Tue. Sep 27th, 2022

As you apply for federal grants to support your pursuit of a college degree, you easily can bog-down at the middle of the process. The paperwork and number crunching can become overwhelming; the complications and detours can drive you crazy, and the bureaucracy sometimes can seem more a maze than an intelligent process. Avoid the temptation to give-up before you even get started.

The FAFSA is the most important document in the process of applying for federal grants in education. You know you can file your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before you begin applying to colleges and online programs, and knowling your eligibility for financial aid will help you decide which college or program you actually want to attend. You should understand that government officials calculate your need according to the difference between the real cost of school and your disposable income derived from your tax forms. In general, the more expensive the college, the more financial aid you will receive.

In addition to grants, the federal government will offer you federally guaranteed low-interest student loans. Most students combine loans and grants to pay for all their schooling, enabling their full-time attendance and attention to school. Single mothers do enough multi-tasking without having to worry about balancing employment’s demands against school’s demands. If, however, you are entering a professional that requires credentialing or training beyond your bachelor’s degree, you may want to wait to borrow form the government.

The experts offer some strategic advice for managing the middle of the application process:

1. Make a personal connection on the campus-Online schools have well-trained, experienced financial aid counselors to assist you as you apply for all kinds of aid; most traditional four-year schools have both financial aid and scholarship offices. Develop a close, effective working relationship with a professional at your school-of-choice, and stay in constant contact with that person as you complete all your applications for support.

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2. Look into alternative scholarship sources-You probably have heard that millions of financial aid dollars go unclaimed. Some of those funds are federal; most, however, come from little known scholarship programs ear-marked for students with particular attributes, skills, or career aspirations. Use your online resources to gather more information and learn about application procedures. Most of those specialized scholarship programs require essays or personal statements, so polish-up and perfect your writing skills. Ask your professional advisor for help with those statements, too.

3. Manage indebtedness according to starting salaries in your profession-If you decide to accept federally guaranteed loans, calculate how much you can afford according to average starting salaries in your profession. In general, beginning professionals, including single mothers, can afford to dedicate about 5% of their monthly gross income to retiring old student loans. For medical school, law school, and a Ph.D., it’s a very small price to pay.

4. Be very careful about so-called “scholarship services”-Any agency that asks you to pay a fee or provide credit card information is less than legitimate. All reliable, credible scholarship information and application materials ought to be available in print or online at no cost. A few specific scholarships may charge application fees, but almost all of them will offer fee-waiver programs for disadvantaged students. Always apply for fee-waivers.

Some people claim that the application process is the perfect preparation for real life in college, because it taxes all your resources and demands all your patience. Getting into college is by no means any easy task or a small accomplishment. Have faith, however, that the results make it worth it.

By rahul