Student Loans Versus Scholarships

The college application process is a major challenge in its own right, but then there is finding a way to pay for school.When it comes to financial aid, high school graduates and older students returning to college alike are faced with many tough decisions, including whether they should apply for student loans or rely on grants and need-based scholarships.

Unfortunately, there is no right answer. Still, students who want to attend or return to college can find out which option best meets their needs.Here is a look at the pros and cons of student loans and scholarships for college.

Student loans: Student loans are available through the federal government (federal student aid) and private banks and lenders.

•The Pros: Student loans usually provide students with enough money per semester to cover expenses, such as tuition and fees, room and board, books and supplies, and transportation.

•The Cons: A student loan is money that must be repaid with interest. However, most federal and private student loans have very low interest rates and great repayment plan options.

•Tip: Don’t take out more than you need. Taking out too much can hurt the student in the long run.

Scholarships:Grants and scholarships for college are available through the federal government and various institutions, such as foundations, religious organizations, ethnicity-based organizations and employers.Students may qualify for financial aid grants, academic achievement scholarships and need-based scholarships such as scholarships for single mother students.

•The Pros: It’s free money! Scholarships and grant money usually doesn’t have to be repaid.

•The Cons: Students may have to pay out-of-pocket expenses to cover the rest of the costs. It is difficult to find a grant or scholarship large enough to cover an entire tuition.Whether applying for single mother grants or academic achievement scholarships, students should find out the potential amount of the award and consider a back-up plan.

•Tip: Ask a parent or guardian for help. Students may be surprised to find that most parents are willing to tap into savings in order to help a student reach their educational goals and to have a bright life.

Richard A. Manfredi has written about for a single mom can help returning students go back to school.Learn about Pell Grants for single mothers if you are going back to school at 30.