By Cara Hallett, financial aid manager at Hodges University and Patrick Hoffman, director of financial aid
It is not uncommon for prospective students to be ready for college but unsure of how to pay for an education. Often, the mere thought of a student loan can be frightening. However, there are many reasons why students should consider using student loans to pay for college.
At Hodges University, we believe the education you will receive is well worth the investment, and in the Office of Student Financial Aid, we do our best to make sure each student understands what his/her financial obligation will be by sitting down to discuss a financial aid plan at the start of enrollment. Meeting with each student is a great opportunity for us to answer any questions he/she may have, as well as ease some of the common concerns about student loans, such as how will they pay for them?
Additionally, the Office of Student Financial Aid has an open door policy. During business hours, students are welcome to sit down, ask questions and discuss their financial aid with a financial aid representative. With offices at both the Fort Myers and Naples campuses, financial aid representatives are readily available to answer and respond to phone calls and emails, as well as assist students in completing required documents. The service that students receive from our office sets us apart from the service that students may receive at a larger institution.
The Office of Student Financial Aid also provides students with status notifications pertaining to total loan aggregate amounts, counseling to students concerning borrowing wisely, as well as financial literacy initiatives and freely available consumer information.
Fortunately, most student loans come with many different repayment options and the federal student loan companies are much easier to work with than private banks. To provide a clearer understanding, below are five reasons student loans are a positive resource in paying for your education.
- Income Repayment Options. Direct Lending offers various income repayment options such as income-contingent, income sensitive, income-based and pay as you earn that link a student’s loans to his/her income, which could be especially beneficial to low income families.
- Deferment, Forbearance and Loan Forgiveness. They also offer many different deferment or forbearance options that can temporarily postpone payments, as well as loan forgiveness options that can pay off a portion of a student’s loans for those who qualify.
- Low Fixed Interest Rates. In addition to having flexible repayment options, student loans carry low fixed interest rates, and if a student qualifies for subsidized student loans, he/she will not accrue interest while in school. Currently, the interest rate for subsidized and unsubsidized loans for an undergraduate student is 4.29 percent and 5.84 percent for a graduate student.
- Building Credit. Student loans can also help students build credit if they pay on time when they go into repayment.
- Low Cost Option. One of the greatest benefits to student loans is the ability to provide students with a dependable low cost option to pay for their education, which in many cases will translate into a better career.
If you are unsure if the cost of an education is worth the financial investment, review the chart below from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. According to their data, individuals who possess a master’s degree earn an average weekly wage of $1,341. Those with a bachelor’s degree earn $1,137 and those with an associate degree earn $798 each week. Individuals with a high school diploma only earn $678 each week.
The Hodges University financial aid staff is ready to help you take the next step in pursuing your educational goals. Prospective students can visit Hodges’ financial aid website to view systematic instructions on how to receive financial assistance, including completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA); working with a Hodges University financial aid counselor; exploring grants, scholarships, loans and work-study opportunities; and accessing your award letter to determine what financial aid you can receive at Hodges. Lastly, Hodges’ financial aid counselors will provide you with information regarding how you can maintain your eligibility for financial aid.
To contact a Hodges University financial aid counselor, email firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also call (800) 466-8017 or (800) 466-8019. Visit www.studentaid.gov and www.studentloans.gov to receive additional information.