Here you will find information and tools to help you make good financial decisions along your path through college.
These resources are offered in partnership with the nonprofit student loan providers that make up the Education Finance Council's (EFC) voting membership. These public purpose organizations are dedicated to the single purpose of making college more affordable. Because financial health is key to a student's success in both school and life, EFC members work hard to help students and parents get the quality financial information they need.
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Federal Education Loans
Before accepting a loan, however, consider the following:
Only Borrow What You Need. Before taking out a loan, think about how much you actually need to borrow. While loans are a critical way to help finance a postsecondary education, only borrow what you need and amounts you can pay back once your education is complete. Borrowing wisely can help you to avoid student loan default down the road.
Learn More About Your Responsibilities First. Before you borrow, it may be helpful to learn more about the repayment process associated with Federal student loans so that you know what to expect when it comes time to fulfill your repayment obligations.
Shop Around. If you are borrowing through the Federal Family Education Loan Program, you have the right to select your lender. Since lenders offer different borrower benefits, such as interest rate reductions and loan forgiveness programs, it pays to shop around and choose the lender that best meets your needs.
Learn More. For additional information about Federal student loans, consider accessing "EFC's Guide to Federal Student Loans: Fast Facts and Tips."
Alternative Education Loans
There are limits on the amount you can borrow through the Federal student loan programs. By consequence, many students have turned to what are called alternative student loans to pay some of their college costs.
Click the links below to find information on alternative education loans offered by EFC members.
- Alaska Student Loan Corporation
- Connecticut Higher Education Supplemental Loan Authority
- Higher Education Servicing Corporation
- Iowa Student Loan Corporation
- Kentucky Higher Education Student Loan Corporation
- Maine Educational Loan Authority
- Massachusetts Educational Financing Authority
- Minnsota Office of Higher Education
- New Jersey Higher Education Student Assistance Authority
- Rhode Island Student Loan Authority
- South Carolina Student Loan Corporation
- Vermont Student Assistance Corporation
- EFC Members' 2012-2013 Alternative Student Loan Programs provides detailed information on all alternative loan programs offered by EFC members.
- "EFC's Guide to Private Student Loans" provides guidance on borrowing non-Federal student loans.
Learning to develop and manage a budget is a key skill set that will help you achieve both short- and long-term financial goals throughout life – skills that are especially handy during college when money is typically tight.
For pointers on developing a budget, or to get tips for keeping your budget on track, consider downloading "EFC's Guide to Budgeting."
And remember, keep your eyes on the prize.
The time you put into your budget, and the choices you make to keep your budget on track, will pay off over the long run by providing you with greater financial independence and security.
When used responsibly, credit is a valuable and convenient financing tool. However, when used carelessly, it can be costly and may even limit the financial options available to you in the future.
Take charge of your financial well-being. Learn more about the importance of credit and maintaining a good credit history by downloading a copy of “EFC's Guide to Credit.”
You may also want to consider visiting the website of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a Federal agency whose mission is to help protect consumers. The FTC makes available, free-of-charge, information that will help you manage credit responsibly.
When you make financial transactions, such as purchasing items online or applying for credit accounts, you reveal bits and pieces of your personal financial information.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a Federal agency whose mission is to help protect consumers, offers free information on its website that will help you keep your personal financial information secure and prevent identity theft. In addition, the FTC provides advice on what steps to take if your personal financial information has been lost or stolen. The FTC also maintains, with the help of other Federal agencies and industry partners, "OnGuardOnline.gov." This site provides practical tips from the Federal Government and the technology industry to help you be on guard against Internet fraud, to secure your computer, and to protect your personal information.
Don’t Let College Costs Keep You From Earning a Degree!
While the cost of college may seem intimidating, keep in mind that people are willing to help you find the resources – scholarships, grants, and loans – you need to attend college. What's more, people are willing to help you for free. Talk to your school's guidance counselor, the financial aid officer at the institution you plan to attend, or a nonprofit student loan provider near you for tips on how to start your search.
And Remember, Education Pay$!
- Adults with advanced degrees earn four times more than those with just a high school diploma. (U.S. Census Bureau)
- Not only do college graduates earn more, but your future employers expect some college education. Ninety percent of the fastest growing jobs in the new information and service economy will require some postsecondary education. (U.S. Department of Education)
- There are more benefits! College graduates are less likely to be unemployed and are more likely to be in better health and active in their communities than those with only a high school diploma. (College Board)
Click here to access EFC's guide, titled, "Saving for College: 529 Plan Basics"
To help students and parents understand the range of tax benefits available, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) makes available a free information guide annually. Titled Publication 970: Tax Benefits for Education, this guide explains the tax benefits that you may be eligible to receive if you are saving for future college costs or if you are currently paying postsecondary education expenses.
To learn more about long-term college saving strategies or the tax benefits that may be available to you, talk to your family's accountant or a financial professional.
Student financial aid, as the name indicates, is financial assistance intended to help students and parents pay college costs. Financial aid comes in many forms, such as scholarships, grants, work-study and loans. It can also come from a variety of sources (such as Federal, State and local governments or from schools, businesses and philanthropic organizations).
When searching for financial aid for the first time, you may run into words and phrases you haven't heard before. For help understanding these terms and phrases, consider checking out EFC's Student Financial Aid Glossary.
Spanish-speaking students should also be sure to check out TG's English-Spanish glossary. The glossary is free, available in an easily searchable format, and includes about 2,500 terms related to the U.S. Department of Education's federal student aid programs!
Another great resource is a financial aid guide offered free-of-charge by the U.S. Department of Education. Click here to access the Department's guide, titled Federal Student Aid: Funding Education Beyond High School: The Guide to Federal Student Aid.
Regardless of the type of student financial aid you are seeking, one of the most important steps you can take is applying. The Federal Government has an official process for applying for Federal student financial aid that is free-of-charge. To apply, you must fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid – otherwise known as the FAFSA form. The Government will use the information you submit through the FAFSA to calculate how much student financial aid you are eligible to receive.
Get An Early Estimate. The U.S. Department of Education offers a free online tool to help students and families financially prepare and plan for college before a student's senior year of high school. Called the FAFSA4caster, this online tool instantly calculates a student's Expected Family Contribution. While this calculation is not your “official” EFC, it provides an indication of your financial aid eligibility that will help you create scenarios based on future earnings and to establish college savings strategies.
Don't Forget State & Institutional Financial Aid. While the FAFSA form allows you to become eligible for Federal student aid, you will also need to fill out the FAFSA to qualify for some of the student financial assistance programs that are available in your State and through the college or university that you will attend. The U.S. Department of Education provides information on some of the grants, scholarships, and other financial aid that is available at the State level on its website.
When applying for financial aid, be sure to meet all deadlines in your State and at your institution so that you do not miss out on funds for which you might be eligible. Work with the financial aid officer at the college or university you plan to attend to make sure you fill out all the necessary forms, including forms that may be required in addition to the FAFSA, and be sure to meet all institutional, State and Federal deadlines.
Consider some additional points:
- Even If You Think You Won't Qualify For Aid, Apply Anyway. There may be sources of funding that you are eligible to receive that you aren't aware of. You won't know for sure unless you apply!
- Make Applying Your New Year's Resolution. You can begin applying for financial aid through the FAFSA starting on January 1st and through June 30th of the following calendar year. Apply as soon as possible after January 1st so that you meet all the financial aid deadlines in your State and at your institution.
- Re-apply. Keep in mind that you need to re-apply for financial aid each new academic year for which aid is sought. Be sure to apply as soon as possible after January 1st to ensure that you meet all deadlines in your State and at your institution.
- You Do Not Need To Be Admitted To Apply For Aid. You do not need to be admitted to apply for financial aid. While you must be accepted for enrollment at an institution of higher education to receive financial aid, you can start applying for financial aid your senior year in high school any time after January 1st – and the earlier the better!
- Track & Meet Deadlines. Missing deadlines may prevent you from receiving the funds for which you are eligible. Be sure to track and meet all deadlines. Also, be sure to ask your institution’s financial aid officer if there are any forms that your school may require you to fill out in addition to the FAFSA.
Be On the Lookout:
Tips for Protecting Yourself When Searching for Student Financial Aid
Every year, millions of students search for the funds needed to finance college. In the process, some fall prey to costly financial aid and scholarship scams. Learn more about ways to protect yourself when searching for college financial aid by clicking the link below.
If you have questions about how to avoid costly scams, talk to your school's guidance counselor, the financial aid officer at the institution you plan to attend, or a nonprofit student loan provider near you.
Governmental Financial Literacy Resources
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the Federal agency whose mission is to help protect consumers, makes available on its website practical information on a variety of consumer topics. http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/consumer.shtm
- The Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), an independent agency created by Congress, offers resources that are designed to educate and to help consumers protect their financial interests. http://www.fdic.gov/consumers/index.html
- U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission's (SEC) Office of Investor Education and Assistance has available on its website basic financial literacy education that is designed to help individuals save and invest wisely. http://www.sec.gov/investor/teachers.shtml
Non-Governmental Financial Literacy Resources
- The National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) is a private, nonprofit, national foundation wholly dedicated to improving the financial well-being of all Americans. To access the NEFE homepage, go to http://www.nefe.org/. To access NEFE's High School Financial Planning Program, go to http://hsfpp.nefe.org.
- The National Council for Community and Education Partnerships (NCCEP) works to develop and strengthen broadbased partnerships throughout the education continuum, from early childhood through postsecondary education. NCCEP and the National Endowment for Financial Education (NEFE) have teamed up to make available an interactive website aimed at providing information on financial literacy to youth in both middle school and high school.
- The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy is a national coalition of organizations dedicated to improving the financial literacy of kindergarten through college-age youth.
- State Financial Education Requirements -- The Jump$tart Coalition for Personal Financial Literacy has available on its website an interactive map that provides financial education requirements for the elementary and secondary level on a state-by-state basis.
The nonprofit student loan providers that make up the Education Finance Council are committed to helping you get the support and information you need to access and succeed in college.