Hawaii encourages state students with lower incomes to attend college and obtain a degree which will open the door to future opportunities. Single parents often fall into the category of lower income families as there is only one household earner. This can make the already difficult decision to return to college a worrisome one due to the financial costs involved. Unlike traditional students who have fewer responsibilities to consider, single parent students need to balance the costs of college with the associated costs of still running a home, and raising children.
There are a number of Hawaii run scholarships which may benefit single parents looking to return to education, including the Gates Millennium Scholarship which is available to students from Hawaii who are of original origin to the Islands. It is well worth running a search of Hawaii based scholarships to see if anything is suitable.
Single parents returning to college need to submit an FAFSA application as their first step. This determines if the student will be eligible for the Pell grant which is awarded to students with lower incomes, of the Federal Perkins loan. The application for FAFSA is not credit checked so does not exclude those with no or poor credit.
There are two federal Stafford loans available through the FAFSA, and they are determined by need. Those who have the lowest incomes will qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan which is a fixed rate low interest loan on which the government assumes the interest payments until after graduation, enabling the student to be free of finding monthly interest payments. The principal too does not become payable until six months after graduation.
Single parents returning to college should contact the financial aid officer of the schools which they are interested in to see if any additional aid is available directly, or known to the officers. It is certainly worth considering the Stafford loan teacher forgiveness program as an option for after graduation, as up to $17,500 in loans can be forgiven if teaching within the public sector eligible schools is completed for five years. This is an excellent opportunity for single parents with young children to balance a new career without the additional worry of financing student loan repayments.
Private student loans are always the last option for students, as more expensive to service than federal student loans. They are credit checked but still available to those with poor credit if a guarantor can be found to co-sign the loan. SMS Hawaii works in partnership with a dozen Hawaii based lenders to help to find the student a suitable private loan if necessary.