Part of understanding financial aid is having a basic understanding of financial literacy.
Topics such as budgeting, interest rates, identity theft, and other issues should be researched and understood as students can encounter throughout their cadetship. There are three components to financial literacy: budgeting, borrowing, and repayment.
A budget is a compass that enables a person to stay on the path to reach financial goals. It’s an invaluable tool to help you prioritize your spending and manage your money. Some good starter information for this important topic are:
Student borrowers should understand the general terminology of the student loan process and gain some basic understanding of the related concepts listed below:
- Loan types - federal vs. private
- Subsidized vs. Unsubsidized loans
- Determining how much to borrow
- Borrowing and credit
- How current borrowing affects future credit
- Impacts on credit score
- Virginia Student Loan Help, which provides financial aid and literacy education in partnership with the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).
Repayment of education loans kicks in once a student drops below half-time attendance or graduates from college. Student borrowers should understand the following concepts:
- There are repayment plan options beyond the standard repayment plan, such as Income-Based Repayment and Pay-As-You-Earn. Federal Student Aid offers a loan simulator to explain these options.
- Loan grace periods vary based on type of loan and funding source.
- It is important to know the name and contact information of loan servicer(s) and understand their role.
- The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) is the national database of information about loans and grants awarded to students under Title IV of the Higher Education Act (HEA) of 1965, as amended.
- The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau provides consumer education resources to help borrowers make the best decisions for their individual circumstances regarding their student loans.
College Financial Planning Resources
There are a number of resources at both the state and national level that can be useful when weighing your options for affording college and creating a plan for your academic and financial future.
- U.S Department of Education - A collection of resources from the DOE for researching costs of programs and aid available.
- Financial Aid Toolkit - Downloadable resource from the U.S> Department of Education to assist in making informed financial decisions.
- College Board Calculators - Interactive calculators that help to provide an estimate of your net price — the real price you'll pay — for any college.
- The Virginia529 Plan - Plans focused on investing after-tax contributions into investment portfolios like a mutual fund, able to be used at in-state, out-of-state, public, or private schools
- Federal Student Aid - Information regarding the FAFSA®, federal loans, and grants.
- State Financial Aid Programs from the State Council of Higher Education for Virginia (SCHEV).