You think it’s pretty reasonable to assume that all debt is bad debt, right? Not so fast! Your health care education is a worthwhile investment that will see great returns in the long run. That means that as long as you manage your finances responsibly, it’s okay to have to keep paying after you finish school. Fortunately, you have quite a few options to get you access to the funds you need, from government-provided aid to service commitment opportunities to a little help from family and friends.
Going the Loan Route
Your school’s Financial Aid Office should be your first stop. Contact them early and be sure to meet all the deadlines for grants and scholarships. Any amount of free financial aid that you can secure will go a long way towards lowering the amount you need to borrow. Make sure to ask them for information regarding the FAFSA application and deadline.
Your support system is another great resource. Talk with the important people in your life about the challenges of paying for school. They may have advice or additional resources to help you. They may also know someone who can help and this gives you a chance to work on a skill that will come in handy throughout your professional career: networking.
The government is another resource for loans. Stafford and PLUS Loans for students are regulated by the federal government. There are also tools available to help you understand how to apply for loans and free money (Federal Pell Grants may be available for some undergraduate students) and to help you become a responsible borrower.
Service commitment programs are often overlooked as a viable option for paying for college. There are several options, the most well-known being the military. However, programs like the National Health Service Corps and even working at a community health facility may be a great option in exchange for assistance paying for school.
Control What You Can Control
The financial decisions you make now will follow you for the rest of your life. Consider these general tips to make the best decisions now:
- Control what you can control, and don’t obsess about the rest.
- Learn to develop and stick to a budget.
- Start early — it’s never too soon to start investigating sources of financial aid for school, especially grants and scholarships.
- Make borrowing money your last resort.
Focus on making the best decision with the information you currently have. Don’t rush into anything when it comes to financing your education and you’ll be able to set yourself up for success.
Thanks to Paul S. Garrard, President and Founder of PGPresents, LLC, a 27 year veteran of student financial aid and higher education, for his help with this piece.