Financial aid breakdown: take closer look at student loans

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Jessica Bills -- Financial aid adviser Monica Martinez assists  Rebecca Bernard, with her financial aid questions. Loans are the primary sources of student aid.
Jessica Bills — Financial aid adviser Monica Martinez assists Rebecca Bernard, with her financial aid questions. Loans are the primary sources of student aid.

Paying for a college education can be a daunting task because of the looming price tag attached to a diploma. Financial Aid Counselor Debbie Coppers offers advice on types of loans, scholarships and managing student debt.

Loans
Coppers said that many California Baptist University students need to utilize loans in order to fully pay for their tuition and other education expenses.

While students may qualify for federal and state aid, it is not enough to cover the full expense of tuition.

The financial aid office at CBU recommends students in need of loans utilize Federal Stafford Loans, loans based off the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. All students that fill out the FAFSA qualify for a Federal Stafford Loan of some sort.

“The results of the FAFSA are going to determine if those loans will be subsidized or unsubsidized, which means whether they accrue interest or they do not,” Coppers said.

Often, students with federal, state and Stafford Loans are still unable to cover education expenses, especially if they live on campus. Other loans such as Parent PLUS loans for dependent students or private student loans offer students alternatives to cover the remaining balance.

Scholarships
Scholarships are an alternative to loans; they are merit-based financial awards that can be applied to student expenses and do not need to be paid back.

“We highly encourage students to spend a lot of time researching outside scholarships,” Coppers said.

The financial aid office provides tips, tricks and links to many scholarship information pages and search engines on their InsideCBU webpage. Students can access this information by clicking on the “Scholarships” tab on the lefthand side of the page.

CBU also offers private donor scholarships, these scholarships vary in amount and are only for returning students. Students must apply for these, updated information for spring applications will be posted on InsideCBU.

Debt
“We always encourage students to monitor their loan borrowing through the National Student Loan Data System,” Coppers said.

All schools are required to report loan information to NSLDS, meaning students can see their complete loan history at any time.

Coppers also recommends keeping parents involved in the process of borrowing.

“Investment in education can be expensive, so we try to show students and their parents what they need for a semester, a year and then the long term,” Coppers said. “So that they are all aware of what they are investing in and the (loan) debt they will be in after graduation.”

The financial aid office offers budget and finance management workshops throughout the year. Students are encouraged to take advantage of those opportunities to learn how to better manage personal finances, loan repayment and debt while in college and after graduation.

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