Coming up short for fall’s tuition bill? Sallie Mae offers last-minute options to help families pay for college
RESTON, Va.—In these economic times, families of college students might find themselves with less money in their pockets to pay this fall’s college tuition. Sallie Mae, the nation’s leading saving, planning and paying for education company, offers several affordable options available in time to meet the cost of higher education.
“When times are tight, a college degree continues to pay long-lasting dividends,” said Albert L. Lord, vice chairman and CEO, Sallie Mae. “With unemployment for college graduates at half that of the population at large, a college degree remains one of the best investments a family can make. The good news is that there is a variety of options to help cover the cost.”
Sallie Mae’s free Education Investment Planner, available at www.SallieMae.com/invest, can help college-bound students and their families compare the costs of 5,500 colleges and universities, build a customized plan to pay for college, and explore various funding options.
After maximizing scholarships, grants and federal student loans, Sallie Mae advises families to consider these solutions to a last-minute college financing gap:
* Tuition Payment Plans
Tuition payment plans are available at hundreds of college campuses and offer families an alternative to making a large, lump-sum payment due at the start of the term. Sallie Mae’s TuitionPay is an interest-free, monthly installment option that saves families money by reducing the amount they need to borrow and allows families to more easily use their current income for education expenses. Visit www.SallieMae.com/tuitionpay for more information.
* Sallie Mae PLUS Loan
Federal PLUS loans allow parents of undergraduate, dependent college students, as well as graduate students, to finance their unmet financial need, up to the full cost of education, as certified by the student’s institution. Federal PLUS loans carry a fixed interest rate of 8.5%, regardless of the customer’s credit history, income or assets. Funds may be used to cover total education expenses, including room, board, books, supplies and travel to campus.
To qualify, applicants must not be more than 180 days delinquent on their mortgage or medical bills and no more than 90 days late on other bills. Sallie Mae assists parents and graduate students who do not immediately qualify for a PLUS loan in resolving outstanding or erroneous credit issues. Parents may postpone making payments until six months after their beneficiary student completes college or drops below half-time status. To learn more, visit www.SallieMae.com/plus.
* Sallie Mae Smart Option Student Loan
For students who have explored scholarships, grants and federal student loan programs but still have unmet financial need, Sallie Mae’s new Smart Option Student Loan will help students save money, build good credit and pay off their student loans faster. Featuring interest-only payments while in school, the Smart Option Student Loan enables the typical customer to pay off the balance nine years sooner and save an estimated nearly 60 percent in finance charges when compared to most other private education loan alternatives. To increase the likelihood of approval and to get the best rates, students are encouraged to apply with a creditworthy cosigner. For more information, visit www.SallieMae.com/smartoption.
* Upromise by Sallie Mae
Upromise by Sallie Mae is a free program that offers another way to earn extra money for college. Members can receive money back for college while making eligible purchases such as school supplies, a laptop, clothing and college dorm essentials. Upromise members have earned nearly $500 million in member rewards since 2001. Rewards accumulate in a member’s Upromise account and can be transferred into a 529 college savings plan account administered by Upromise Investments or used to pay down eligible Sallie Mae-serviced student loans. Visit www.Upromise.com for more information.
Sallie Mae also reminds students that it’s not too late to complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) to apply for federal grants and student loans. Families should talk to their campus financial aid office if their finances have changed. Colleges can adjust their award packages when a family encounters special circumstances, such as if a parent is laid off or takes a salary cut. In addition, if parents are turned down for a federal PLUS loan, a student may qualify for higher loan limits through federal Stafford loans.
Sallie Mae continues to recommend that families follow its “1-2-3 approach” to paying for college: first, tap “free money” such as grants and scholarships; second, fully explore federal loans; and third, if necessary, fill any gap with private student loans.
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