Financial Aid

Our articles will provide you with the tools and resources needed to make sure you are qualifying for all the financial aid available, as well as maintaining your aid throughout your college career. Get the latest news on student loan interest rates, learn what to do when your financial aid is late, and explore all of your financial aid options.
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Community colleges offer a cost-effective means for students to obtain a degree or certificate or complete the first half of studies required for a bachelor’s degree. Because they are so affordable – annual tuition and fees average just under $3,500 – many students do not need to take out student loans in order to pay for their expenses. Some students live at home or take public transit to further lessen costs, while others attend part-time and work so they can avoid taking out loans and instead pay for their schooling out-of-pocket as they go.

However, some students don’t have the luxury of depending on mom and dad for free room and board, money for textbooks, or gas money to get to campus. For those students, the additional costs of attending a community college can add up: When all fees, room and board, and textbooks and supplies are added in, the average annual community college expenses rise to $15,000. Federal student loans provide a lifeline for many students who would not otherwise be able to afford these expenses, minority and socioeconomically disadvantaged populations among them. But for a million students nationwide, federal student loans are not an option because their community college does not participate in the federal student loan program.

Opting Out

At first glance, it may seem counterproductive for a community college not to participate in the federal student loan program. After all, more available financial aid means more students are able to enroll in courses, thus helping that institution’s . . . read more


For many students, community college is the most affordable option for obtaining a higher education. The cost of tuition, fees, room, and board at a two-year institution averages a little over $8,500, while the same expenses for a four-year institution cost nearly double that at just under $17,000 per year. Yet, despite the cost savings, some community college students still need financial assistance to pay for their education. The financial aid application process can present a number of barriers, especially for first-time college students who are unfamiliar with the process. However, these barriers can easily be overcome when armed with the right information.

Always Apply For Aid

Each year, millions of college-bound students apply for federal financial aid. Yet, millions more eligible students don’t apply at all. During the 2011-2012 academic year, an estimated 2 million students who would have qualified for a Federal Pell Grant didn’t even fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Even more surprisingly, approximately two-thirds of those students would have qualified for a full grant award that would have paid for all of their college expenses.

Instead, for a variety of reasons these students did not bother to apply. Nearly half the students who would have qualified for the Pell Grant simply believed they were not eligible for those funds. Another 34 percent reported that they didn’t want to take on debt, even though Pell Grants do not have to be repaid. Many more maintained that they did not have a financial . . . read more


The announcement of a significant increase in Stafford loan rates could pose a problem for some community college students. Despite reassurances from Congress that a deal is coming, those looking for ways to pay for their postsecondary education continue to be left in a bind at this point. On the other hand, many community colleges have done away with the Safford loan option for other reasons, and students are finding alternative methods for footing their tuition bills. Check out how community colleges are dealing with the issues involving Stafford loans and finding other ways to help their students financially.
 
Stafford Loan Rates Doubling?
 
MPN Now reports that the failure by Congress to address student loan rates has resulted in a doubling of the rates for Stafford loans. Without intercession by lawmakers, students could see rates of 6.8% on loans taken out for the upcoming school year. Last year, those rates were just 3.4%.
 
The rate hike applies to subsidized Stafford loans, which are those in which the government pays the interest while the student is still attending college. Subsidized Stafford loans make up about one-quarter of all Stafford loans issued. Unfortunately, they are also the loans that typically go to the neediest students.
 
Susan Romano, director of financial aid at Finger Lakes Community College in New York, told MPN Now that the changes may prompt students to look for other ways to pay for their college education.
 
“I think it’s going to make families think twice about loans, especially here at . . . read more

Choosing a college is an important step that can directly impact a student’s success. Once a college is chosen, the reality of paying for higher education begins to creep into the picture. By selecting a community college, students have already made a frugal choice for their future. However, even community college is far from free. Check out these 10 financial aid tips that will help you pay your way through community college.
 
Earn Credits before College
 
You can begin paying for college long before you even apply. How? By earning college credits while you are still in high school. Many community colleges now work with neighboring high schools to allow students to dual-enroll in both college and high school classes simultaneously. Many of these programs do not charge tuition to the students taking college classes, but offer credit for the courses just the same.
 
Determine Your Needs
 
Before you begin filling out financial aid forms, ABC Chicago recommends you get a rough idea of how much money you will actually need. Take the total cost of tuition at the college you will be attending and add on living expenses if you will be living on your own, books and other essentials. Subtract the amount you have saved, as well as any money provided by your parents. Now you have a ballpark figure of how much money you still need to come up with to pay for your entire education.
 
Start Early
 
When it comes to financial aid, the early bird really does land . . . read more

The United States is facing a debt crisis of epic proportions, but it may not be in the area consumers would suspect. Huffington Post cites statistics from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York that show student debt has now surpassed credit card debt in this country. It is no wonder that media is literally littered with reports of student debt defaults today. To make matters worse, the source of student debt is no longer community colleges and four-year public institutions. Instead, that debt is going directly to for-profit schools that charge students plenty in tuition rates, but deliver little in return.

The numbers are concerning, considering that community colleges – the schools that President Obama has touted as the training grounds for our future workforce – are scrambling to try to make ends meet. As more people head to these public institutions in hopes of getting applicable training for recession-proof, lucrative careers, the schools are finding themselves without the necessary resources to teach everyone who wants to be educated. Services and programs have been cut, and wait lists for popular courses are becoming longer and longer. State and federal funding is slim at these schools today.
 
For-Profits Enjoy Prosperity
 
This is not the case with for-profit colleges. Institutions like the University of Phoenix and ITT Technical Institute are enjoying significant prosperity these days, as they take a bigger piece of the federal funding pie through student loans courtesy of Uncle Sam. Floyd Norris of . . . read more
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Financing

FINANCIAL AID