Understanding College Financial Aid
“Work-study is excellent because students earn much-needed money, and they can gain
valuable job experience,” Miller said. Work-study positions often offer flexible schedules, and
they go quickly. “Students should apply for positions as soon as possible,” Miller advised.
Loans should be a last resort for students needing college financing because they need to be
repaid with interest, Miller said. “Students should exhaust all their other options before taking
out loans. Then they need to borrow carefully to make sure they don’t get so deeply in debt that
they can’t repay the loans.”
Federally guaranteed loans for students and parents are awarded based on information
provided in the FAFSA. Generally, federal loans offer better interest rates and better terms than
private loans. “Federal student loans don’t require repayment until after the student leaves
school. With the Federal Subsidized Stafford Loan, the government even makes interest
payments while the student’s in school,” Miller said.
Private loans are also available to students and their parents, but again, Miller advised caution.
“Exhaust all federal loan options before considering private loans. Then calculate how many
years it will take to graduate and how much in total loans is needed. Then decide if the student
will be able to make the monthly payments after graduation.”