College costs often deter single parents from returning to education, and in New Jersey the cost of living is high to begin with. However the State does offer financial help to students on low incomes and is very organized in its approach to encouraging those disadvantaged with low incomes to participate in further education. Single parents typically fall into the low income bracket and can benefit from applying for state aid in helping to finance a college degree.
The state of New Jersey has an excellent range of scholarships and grants available which it is worth investigating. These can be found online by simply searching under New Jersey scholarships and grants.
Students applying to college must first complete the FAFSA application which gives access to federal loans and grants. The amount awarded will determine how much more the student needs to find themselves to make up any shortfall in tuition and living costs. The Federal Pell grant is non repayable and available to those on low incomes, thus it is always necessary to make the earliest application.
Federal Stafford loans are available to students and do not require credit checks. Those with low incomes will qualify for a subsidized Stafford loan, which are government guaranteed, and they also pay the interest on the loan until the student has graduated. This reduces the student burden of making monthly interest payments whilst juggling parenthood with studying.
Once the single parent student has completed the FAFSA they can then apply for the New Jersey Education Opportunity Fund program which assists disadvantaged and low income students. Grants may be awarded and there is a full range of colleges which participate with EOF. Many county colleges, public colleges and universities, and private colleges and universities, within New Jersey, participate. To make application the student should contact the EOF officer at the relevant school to apply, once the FAFSA has been submitted.
The New Jersey Higher Education Assistance Authority (HESAA) can also provide help. It can provide assistance with scholarships and grants as well as additional help. The New Jersey life program is available to students whose household income is below $25,000 per annum. To qualify the student must have been resident within New Jersey for 12 months prior to enrolment in college.
There is also a New Jersey Class Loan available which is a private low interest loan which offers extended repayment terms of up to twenty years, which may be advantageous to those single parents still raising young children. This should be considered in comparison to other private student loans as may well prove to be a more viable option. The loan is subject to a credit check and thus a co-signer may be needed unless the student has a good credit score.
Single parent students should always contact the financial aid officer at the schools applied to as they often know of additional sources of funding available and can assist.