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Your financial path to graduation

Have a financial aid offer? We'll help you plan to finish your program with debt you can afford.

This tool can help you:

  • Understand your financial aid offer
  • Plan to cover the remaining costs
  • Estimate how much you’ll owe and if you can afford that debt
  • Compare offers from different schools
  • Decide what to do next

Keep coming back as your plan evolves.

For many students, planning how to pay for school is complicated. It may require multiple conversations with family, advisers, and the school financial aid office to get more information. As you figure out your best options, come back and update your plan as many times as you need!

This tool does not save your personal data. Learn how we got the numbers and guidelines for our calculations.

To start, you will need:

  • Your financial aid offer(s)
  • An idea of how much money you and your family can put towards school
  • A private loan offer (if you have one)
  • The phone number or email address of someone in the financial aid office – it’s their job to answer your questions!

You may want to use this tool with someone you trust who can help you weigh your options.

This year's costs

Does your financial aid offer have information about costs?

Type in the costs listed in your offer, adding additional costs as needed.

These are estimates based on students’ reported spending. Your actual expenses will depend on which courses you take, whether you have dependents, your personal budgeting, and other factors.

The school uses these estimates to calculate how much aid you can receive. If you think you will spend more, contact the school’s financial aid office—you may be eligible for more aid.

This is the most recent data from the U.S. Department of Education, but it is at least one year old. Ask the financial aid office for up-to-date estimates. Your actual spending will depend on which courses you take, whether you have dependents, your personal budgeting, and other factors.

The school uses these estimates to calculate how much aid you can receive. If you will spend more, contact the school’s financial aid office—you may be eligible for more aid.

Direct costs

Direct costs are what you will owe the school at the beginning of each term. Your actual bill will vary from the numbers here.

Depends on which courses you take

Anything else your school will bill you for

Estimated direct costs
$99,999

Indirect costs

Indirect costs are other school year necessities, like childcare and traveling between home and school. Though these vary from student to student, start with the numbers in your offer and then adjust as needed.

If your school will charge you directly for all books and supplies, put a zero and add these costs to "Additional direct costs" above.

Public transit and personal vehicle costs (gas, tolls, maintenance) but not the purchase of a personal vehicle.

Everything else! Ask the financial aid office what they include in this number and then check if it is realistic for you. Typically includes laundry and entertainment. Can also include health insurance, childcare, laptop, and disability-related expenses.

Estimated indirect costs
$99,999

Expenses not related to school and not eligible for financial aid, like car payments, credit card payments, helping family with bills, etc. Ask the financial aid office if you're not sure if an expense qualifies for financial aid.

Your estimated costs this year
$99,999
Money saving tips
  • Finish school on time. This typically requires earning 30 credits a year for an associate’s or bachelor’s. Work with your academic adviser to choose classes that add up to a degree. Graduating on time (or early) will help minimize your costs, maximize your aid eligibility, and get you into a full-time job sooner.
  • Find out if this school offers block tuition (also known as flat rate tuition) — when it costs the same to take anywhere from 12 to 18 credits, for example.
  • If your costs will be higher than the school predicts, contact the financial aid office. You may be eligible for more aid.

Grants and scholarships

You do not have to pay back grants and scholarships as long as you meet their requirements. Please enter the grants and scholarships from your financial aid offer as well as any others you have been awarded.

Not sure where your grants and scholarships are listed? One way to identify grants and scholarships on your offer is to use the Hechinger Report’s OfferLetterDECODER , which color codes the different types of funding in offers uploaded as PDFs. (This links to a third-party resource. We do not endorse the third-party or guarantee the accuracy of this third-party information. There may be other resources that also serve your needs.)

Grants

Servicemember benefits

We recommend checking out the GI Bill® Comparison Tool too.

Scholarships

Total grants and scholarships
$99,999
Costs not covered:
Money saving tips
  • To protect your funding, find out the requirements of your grants and scholarships. For example, you may need to stay enrolled in a minimum number of courses or get high enough grades to meet a minimum GPA.
  • You should also ask if it is renewable (available in future years). If so, ask how many years—typically the limit will be enough for on-time graduation — and if you will need to reapply next year (like FAFSA for federal grants and loans). If not, you will need to find replacement funding next year.
  • Seriously, don’t hesitate to contact the financial aid office for more information. They want to help you! And forming relationships with the financial aid staff may help you find more funding opportunities.
Know before you go
  • Applying for a grant or scholarship does not guarantee you will get it. Apply early for a better shot at funds that are first come, first served.
  • Your grant and scholarship funding can go up or down from year to year, depending on your financial situation, your major/program, the terms of the funding, and other factors.
  • Receiving private scholarships can reduce your eligibility for grants or scholarships from the school.
  • Scholarship money may be taxed as income if it exceeds the total of certain expenses. Ask the financial aid office if this might be an issue for you.

Work-study

Work-study programs are part-time jobs on campus. If your offer includes work-study, that means you are eligible to apply for work-study jobs — a job will not be lined up for you. The work-study amount in your offer is the maximum you can earn. It is estimated and not guaranteed.

Maximum, estimated work-study income
$99,999
Money saving tips
  • Ask if there is help available for finding a work-study job (like a student employment service). You may be able to use your work-study to compete for student jobs that are not labeled work-study.
  • There can be long-term benefits to work-study (besides reducing the amount you need to borrow), like exposure to new types of work or building relationships with professors who can help you apply for scholarships, internships, and other opportunities.
Know before you go
  • If you do not find a work-study job in the first term, you may lose your eligibility in the future.
  • Ask the financial aid office about the options for getting paid for work-study. At most schools, work-study money cannot be used to cover direct costs (like tuition, on-campus housing, and meal plans), because you must pay those bills before you earn the work-study funds.

Fellowships and assistantships

In addition to work-study, graduate students may be eligible to earn additional funding from fellowships and/or assistantships.

Total fellowship and assistantship funding
$99,999
Costs not covered:
Money saving tips
  • The IRS has different rules for fellowships and assistantships. Ask the financial aid office about the tax implications of your funding.
  • Depending on your field of study, you may be able to apply for fellowship funding from outside the school.

Federal Loans

Any student loan must be repaid, with interest. Federal loans include some borrower protections and repayment options (including, under some circumstances, loan forgiveness) that are not typically offered by private and other non-federal loans.

Undergraduates have access to two types of federal loans, Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized. For both, there are limits on how much you can borrow and you will start repayment 6 months after you leave school or drop below half-time enrollment. Subsidized loans are cheaper than unsubsidized loans because the government pays the accruing interest until you enter repayment. You must demonstrate financial need on your FAFSA to qualify for subsidized loans, but anyone can take out unsubsidized loans. The school figures out how much you're eligible to borrow under federal rules.

Graduate students have access to two types of federal loans, Direct Unsubsidized and Grad PLUS. For both, there are limits on how much you can borrow. The school figures out how much you're eligible to borrow under federal rules.

We will focus on Direct Unsubsidized here; you will have the opportunity to add Grad PLUS to your plan later.

You can borrow less than your school offers and can request more loan funds later if you need to. Only borrow what you need. Entering the amount here does not obligate you to borrow this money.

Cheaper than unsubsidized loans because the government pays your interest until 6 months after you leave school (or drop below half-time)

Interest rate (%)

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on federal student loans each July. If you are using this tool prior to July 1 for loans you will receive after July 1, then the interest rate may be different from what you see here.

4.53%
Loan fee (%)

This fee is deducted immediately from your loan amount, lowering the total you receive. For example, if the loan fee is 1%, then $10 will be subtracted from a $1,000 loan, so you or your school will only receive $990 but you would have to repay $1,000.

1.062%

You start accruing interest as soon as you receive your first loan

Interest rate (%)

The U.S. Department of Education sets the interest rate on federal student loans each July. If you are using this tool prior to July 1 for loans you will receive after July 1, then the interest rate may be different from what you see here.

4.53%
Loan fee (%)

This fee is deducted immediately from your loan amount, lowering the total you receive. For example, if the loan fee is 1%, then $10 will be subtracted from a $1,000 loan, so you or your school will only receive $990 but you would have to repay $1,000.

1.062%
Total funding from federal loans (minus loan fees)
$99,999
Costs not covered:
Money saving tips
  • You can borrow less than your school offers and can request more loan funds later if you need to. You should borrow only what you need.
  • Try to budget for paying down the interest on unsubsidized loans while you’re in school. Even small payments will save you money in the long run. Contact your loan servicer for more information.
Know before you go
  • Your loans require that you use them only for things included in the cost of attendance. (For example, buying or leasing a new car is not a covered cost, but gas and tolls are.) Ask the financial aid office for more guidance.
  • As the Department of Education explains, “Just because a school participates in the federal student aid programs doesn’t mean the federal government has endorsed the quality of education the school offers. To find out whether there have been any complaints about the school, contact your local Better Business Bureau®, state higher education agency, or the consumer protection division of your state attorney general’s office. Check with the agency that licenses or accredits the school to see whether it meets required standards.”
  • You have to pay back your loans even if you don’t graduate.
  • It is very difficult to get student loans discharged in bankruptcy and you should not rely on that option.

Other loans (loans from your state, the school, and nonprofits

Your state, this school, or a nonprofit may offer you loans directly or through a bank. Before taking on this debt, do your research to make sure they are the best option for you. If you think you may want to use this funding, enter it below.

Interest rates are set by the school and/or the financial institutions they are working with. Loan fees are deducted immediately from your loan amount, lowering the total you receive. For example, if the loan fee is 1%, then $10 will be subtracted from a $1,000 loan, so you or your school will only receive $990 but you would have to repay $1,000.

Only borrow what you need. Entering the amount here does not obligate you to borrow this money.
Total funding from other loans (minus loan fees)
$99, 999
Costs not covered:
Money saving tips
  • Before committing to these loans, compare them to other federal and private options. Look at the terms: the interest rate, whether interest accumulates during school, how soon you’ll have to start repaying the loan after leaving school, and whether there are flexible repayment options.
  • Many schools offer low-cost or no-cost tuition payment plans. These break up a term’s tuition into periodic payments instead of one lump payment at the beginning of the term, allowing you to pay tuition as you (and/or your family) earn money over time.
Know before you go
Loans from your school or from a bank or credit union may not offer the same protections flexible repayment options as federal student loans. If you need loans to pay for school, consider using up your federal loan offer before turning to loans through a bank or credit union.

Other sources

Thank you for entering everything from your financial aid offer. What other sources of funds are available to you?

Do you have money on hand to put towards school?

Can your family chip in on your education this year?

529 college savings plans are tax-advantaged savings plans that help families save for higher education so they can be less reliant on student loans. Learn more here.

Total other sources
$99,999
Costs not covered:
Money saving tips
  • Some states offer grants and funding for specific costs related to education, like childcare. Ask the financial aid office or your state or territory's child care fund.
  • Depending on your circumstances, including state and local regulations, you may be eligible for government benefits like TANF (welfare), SNAP (food stamps), Medicaid, and subsidized housing. Reach out to the financial aid office if you are struggling to afford necessities.
Did you know?
  • Working while in school can help you cut down the amount you need to borrow, but studies suggest that working more than 20 hours a week is associated with a lower GPA. Low grades put financial aid eligibility at risk.
  • If you currently receive government benefits, going to school can affect how much you receive. Ask your caseworker or the financial aid office for help, and plan accordingly.

Using student loans strategically

Next you will make a plan to cover remaining costs. Since you will probably use loans to pay for school—most students do—it’s important to understand how they work. This page will overview how student loans work and their potential benefits and risks.

Student loans are money for education that you pay back with interest. That means you'll pay more than you originally borrowed.

For example, if you borrow $10,000 in unsubsidized loans with 4% annual interest, you will accrue $400 in interest each year before you enter repayment. So if you borrow that $10,000 in September 2020, graduate in May 2024, and enter repayment 6 months later (November 2024), you will accrue about $1,700 in interest and owe a total of $11,700 at that time. (If it’s a subsidized loans, you will owe just the original $10,000 when you enter repayment – and then start accruing interest as you gradually pay down the debt.)

To save money on the cost of student loans, you have four strategies:

  • borrow less
  • shop around for lower interest rates on non-federal student loans (this will take research and additional loan applications)
  • pay down interest on unsubsidized debt while you're in school to avoid capitalization— - paying interest on interest)
  • repay your loans faster by making bigger monthly payments (depending on your federal loan repayment plan).

As this graph shows, someone with about $30,000 in student loans (typical for college undergraduates) will save more than $10,000 in interest by repaying their loan in 10 years instead of 25 years.

So why take out student loans? A degree can open up more career options and increase your future earnings. Successfully repaying your student loans can help build your credit history. If higher education helps you reach your goals, the cost of student loans may be a good investment in your future—if you can afford to repay them.

But be aware of the tradeoffs you’ll face when you leave school and enter repayment:

  • You will owe monthly payments for many years. The average repayment period for the typical amount of debt is 20 years. These payments will take up money in your budget that you won’t be able to spend on other things, like saving for emergencies, retirement, or large purchases likes homes and cars.
  • Missing payments can keep you from other goals. If you can’t afford your payments and miss a payment deadline, your credit score might go down. Lower credit scores can make credit cards, home mortgages, and auto loans harder to get approved for and more expensive due to higher interest rates.
  • Repaying student loans is the only way you’re guaranteed to get rid of them. While loan forgiveness programs do exist for federal loans, they’re not guaranteed. Additionally, it is very difficult to get student loans discharged in bankruptcy and you should not rely on that option.

Make a plan to cover this year's costs

Thank you for entering all that info! This page will help you determine whether you have enough funding to cover the cost of attending this particular school. If you have a gap, it will help you come up with a plan.

You have $XX,XXX of uncovered costs for this year of schooling. Make a plan to get this down to $0.
You have $XX,XXX of excess funding for this year. Consider reducing your borrowing, starting with the highest interest loans.

Costs vs. funding

Get your uncovered costs down to $0

From cheapest to most expensive, here are your options for closing that gap:

Interest rate (%)
4.53%
Loan fee (%)
1.062%

Interest starts accumulating 6 months after you leave school

Interest rate (%)
9.99%
Loan fee (%)
9.99%

Additional loan options

If you still have uncovered costs after working with the financial aid office to exhaust all the options listed above, you and your family have two more loan options to consider:

  • Federal Parent PLUS loan: For dependent students at participating schools, parents and stepparents may be able to apply for a Parent PLUS loan from the U.S. Department of Education. Check with the financial aid office before including this in your plan.
  • Direct PLUS loan (aka Grad PLUS): Graduate students can apply for a Direct PLUS loan from the U.S. Department of Education.
  • Private student loan: You or a family member can apply for a private student loan from a bank or credit union. Students without credit history are typically required to have a family member cosign as a fellow borrower on the loan.
Know before you go
  • Accessibility: ParentGrad PLUS Loans are typically easier to qualify for than private loans. All borrowers can save money by comparison shopping—apply to multiple lenders to get the best terms.
  • Cost: For borrowers and cosigners with strong credit, private loans may offer lower interest rates than Parent Grad PLUS loans — but watch out for variable interest rates, which can increase in the future. Any borrower can save money on interest by starting repayment as soon as possible.
  • Protections: Parent PLUS loans offer some, but not all, of the protections as Federal Direct Loans to students. Private loans are not legally required to offer the same borrower protections and repayment options as any federal loans.
  • Risks: With both types of loans, borrowers and cosigners risk harm to their credit score if the debt is not repaid on time. Defaulting on a federalPLUS loan can lead to garnishment of federal tax refunds and Social Security payments. Parents and other family members should consider whether they have saved enough for emergencies and retirement when deciding whether to borrow money for their student’s education.
  • Further guidance: Visit the U.S. Department of Education for a detailed discussion of loan options. You can also contact the school’s financial aid office.
Interest rate (%)

If you are offered a fixed interest rate, it will not change throughout the life of the loan. If you are offered a variable interest rate, it might change. Enter the intial interest rate from your offer here.

0
Loan fee (%)

Interest starts accumulating as soon as the money is sent to your school.

0
More details about Direct PLUS (Grad PLUS) loans can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.
Interest rate (%)

If you are offered a fixed interest rate, it will not change throughout the life of the loan. If you are offered a variable interest rate, it might change. Enter the intial interest rate from your offer here.

0
Loan fee (%)

Interest starts accumulating as soon as the money is sent to your school.

0
More details about parent PLUS loans can be found on the Federal Student Aid website.

Private Loan

If you are offered a fixed interest rate, it will not change throughout the life of the loan. If you are offered a variable interest rate, it might change. Enter the intial interest rate from your offer here.

Interest starts accumulating as soon as the money is sent to your school.

Could this be too much debt?

A guideline that some find helpful: If you’re borrowing more than you’re likely to earn in your first year out of school, then you should consider whether you might be taking on more debt than you'll be able to afford. The projected total debt shown below is just for this program and does not include prior student loans; if you have other student debt, include that in your calculations.

Projected total debt
$0

Assuming similar borrowing each year

Since you have $Xxxx in uncovered costs, this projection may underestimate your debt.
Ask your school about your expected salary.
Your actual salary will depend on factors like your field of work and where you live. Visit the BLS Wage Data site for more information.
Median salary of this school's recent studentsprogram's graduates
$0

Median earnings of federally-aided students working and not enrolled 6 years after starting at this school—includes students who did not graduate

Median first-year earnings of federally-aided program graduates who were working and not enrolled during the first year following graduation

Your projected debt vs. the median salary of recent studentsfirst-year salary of program graduates

Your projected total debt is more than the median salary of this school's recent studentsmedian first-year salary of this program's graduates. Consider whether this plan is right for you.
Your projected total debt is $XXXX higher than the median salary of this school's recent studentsmedian first-year salary of this program's graduates. Your actual salary will depend on factors like your field of work and where you live. Visit the BLS Wage Data site for more information.
Your projected total debt is not higher than the median salary of this school's recent studentsmedian first-year salary of this program's graduates
Your actual salary will depend on factors like your field of work and where you live. Visit the BLS Wage Data site for more information.

What will interest cost me?

This page depicts the total cost of borrowing if you repay your debt over 10 years on the standard repayment plan.

Cost of borrowing your loans

Total money borrowed
$0
Interest accrued while in school
$0
Interest over 10-year repayment plan
$0
Total cost of borrowing
$0
Money saving tip
To lower the total cost of your loans, make room in your in-school budget for payments towards the interest on your private and unsubsidized federal loans. This will reduce the amount you pay due to capitalization — interest on your interest.

Can I afford my payment?

Skipping monthly loan payments can cause financial and legal problems. Default—missing too many payments—can result in low credit scores, additional fees, wage garnishment, and ineligibility for further federal student aid. This page gives you two ways to estimate the affordability of your projected monthly payment.

If you make about $15 an hour, how many hours would you have to work to cover your estimated monthly payment(s)?

Estimated monthly loan payment
$0.00
÷ $15
About ?? hours, or ? forty-hour work weeks

Your payment will depend on your total debt and your repayment plan. This estimate assumes a standard plan, where you pay the same amount every month for 10 years; other plans with lower monthly payments (and higher total costs of borrowing) are available.

Estimated monthly loan payment
$0.00

Your payment will depend on your total debt and your repayment plan. This estimate assumes a standard plan, where you pay the same amount every month for 10 years; other plans with lower monthly payments (and higher total costs of borrowing) are available.

Monthly median salary for this school's recent students
$0.00
Monthly median first-year salary for this program's graduates
$0.00
Average monthly spending at this salary
$4,016.67

Your actual monthly salary will depend on many different factors, including your field of work and where you will live. To get more information about the salary levels of different careers, visit the BLS Wage Data website.

Students tend to overestimate their starting salaries. Remember that medians are the middle — half of students make more, but half make less.

If you know your living expenses, adjust these averages to match your situation.

Total money left
$373
The estimate leaves you with a shortage of $373. Try adjusting the expenses to balance your budget.
The estimate leaves you with a surplus of $373, increasing your savings.

Compare this school to others like it

Now that you understand how much debt you’re considering, make sure to research how well the school serves students. You’re investing a lot—make sure it pays off.

Ask the school to provide the metrics you care about, such as:

  • On-time completion rate
  • Job placement rate
  • Loan default rate
  • Loan repayment rate
  • Persistence and retention rate

You should consider asking multiple schools for this information, so you can compare this school’s results.

Now that you understand how much debt you’re considering, let’s look at some statistics that indicate how well the school serves students. You’re investing a lot—make sure it pays off.

Example University

Location: City, State
Type: Type
Student Body: 1
Highest degree offered: degree
Number of programs: 1
Most popular programs: Programs
This school is under Heightened Cash Monitoring by the U.S. Department of Education. Find out more.

Graduation rate

's graduation rate is . If you are going to school to earn more money, you need to complete your degree to get that payoff.
Compare 's rate to other 4 year schools that are also:

's graduation rate falls in the of all schools granting 4-year degrees.

Transfer to graduation rate

's transfer to graduation rate is . If you are going to school to earn more money, you need to complete your degree to get that payoff.
Compare 's rate to other 2 year schools that are also:

's transfer to graduation rate is [2% higher] than the median of all US community colleges. It falls in the [middle third] of these schools.

Default rate

's default rate is . This is a sign of how many student borrowers experienced financial distress while repaying their student debt.

Repayment rate

's repayment rate is . This tells you how many student borrowers have earned enough money to start paying down their debt.
Compare 's rate to other 4 year schools that are also:

's repayment rate falls in the of all schools granting 4-year degrees.

Review your plan and projected outcomes

Here is an overview of this school’s costs, your plan for covering them, the debt you are considering, and the school’s results on a few key metrics. As you look over these numbers again, think about whether you are feeling good about going to this school with this financial plan. If you have multiple offers, use this summary to compare them.

You will also have a chace to print all documents at the end.

School and living situation

School
[school name]
Program type
[program type]
Program name
[program name]
Number of years
[program length]
Tuition type
[program rate]
Where do you plan to live?
[housing]

Covering your costs

Costs not covered yet:

Direct costs

Tuition and fees
Housing and meals
Additional direct costs

Indirect costs

Books & supplies
Transportation
Other/miscellaneous expenses
Additional indirect costs

Non-debt

Grants and scholarships
Work-study
Other resources

Debt

Federal Loans
Loans from your state, the school, or a non-profit
Private loans
PLUS loans

Affording your loans

Projected total debt
$0
Includes Parent PLUS loans?
Yes
Median first-year salary of this program's graduates
$0
Median salary of this school's recent students
$0
Median first-year salary of this program's graduates
Ask the school for salary data
Total cost of borrowing over 10-year repayment period
$0
How long will it take to earn my estimated payment?
It will take 0 hours to earn the estimated payment, assuming a wage of $15 an hour after taxes.
Can I afford my payment within a monthly budget?
Yes, there is room in the hypothetical budgetNo, there is not room in the hypothetical budget
Estimated monthly loan payment
$0
Median monthly first-year salary of this program's graduates
$0
Median monthly salary of this school's recent students
$0
Median monthly first-year salary of this program's graduates
Ask the school for salary data
Average (or estimated) monthly expenses
$0
Additional money needed or left over
$0
Graduation rate
Transfer to graduation rate
Default rate
Repayment rate
Graduation rate
Ask the school.
Default rate
Ask the school.
Repayment rate
Ask the school.

What to do next

Your next steps depend on whether you want to use this plan to pay for attending this school.

Do you want to put this plan into action or consider other options?

How to put this plan into action

You will also have a chace to print all documents at the end.

Ask the financial aid office any questions you still have.

It’s first on this list, but you should do it whenever you’re confused or unsure of what to do next. They want to help you (and it’s their job)! You will not jeopardize your funding by asking too many questions.

Find out what it takes to enroll.

How much is the deposit? What paperwork do you need to send in? When are the deposit and any other paperwork due?

Research the details of your grants and scholarships.

Read or ask about the requirements of each grant and scholarship. Ask if they are renewable for following years—if not, you’ll need to find replacement funding next year.

Research the details of your grants, scholarships, fellowships, and assistantships.

Read or ask about the requirements of each grant and scholarship. Ask if they are renewable for following years—if not, you’ll need to find replacement funding next year.

Make a budget.

Use this cashflow budget to plan out when you’ll get money and when you’ll have to pay it.

Double check that you’ll have enough money when you need it.

If you have uncovered upfront costs, talk to the financial aid office about options to reduce the amount due at the beginning of the school year, like tuition installment plans. Or can you (or your family) start saving for these now?

Accept the loans you want.

More paperwork ahead! You’ll also need to do entrance counseling for federal loans. Remember, you don’t need to accept all the loans you’re offered or the full amount.

Put a reminder in your calendar to fill out FAFSA on October 1.

If you’ll be in school next year, you’ll need to start this process again in a few months.

Set another reminder to visit the financial aid office every term.

Ask about new opportunities for funding. For example, some scholarships are only open to certain majors or only for upperclassmen.

Know how many credits you already have and plan to graduate on time.

Make sure you get credit for your AP, IB, dual-enrollment, and transfer courses. Work with an academic adviser to stay on track for on-time graduation.

Ask about getting credits from a more affordable school.

Reach out to your academic advisor about taking core requirements at community college. (But be strategic about when you take them – if you start school with enough credits to count as a second- or third-year student, you may be disqualified from grants and scholarships for first-year students.)

Ask about getting credits from a more affordable school.

Graduate programs may allow you to transfer credits.

Apply for additional institutional or private student loans.

To get the best deal for your situation, read the fine print and shop around for the lowest interest rates and fees. You’ll probably need a cosigner.

Apply for additional loans, including Grad PLUS and private options.

To get the best deal for your situation, read the fine print and shop around for the lowest interest rates and fees. You’ll probably need a cosigner.

Consider other options

Reduce your living costs.

Can you live at home? Stick to public transit?

Look for more grants and scholarships.

There are always more available, even if school starts soon! Scholarship Finder is one place to look.

Consider working.

A job can reduce your borrowing and provide other benefits, but working more than 20 hours a week is associated with lower grades.

Consider working.

While working can reduce borrowing and provide enriching experiences, remember that over 20 hours a week is associated with lower grades.

Think about other programs at this school.

You might want to consider choosing a major that will open the door to more lucrative career fields.

Explore other schools.

Even if this is the only school you applied to this year, it’s not your only option. For example, if you are pursuing a bachelor's degree, you can always start att community college this year and apply to transfer to another school next year.

Explore other schools.

Even if this is the only school you applied to this year, it’s not your only option. Take this year to work, save money, and pursue enrichment opportunities in your field while preparing to apply again next year.

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You've made a plan to cover your school costs and graduate with as little debt as possible, and learned about the impact of loans on your future.

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