For high school graduates and college students, summer break is a great time to relax and enjoy the weather. However, it’s also an important time to plan for the next academic year and ensure that you take advantage of the resources available to help students like you reach their academic potential. This article contains information that can help high school graduates and college students be active in their financial planning for the academic year ahead.
1. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)
Every academic year, students are required to fill out a new FAFSA application. Financial aid that is available to students can change from year to year depending on the financial situation of you and your family, and you won’t want to risk losing any grants for which you have qualified. Additionally, this can help you ensure that you are still eligible for financial aid and to learn what federal loan benefits may be available.
2. Stay in Contact with Your School’s Financial Aid Office
For high school students, as you navigate the process of understanding and learning about your financial position for the next academic year, you can use your school’s financial aid office to find out more about the resources available to you.
It’s important that you ask about new scholarships, grants, or work programs for which you may be eligible, as these can help pay for tuition and other expenses. Make sure they have the most up to date information on your financial situation and individual needs so they can be as helpful as possible.
3. Apply for Scholarships
Each year, more scholarships become available for students and it may be beneficial to use the summer break as a time to research your eligibility and apply for those that may be right for you. While some applications can be time-consuming, receiving financial aid to help fund your education can be very helpful. There are a number of third party information resources for scholarships, and financial aid offices can also direct you towards scholarships for which you may be eligible.
4. Assess your Financial Situation
After determining if you’re eligible for federal benefits or if you qualify for various scholarships, the next step in the financial planning process is to understand the additional amount of money you will require to cover your expenses for the upcoming year.
Outside of tuition, there are likely to be number of additional expenses that students should plan for, such as accommodation, transportation, textbooks and other general living expenses.
Once you have an understanding on the total expected cost of your academic year, you should compare this with your available funds and assess whether it may be beneficial to apply for a student loan. Student loans can provide flexibility and support for the academic year, and help you focus on your education instead of your bank account.
Students can begin by comparing lenders and different products that are available to find a student loan that that is right for them. Loans options can vary significantly from lender to lender with respect to the interest rates offered, loan periods, and other conditions, so it makes sense to compare your options.
5. Build your professional skills and experience
Finding paid employment during the summer can have many benefits for students, including providing valuable work-experience and helping them save for the future.
It’s recommended that students resist the urge to spend all of their income over the summer break, and save some money for education costs and living expenses in the next academic year. If you already have a student loan, it could also be advantageous paying off some of the loan principal to minimize interest expenses in the future.
While it’s important to enjoy your well-earned break from studying, the summer is also an opportunity to get prepared for the future. Follow the steps listed above to get a head-start and improve your chances of financial success for the upcoming academic year.
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