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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As workers face a bleak economy with high rates of layoffs and low rates of new employment, President Obama has initiated new plans to help workers become more educated to compete in the job market. 
In fact, in Obama’s recent 2009-2010 budget proposal, he clearly made college education a focal point for the improvement and success of the United States. Titling this budget proposal “A New Era of Responsibility,” Obama is seeking to provide students with additional financial aid support through both student loan programs and Pell Grant programs. With this approach, current and future college students may be able to save money while preparing for their futures.
An Increase in Aid
Through the proposal, President Obama asserts that the path to an enhanced economy and society is achieved through education.  As the document states, college should be more properly funded and supported to, “Make sure that we have a highly-educated workforce and that the opportunity to go to college is not determined by how much money you have.” 
To allow all individuals, regardless of income, to gain access to higher education opportunities, Obama’s proposal to increase student loan and Pell Grant financial aid support should stimulate an almost immediate benefit.  Essentially, the 2009-2010 budget proposal allows for an increase in the maximum Pell Grant amount for each student.  Currently, the Pell Grant maximum was capped at $4,731 per person; Obama has proposed to raise this maximum to $5,350 per person.   
In addition to boosting the provisions for Pell Grants, Obama...
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During times of political change, economic uncertainty, and fluctuating levels of job security, students of all ages are facing an array of personal and academic pressures. Many community college students and applicants are trying to cope with the mounting educational costs paired with added stresses of job loss, reduced wages, or soaring costs of living. 
As many college applicants are struggling to find ways to pay for higher education expenses during economic tumultuousness, community college leaders across the country are seeking out new forms of financial aid to provide students with a greater scaffold of fiscal support.    
Recent Financial Aid Reforms
In just the past several years, enormous changes have been made to the federal financial aid program, as struggling college students expressed with rising voices the difficulty of paying for the costs of college with limited access to money or means. 
According to Art Hauptman from the Progressive Policy Institute, there was an initial jump-start to increasing federal student aid funding in 2005, when former President Bush renewed the “Higher Education Act.” With this act, the President proposed an increase to the Pell grant of $500 over the course of five subsequent years. As Pell grants were initially created to raise educational aspirations of socially and economically struggling Americans, many believe that the Pell grant increase would stimulate a boost in college accessibility and enrollment. Despite this positive reform, however, Hauptman asserts that additional revisions must be put into action. As Hauptman further asserts, political and school leaders should usher in...
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Stafford loans are made under two federal programs: the Federal Family Education Loan (FFEL) Program and the William D. Ford Federal Direct Loan (Direct Loan) Program. Whereas the FFEL Program has been more widely used by community colleges in the past, students and colleges are becoming more aware of the Direct Loan Program as another option. This article explains the Direct Loan Program, shows how Direct Loans compare to other Stafford loans, and discusses how the Direct Loan program may become the dominant, if not exclusive, college lending program.
Note: For an overall view of college assistance, see Community College Loans and Affording Community College.

What Students Should Know About Direct Loans
The Direct Loan Program was created in 1993 to offer both subsidized and unsubsidized Stafford loans. Under the Direct Loan Program, students borrow directly from the Department of Education rather than from private lenders. On a subsidized loan, the federal government pays the interest while the student is in school. The interest on an unsubsidized loan is accumulated until the student begins repaying the loan. The Direct Loan Program also offers PLUS (Parent Loan for Undergraduate Students) loans.
To apply for a Direct Loan, a student must submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which is available online or at student financial aid offices. A student must also sign a promissory note, the Direct Loan Electronic Master Promissory Note, which sets forth the terms and conditions of the loan.
Prior to June 30, 2006, the interest rate varied, but...
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As the market steadily slows, and credit, banks, and loan institutions are forced to tighten their budgets, students and schools express concern about affording community college, especially in light of the rising cost of tuition paired with the plummeting availability of funds. 
Andy Rosen, in his article “Students, Colleges Prepare for the Private Loan Slowdown,” further explores this issue in asserting: “Area colleges and students are concerned that it will get harder to bridge the gap between federal financial aid and the total cost of education, as a troubled credit market threatens to make private loans harder to get.” 
Since many lenders are becoming increasingly cautious in regards to student loans, intuitions are striving to prepare students with additional tools and resources to obtain funds for school. 
Can I Obtain Loans When Attending Community College Next Year?
If you’re seeking funds to attend college next year or in the upcoming future, it is still relatively uncertain as to how much support students will have access for tuition costs. Essentially, as Rosen reveals, “Nobody really knows the magnitude of the problem because many students have already secured their financing for this year.” 
Since an economic recession has been predicted for quite some time, many students held onto anticipatory savings; however, this may not be the case in the upcoming semesters over the course of the next few years. As a result, “It is less certain what is going to happen next year, when students begin to look for ways to pay for their education around March....
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When the economy slows down, individuals across the country struggle to cope with layoffs. Even after the economy begins to grow again, it takes some time for employment levels to rebound. As a result, many workers find that their once-desirable resume is no longer up to par in a fiercely competitive job market.
To help unemployed workers stay at the forefront of training, some states offer free community college tuition. Specifically, states such as Kentucky and New Jersey are seeking to stimulate their community’s knowledge and job application appeal by providing free classes and affordable tuition to workers in need. Depending on each school’s programs, laid-off employees can either benefit from completely free tuition or significant tuition discounts.

Kentucky Community Colleges
The Kentucky Community and Technical College System offers extra tuition support to Kentucky residents who have recently encountered job loss. Dubbed the “Career Transitions Initiative,” the program seeks to provide workforce training in high-demand, high-wage jobs. Set into motion with the support of Governor Steve Beshear, newly laid-off workers are provided with a 50 percent tuition reduction for up to 6 credit hours each semester. This discount is available at 16 colleges and 67 campuses throughout Kentucky, and students can utilize it for a full year of education or training. Additionally, this program is designed to help provide newly laid-off individuals with personal support to navigate the process for financial aid or student loans. 
The main goal of this program is to provide high quality, low cost and...
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