Navigating Student Financial Aid

As the end of the school year nears, many citizens will begin to plan for the future. Whether recently graduating or looking to start a new career path, it is a common time of year to consider continuing your education. In fact, the National Center for Education Statistics reports that the number of citizens pursuing a college degree has risen 31 percent over the last decade, both for full-time and part-time students.

While interest in pursuing an education continues to rise, the cost also continues to grow. Following home mortgage debt, student loan debt is now the second largest form of consumer debt in the U.S. In 2011, the total amount of debt surpassed $1 trillion, according to Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For graduates looking to buy a home/car or pursue financial independence, student debt can often be a significant burden to moving forward with life plans.

Benefits.gov provides information on a number of education based programs. One resource in particular is the U.S. Department of Education’s useful tool called the Financial Aid Wizard, found on StudentAid.ed.gov. Here, you can determine your eligibility for financial aid and learn about all of the terminology used in the financial aid process. In addition, the site can link you to a number of need-based programs like Federal Pell Grants and Federal Perkins Loans, along with pointing citizens to apply online with Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Pursuing an education should be an exciting time for your future, and these tools will help simplify your search to relieve your financial needs. We encourage you to visit Benefits.gov to find more information on government programs, like FAFSA. You can also visit StudentLoans.gov and MyEdDebt.ed.gov for helpful videos and advice on how to pursue an education in a financially smart way for you or your family.

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