What to Do When Federal Student Loans Are Not Enough

Paying for tuition and other university expenses can be daunting when student loans do not cover your financial needs. Find other ways to make ends meet by updating your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®), appealing your award amount, applying for scholarships, and finding part-time work. Making an appointment with your financial aid advisor can also help you explore your options and financial opportunities.

Review Your FAFSA®

Universities use the FAFSA® to determine how much a family can afford to spend on college and how much can be granted through federal student aid. Make sure you are eligible to receive the maximum amount allowed by reviewing your FAFSA® periodically for accuracy.

Ask a financial aid office advisor to look over your form and make sure you didn’t misinterpret any questions. You can update your FAFSA® online, but be sure to alert your financial aid office of any changes as well.

Apply For Scholarships

There are countless scholarships out there, and chances are you are eligible for at least a handful of them. Ask your advisor to point you in the right direction, and make it a habit to regularly search for scholarships online. You might be able to find school-specific, department-specific, or demographic-specific scholarships that apply to your situation.

Local organizations that provide scholarships will be less competitive than national foundations, but don’t let that keep you from applying! Keep in mind that scholarships have specific deadlines by which to apply.

Find Part-Time Work

Federal work-study provides part-time jobs to students with financial needs while they are in school. Employment often centers around community organizations and areas of work related to the student’s major.

Federal work-study is administered by schools that participate in the federal program. Alternatively, you can search for jobs outside your school’s work-study program. Regardless of what you choose, you’ll be paid directly and then will need to transfer funds to your university or student loan account.

Consider Private Loans

Private loans are another option for additional funds when federal student loans are not enough. As private loan interest rates and penalties can be significantly higher than those of federal student loans, this option is best used as a last resort once you’ve exhausted all other options.

Your credit score, income level, and employment status will determine the interest rate and loan amount available to you. A co-signer (such as a parent or guardian) might be required. In addition, repayment plans might offer less flexibility than federal student loans.

Be Creative

Ultimately, making ends meet when federal student loans are not enough requires some creative thinking in the financial realm. Take time to review your finances and explore your options. Make an appointment with your financial aid advisor to discuss your situation.

You might just discover some additional opportunities beyond federal loans, federal financial aid, scholarships, work, and private loans. Above all, finding the financial means to afford college takes time and consistent effort.