Students should try to understand financial aid

Many students don’t understand their own credit scores before they need to take out their first student loan. Freshmen are expected to come into university life and adulthood all in one go, which is stressful in itself, but adding confusing loans and debt into the mix just makes for more stress.

The anxiety students feel when they think about the thousands of dollars they owe may come from the winding details and, often overwhelming, amount of information that accompanies all aspects of financial aid. Among these are scholarships, grants and student loans.

Though many students may not realize it, there are two types of Federal Stafford loans: unsubsidized and subsidized. Subsidized loans do not begin to gather interest until six months after the student graduates. Unsubsidized, on the other hand, gathers interest from the moment it’s taken. It is critical that students consider these factors before accepting any loan. After all, it’s not free money.

However, grants and scholarships can be earned free of charge or interest if certain requirements, such as a particular GPA or winning an essay contest, are met.

We, as an editorial board and as working students, urge our peers to seek guidance to improve their financial literacy. It will take some work, but think of it less like homework and more like a way to save you from having to overwork to pay the loans you took without understanding them. Financial competence at this age is critical, especially because we are at the reins of our own bank accounts, credit scores and savings — many of us for the first time.

The University has already given the students opportunities to learn about these through the Suntrust FIU Financial Wellness Clinic; but to the students who haven’t taken the time to understand their financial aid options are just names on a screen with check boxes beside them.

We cannot have students one semester away from graduating to find out that they have reached the maximum amount of loans they can take out. It’s wrong to have students accepting an extra loan they didn’t need simply because they accepted whatever was offered to them, unable to see the debt they’re gathering. While it is important for the University to foster an environment that makes understanding financial aid less tedious, students should exercise their newfound financial independence to make the best decisions for their future financial situation.


Image retrieved from Flickr.

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