Guide to financial aid: All you need to know about student loans

Alondra Bodden/Contributing Writer

The only thing scarier than finals week in college is, you guessed it – student loans.

According to the official financial aid website for FIU: The average cost of tuition as full time student, as a Florida resident, for a full academic year totals to $6,168. If you are out of state, the total jumps to a whopping $18,566.

Just reading those words have probably sent shivers down your spine, but have no fear, this article has been written  to break down the different types of loans to fit your specific needs as a student.

The first thing students need to do before acquiring any kind of Financial Aid is to apply for FAFSA – a form that can be prepared annually by current and prospective college students (undergraduate and graduate) in the United States to determine their eligibility for student financial aid.

Student’s can apply for the FAFSA here. Before the new semester begins they will receive an email with details on what types of loans they qualify for and how much money each loan will come with.

According to the official website for Federal Student Aid:

Subsidized Loans – “Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need. Your school determines the amount you can borrow, and the amount may not exceed your financial need.The U.S. Department of Education pays the interest on a Direct Subsidized Loan, while you’re in school at least half-time, for the first six months after you leave school (referred to as a grace period*), and during a period of deferment (a postponement of loan payments).”

Unsubsidized – “Direct Unsubsidized Loans are available to undergraduate and graduate students; there is no requirement to demonstrate financial need. Your school determines the amount you can borrow based on your cost of attendance and other financial aid you receive. You are responsible for paying the interest on a Direct Unsubsidized Loan during all periods. If you choose not to pay the interest while you are in school and during grace periods and deferment or forbearance periods, your interest will accrue (accumulate) and be capitalized (that is, your interest will be added to the principal amount of your loan).

Most students try to refrain from taking out any loans at all. But with the rising cost of college tuition rising every year, it is becoming harder and harder to avoid.

“Taking out loans has really been detrimental to me in terms of my finances. I’m happy that I am able to go to school because of them, but the fact that I even had to take them out is ridiculous.” said Manuela Garcia, junior environmental science major. “If I could give another incoming student advice it’d be to avoid loans, or pick a cheaper school to go to. Also, definitely take out the least amount of loans as possible. It’ll end up being a stressor later,”

In addition to filing for student loans, students can also qualify to receive federal work-study payment.

According to the official website for student financial aid, “Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses. The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study. It’s available to full-time or part-time students.”

Work study is a great alternative to taking out loans, although it usually does not cover the entire cost of tuition, it can definitely alleviate some financial burden while also strengthening your resume.

Other alternatives include academic and athletic scholarships. To apply to such scholarships, please visit their website.

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