Managing Student Loans

The State of Minnesota actively encourages non traditional students, including single parents, to further their education to degree level. The 32 colleges and universities within Minnesota provide child care for independent students with children, and assist with financial aid. The State runs the ‘Intervention for College Attendance Program’ which aims to encourage and retain the ‘historically underserved’ students who would otherwise not have access to a college education.

The Minnesota Office of Higher Education is a state agency that offers financial aid programs for those with low incomes. It offers child care grants to single parent students to assist with costs, as well as needs based grants for Minnesota residents wishing to attain a degree.

Single parent students in Minnesota typically finance their education through scholarships, grants, work study programs and student loans. The Minnesota Association of Financial Aid Administrators (MAFAA) provides information for students on its web site and encourages students to contact the schools they are considering to obtain details of financial aid in the form of grants and scholarships which are available.

There are many scholarships available from the colleges and universities, and the latest figures from Minnesota show that eligible students received between $300 and $7000 per annum in scholarships and grants. The importance of applying early for this type of financial aid cannot be underestimated, which means an early submission of the FAFSA application is vital. Grants are awarded on the basis of the greatest financial need, a category which many single parent students inevitably qualify for. Access to the federal Pell grant is provided once the FAFSA form is submitted.

The federal application is not subject to credit checks and allows students who do need to borrow to finance college to apply for the subsidized Stafford loan, which is a government guaranteed loan on which the government assumes the interest payments until six months after graduation. This allows the student to attend college without the worry of making any loan payments during their student days.

Those students who do need to take out loans to help with the costs of tuition and living may consider entering either the nursing or teaching profession upon graduation. It may then be possible to obtain a position in the public sector where the loan forgiveness program applies, and repays up to $5000 per annum of student loan debt. These programs are excellent incentives for graduates with dependent children.

There are lots of viable options for the single parent student to obtain financial assistance within the State of Minnesota for those students who are willing to research the available grants and scholarships provided by the state and other sources. Any difference between financial aid and costs involved should most likely be covered by the federal loan program with no need to apply for private loans.