Looking for financial aid to go back to school is time consuming, but is well worth the effort for the single mom. Student loan debt is a difficult burden to carry, and sometimes makes the possibility of going back to school seem out of reach. Take advantage of every financial aid package that is available to you.
The financial aid process is full of acronyms. It seems to be taken for granted that the average student will know what they mean, and this could be true for the traditional student who is going into college directly from high school. For those of us who are non traditional students, however, the lingo needs to be translated.
FAFSA is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid. It helps to determine if a student is eligible for private or public aid. Packages are available of all types of students. It can be used to earn certificates as well as degrees for any school that is campus based or online. Graduate students and undergrads should fill out the form as the first step in the financial aid search.
SAR is the Student Aid Report that the student will receive after they have submitted the FAFSA. Make sure that all of the information on the report is correct. Use the contact information on the report to resolve any errors.
EFC stands for Expected Family Contribution. The lower the EFC, the more money the student will receive in financial aid. This amount is for the higher education costs that you will have to pay the following year.
Getting the Funds
Once the single mom receives her SAR, she should check to see if she is eligible for a Pell Grant. Eligibility changes every year, so it’s important to keep up with the changes that Congress makes to the program. It’s well worth the effort because money from the program doesn’t have to be paid back.
The Pell Grant is named after Senator Claiborne Pell. It was known as the Basic Educational Opportunity Grant when it was started in 1973.
A copy of the SAR will automatically be sent to each of the schools that were listed on the FAFSA. Contact the school you choose to attend and compare the financial aid packages that will be available to you through that school. Funds will be available in forms of grants, work study funds and low interest loans.
The single mom should also look for money to help her pay for her higher education from scholarships. A private loan is also an option, but make sure that all other sources for lower cost financial aid have been applied for.
Many single moms neglect to contact their employers when they are looking for funds to pay the tuition needs and other expenses when they go back to school. Even if your employer doesn’t offer an educational assistance program, you can often ask for help and get it. If taking the classes will help make you more proficient in your job with the company, the employer might see the benefit of reimbursing you part of the expense you incurred after you have completed the class. It never hurts to ask.