The College Crisis: How To Minimize Student Debt

Student Loans- We Hear About Them All the Time

Actually, taking out loans to attend college has become the norm. The average tuition for a state school sits at $23,000 per year, while the average tuition for a private university is double that at $45,000 per year.

With the cost of a proper education blasting through the roof, more and more students are forced to take out loans to cover what the university’s financial aid package doesn’t. Approximately 75% of students currently in college have taken out students loans, and experts project that students graduating in the class of 2014 will leave school nearly $30,000 in debt!

But that’s not the worst of it. Despite the mounting cost of education, less than 50% of college students will graduate with full-time employment! Because of the lack of financial stability, more than half of the population has to move back home after school.

Thankfully, there are some simple things you can do to minimize your debt.

1. Careful Planning

Tuition isn’t the only expense. When you’re considering your college budget, remember to include all of the factors. Rent (on or off campus), furniture, books, food, toiletries, and emergency funds add up. Formulate a realistic budget for yourself, and stick to it.

Not sure how to go about calculating your true expenses? has a great tool to calculate the ‘net price’ of about 300 colleges:

Super Tip- Urban schools may have more additional costs than traditional campuses

2. Outside Scholarships

Although universities do offer financial aid packages, you shouldn’t bank on that as your only source of funding. Full scholarship financial aid packages are rarer than the Hope Diamond, and even partial scholarship financial aid packages are generally reserved for families who fall under the poverty line. To ensure that you’ll be able to make up for the bulk of what your package doesn’t cover, apply for as many external scholarships as possible.

Still confused about what’s inside your financial aid package? Check out College Board’s comprehensive Financial Aid Award Explanation page for more information.

3. Minimize Your Time

With AP exams and programs that allow high school students to take community college classes, it’s possible to enter your freshman year of college with a semester’s worth of credits! By credits earned in high school, you can save thousands of dollars by graduating a semester (or even a full year) early.

Another way to ensure an early graduation is to take the most credits allowable by the university. Most universities require 12 credits per semester to be a full time student, but will allow you to take up to 18 without an additional charge. But listen to this: Did you know that you are charged for those additional 6 credits whether or not you use them? Take full advantage of your tuition money!

Super Tip- Not all colleges accept all AP scores. Before taking the exams, check out the colleges on your list and make sure that they will accept the credits. For example, many schools will only accept one AP English test even if you scored a 5 on both exams!

Scholarship Superhero offers a full range of services to help you better your chances of winning scholarships and earning the money you need to fund the education you want.

Federal College Grants for the Disabled

Attending college and pursing higher degrees can be the dream of many students but financial constrains and physical or mental disabilities can put hurdles in the way. Higher education offers a well secured life and financial security with prosperous job. However, fulfilling this dream becomes difficult for the disabled students with low income.

The federal government, recognizing the challenges, has made provisions for all students to attend college, irrespective of their gender, backgrounds, race or disabilities. So, even if you are physically challenged it does not limit your dreams of higher education. Several educational assistance programs have been commenced that boost children to pursue their education, giving financial assistance to those going for post-secondary education for a financially stable living.

Federal Government Programs for the Disabled

The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA): initiated in 1975, this law ensures special education, early intervention by states and public agencies and services to all disabled students. The program, revised in 20014, awards free college and university admission programs and public education to the physically impaired students of the nation.

Federal Trio Programs of U.S. Department of Education: the U.S. government offers the Federal Trio Programs in collaboration with several universities and colleges. The program seeks to facilitate physically impaired students from deprived families for higher education for a financially secured future. Interested students must apply for the program by filling the Free Application for Federal Student Aid or FAFSA.

Federal Pell Grants: The United States of Department of Education funds the Pell Grant for exceptionally economically deprived undergraduate students for higher education. For the year 2014-15 a maximum amount of $5,730 was awarded while for 2015-16 the maximum amount is $5,775. Even students receiving Social Security Disability Insurance are eligible for Pell Grants. Fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for Pell grants.

The money allocated will depend on:

· The financial status of the applicant

· The cost of attending the college

· Whether full time or part time student

· Whether the student will attend full or less academic year i.e. the enrollment status

Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG): it’s a need based grant for below poverty undergraduate students to provide financial assistance for postsecondary education. There are about approximately 3,800 postsecondary institutions that offer the grants to exceptional needy students and to the Pell Grant recipients. Based on the financial condition any amount between $100.00 and $4,000.00 is awarded every year to the deserving students.

Recognized institutions apply for the U.S. Department of Education’s Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) every year for the grants. Along with the federal funding, institutes also need to contribute 25% of the grant amount. Students interested for the FSEOG must fill a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA).

Federal Work Study-Program (FWS): financially challenged students can avail the FWS program to finance their postsecondary education costs. The FWS offers part-time employment to the eligible needy undergraduates through almost 3,400 postsecondary institutions. The rule states that the hourly wage rate should not be below the minimum federal wage. Students are given jobs by:

· Federal, state, or local public group

· Private non-profit organization

· Private for-profit organization

Each year acknowledged institutes submit the U.S. Department of Education’s Fiscal Operations Report and Application to Participate (FISAP) to apply for the FWS funding. Here, the institutes pay 50% of the share for student’s wages. Fill up the FAFSA form to apply for the FWS program.

Students with intellectual disability are eligible for Pell Grants, FWS and FSEOG if they are enrolled in a comprehensive transition and postsecondary (CTP) program and maintain satisfactory academic results. Almost 15 states offer the CTP program and several other private and public organizations, national associations, college and universities offer numerous disability programs and grants that fulfill your dream of higher education. Apply today and don’t remain restricted with your limitations.

Sonography Education: Financial Aid Begins With FAFSA

Students interested in attending their CAAHEP accredited sonography program of choice often need help paying for tuition, fees and books. There are many different types of financial aid, including federal and state grants, government backed loans, scholarships administered by the school’s financial aid office, tuition waivers and others. When beginning the search for funding through the financial aid office, one of the first things the student will be asked is whether the FAFSA form has been submitted.

FAFSA: A First Step for Sonography Students

Today, most students can qualify for some type of student aid. Family income is no longer the only criteria considered, but income will influence the type of aid the student qualifies for. Eligibility does require the following:

  • Be a U.S. citizen, eligible non-citizen or U.S. national
  • Have earned a high school diploma or passed the General Educational Development (GED) tests and earned a Certificate of High School Equivalency
  • Have a Social Security Number
  • If a male aged 18 to 25 years old, be registered with the U.S. Selective Service
  • Not be in default on student loans
  • Cannot owe federal student grant refunds
  • Has not been convicted of selling or possessing illicit drugs while receiving federal student aid

If the student can meet the eligibility requirements, it is time to complete the FAFSA application. FAFSA is the acronym for “Free Application for Federal Student Aid.” It is a U.S. Department of Education-Office of Federal Student Aid form that is used to determine the student’s need for financial aid or the Expected Family Contribution. It is the first step in qualifying for financial aid.

Completing the FAFSA Form

Sonography students should complete the FAFSA form well in advance of applying for financial student aid through the school’s financial aid office. The form can be filed with the Department of Education beginning in January of each year. Each year the federal deadline can change, but it is June 30, 2015 for the 2014-2015 academic year.

Timing is important because federal aid is distributed on a first-come first-serve basis. In addition, the school may have a filing deadline that must be met. The filing deadline may be the date the FAFSA was submitted to the federal processor or the date the federal processor returns the needs analysis to the financial aid office.

Once sonography students choose the CAAHEP accredited programs they want to apply to, it is important to check with the financial aid office at each school. Each one has a different set of rules, and missing the FAFSA deadline will make the student ineligible for federal aid as a minimum. Many schools use the FAFSA needs analysis in the distribution of all available financial aid, and not just the federal dollars. Therefore, there are state deadlines for filing the FAFSA form also.

The Department of Education encourages students to file the FAFSA form as soon as possible after the first of January. The form can be filed online or a paper copy sent through the mail.

Know the Deadlines

The federal government has developed a helpful program called the FAFSA4caster that enables people to enter some basic information and get an estimate of federal student aid eligibility. The estimate is presented on a “College Cost Worksheet” which also has room to add estimated amounts of other sources of funding the student may have available.

There are many deadlines to keep in mind when starting the application process:

  • Federal FAFSA deadline
  • State financial aid deadline
  • University, college, or medical center financial aid deadline
  • Scholarship deadlines

If the sonography student is applying for a bank loan or other private financial aid outside the school’s process, there will be additional deadlines. The applications must be processed in time to obtain the money before the school’s tuition and fees are due.

Applying for financial aid of any kind requires being organized. A good approach is to make a list of deadlines to ensure none is accidentally missed. The process is too important to risk missing application deadlines.

Scholarship Essay Competitions – Three Options

People looking to get funds for higher education have multiple opportunities. If writing is one of your strengths, then you may consider scholarship essay contests. The amount provided will vary from award to award. However, there are several essay contest scholarships.

Student-specific options for financial aid include scholarships and grants. These are given on the basis of athletic ability, ethnicity. Essay contests are also such an award. The person entering the contest must have the ability to write an essay. Here are three ways to obtain money for your education:

Scholarship Essay Contests

1. Ayn Rand Institute Scholarships

This contest requires you to write on the work of Ayn Rand. The institute runs multiple competitions. Here are the details of a few of them:

Anthem: Open to Grade 8, 9 and 10 students. The first place winner gets $2000.

Atlas Shrugged: Open to Grade 12 students as well as college graduates and undergraduates. The top prize is $10,000.

Fountainhead: Open to grade 11 and 12 students. The first place award is $10,000.

Eligible Countries: Worldwide

Students looking for scholarships with essays have many options. Within the Ayn Rand institute, there are several competitions being run. Two of the ones mentioned above are open to high school students, while one is open to both school and college students. Also, the Atlas Shrugged essay contest is open to those who have graduated from college. More information about these opportunities can be found at

2. National Peace Essay Contest

NPEC is one of the essay contest scholarships that is open to high school students. The purpose of the program is to encourage activities that build peace. The details of NPEC are available at

3. George Watt Prize

This competition involves writing on topics such as the Spanish civil war. The prize is $250. Two awards are given. For more details check

When looking for scholarship essay competitions make sure that you go through everything that is provided about the contest, including the eligibility criteria and the required output. This may sound a regulation thing, but it may help you in understanding the job you need to do. Once you have the topic(s) you are going to write on, research thoroughly on the subject. Good research may play a role in helping you stand out from the crowd.

With scholarship essay competitions, students get a chance to fund their education. Students who have the right skills may consider this as one of the options to get the assistance they need.

Financial Options From The State

There are lots of financial options that are available to students pursuing college education in the United States. It could be from the federal or state government. When you are looking for ways to pay your college tuition there are grants, work-study and low-interest student loans that could help you. Generally, the state provides subsidies for public education. This is not part of the financial aid that is being afforded to some needy students. Financial options are given to specific students based on certain criteria. One can also apply for scholarships which are financial aid that the students need not to repay because it is an award made by an individual or an organization.

The States in America provide grants, work-study and loans using the merit or need-based system. In 2010 there are nine federal and about 605 state student aid programs that are available to students. There as many as 7,000 post-secondary educational institutions that are providing merit aid to qualified students.

Pell Grants, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants, Federal Work-Study Program and Stafford Loans are just among the major federal study grants. There are also state student incentive grants and the Federal PLUS Loans are just among the few of the financial aid options that are available to students in the United States.

State governments also provide some degree of needs or merit-based financial aid to students. Some of these aids may require the filling out of the FAFSA together with other needs-based analysis document before one can apply for a financial aid which is needed to rationalize the funding for students.

Most aid are available to students on a first-come, first-served basis that is why it is important for students to file for their application at the soonest time possible. It would be great if students are able to file for their application closest to January 1 as possible. However, the “aid” window often stays open in case there is a need to re-adjust the student’s need based on financial requirements.

Merit-based aid is given to students that are able to demonstrate great aptitude and often are given by organizations in the form of scholarships. Typically merit-based aid takes into consideration the grade point average, SAT and ACT scores and other criteria. There are also merit scholarships that are not based on academics. Some awards are given for special talents and abilities. A merit-based aid does not take into consideration the financial need of the student.

Need-based aid on the other hand, is based on the financial need of the student to continue with the college education. The FAFSA is the bases of determining if a student is eligible for help.

When taking a look at the available financial aid it is important to assess if the student is able to get a maximum needs-based aid. Consult with your counselor on how to properly fill out the FAFSA and to coordinate closely with the authorities if how much can you get from it.