Most college students will have to take out some type of financial aid to complete their degree, and it is hard to emphasize enough the lasting impact that student loan debt can have. Doing your research and making wise choices early on can end up saving you years (literally) of financial heartache.
So where to begin? For starters, make sure to fully exhaust scholarship and grant opportunities. This is free money and obviously, the less to pay back, the better! Then, apply for government student loans by filling out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and obtain as much subsidized aid as possible, followed by unsubsidized loans. If you find that you still need financing, look for a private lender (such as Georgia’s Own Credit Union) that will offer a low rate.
A great resource to help you sort through all of this is CU Student Choice, who works with Georgia’s Own to help provide private student loans. Don’t let gaps in federal funding keep you from getting your education. Our Student Choice private lending program provides the additional funds you need and features you want. With zero origination fees, lower rates and flexible repayment terms, it’s definitely a better way to pay for college. Head over to the site to find a few more resources and to apply for your private student loan today.
Ready to take the plunge into home ownership? The Georgia’s Own First-Time Homebuyers program is the perfect place to start. With no minimum borrower contribution and 97% financing available, we can help you get into the home and the mortgage that are right for you. Click here to learn more.
Congratulations. You’ve done it! You were accepted into college and begin in the fall. Now comes the fun stuff: How will you pay for school? Scholarships, grants, savings and loans are all great options for you, but maybe that scholarship you were hoping for fell through. There is no denying that college is expensive and without scholarships or assistance from your parents. The good thing for you however, is there are other options available such as student loans. Millions of students rely on student loans to pay for some or all of college, so you won’t be alone.
When searching for financial assistance, you should always start with scholarships and grants, which cost you nothing and do not have to be repaid (Free money!). These can be in the form of need-based (those who can’t afford to go to college through their family’s financial means alone), merit-based (awarded because of a specific achievement, talent, skill or characteristic), or gift-aid. Check with your guidance counselor, ask the schools you want to attend and even do a little internet research on your own to find out how to apply. Most likely any money received through scholarships and grants will not be enough to fully fund your education. However, the more free money you receive, the less you have to pay back later.
Once you have minimized how much you’ll have to borrow through scholarships, grants, and savings, you can begin applying for student loans. It’s important to know that there are two different types of student loans: Federal (those backed by the federal government) and Private (ones by credit unions, banks and other private lenders). Federal loans have lower fixed interest rates and are more easily available. A fixed interest rate means that the rate at which you are quoted will not change throughout the life of the loan. In contrast, interest rates on private loans vary, depending on the lender and the borrower’s credit rating.
The first thing you should do when applying for Federal financial aid is complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This application automatically applies you for monies awarded from most federal and state agencies and will be processed and sent to the institutions you list on the form. If you are eligible for loans, your school will provide you with an Award Letter explaining the types of aid you are eligible to receive. If the Financial Aid Office has determined you need a loan, you will need to contact the appropriate parties to apply.
Once you have thoroughly exhausted all sources of free and low-cost financial aid, you might find you still have a need of financial assistance. Private student loans are meant to fill this gap that is left between the Cost of Attendance (COA) and the Federal loans/aid you’ve received. Private loans are not offered through the federal government, so it’s important to look for a loan program from an institution you trust, such as Georgia’s Own Credit Union. These loans are in the name of the student but often require a co-signer and are not guaranteed or subsidized by the government. Instead, they are based on the credit score of the student and/or the credit score of any co-signer they have on the loan. They also allow flexible repayment options so that you will have lower initial payments after graduation. More information on Georgia’s Own student lending program can be found at http://georgiasown.studentchoice.org.
There are numerous options and places to get information these days. Get smart, plan ahead and put your plan into action. While the process of funding your continuing education may seem daunting, planning carefully and researching all of your options can save you thousands! Remember, college is an investment, not an expense.
Anyone who has watched television late at night is aware of the plethora of “Get out of Credit Debt” companies with their sappily sentimental infomercials and catchy 1-800 phone numbers. But credit card debt isn’t even America’s leading form of financial crisis. Student loan debt has not only surpassed credit card debt for the first time in history, it has also eclipsed the trillion-dollar mark. Yet there don’t seem to be scads of non-profit organizations offering “x” number of “easy” steps to get out from under tens of thousands of dollars in outstanding student loans. Luckily, i[x] is here to help keep you from getting into that position in the first place.
In addition to grants and scholarships, a great way to help pay for the ever-rising cost of higher education is through Cooperative Education Programs (co-ops). Co-ops incorporate internships into the academic curriculum. Whether it is full-time work for one or two semesters, or part-time work over the course of several semesters, a co-op program can leave a student with over $10,000 for just six months’ work. Not only can these earnings immediately be applied to paying off loans, but connections made during these work experiences often lead directly to employment opportunities, helping graduates avoid the dreaded “underemployed” status that leads to loan deferments and much more money to make up in the long run.
Co-op programs exist at Georgia Tech, Georgia State, Georgia Southern, as well as scores of other schools throughout the nation. While they are primarily offered in engineering and mathematical fields of study, co-op programs are expanding to a wider range of studies regularly. Contact your school’s (or schools’ of interest) academic office for information about what co-op opportunities they offer, and take another step toward a debt-free college graduate existence.
Hola guys and gals! I wanted to let you all know about some exciting news regarding student loans from Georgia’s Own. GOCU is pleased to announce it has extended it’s partnership with Credit Union Student Choice with the introduction of a Graduate Line of Credit. So if you are looking help for financing graduate school, look no further than Georgia’s Own! If you want to learn more about our Graduate Business Line of Credit, click here.
Don’t forget we also have options for undergraduate students!
Hey guys! Hope everyone is enjoying Christmas break! I wanted to let you know about a few things going on right now with i[x] and Georgia’s Own…
-Join the i[x] College Bowl Pick’em Contest for a chance to win a $50 gift card! We are also giving away prizes for 2nd and 3rd places. So submit your picks by Dec. 25 to be entered!
-We are still accepting applications for the Georgia’s Own Credit Union Youth Advisory Board. Applications are being accepted until Dec. 31. This a great opportunity for you guys to make a difference in the lives of your peers around Georgia.
-Want to be in an upcoming Georgia’s Own commercial? Tell us what makes you one of Georgia’s Own and you could be featured. For more info and submit your story, visit iamgeorgiasown.com.
-Lastly, I ran across this article recently about changes in student lending and wanted to share it with everyone. Just a reminder, we offer a great alternative to other higher priced, private student loans with Credit Union Student Choice. To find out more info or apply, click here.
Have a Happy Holidays!
So I wanted to let everyone know some exciting news from Georgia’s Own. GOCU and i[x] are proud to announce your newest benefit of membership: BALANCE Financial Fitness Program.
BALANCE is a free and confidential money management tool to help you stay on the path to financial freedom. Whether you’re interested in developing an easy spending and savings plan, getting out of debt, taking a look at your credit report, or buying a home, i[x] and BALANCE can help. They have chapters for you to look over and even provide a quiz to allow you to test your knowledge of the subject.
BALANCE also has counselors available throughout the day to answer any questions you might have. To use the program, visit BALANCEpro.net or call 888-456-2227 to begin taking advantage of this FREE resource!
We are excited to announce that the 2010 Georgia’s Own scholarship winners have been selected. Congrats are in order for our $5,000 winner, Omar Haque (Johns Hopkins University). our $3,000 winner, Mary Rose Darr (University of Georgia), our $2,000 winner, Michelle Chang (Harvard University), and our $1,000 winners, Emily Chasteen (Furman University), Grace Hazlett (Andrew College), Kristen Holmes (Oglethorpe University), Victoria Chambers (University of Georgia), and Meagin Drummond (Gordon College).
Georgia’s Own will be awarding $15,000 in college scholarships to eight outstanding students. The scholarships are given to students who demonstrate good financial habits, a commitment to the community, and a commendable academic record. Our first place winner will receive a $5,000 scholarship. Our second and third place winners will receive a $3,000 and $2,000 scholarship, respectively. In addition, 5 runner-ups will win $1,000 each. The deadline to apply is July 1st. For more details and an application, click here.
Did you know that the best time to buy a car is during the last two weeks in December or anytime between July and October? If you’re looking for a car right now, then it’s time to start planning for how you’re going to go about getting one.
The biggest decision deals with how you will pay for the car. You need to determine what you can afford, and based on that, decide new or used and what type. Most of us need to finance a car purchase. There are two common options for doing this; through the dealership or through your financial institution. Dealerships are convenient because you’re already there, but they can also be pushy, aggressive, non-competitive and add on lots of fees. Sometime the dealership makes more money on financing a car than the actual sale of the car itself! On the other hand, financial institutions usually have more competitive rates, personalized service and no add-on fees. The choice is yours and the time is now. Start planning and be prepared when summertime comes!
For information on Georgia’s Own Credit Union car loans for first time buyers, college grad buyers or ‘green’ car purchases click here.