Students within North Dakota who are planning to advance their opportunities by entering college in pursuit of a degree have various loan offers to choose if it is necessary to top up the amount available from federal student packages and available grants. The state does not offer any specific loans or grants targeted towards single parents embarking on college life though, and the available options are those open to all students.
Financing college requires taking on loans and debts and the federal state loan program is the first step for any student. Federal loans offer the best deal but rarely cover all the costs involved for educational needs. However it is a requirement of universities and colleges that federal loans and grants are applied for through submitting an FAFSA application and both grant and loan funds are paid directly to the college to cover tuition costs first.
Single parents generally tend to be eligible for the subsidized federal Stafford loan which is needs determined. For the duration of college the interest is assumed by the government leaving the single parent student free of the worries of repaying any part of the loan until six months after graduation. Eligibility for this fixed rate loan is not credit based and long term repayment plans are an option, which is ideal for those who already have the additional costs of raising children and financing a household.
The federal Pell grant is also available to students with the greatest financial need and does not need to be repaid. Another federal initiative is the new FSEOG aid assistance.
Resident students of North Dakota may qualify for a North Dakota state grant which is needs based and designed to alleviate borrowing costs of students. The drawback for single parents is that it is only available to full time students and many single parent students need to continue working whilst studying. It is an option though for those who think they can juggle full time studies with work and child care.
Colleges within North Dakota offer individual grants to students so contact the financial aid office of the college you will be attending to see what is on offer. Any grant or scholarship you can obtain reduces overall borrowing.
Single parent college students who are considering entering the teaching profession may well qualify for the Teacher Shortage Loan. This is an excellent opportunity for students who go on to teach in schools within North Dakota to have their student loans forgiven, which means they do not need to be repaid. Teachers must be prepared to teach at grade level in areas which the North Dakota Department of Public Instruction requires a teacher shortage to be rectified.
Private student loans should always be the last option for any student as they are more costly than federal loans, require the interest repaying whilst at college and are credit based. If a private loan is necessary it is imperative to shop round for the best deals. The Dakota Education Alternative Loan is an option but should be compared with other private loans. It offers the choice between a fixed rate or variable loan and a co-signer is required for all applicants under 24 years of age. In addition a credit score of a minimum 575 is required. It is available through the Bank of North Dakota.
It is always worth checking with the county directly to see if any special assistance is available for single parent students within North Dakota, as well as enquiring at the college direct. It is however almost impossible for most students to finance college without amassing a large body of debt, but it may prove worthwhile in the long term as a degree will open doors to better opportunities.