According to CNBC, college costs have increased by 169% since 1980. In 1980, per the National Center for Education Statistics, the price to attend a four-year public institution full-time was a little more than $10,000 annually. That total price increased to $25,700 in 2020-21.
To combat these high prices, many take out student loans, though these can be expensive to pay off. Recently, President Joe Biden announced student loan forgiveness for those who earn less than $125,000 a year, with $20,000 going to those who received Pell Grants and $10,000 for those who did not.
Besides loans, though, there are other ways people can get help with tuition and other expenses for higher education. Matt Sapaula, an entrepreneur and speaker known as the “Money Smart Guy” broke down a few of them on NewsNation’s “Morning in America.”
Q: What options are out there to help pay for college?
Sapaula said he always told his kids in high school that “grades are your currency.”
“Grants and scholarships begin at the 3.0 GPA level, and so more competitive scholarships start at the 3.75 GPA level,” he said.
Another form of student aid is the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, also known as the FAFSA.
“Make sure you fill out your FAFSA, you get in there as soon as possible, because it’s a pecking order,” Sapaula says
There are three deadlines students need to meet for FAFSA: one for their college, one for their state and one for the federal government.
“Obviously, the most important deadline is the one that comes first,” Sapaula said.
While at school, Sapaula says, students can earn their financial aid through work-study programs where they are employed at part-time jobs on or off campus.
Sapaula himself served eight years in the Marine Corps to pay for college, although he didn’t end up going. Students, however, can potentially qualify for the ROTC, or Reserve Officer Training Corps, which can earn them a hefty scholarship. Those who serve in the military can also qualify for the GI Bill, which provides assistance to servicemembers.
Q: How are my loans forgiven? Do I need to apply? Or is it automatic?
“No, you don’t get automatic forgiveness — you have to apply,” Sapaula said.
Borrowers are advised to apply before Nov. 15 to receive relief before the student loan payment pause expires on Dec. 31, 2022, although the Department of Education will continue to process applications as they are received.
A form is going to be made available online to apply for forgiveness.
People can register to be notified when the application is available through the Department of Education by filling out this form.