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Archive for April, 2012

Facing student loan debt? You aren’t alone. According to Consumer Reports’ most recent article on student debt, it’s estimated that Americans owe more than $900 billion in federal and private loans, which could have “potentially crippling ramifications for the U.S. economy.”

But it’s not all doom and gloom for borrowers. Consumer Reports offers these 7 tips for paying off federal student loans:

1. Find out how much you owe and to what lenders.

2. Choose a repayment option.

3. Explore options if you can’t afford payments.

4. Consider jobs or volunteer programs that qualify for deferment or forgiveness.

5. Consider loan consolidation.

6. Think twice about going back to school to avoid unemployment.

7. Contact your lender immediately if you can’t pay.

For more details or for tips on how to avoid borrowing for college, read the full article at www.consumerreports.org/cro/magazine/2012/04/student-debt-grows-to-alarming-levels/index.htm.

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Failure to fully complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) disqualifies students from being considered for federal grants and subsidized loans. So if your parents refuse to fill out the FAFSA, what are your options?

First, we recommend working with your college financial aid office to become eligible for unsubsidized federal student loans. You can also help your parents understand why it is important that they help you complete the FAFSA. For a list of strategies and an explanation of parental responsibilities and risks, visit FinAid.org at www.finaid.org/otheraid/parentsrefuse.phtml.

Another option is to work with financial aid administrators to receive a “dependency override,” which means you meet the definition of a dependent student, but your application will be processed as an independent student instead. If you are under the age of 24, an undergraduate student, not married, not a veteran, not an orphan, not emancipated by the court, not homeless, and do not have a legal dependent of your own, then by federal rules you are considered a dependent student and must include your parent’s information on the federal FAFSA. However, financial aid administrators have the authority to grant a “dependency override” in cases involving unusual circumstances.

Please note that federal rules provide strict guidance on who can be considered an independent student. For example, a student cannot become independent just because his or her parents are unwilling to help pay for the student’s college education. FinAid.org provides more information about how dependency override decisions are made on its website at www.finaid.org/educators/pj/dependencyoverrides.phtml.

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