A pathway to education

Financial planning is the first step in seeking a post-secondary education. This step is critical to securing financial freedom as you will be able to think about the costs of financing a college education in relation to your financial goals. Below are five steps to take to assist in the college process to ensure that you do not postpone your retirement or personal goals.

Review Finances
Review your finances to make a detailed list of your annual income, monthly expenses, savings accounts, and personal financial goals. This will give you a blueprint of where you stand financially to understand how much you can personally contribute to a college education.
Research Schools
Research schools that may not be the first choice as the dream school may not be financially feasible. The same professors could also teach at lower priced institutions. Remember, college is what you make it; there are opportunities at all schools.
The Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is the first step in securing a post-secondary education. It is critical to complete the FAFSA to review eligibility to see financial standing and which options are most affordable.

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  1. What is the total Cost of Attendance (COA)?

  2. What types of financial aid is offered?

  3. What opportunities are available for additional aid?

  4. How many credits do I need to receive financial aid?

  5. Do you offer work-study opportunities?

  6. Are payment plans available?

  7. When will I receive my award letter?

  8. What are the deadlines for accepting/declining an award package?

  9. Do you offer financial aid workshops and webinars?

  10. What is the average debt students have after graduation?

If several financial aid packages are offered, review all aid, terms & conditions, and out of pocket expenses to see which institution is more financially feasible. If you do not agree with the aid offer, you may negotiate with the financial aid office.

It is true that not all financial aid packages will be to your liking or reflect your economic status. Therefore, follow-up with the financial aid office to negotiate award packages. Schools understand that financial situations may change at any time. However, it is important to note that you cannot depend on an institution to cover all educational expenses.

  1. Speak with financial aid about loan options.

  2. Accept Federal loans first.

  3. Borrow what you need, not what you WANT!

  4. Understand your repayment possibilities by contacting the loan servicer.

  5. Use the repayment estimator via studentloans.gov to understand your repayment possibilities and view how much the loan will cost in total.

  6. Exhaust all resources before borrowing loans.

  7. Compare fees, interests’ rates, and repayment options.

  8. Build a positive relationship with loan servicer.