When you started college, you may have assumed that your financial aid the whole would be solid for the next four years. But now, spring has arrived and you have been caught off guard: you have learned that you will get less money next year.
Here’s why you may have lost your financial aid and what you can do to get it back.
Possible reasons for the suspension of your financial assistance
There are five main reasons you might lose financial aid:
Your parents earn more money. If they were pushed into another tax bracket, it will particularly affect your financial aid.
Your grades did not requalify you for scholarships or grants.
You did not take enough credits to re-qualify for federal aid.
Tuition fees and your school fees have increased.
Your school’s financial aid offers more scholarships in the first year and more loans in the following years.
Don’t panic: you may be able to negotiate your financial aid offer, and if you can’t, you can take steps to close the gaps.
Talk to your financial aid office
Your first step should be to start a dialogue with your financial aid office. Staff can help you find out what happened and how to respond to it. If your grades have slipped, ask what you can do to get back on track.
“I like it when they call and say, ‘I understand my grades don’t meet the requirements. Is there anything I can do?’ It shows some initiative, ”says Brad Yeckley, assistant director of financial literacy at the Penn State Financial Literacy Center.
Apply for private scholarships
It is a good idea to apply Scholarships throughout your college years, even if you don’t mind losing financial aid.
Maximize your chances by playing on your accomplishments – such as a high grade point average, awards, leadership roles, and volunteer activities – by showing that you align with the organization’s mission in your application and focusing on less competitive scholarships, such as local scholarships or scholarships for non-first year students.
Take advantage of tutoring programs and office hours
It is not uncommon for students to lose scholarships because their grades have dropped. And your financial aid award letter might not even have mentioned the minimum GPA required to keep those funds, says Marguerite Dennis, who spent 40 years working in college admissions and financial aid and is the author of “The New College Guide: How to Get In, Get Out, and Get a Job.”
If this is your case, prove that you are actively trying to increase your grades to regain your help by signing up for tutoring programs and visiting your professors during their office hours.
Appeal your reward
Call on your reward works best if you’ve had a recent change in your financial situation – like a family birth or death or parental job loss – that wasn’t reflected on your last free federal student aid application ( FAFSA). You can also update or correct your FAFSA.
If you have lost your eligibility for federal assistance because you do not satisfactory academic progress, notify your school’s financial aid office of any extenuating circumstances that affected your grades.
Maximize your federal student loans
If you have to take out loans to make up the difference, start with federal loans. They’ll likely offer the lowest interest rates, come with flexible repayment plans, and in some circumstances they can be forgiven. Plus, they’re not dependent on your credit.
Here are the current federal loan options for undergraduates:
Subsidized and subsidized direct loans: annual rate of 4.53%; you can borrow between $ 5,500 and $ 12,500 per year.
Parent PLUS Loans: 7.08% APR; you can borrow up to the participation fee, less any other assistance.
Consider taking out a private loan
Private loans should be a last resort, but they can be a useful tool for some – especially borrowers who have good credit or have a co-signer with an excellent credit rating. Look for a private loan which offers incentives, such as cash back for good grades, and interest-only payments while in school, if possible. This way, your accrued interest will not be added to your principal balance after you graduate.
But be careful: private loans do not come with the same protections for borrowers as federal loans.
Transfer to a cheaper school
If you can’t afford more loans, consider continuing your education elsewhere. You may be able to take general education classes at your local community college, says Deborah Fox, CEO and founder of Fox College Funding. Weigh your budget and potential postgraduate income against your potential loan repayments to see if the transfer is a good option.
If you decide to change schools, make sure that enough of your credits will be transferred to make the change worthwhile. Taking more than four years to graduate is another added expense.