College Costs are now the biggest expense in a persons life after a mortgage. Planning ahead is the best way to avoid unpleasant surprises.
If you are looking for ways to finance higher education, we have the following recommendations:
- Be Realistic. Ending your college years with $20,000, $30,000 or $50,000 in debt does not guarantee a good, high paying job when you graduate.
- First Cut Costs. Can you live at home? Can you take summer classes to finish a semester early? Can you work more hours while in school?
- Find the Free Money. Check out grants and scholarships, including new federal programs like the Public Service Loan Forgiveness program.
- Choose the Cheap Options. If you have to borrow money, Federal Direct Loans are the best loan option for most students, followed by Stafford Loans and then PLUS Loans for parents. (Interest rates for subsidized federal student loans for undergraduates is under 4% in the 2016-17 school year.)
- Then and ONLY then, look into private student loans. Make sure you minimize the amount you borrow as these loans often require immediate payments and are at much higher interest rates. Also you will probably have limited options for repayment plans compared to federal student loan programs.
Family First FCU formerly offered government guaranteed student loans in partnership with the Montana Student Assistance Foundation. Since Spring 2009, the federal government now processes these student loans directly with the Federal Direct Loan Program. Contact your school Financial Aid Office for more details. If you have existing student loans that are presently serviced by the Montana Student Assistance Foundation and wish to discuss consolidation options, please contact them at 1-800-852-2761 ext. 6657.