Choose Your School

When you’ve finally settled on the right school, you’ll need to sign and submit your acceptance letter. You may choose to accept the entire amount of financial aid as listed in the award letter, or you may decline specific parts of the overall package. Certainly you’ll want to accept the grants and scholarships. But when it comes to declining loans and work-study, you need to know a few basics before you start trimming the fat.

At this point in the planner, you understand that some loans just don’t look like the others. Some loans are low-interest, need-based, and extremely limited, such as the Perkins Loan, while others charge a higher interest rate, are not based on need, and are almost always available, such as the unsubsidized Stafford Loan or PLUS loan. You’ll first need to look at your free aid and determine if it’s enough to cover your tuition, fees, and basic living expenses. You may be able to get by on substantially less.

Once you’ve determined what your needs are, plan your borrowing wisely. If you’ll need to borrow, decline your PLUS loan and unsubsidized Stafford Loans before your Perkins or subsidized Stafford Loans. You may even want to decline that subsidized Stafford Loan if you think you’ll be able to get by. If you ever get to the point where you think you’ll need that loan, you can always reapply for it, even in the last semester.

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