Money Matters – Tips for paying for college


For high schoolers and their families, a college education can be the start to a dream come true.

But what can significantly hinder that dream from becoming reality is not taking the time to understand the various payment options available and determining what works best for your situation.

Val Neumann, Accounting Operations Manager, from Hawaii USA Federal Credit Union shares her tips on ways to pay for college.

Everything should start with a game plan, and this should be something that’s looked into well before senior year.

Whether it’s narrowing down which schools to look into, planning campus visits, or maybe even scholarship opportunities, the sooner you allocate for the time and cost associated with each, the sooner you’ll start to have a better idea of what the true cost of college is going to be.

Speaking of timing, that can be one of the most critical aspects of your game plan depending on when you’re looking to start your college career.

Certain applications have more strict deadlines and overlooking them may result in your inability to get into the school or program that you hoped.

For high school seniors in particular, understanding and filling out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) early in the game is going to be especially critical.

The FAFSA is a major qualification for prospective college students to become eligible for federal money, and these are typically awarded in a first-come, first-served basis.

So of course, it would be apparent then as to why a student looking to finance their education with funds other than savings would want to ensure they submit their FAFSA in the appropriate time frame.

For example, if you’re looking to start college this fall, the application is typically due by the following early summer.

However, most schools generally have their college applications due prior to enrollment, and that includes having the FAFSA completed.

Also, important to note is that you’ll need to submit a new FAFSA each year while in school.

FAFSA is your gateway to becoming eligible for a lot of college payment options.

By completing the FAFSA, you’ll be provided your Student Aid Report, which will include your Expected Family Contribution.

This will determine just how much money you’ll be allotted for federal grants, work-study opportunities and federal loan programs.

Starting with grants, these are need-based awards that entitle you to funds that do not need to be paid back; “free money,” you could say.

When it comes to the work-study program, it allows you to receive money in return for hours worked on campus or at an authorized off-campus site.

The other option that comes from filing your FAFSA are federal loans, some of which are subsidized and other unsubsidized.

The difference between the two is that the interest you’ll need to pay for subsidized loans doesn’t start accruing until you leave school while the interest for unsubsidized loans accumulates from the date of the loan disbursement.

One way to help close the gap could be a private student loan.

At HawaiiUSA, for example, we have our Student Choice Loan, which offers a low interest rate with fewer fees than many other private lender options and extremely flexible repayment terms.

What makes this loan choice especially convenient compared to others is the fact that it requires just one application process throughout your entire academic career.

For more information, you can visit any of our conveniently located branches or visit

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