Managing Student Loans

Single parents considering embarking on a college education in South Carolina have the opportunity to the same grants and loans available to more traditional students. Rather than having loans geared specifically to single parents, loans and grants are granted on the basis of income. Typically many single parents will inevitably fall into the low income category, meaning that additional help funding college is most likely available through grants.

The cost of college is becoming prohibitively expensive and the thought of graduating college with a high level of debt can be particularly worrisome for parents already raising a child or children alone. However a degree can be achieved with careful planning and access to the necessary funds.

Single parent students are eligible for federal student loans. The first step is to complete the FASFA application which will give those on lower incomes the opportunity to qualify for the federal Pell grant, which is a needs based grant which does not need to be repaid. The FASFA is not subject to a credit check, and is a means based application. The application includes access to federal Stafford loans, which is the cheapest method of financing college through loans.

Those who qualify through low income for the Stafford subsidized guaranteed federal loan will not have to worry about any payments towards it until after graduation, as the interest payments are assumed by the government. Students who miss out on the subsidized Stafford loan are still entitled to the unsubsidized loan, but interest payments will need to be met.

However it is possible that single parents may qualify for a South Carolina state education grant or scholarship, and all such avenues should be explored. Information is provided by the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education on any available grants and scholarships. In addition the state may provide financial assistance.

Every student should contact the financial aid officers of the schools applied to as they will be able to assist in searching out other suitable financial aid for which the single parent student may qualify, and the college or university itself will usually also have some program available. This makes it imperative to contact the financial aid departments early in the search for funds. Those who are accepted may work in the federal work study program which pays students to work on campus based jobs.

Loan forgiveness programs usually revolve around teaching or nursing which is well worth single parent students considering as a career option as it ties in so well for those with young children to consider. Those who teach for five years in schools which are part of the program have up to $17,500 of any student loans forgiven. Also financial assistance is available to those who attend a South Carolina Teaching Scholars Program which is state approved.

Students should only use private student loans as a last resort when all other possible ways of financing college have been exhausted. They are more expensive to service than federal student loans and unless the student has good credit then a co-signer is required to stand as guarantor. If the student does need to take out private student loans then they should shop around and pay attention to not only the interest rates, but any fees and penalties which are attached.