financially feasible, students might need to determine how much in wages they can expect to earn following graduation. The last thing a recent grad needs is to become mired in a mountain of student loan debt.

Julie Ann Amos
May 14th 2007

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