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Ways to Pay for College in a Pandemic

Covid/ Private Student Loans | By Ron Hancock

While it may be uncertain where and how you’ll be attending classes this fall, you’ll still need to pay for your education. Since COVID-19 has made such a drastic impact on the economy, jobs, and life in general, you may be left wondering how you’ll pay for your education.

Though there are so many unknowns, one thing to know is that there are options available if you need financial help, and here are some that you might consider.

Financial Aid and Scholarships

If you or your family’s financial situation has changed because of COVID-19, you may be able to appeal your offer for financial aid from your institution, or apply now for aid if you haven’t already done so. Given the circumstances, schools are reevaluating the financial needs of students and granting additional aid awards, so it is definitely worth a shot to make an appeal. The worst thing that could happen is being turned down.

To make an appeal, follow these steps. Deadlines are different for each state, and your school may have additional options or resources available to you, so the financial aid office is a crucial resource at this time. Reach out sooner than later so you don’t miss out!

Emergency grants are also available, thanks to the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act – giving over $6 billion in funding to schools specifically to aid students impacted by the pandemic. Students must be eligible for financial aid to receive an emergency grant, and you can visit your school’s website or contact your financial aid office for more information.

It’s also never a bad idea to look for scholarships you may be eligible for. You never know what you might find – and deadlines for many scholarship applications have been pushed back due to COVID, giving you more time to apply.

Again, the worst that can happen is getting turned down, so it’s worth your time to submit a scholarship application if it could end up paying for even a chunk of your education. Your school likely has a scholarship resource page online, or your financial aid office can help guide you in the right direction for available scholarships.

Student Loans

If you still need financial assistance, federal student loans often include benefits and lower interest rates, so be sure to use those first. Due to the CARES Act, federally-owned student loans have also have been adjusted to provide special relief until September 30, 2020. Interest has been temporarily reduced to 0% and loan, currently in repayment, are also being placed in administrative forbearance, which means borrowers don’t have to make payments. Since federal loans generally don’t go into repayment until your enrollment falls to less than half-time, the payment relief may not benefit you while you’re in school full-time.

Interest rates for all federal loans disbursed after July 1, 2020 are at historic lows. The last time interest rates were this low was 15 years ago. So at least when it comes time to pay these loans back, the interest rate on loans you take out now will be low.

And if you need financial assistance beyond federal loans, U-fi From Nelnet has private student loans at competitive low rates to lock in your funding before the semester starts. Paying for college doesn’t have to be an unknown, and with U-fi From Nelnet you get a competitive rate, and your cosigner can start an application on your behalf. Plus, if you don’t return to school after taking out a U-fi From Nelnet loan, we’ll cancel1 the new loan before it’s disbursed – no questions asked.

Learn more about how U-fi From Nelnet helps borrowers save with private student loans today.

1Notice of cancellation of your U-fi From Nelnet loan must be received prior to the first scheduled date of disbursement reported by your school. Once you have completed the application process and your loan is certified by your school, it will be scheduled for disbursement. Check with your school when the date of the first disbursement will begin, as each school may differ on when they begin disbursing funds.

Written By:

Ron Hancock is the Regional Director for U-fi From Nelnet and is an expert in many aspects of financial aid, student loans, and debt management. A graduate of the University of Oklahoma, Ron has worked in a number of areas of higher education finance, including positions in a college financial aid office, training and development for a state agency, and most recently as National Manager for Nelnet’s Partner Solutions team. Ron has spoken at numerous financial aid conferences all across the United States.

View all posts by Ron Hancock