Imagine you are getting ready to run a marathon; there are 26 miles of grueling road between you and your dreams. You’ve planned all your life, now you’re at the starting blocks and wonder if you have what it takes to win the prize. What if you had trained harder, maybe then you’d have an edge? As the miles pass, you begin to tire and one by one, those on your left and right pass you by; what do they have that you don’t? How did their training differ from yours?
Imagine now that this marathon is life, and the training (education) you’ll receive will cause you to make… or not make… an extra million dollars over the course of your career. A million dollars is what you stand to lose if you don’t complete your degree.
FACT: According to the Census Bureau, over an adult’s working life, high school graduates earn an average of $1.2 million; associate’s degree holders earn about $1.6 million; and bachelor’s degree holders earn about $2.1 million (Day and Newburger, 2002).
If all that stands between you and your education is money, don’t despair, there are multiple student loans that may be the perfect fit. Look down the long marathon of life and realize you have a choice to make; you can walk away wondering “what if”, or “go for the gold” taking advantage of student loans (put in place) for exactly your situation. Before you decide do some in-depth research, no decision of this magnitude should be done with information.
As you research, you’ll find several different categories: student loans, parent loans, private loans and consolidation loans, (we’ll cover student loans and parent loans). Where you are in life (decided by current finances and other factors) will determine which loan best fits your needs. The Stafford Loan, (put succinctly) is the government guaranteeing the loan; they are awarded based on financial needs (obviously if you had the money you wouldn’t need the loan). If you do qualify, these loans are available from a variety of banks, credit unions or direct from Uncle Sam.
They come in a couple of different flavors; subsidized and unsubsidized, with the government paying the interest on the subsidized and you being responsible if unsubsidized. Since these loans ARE backed by the government, financial institutions are eager for the business and rates may vary; be sure to shop around, remember it’s your future and the loan (unlike a grant) does have to be repaid.
Next comes the Plus loan, still backed by the good ‘ole USA and this is primarily for your parents (now might be a good time to say… “dad, you’re looking good these days”). Parents can use these loans to supplement your (already existing) financial aid package; and can range upward to the full cost of your education.
Another variation is the Perkins loan given to those in very difficult financial situations. Whether you qualify or not is best discussed with your advisor. The pool (available funds) for this loan is limited and it’s doubtful your entire education could be funded with a Perkins loan.
PERKINS LOAN NOTE: These loans ARE reported to the credit bureau; keep that in consideration for your future credit score.
CENSUS FACT: Since 1973 to 2003 high school graduates who enrolled in college the following year rose 47 to 64 percent.
The strength of the United States is not the gold at Fort Knox or the weapons of mass destruction that we have, but the sum total of the education and the character of our people. Claiborne Pell US Democratic politician (1918 – )
Opportunity is knocking; it’s up to you to answer the door and apply for that student loan.