Financing Basics

Build the foundation needed to navigate the community college financial aid system. Learn which schools are the most affordable, get money tips on reducing college costs, and explore the latest initiatives to make community colleges even more accessible.
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How to Pay for Community College as a Single Parent
Being a single parent is difficult (and expensive) but it shouldn't stop you from furthering your education. Read on to learn how to pay for community college as a single parent.

Life as a single parent is tough enough without the added burden of going to school. If you’re already shouldering the load of parenthood by yourself, you’re probably hesitant to add more to your plate. Furthering your education, however, could provide opportunities both for yourself and for your children that could change your lives for the better.

Getting a degree can open doors for you, but it does come with its own challenges and many of those challenges are financial. Raising a child is expensive, and so is going to school! Student loans are available for single parents, but they may not be the best option.

In this article, we’ll explore the benefits of community college in particular for single parents and we’ll provide some tips for making it more affordable.

The Benefits of Community College for Single Parents

Whether you’re starting college for the first time or continuing your education, community college provides many unique benefits over traditional 4-year schools, especially for single parents.

The way community colleges are structured is much more flexible than the typical college or university. Many community colleges offer both in-class and online courses with tuition prices that are much lower than traditional schools. Classes are offered both during the day and in the evening, making it easier for busy single parents to find a class schedule that fits their lifestyle. Plus, this flexibility enables single parents to keep working while attending college.

Another benefit of community college for single parents is that you can customize every aspect

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What Are Your Options for Refinancing Student Loans in 2017?
Many recent graduates are crippled with student loan debt, are you one of them? If so, keep reading to learn about refinancing options that could save you thousands.

If you are one of the millions of college graduates struggling with student loan debt, you might be considering an option to refinance. Even though community college is often more affordable than a traditional four-year university, school is never cheap. Depending how much debt you have and how much you are able to pay, you might be able to consolidate and/or refinance your loans to make your payments more affordable – keep reading to learn more.

Save Money by Refinancing Your Student Loans

Refinancing your loans means that you will be repaying your existing debt by taking on a new loan with new terms, often from a new creditor. Two of the most common options for refinancing your student loans are private loan refinancing and federal loan consolidation. Again, it depends on the type of loans you have and how much debt you have as well. If you are able to refinance through a private lender you might be able to get a lower interest rate while federal loan consolidation is usually a good option for people who are looking to simplify the repayment process by lumping multiple loans into a single payment plan. Loan consolidation may or may not give you a better interest rate.

If you’re thinking about refinancing your community college student loans, there are a few questions you should ask yourself first:

  1. Why are you refinancing?
  2. What are your options?
  3. What rate can I get?

The first question about why you are refinancing is very important – your goals will help you

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Managing Student Loan Debt: How to Budget for Affordability
Student loan debt statistics continue to shock. Just two years ago, the average student loan debt in America was estimated at about $27,000. Now, a recent study from Fidelity Investments reveals that 70 percent of students who graduated college in 2013 borrowed money from various federal, state, and private sources to help pay for their education. And they left school with an average debt of $35,200. That's a 35 percent increase.

The Fidelity study also found that 50 percent of those 2013 graduates who had taken out student loans expressed surprise by just how much debt they had accumulated. That's another shocking statistic that clearly demonstrates just how difficult it is for many college-age students to visualize what their lives will be like when the borrowing phase of their student loans is over and the dreaded repayment phase begins. And that's not a good place to be.

The bottom line is that student loans are not optional arrangements between you and your lenders. They have to be repaid. They cannot be ignored or put off and federal law stipulates that they cannot even be discharged via bankruptcy. If you default on your student loans you can have your tax refunds intercepted, a portion of your wages garnished, judgments or lawsuits issued against you or collection fees added to your loan balances – not to mention harassing calls and tactics from aggressive creditors.

 

That's why it's absolutely critical that if you are a student loan borrower,

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10 Tips for Making Community College More Affordable
As tuition rates at community colleges increase nationwide, we share options in financial aid and other tips to make the college experience more affordable, including what the government has proposed to keep community college affordable.
Community college has traditionally been seen as an affordable option to the four-year college or university, but rising tuition rates at community colleges across the country have made some prospective students fear that even these institutions are becoming too expensive. The good news is that there are many options for financing a college education, from work-study programs to Pell grants. Take a look at these 10 tips for making a community college degree a more affordable option once again.
 
Scholarships

Many students heading to community college do not realize that scholarships may be available. This type of financial aid is one of the most desirable because it does not have to be paid back once the degree is earned. Typically, scholarships are tied to specific skills or achievements, such as academics or sports. They are also available for particular areas of study, especially in fields in need of highly trained workers. Scholarships are also offered based on financial need, race or other factors attributed to the underserved student population.

According to FinAid, many free databases are available to direct students to specific scholarships for which they might qualify. In some cases, students complete a profile, and the directory will match the students to specific scholarships that complement their skill set or interests. Students are then notified which scholarships met their specifications so that they can pursue those opportunities.
 
Grants
 
Pell grants are equally attractive to scholarships because they do not have to be paid back after graduation. However,
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Wealthier Students Taking Community College Path
A recent study by Sallie Mae shows that many of the families choosing community college for their students today are in income brackets over $100,000. We’ll explore possible reasons for the demographic change.
The face of the community college student appears to be changing in more ways than one, as a slow economy and skyrocketing tuition rates at four-year schools have begun to take their toll. A recent study by student loan provider Sallie Mae found that more students from high-income families are moving to community college right out of high school, thanks to lower tuition costs and better career options. It also seems that the attitude toward community college education is improving, as more students see this path as a viable option to a bright future.
 

The Changing Demographic

The report on the Sallie Mae website, titled, “How America Pays for College 2011,” explains that in the past four years, many families across the country and from all income brackets have shifted from four-year institutions to two-year community colleges. This shift could be a factor in why middle- and high-income families have been able to reduce education costs and take less money from income and savings to pay the price for higher education.

The study found that during the 2009-2010 academic year, 12 percent of high-income families (families making $100,000 or more) sent students to two-year colleges. The following school year, that percentage went up to 22 percent. That increase correlates with a drop in four-year college enrollment during the same time frame, which shifted from 56 percent during the 2009-2010 school year, to just 48 percent the following year. This group also reported paying 18 percent less
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Recent Articles
We look at why millions of Americans are choosing community college over a traditional four-year school today.
Many students enroll in community college with the intent of transferring to a four-year school. Of those who do, many succeed, and yet traditional colleges and universities continue to overlook them. Read on to learn more about why more community college students don’t transfer schools and to receive some tips for making the transfer yourself.
Community college is the only option for many students who either can’t afford a traditional four-year university or who need a more flexible school environment. Just because community college is different, however, doesn’t mean that its students matter any less. The Aspen Prize exists to encourage community colleges to do more for their students and to continually strive for improvement.
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Financing Basics