Here are six great tips from StudentAid.gov that can help you start the process of paying off your student loans.
Find a College That Meets Your Needs
Researching the schools you might attend after high school takes time. High school guidance counselors are a good resource for starting your search. Post high school education can include a local community college, state or private university, military college, art or culinary school, or trade or technical training school.
College or University
Some schools can be two year and are often called community colleges. Four year higher educational institutions can be public (state) or private universities.
Federal Student Aid - Use this chart listing items to consider when researching colleges, including your area of study, size of school, and tuition.
College Navigator -This tool helps you explore and compare features of different schools, including academic study programs, admissions guidelines, and campus crime statistics.
College Scorecard - Use this tool to determine if a school is the right fit for you based on cost, student body, the value of your degree, and more.
State Student Aid -- Even if you're not eligible for federal aid, you can still apply for financial aid from your state. Contact your state grant agency for more information on eligibility and deadlines.
Your College or Career School -- Many institutions offer financial aid from their own funds. They may use your FAFSA information to determine whether you qualify for their aid. To find out what might be available to you, contact your school’s financial aid office.
Organizations, Nonprofits, or Private Companies -- You may qualify for merit-based or financial need-based grants or scholarships. Some may accept your FAFSA information, but most have their own applications. This form of aid may be available for students who do not qualify for federal aid.
Savings Plans -- Many state governments have created 529 plans with tax advantages that make it easier for families to save for their child’s education. Visit collegesavings.org to learn about the plans available in each state.
In addition to costs, learn about other important factors to consider such as location, accreditation, and more as you research colleges and career schools.
If you want to learn English or need to join an English as a Second Language (ESL) program for school or work, these resources can help you find local and online courses:
Schools or Nonprofit Organizations: If you live in the U.S., every state, county, and city has its own education programs and resources for learning English. If you have children, talk to their school staff, or contact a community college, university, or nonprofit organization to find local programs.
Internet: Learn English from home with the website USALearns.org or download the application to your phone or tablet to practice on the go. Listen to ShareAmerica.gov for audio conversations to learn English.
Libraries: In some communities, libraries offer English classes and materials to study. Find a library near you.
If you are concerned that you might have been scammed or overcharged by an ESL program, contact the Federal Trade Commission to file a complaint.
Learn how to find local, state, and federal educational programs and financial aid opportunities for people with disabilities.
Your state department of education or your local school board are your best resources for telling you about nearby programs and answering questions about state educational rights laws for people with disabilities.
The Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights offers an online pamphlet on the rights and responsibilities of students with a disability who are preparing for postsecondary education. It explains how schools must provide certain tools to students to avoid discrimination based on disability. Schools must offer academic adjustments or modifications to help students participate in the classroom. For example, a school may offer course reading material in alternative text such as Braille.
College-bound students with intellectual disabilities may be eligible for financial aid programs including Pell Grants and Federal Work-Study programs. The Office for Federal Student Aid has specific information on loans, grants, and scholarships, and how to apply.
Contact the school you want to attend for additional information on special programs for people with disabilities.
Inspector General's Hotline Office of Inspector General U.S. Department of Education 400 Maryland Avenue, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20202-1500 Fax: (202) 245-7047
Financial Aid Complaints
If you have done everything you can to resolve a student loan issue, use the contact form from the Federal Student Aid Ombudsman Group to help you resolve student loan complaints. They will work with you and the lender after you have tried other avenues to resolve your issue.
Special Education or Civil Rights Complaints
The Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights enforces several federal civil rights laws that prohibit discrimination in programs or activities that receive federal financial assistance from the Department of Education. Contact their office directly at 1-800-421-3481 or locate one of their enforcement offices.