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Starting October 1st, unlock the financial aid you need for college

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News Tech: Despite the press, attending college is still the best option for increasing lifetime earnings. But if you didn’t borrow a lot of money to earn your degree, it will be much more likely to pay off.

D. Jean Hester, who managed college enrollment and admissions at institutions in Oregon and Ohio for more than ten years, suggests cutting the queue as short as you can. States and institutions run out of money for need-based aid, but the federal government does not.

In order to make college more affordable, students must complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA. Early applicants have the best chance of receiving additional free money for school, with applications for the 2023–24 academic year opening on October 1.

Do it this autumn. There’s no reason at all to wait, argues Hester.

The Expected Family Contribution, or EFC, of your family is determined using the FAFSA. Your financial need is determined by deducting the EFC from the official cost of attendance at your institution; the filled-out FAFSA then serves as your application for financial aid to help close that gap.

Any combination of grants, work-study, and scholarships can pay all or part of the difference between the school’s official cost of attendance and your family’s anticipated financial contribution. The maximum Pell Grant award is now $6,895. Subsidized federal loans, also known as financial aid since the government pays the interest on them until you graduate, may be made available to you after submitting the FAFSA. But just like any other loan, they must be paid back.

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The FAFSA is also used to apply for unsubsidized federal loans, which are not dependent on financial need. The maximum is $5,500 for freshmen, but by junior year it has increased to $7,500. You could seek a private student loan if you need to borrow more money than that.

Any loan, whether it is subsidised, unsubsidized, or private, is added to the debt you will have to manage after graduation. The high school class of 2022 may graduate from college with an average debt of close to $40,000, according to a NerdWallet estimate. Additionally, the administration has made it plain that this exemption is connected to COVID relief and won’t happen again, even though the current focus in student loan news is on President Joe Biden’s recent cancellation announcement.

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