(StatePoint) Heading off to college is exciting, and a time full of endless possibilities. However, circumstances have changed for many American families over the past several months as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, and you may be wondering how you will pay your upcoming college tuition bill and other school-related costs.
Over four in 10 undergraduate students are now concerned about their ability to pay for college, and feel the pandemic has impacted their academics, mental health and financial well-being, according to a recent College Ave Student Loans survey conducted by Barnes & Noble College Insights. Additionally, the survey found that many students are also worried about how the pandemic may affect their parent’s ability to pay.
If you fall into this category, consider these options for managing college costs:
• Scholarships: If scholarships were not part of your previous college payment plan, consider researching and applying to those you qualify for now. This “free” money option can alleviate some of the burden of a tuition bill without requiring any repayment on your part down the line. Don’t assume it’s too late to apply. There are many scholarship opportunities with rolling deadlines.
• Side gigs: Parents and students alike can consider earning some extra income through the gig economy. Whether that’s tutoring, freelancing or opening a store on a site like Etsy, there are a number of ways to bring in extra cash.
• Bite-size bills: If paying college tuition in a lump sum is no longer feasible for your family, find out whether your school offers an installment plan. Even if this option was not offered during previous academic years, the bursar’s office may have changed its policy in these unusual times. Be sure you understand the terms of the plan, as there may be fees or interest charges.
• Private student loans: After exhausting scholarships and grant options, seek out federal loans in the student’s name first, since these come with low rates and unique benefits such as income-based repayment plans only found with federal student loans. If these options don’t adequately cover all your college costs, private student loans are another option to fill the gap. Weigh this decision carefully. A student loan calculator, taking into account the number of years you are in school, the loan amount and the loan term, can be an invaluable tool in understanding what you can afford and if you should borrow to pay for college.
There are a number of private student loan options available at College Ave Student Loans, for example, including private parent loans. Their student loan application, which takes just three minutes to complete, offers an instant credit decision, so there is no period of uncertainty. To learn more, visit collegeavestudentloans.com.
“While you may have some uncertainty about the future, there are concrete steps your family can take to confidently tackle your upcoming college tuition bill, book expenses, housing costs and other school fees,” says Joe DePaulo, co-founder and CEO of College Ave Student Loans.