Financial Aid

Real estate degrees can add tens or even hundreds of thousands of dollars to your lifetime earnings. In the long run, they tend to pay off handsomely. In the short run, however, the cost of education has never been higher. A bachelor’s degree taken from a private institution averages $25,000 a year. Most students take four years to finish their degree. That figure includes only tuition and fees and does not include lodging, food, books, or any of the incidentals that will be required during your student years. Many people spend family money or their own on their education, but few can completely fund their own education. For the rest, financial aid is the answer to paying for a degree.

The most sensible first place to look for financial aid is through grants or scholarships. These are sums of money given to promising students that do not have to be paid back. Most are given for outstanding achievement of some sort and many come with requirements to maintain a certain level of academic excellence. Some are for small amounts while others can pay for a significant portion of a student’s tuition. Some scholarships will even cover the entire cost of a four year degree.

Students who fail to fund fully their education through other means can find student loans to cover the shortfall. Student loans are widely available and most of them do not need to be paid back while the student is in school. They do, of course, have to be paid back eventually. Students should be very careful in the amount of loans they take and also be aware of the terms of their loans, such as interest rates and how quickly upon graduation payments begin. Many students find themselves paying off student loans for many years.

Student Finances

Prospective students must be aware of the costs of attending a degree program in real estate. A real estate degree is a sound investment. It is quite expensive, however, and not to be entered into lightly. Securing the right amount of financing is key, as is spending the money with good judgment. Following a few general financial tips will help students manage their money throughout their educational career.

Financial Aid

The biggest cost is tuition. A year’s tuition can set a person back $10,000 at a moderately priced school. Some elite colleges and universities can cost more than $50,000 a year. Housing is another significant expense. This can be defrayed by living with a parent or a relative, but most people must pay market rates. Some forms of financial aid might not cover books and fees. Finally, there are living expenses that everyone must pay regardless of their enrollment in a real estate degree program, such as food, commuting costs, utilities, and the like.

Online degrees can be less expensive than traditional programs. The costs of running such a program are less and the savings are passed on to the students. Taking classes part time can make the daily costs cheaper and students can work to cover them. The downside is that a degree takes that much longer to obtain. Used bookstores or online book swaps are good places to find textbook deals. Some work-study jobs pay better than other jobs, as some money goes to tuition assistance. In addition to figuring out a way to reduce costs, students would be wise to manage their money well.

Once costs have been calculated and financing has been secured, students can use financial acumen to save money. Young students could be in control of their own finances for the first time. Creating a budget can save money and ensure that money is left for the next semester. Tuition and fees are fixed, but other expenses are not. The temptation to borrow (and spend) too much student loan money is a trap many students fall into, but it is best to live frugally while a student. Buying a meal plan and using it can be a wise financial decision even if it is not personally satisfying. Budgets should factor in future tuition costs. A good rule of thumb is that any student loan money must be paid back double in the future.

Organization is also important. Books can be sold back, and the actual cost is easy to figure before they are purchased. Paying fees on time will save money, as late fees can add up on any delinquent payments. Taking different loans only when they are needed can reduce future total payments. Organized students save money in many ways.

Financial Aid Advice

The decision to pursue a real estate degree is a big moment in a person’s life. Once the decision has been made, the wise thing to do is to plan carefully the funding of your education. Higher education is expensive, and most students require some degree of financial aid to pay for their educations. People who are not careful with their funds, however, can spend decades paying off student loans, offsetting the increase in salary that goes along with an advanced degree. There are ways to increase the number of scholarships and grants you qualify for, however. Good organization and budgeting can also reduce the amount of loans you will have to repay once you graduate.

Always keep this in mind: The best kind of financial aid is the kind you do not have to pay back.

The best first step you can take is to become knowledgeable about scholarships, grants and fellowships. Students with demonstrable financial hardship qualify for significant funding from the federal government. If you are not sure if you qualify, it does not hurt to apply. Filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) takes very little time and costs nothing to file. It might behoove you to consult a financial aid officer from your school, as many forms of income and equity do not need to be considered and can be left off the form. Non-qualifiers need not give up hope quickly, though. Schools have a large amount of money set aside for scholarships. These can be department based, so go to your department’s academic office to enquire. Target your scholarship and grant search to match your academic plans and also your own history. There are financial awards that are set aside for many demographics and fields of study.

The search for cheap financial aid does not need to end once you have begun taking classes. Many upperclassmen qualify for scholarships through high achievement. Students can reapply for a scholarship that was denied them as freshmen when they are sophomores or juniors. The number of applicants could have dwindled by then, and the funding agency might have the money for you now. Some financial awards are even given to graduates after they leave school to help defray costs they have incurred or to pay down student loans.

It is also possible to make yourself a more attractive candidate for scholarships and grants. The school you apply to can make a big difference. Some schools are awash in financial aid funds while others have relatively meager offerings. Finding a school that offers a lot of tuition assistance can be a good strategy in itself.

Scholarships

One of the most desirable forms of financial aid is the scholarship. Scholarships reward student achievement and excellence. They are awarded for academic merit, athletic achievement, community service, or some combination of these. Scholarships run the gamut from small cash awards to complete payment of tuition, housing, and meals. Because scholarships must be applied for, students should be proactive in searching for financial aid. Scholarships are preferable to student loans in a most important way: namely, they do not need to be repaid.

Some research is required when seeking scholarship money to defray the costs of a real estate degree. Make sure to save yourself time by narrowing your search from the start. Although it does not hurt to cast a wide net and apply for multiple scholarships, scholarships are awarded to the select few and applications can be time-consuming. Many scholarships are devoted to a particular kind of study or segment of the population. There are scholarships to study medicine, for example, to encourage people to pursue these knowledge-intensive and vital jobs. There are also scholarships for women, as well as for minority students, to increase diversity in higher education. Prospective students seeking financial assistance should target their searches appropriately.

A good place to start looking for scholarship assistance is through a school’s admissions office. Staff there have expertise in helping students secure financial aid. Financial aid officers will help students target their research effectively. Some schools have their own scholarships for their students, and the admissions office is the place to research these. There are also various publications that list scholarships by kind and location. These are easily found in public libraries and bookstores.

Because scholarships are based largely on merit, students need to be mindful of their importance years in advance. They are an incentive to keep your GPA high and to achieve top scores on standardized tests. Once a scholarship has been awarded, it is important, and often mandatory, that the excellence recognized by the scholarship continues. Many scholarships have grade-based minimums that must be maintained to continue receiving funds. Many scholarships also stipulate the kind of study that is required. For instance, many scholarships are for full-time students only.

Receiving scholarship money does not disqualify students from seeking or getting other forms of financial aid. In fact, many students use a combination of financial aid instruments to fund their education. Starting your search with scholarships is a good idea, however, as they are the best kind of financial aid you can get.

Loans

Financing an education is generally a prudent investment. Several important studies have shown that degree holders earn substantially more money on average in their lifetimes than non-degree holders. This principle even holds true with successively more advanced degrees; in other words, people with master's degrees tend to make more than people with bachelor's degrees, and people with doctorates tend to make even more than those with master's degrees. Meeting the expense of degree programs is beyond the capacity of most students, however, so many educations are financed, at least partly, through student loans. These loans should be the last resort for financing, as they must be repaid with interest. Applicants must also be discriminating when choosing a loan product because there are numerous kinds with different interest rates and terms of repayment.

Admissions and financial aid officers can help students through the process of applying for such a loan. Students begin by filling out a FAFSA (Free Application for Student Aid, which you can get the facts about here. The application allows government loan officers to determine what kind of federal aid the student qualifies for. Students with greater financial need are eligible for greater and better assistance than those without. A Stafford Subsidized Loan is a financial aid instrument with very favorable conditions for the borrower. Students can defer the beginning of payments until they have finished school and secured employment. There are also options to defer principal payments longer so that borrowers can pay when they are more settled in their careers and can afford the payments more easily. Another loan product available from the federal government is the Graduate Plus Loan. The benefit of this loan is that it can give students more than the $4,250 maximum amount of the Stafford loan. Graduate Plus Loan deferments are less generous than Stafford deferments.

Private loan companies have numerous loan products to offer students, but the terms of the loans are generally less favorable than the government versions. The loans are not contingent upon financial hardship, meaning virtually everyone is eligible to apply. Sallie Mae is the largest lender outside of the government. Bad or non-existent credit scores are met with higher interest rates. Students should try to limit the amount of financing they acquire through lenders, as it can take decades to repay sizable loans. Interest rates tend to fluctuate with the federal prime rate, which is quite low at the moment. Borrowers should be aware if their loan has a fixed rate or can be adjusted when the prime rate rises, as this will fluctuate.

Many loans require a co-signer, someone such as a parent or a relative who has steady employment or a credit history. Principal and interest payments are not the only costs of a loan. There are also fees. Many loans, for example, have an origination fee, which usually must be paid upfront when the loan is secured. Borrowers should always read all loan materials carefully for full awareness of fees, interest rates, and payment schedules.

Grants

Grants have the great benefit that they do not need to be repaid upon graduation. In this way they are similar to scholarships. Whereas scholarships are generally tied to some kind of merit or achievement, grants (and sometimes fellowships) are given largely based on the financial need of the recipient. There are grants given by the school, the government, and private entities. They are a great way to meet the costs of a real estate degree. If you have been accepted to a degree program, it is time to start researching grants and fellowships.

Grants can be granted as a lump sum or be dedicated to paying a particular expense such as tuition. Some last for a year while others can be granted for an entire degree program. They can be used in combination with other kinds of financial aid. Many are renewable; these generally need to be re-applied for on a regular basis. Consequently, it is important for students who depend on grant money to keep their grades up and maintain their eligibility.

There is a lot of need-based funding available from the federal government. Pell Grants are a very common type of financial aid and can be applied for by undergraduate students for their study. The maximum amount for the current year is $5,500 per student. Students who can show a compelling financial need must first fill out a FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). A government loan officer will decide whether a student qualifies for a Pell Grant and for how much, based on criteria published by the U.S. Department of Education.

Many schools have a form of grant called a “fellowship” that they use to support underserved populations and encourage certain kinds of research. Fellowships tend to be more generous than government grants and can actually fund a student’s education for one or two years. They are often meant to encourage the success of students who otherwise might not have had access to a postsecondary degree. Many schools post a list of fellowships on their admissions website.

Admissions offices and financial aid officers at your school are good sources of information about grants and fellowships. It can help to target certain aspects of your background when starting a grant search. Your heritage can play an important part. Many fellowships and grants are set aside to promote minority enrollment or specific study. The more of your expenses that you can get paid for by grants, the better. Relying on student loans can lead to years of paying interest and principal long after your education has been completed.

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