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Financial aid can help lower the cost of college

Going to college is expensive because of tuition, room and board, books and meals. To help reduce the costs, students should consider federal financial aid, including loans, grants and work study.

College Counselor Randy Fong said, “Federal student aid covers such expenses as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation. Aid also can help pay for other related expenses, such as a computer and school supplies.”

Student loans are money that has to be paid off after graduation.There are different types of student loans, including federal and private loans.

Federal student loans are loans that one doesn’t have to pay back until one graduates, quits school or enrolls in further schooling at least half-time. The interest rate is fixed and usually lower than private loans.

The federal loans for undergraduate students can also be subsidized which means that the government will pay the interest on the loans. There are different plans to pay back the loan so that it is easier to manage.

Private student loans can be from banks, credit unions, schools or state agencies. These loans normally require payment of the money while one is still in school.

Interest rates can be variable. This means that the interest rates go up and down based on the market interest rate. The rate can be higher than 18 percent.

To get a private loan students usually need credit checks and sometimes a cosigner.

Grants are money that doesn’t have to be paid back. It is basically free money to go to college. These are given to students based on need.

If students quit school or don’t  finish a semester, the grant money will have to be paid back partially or in full.

Work-study means students will have to work to earn money to pay for their education.

Fong said, “All seniors should be applying for federal financial aid. The U.S. Department of Education awards about $150 billion a year in grants, work-study funds and lowinterest loans to more than 15 million students.”

Students need to fill out the FAFSA form to be eligible for these grants and loans. The form can be found on the web site: https://fafsa.ed.gov/.

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