Alabama is officially recognized as being one of the poorest states in the nation, with 82% of children who live at or below the poverty line belonging to a single parent household. Many of these single parents have not been able to pursue an education beyond a high school diploma, due to poverty.
More encouragement is now being given to those who wish to further their education in Alabama and to thus improve their future opportunities and raise their households from the poverty level. Although it may appear overwhelming, there is both federal and state assistance to single parents wishing to gain a degree within Alabama.
All Alabama students must complete and submit the standard FASFA forms which are vital to apply for both federal loans and grants. Once this is done the student may then apply for the federal Pell grant which is needs based and given to those students who are in financial need. In addition to this single parents are eligible for the federal subsidized Stafford loan which is needs based and does not require a credit check.
The advantage of a federal subsidized loan is that it will cover a large proportion of college costs such as tuition and books, and the interest payments on the fixed rate loan are assumed by the government. The student does not have the additional burden of having to maintain interest payments whilst in college. The principal of the loan is repaid over a fixed number of years commencing 6 months after college graduation and as it is fixed rate the repayment level is known in advance.
Within Alabama itself The Central Alabama Community Foundation gives financial aid in the form of both grants and scholarships to Alabama residents. Often grants are available to specific counties so it is worth contacting them to see if anything is available within the county you reside. They distribute substantial funds towards education each year.
In addition there is the Alabama Student Grant Program which your college financial aid department will have up to date information about. Advice can also be obtained from the Alabama Commission on Higher Education. Foundations and state departments are there to assist those who wish to continue onto higher education and are at a financial disadvantage to do so.
Also there is the new ( FSEOG) Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant which is a needs based grant for those students who have the most financial need.
It is important for single parents who do have the will to obtain a college degree for their family’s future to look at as many available grants, scholarships and state assisted programs, as well as the standard Federal loan route. Private student loans for those already in or near poverty levels should be the last resort only when all other avenues of finance have been exhausted.