Guide to Financial Aid for Students From Single-Parent Homes

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Navigating the world of financial aid can be a daunting task — and figuring out financial aid as the child of a single-parent household can be especially challenging.

To help you get the funding you need, we’ve put together this guide on applying for financial aid for single-parent households. Read on to learn how to get the grants, scholarships and loans to pay for college if you’re in this situation.

How to get financial aid for single-parent households

Most students pay for college with a combination of grants, scholarships and student loans. The federal government is a major source of financial aid, but you might also look to your state, private organizations or your college for aid.

Here are a few ways for single-parent households to get financial aid.

1. Fill out the FAFSA

Completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) is your first step to getting federal grants and loans. You’ll need your — and your parent’s — personal and tax information.

After submitting the FAFSA, you’ll learn your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This amount reveals how much your family is expected to pay toward your college education.

The lower your EFC, the more you’ll be eligible to receive in federal grants, scholarships and loans. For some borrowers, it can be as little as $0.

To get the most federal financial aid as the child of a single-parent household, you’ll need a low EFC. Outside of federal aid, you can also apply to independent grants and scholarships.

2. Apply for more aid

Aside from federal grants and scholarships, you can apply for private ones. Scholarships.com has a list of scholarships for children from single-parent homes.

Some scholarships have other criteria, so make sure you meet all the requirements before applying. Use scholarship search tools to find additional awards or speak with your school counselor about local opportunities.

You can also check for state- and institution-specific aid that isn’t covered in your FAFSA. Contact your school’s financial aid office to see what they offer to students from single-parent homes.

3. Consider student loans

Even if your EFC is $0, you might not get all your college funding through grants and scholarships. When the money runs out, you might have to apply for loans.

There are a few types of federal loans administered by the government. Some require you to complete a FAFSA to be eligible.

Federal loans tend to have the lowest interest rates and friendliest repayment terms. After graduation, you have the opportunity to qualify for income-driven repayment plans, deferment and forbearance and some student loan forgiveness options.

After grants, scholarships and federal loans, you might need extra cash to cover college costs. Anyone can apply for private student loans, which come from banks, credit unions and online lenders.

If you have a preferred bank, look into what rates and terms it can give you as an existing customer. Keep credit unions as an option, too, and compare credit union student loans before you sign any agreement.

You also have the opportunity to get a private student loan through online lenders.

Tips for finding the best private student loan

If you’ve exhausted your other payment options and are starting to compare online private student loan lenders, there are a few things to keep in mind for finding your best offer. Look for lenders that offer flexible repayment schedules, low fees and low interest rates.

Many online lenders let you check your rates online without any impact on your credit. By entering a few basic pieces of information, you can instantly see if you pre-qualify for a private student loan.

If you don’t have great credit, you might need a cosigner to help you take out a private student loan. Not only can a cosigner help you get a loan, they might also help get you one with a lower interest rate than if you were to apply alone.

Get all the financial aid you can

Reviewing all the necessary documents and requirements for financial aid qualifications can be overwhelming and confusing, especially as tax forms and income are involved.

Completing your FAFSA and applying for more aid specifically for your family situation can help you get as much money as you can before turning to student loans.

Rebecca Safier contributed to this report.

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Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

Advertiser Disclosure

Student Loan Hero Advertiser Disclosure

Our team at Student Loan Hero works hard to find and recommend products and services that we believe are of high quality. We sometimes earn a sales commission or advertising fee when recommending various products and services to you. Similar to when you are being sold any product or service, be sure to read the fine print to help you understand what you are buying. Be sure to consult with a licensed professional if you have any concerns. Student Loan Hero is not a lender or investment advisor. We are not involved in the loan approval or investment process, nor do we make credit or investment related decisions. The rates and terms listed on our website are estimates and are subject to change at any time.

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