Managing Student Loans

Single parents considering embarking on a college education in Utah will need to be very quick off the mark to become eligible for financial aid and grants to help with the costs of attending school. The colleges and universities within Utah are experiencing huge increases in the number of students wishing to enrol in their degree programs, and the grants which are available will go to the applicants who apply and qualify for them first. With so many students vying for financial assistance it is imperative that the single parent researches grants and scholarships early if they hope to acquire a slice of the pie.

The Utah State Office of Education can provide information on grants and financial aid available, and the Utah Higher Education Assistance Authority also has information, but is no longer able to provide federal student loans. These will now be issued directly through a federal program. The student must complete the FAFSA and submit it at the earliest opportunity, as this is not only the application for federal loans, but covers application for the federal Pell grant. This is a needs based non repayable grant available to students with the greatest financial need, and single parents often fit the profile of requiring needs based aid due to low incomes.

In order to be considered for state grants and scholarships it is also necessary to have submitted the FAFSA, and in some cases additional grants are only awarded to those students eligible for the federal Pell grant. The Academic Competitive Grant is awarded in addition to the Pell grant. The SMART grant which is the National Science and Mathematics Access to Retain Talent grant, is available to eligible Pell grant holders in their 3rd and 4th year of college, if they study one of the specified subjects.

Some State colleges offer the Leveraging Educational Assistance Partnership grant (LEAP) which is a campus based grant. There is also the option to follow a work study program but the competition for this will be strong due to the number of increasing students. Students must contact the financial aid officer at the school they wish to enrol in to get the best information on available grants.

Single parent students who do not obtain enough financial assistance to cover college costs should apply for the federal Stafford loans which are the cheapest loans available to students. There are two, one of which is subsidized and offered to students who need financial help. The government pays the interest on the loan whilst the student is in college, and there is no need to struggle to begin to repay it until 6 months after graduation.

In addition the State of Utah does offer financial aid to single parents to help with child care costs and other extra needs, and these should be researched through the Utah State website.

With higher education proving such a popular choice in Utah it cannot be stressed enough how important it is to be organized and submit applications early to avoid missing out on financial aid packages and grants which would assist the single parent student in their mission to obtain a degree. It may be a challenge but it is not an insurmountable one.