“Affordable college tuition” is a bit of an oxymoron. The average cost of in-state college tuition and fees in 2017-18 was almost $10,000, according to College Board. It’s often double that when you add room and board.
College costs are a burden, as Americans owe more than $1.48 trillion in student loan debt. But as an incoming student, you can set up your financial future to be debt-free before you even start your first semester.
How to get financial aid for single-parent households
While taking out student loans to pay for college isn’t ideal, it might be necessary sometimes. Loans might help you afford college, but there’s still a big financial responsibility that comes with having them.
Keep this in mind while you’re in school and soon after you graduate so that you don’t fall into major student loan debt. Getting financial aid for single-parent households might be tedious, but you do have choices.
Here are a few ways to get financial aid for single-parent households.
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.
In your award letter, you’ll learn your Expected Family Contribution (EFC). This is the key to knowing how much your family will need 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 financial aid for single-parent households, you might consider getting your EFC to $0.
2. Apply for more aid
Aside from federal grants and scholarships, you can apply for private ones. Scholarships.com has a list of scholarships designed for children from single-parent homes. Some scholarships have other criteria, so make sure you meet all the requirements before applying.
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 free 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.
- Direct Subsidized Loans: These are given out based on need.
- Direct Unsubsidized Loans: These aren’t based on need, but they are available to anyone seeking extra money to pay for college.
- Direct PLUS Loans: These are available to graduate students and parents of undergraduates.
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 help, 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. Compare credit union student loans before you sign any agreement.
You also have the opportunity to get a private student loan through online lenders.
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 how to find the best one for you. Look for lenders that offer flexible repayment schedules, low fees, and low interest rates.
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, but they might get you one with a lower interest rate than if you were to apply alone.
Get all the 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 free money as you can before turning to other means.
Need a student loan?Here are our top student loan lenders of 2019!
|1 Important Disclosures for Ascent.
Before taking out private student loans, you should explore and compare all financial aid alternatives, including grants, scholarships, and federal student loans and consider your future monthly payments and income. Applying with a cosigner may improve your chance of getting approved and could help you qualify for a lower interest rate. Ascent Student Loans may be funded by Richland State Bank (RSB). Ascent Student Loan products are subject to credit qualification, completion of a loan application, verification of application information and certification of loan amount by a participating school. Loan products may not be available in certain jurisdictions, and certain restrictions, limitations; and terms and conditions may apply. Ascent is a federally registered trademark of Turnstile Capital Management (TCM) and may be used by RSB under limited license. Richland State Bank is a federally registered service mark of Richland State Bank.
* Application times vary depending on the applicants ability to supply the necessary information for submission.
2 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
Information advertised valid as of 4/1/2019. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
3 Important Disclosures for Discover.
* The Sallie Mae partner referenced is not the creditor for these loans and is compensated by Sallie Mae for the referral of Smart Option Student Loan customers.
4 = Sallie Mae Disclaimer: Click here for important information. Terms, conditions and limitations apply.
5 Important Disclosures for SunTrust.
Before applying for a private student loan, SunTrust recommends comparing all financial aid alternatives including grants, scholarships, and both federal and private student loans. To view and compare the available features of SunTrust private student loans, visit https://www.suntrust.com/loans/student-loans/private.
Certain restrictions and limitations may apply. SunTrust Bank reserves the right to change or discontinue this loan program without notice. Availability of all loan programs is subject to approval under the SunTrust credit policy and other criteria and may not be available in certain jurisdictions.
SunTrust Bank, Member FDIC. ©2019 SunTrust Banks, Inc. SUNTRUST, the SunTrust logo and Custom Choice Loan are trademarks of SunTrust Banks, Inc. All rights reserved.
6 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Additional terms and conditions apply. For more details see LendKey
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
A government loan is made according to rules set by the U.S. Department of Education. Government loans have fixed interest rates, meaning that the interest rate on a government loan will never go up or down.
Government loans also permit borrowers in financial trouble to use certain options, such as income-based repayment, which may help some borrowers. Depending on the type of loan that you have, the government may discharge your loan if you die or become permanently disabled.
Depending on what type of government loan that you have, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness in exchange for performing certain types of public service. If you are an active-duty service member and you obtained your government loan before you were called to active duty, you are entitled to interest rate and repayment benefits for your loan.
A private student loan is not a government loan and is not regulated by the Department of Education. A private student loan is instead regulated like other consumer loans under both state and federal law and by the terms of the promissory note with your lender.
If your private student loan has a fixed interest rate, then that rate will never go up or down. If your private student loan has a variable interest rate, then that rate will vary depending on an index rate disclosed in your application. If the interest rate on the new private student loan is less than the interest rate on your government loans, your payments will be less if you refinance.
If you don’t pay a private student loan as agreed, the lender can refer your loan to a collection agency or sue you for the unpaid amount.
Remember also that like government loans, most private loans cannot be discharged if you file bankruptcy unless you can demonstrate that repayment of the loan would cause you an undue hardship. In most bankruptcy courts, proving undue hardship is very difficult for most borrowers.
8 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|4.24% – 13.24%1||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.07% – 11.32%2||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.84% – 13.49%3||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.50% – 11.35%*,4||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|4.25% – 13.25%5||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|6.08% – 7.22%6||Undergraduate and Graduate|
|3.95% – 9.81%7||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|
|4.45% – 12.42%8||Undergraduate, Graduate, and Parents|