Managing Student Loans

Debate surrounds the value of a college education in Michigan as although it is the eighth largest state and has some fine colleges, the state has had such a long history of involvement in the manufacturing industry that college has not always been the first choice of many. However it is now acknowledged that a college degree opens doors to better opportunities and single parents, along with other non traditional students, are being encouraged to pursue a degree course.

Single parents often find the thought of raising finance to support themselves through college a daunting one, but there are several programs which may help with the costs. Firstly the student should make application through the FAFSA which gives access to federal funding. Those who demonstrate the most financial need are entitled the federal Pell grant which is non repayable. In addition to the Pell grant, submission of the FAFSA gives students eligibility for two other Michigan based awards.

The Michigan competiveness scholarship program is open to student who can demonstrate both financial need and merit. However it is only open to those students who have been out of high school for ten years or less. The maximum award granted under the scholarship is currently $510 per annum at a public college or $1610 at an independent college. Students must maintain a grade point average of 2:0.

In addition the Michigan Tuition Grant is available at a maximum award of $1610 per academic year to those students who can demonstrate financial need, which a large proportion of single parent students are able to do. Other grants and scholarships to assist with tuition costs are available from individual colleges within the state of Michigan and enquiries should be made directly to the financial aid officers at the individual colleges. Students should also check details of any programs offered by the Michigan state higher education authority.

The costs of college which are not met through grant and scholarships programs should be met through federal student loans which offer the cheapest form of borrowing. Federal student loans are not subject to credit checks and are offered at low fixed interest rates. The three main forms of federal loans which the single parent may qualify for are the federal Perkins loan, the federal subsidized Stafford loan and the federal unsubsidized Stafford loan. Interest payments are paid by the federal government on the first two loans, until six months after graduation, thus freeing the single parent from worries about having to make interest repayments on loans at the same time as attending school.

With grants, scholarships and federal student loans available, financing college is a possibility for single parent students who are always advised as well to study the availability and conditions of any state or federal loan forgiveness programs which lessen the burden of debt upon graduation.