How to Get a Student Loan to Cover Financial Gaps from Scholarships
Making ends meet as a student when you’re not receiving enough financial aid from scholarships or grants can be challenging. Sometimes, it feels like there’s no way to make up the difference to get the funds you need. Grants and scholarships are an excellent start for funding your education, but they often don’t cover everything you need to get through a semester, let alone the entire school year. However, a student loan can help bridge that gap and get you the necessary funds.
Why Funding Gaps Happen
According to the Education Data Initiative, scholarships and grants generally cover up to $7,500 annually. This means it’s up to you and your parents to cover the rest, which could leave you with a bill in the thousands. Fortunately, there are other ways to provide for your tuition and educational expenses, including:
- Tuition payment plans
- Appeal your financial aid package
- Get a part-time job
- Apply for a student loan
Tuition Payment Plans
Tuition payment plans help spread tuition payments out over an extended period, making them more manageable. In addition, they often charge no interest on the payments, but there is usually an upfront fee to enroll in the payment plan. Also, if you miss a payment or are late paying, you can incur fines or even have your classes canceled. So read the fine print before signing up.
Appeal Your Financial Aid Package
Appealing your financial aid package is another option to cover educational funding gaps. You’ll need a strong argument for why your financial situation has changed and why you need more money beyond your award of financial assistance. The financial aid office may be willing to give you more aid. However, there is no guarantee that you will be successful. If the school denies your appeal, consider other options.
Get a Part-Time Job
Many college students get part-time jobs to help offset financial gaps and help cover their education, textbooks, supplies, and living expenses, but it might only make sense for some.
Forty-three percent of full-time undergraduate students held jobs while in school, compared to 74% of part-time undergraduate students.
Work schedules can sometimes conflict with class schedules and the hours you must study to maintain good grades. Therefore, before considering this option, it might be best to speak with a student advisor to discuss your coursework requirements and what you can reasonably manage without sacrificing your education.
Apply for a Student Loan
Student loans are another option and one that many students use to bridge funding gaps. These loans provide the funds you need for your education, and applying for a student loan is easy. There are two kinds of loans: federal and private.
You can apply for federal student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) application. Federal loans carry fixed interest rates. Sometimes the government will pay the interest on these loans, but generally, you must demonstrate financial need for consideration. And federal student loans have loan limits, which means you’re limited to how much you can borrow. So, if you need more money than you’re eligible for, you might need to consider additional options.
Private student loans offer more flexibility and competitive interest rates. For example, Bravos student loans, an Extraco Banks partner, offers fixed-rate and variable-rate loans. So, you can choose a loan that makes sense for you. Also, private lenders allow you to borrow up to the amount of attendance, less any other financial aid you receive. And you can use these funds to cover tuition, books, and other school-related expenses.
Extraco Banks has teamed up with Brazos Higher Education to provide various student loan options to fit your needs. You can apply for them at your local branch office or online.
What Happens to Loans After You Finish School?
Once you’ve been out of school for at least six months, payments on federal student loans come due. Like many students, you likely have many private and federal student loans. One affordable option is to refinance and consolidate all your student loans into one loan, leaving you with one payment each month. A refinance might help you get a lower interest rate, monthly payment, or both.
The Final Word
Student loans provide a great way to cover gaps in funding left by scholarships and other types of financial aid. In addition, these loans offer more flexibility than many other forms of financing, and they often come with lower interest rates and additional fees associated with private, personal loans. As a result, student loans are a good option if you need more money for school-related expenses.
If you still need help deciding, give us a call. Our financial experts are happy to discuss any questions or concerns and help you make a decision that makes sense.