Understanding Self-Help Aid

When it comes to financial aid for college, multiple options exist and for each of these, different terminology used.  Because of this, trying to sort out facts from fiction can be somewhat complicated.  One term is “self-help aid” but many potential and existing students are unsure what this really means.  We felt it important to provide information and clarification about this type of financial aid, thereby making it much easier to plan for college.

The first thing you want to do is determine if you would or would not need some type of financial aid.  Unless you have available funds from personal resources, you would need to rely on grants, scholarships, and loans to earn a college degree.  Regardless of the type or amount of financial aid needed, a specific process must be followed.  For instance, you would be required to get hold of applications, complete them, and then submit them to the appropriate office.  Once you realize that you carry the financial burden for going to college, you enter into a process known as “self-help aid”.

What is Self-Help Aid?

The goal at this point is to fully understand the concept of “self-help aid” so as you move forward in trying to secure funding for college you are prepared.  As you can imagine, having an understanding of the amount of money needed, but also the different possibilities for financial aid, the process becomes less complicated.  However, included in this process, most students also realize they need to be prepared to get a job in addition to securing money through grants or scholarships, or from borrowing money in the form of student loans. Since keeping up with all of this can become quite complicated, some students find software for financial planning quite useful over the course of their college career

The best way to view “self-help aid” is that you become self-sufficient and do whatever it takes to get into college.  You can actually get your hands on a self-help package, which includes a number of highly beneficial tools.  For instance, a work study would provide information about securing a job on campus.  Typically, a job of this type would offer between 15 and 20 hours a week, allowing you to maintain focus on studies while using the job as financial support to accomplish that goal.  However, the goal with this job for self-help aid is that money earned would go back into paying for tuition, books, lab time, and other college expenses.

Another aspect of the self-help program would be loans.  In most cases, the amount of the student loan is generally greater than that of a work study, with the maximum allowed under rules set forth by the federal government being used.  In this case, as a freshman the maximum would be $3,500 but then as you progress through college, that dollar amount would increase.  While there are a number of different loan options, one of the main choices offered by the federal government is the Direct Loan.  For this, if this type of loan is provided to you in coordination with a need-based award, the principal amount of the loan, as well as interest would not be paid until you graduate from college.

Another angle associated with self-help aid and student loans is that if you had reached the maximum eligibility but you still need additional funding for college, then loans coming from sources outside the federal government should be considered.  These private loans are offered through traditional banks and credit unions but because they are general loans and not loans geared toward education, you need to look at multiple lenders to find the best interest rates and terms.

The bottom line is that when you hear the term “self-help aid”, it is a simple reference to you coming up with financial assistance to get through college.  Whether you get involved with a work study or take out a student or private loan coupled with grants and scholarships, you need a clear vision of what you ultimately need for college.  That way, you can devise a working plan to help you on the way to success.

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