Fall classes start in less than two weeks for me, and aside from asking myself “Seriously? It’s time to go back to school already? Has it really been 9 months since I dropped out?” – I have a lot to do in preparation for my glorious return. A lot of it is actually rather hard to do from my seat here in Los Angeles – there will be a lot of phone calls back home to my mom to sort out financial aid paperwork.
But mainly, there’s a difficult decision to be made. It bothers me more than all of the little paperwork problems. This decision comes from the fact that my financial aid award comes $3,500 short. $3,500 is almost exactly three times what the government believes my family should have to pay out of pocket.
This $3,500 actually does include “federal work study” (the amount I’m expected to earn myself by way of an on-campus job), which is $2,400 for the year. Of course, what this doesn’t take into account is that $1,200 of that is due in September. $1,200 that I simply don’t have.
So, here are my options:
1) Helpful family members
Parents, grandparents… maybe someone has some “family grant money” laying around.
2) Federal Loan
This is the option I’ve used every year in the past, when my financial aid has come up short. Of course, you can’t apply directly for an Unsubsidized Direct Loan (makes it kind of a misnomer, eh?), your parent has to be denied for a PLUS loan. Every year we’ve done this, and every year that a parent is denied is a black mark on the credit report. With my parents trying very hard to fix their credit, I’m more leery of this option than ever.
3) Private Loan
I have never used one of these, but I’m even more leery of them than anything else. Adjustable rates that can be as bad as credit cards? Jeeze, why don’t I just throw the balance on my credit card – at least then I’d know what I’m getting into! (Please, no one take that statement literally.) Also, I don’t really have anyone with good enough credit to co-sign for me, so I’d probably be out of luck, even if I wanted one.
4) Lending Club?
An interesting thought. What type of interest rate would I get on Lending Club? Would my loan get funded in time to pay my tuition bill? Although I wouldn’t get as good of a rate as a federal loan, it seems like a better option, simply because it wouldn’t hurt my parent’s credit. Also, the repayment period would be shorter.
5) More Scholarships
There really isn’t time for this to kick in this semester, but it’s worth looking into for the future, especially next year. It’s also worth a shot to send a letter to my financial aid office, simply asking them to increase my award.
6) Monthly Payment Plan
This goes at the bottom, because it really doesn’t help any. My total balance of $3,500 would be divided into 10 monthly payments of $350. That’s a tad high for a monthly payment for me. Still, it’s an option.
Any feedback or thoughts on my dilemma would be appreciated – maybe you guys will think of something I haven’t!