NEWARK, Del.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--College acceptances and financial aid award letters are in the mail, and that means it’s decision time for the nation’s 20 million students planning to attend college next fall. April’s Financial Literacy Month offers no better time for families to put smart money talk into action, says Sallie Mae, the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education.
In the financial aid award letter, colleges and universities spell out the grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans awarded to the student. College Board reports the average annual cost of attendance at a public in-state four-year institution is $17,131, and at a private college is $38,589, while average aid is $12,455.
“Sending a son or daughter to college is an exciting and proud moment for any family. It also represents an important financial decision that requires careful planning,” said Charles Rocha, senior vice president, Sallie Mae. “At Sallie Mae, we understand that there is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to paying for college. As you consider college acceptance and financial aid award letters, Sallie Mae offers free tools to help you find the way to pay for college that is right for you.”
When the financial aid award letter comes up short, Sallie Mae reminds families to carefully evaluate their additional college funding options:
- Fit your college expenses into your budget with an interest-free tuition payment plan. You can divide your estimated family contribution into monthly payments. Available at hundreds of college campuses, Sallie Mae administers tuition payment plans that let families spread tuition payments over a number of months instead of making a large lump-sum payment. Visit SallieMae.com/TuitionPay for more information.
- Continue to apply for additional scholarships. Using Sallie Mae’s free online scholarship search, students and parents can quickly identify scholarships still available for the upcoming school year, including 26,000 scholarships worth $75 million with deadlines between now and the end of summer. The scholarship search is available at SallieMae.com/Scholarships.
- Call your financial aid office to discuss special circumstances. Colleges may be able to adjust their award packages if a family’s financial situation has changed significantly.
- Consider a private education loan to supplement financial aid. A private education loan may be right for those who still have a gap after exploring federal grants and loans or who want to investigate whether they qualify for a lower variable interest rate based on good credit. With Sallie Mae’s Smart Option Student Loan, students can graduate with less student loan debt by opting to make payments while in school. During the application process, families receive a series of three clear and easy-to-compare disclosures of loan rates and terms including estimated payments and cost over the life of the loan. Sallie Mae requires colleges to certify the loan amount to help students and their cosigners avoid borrowing more than they need. To learn more, visit SallieMae.com/ChooseSmart.
- Earn extra money for college through Upromise by Sallie Mae. Upromise members can earn cash back when they make eligible purchases from hundreds of popular online retail partners, dine out, or use their Upromise credit card. Upromise members have earned over $670 million in member rewards since 2001. Rewards accumulate in a member’s Upromise account and can be transferred periodically into an eligible 529 college savings plan, a Sallie Mae High-Yield Savings Account, or used to pay down an eligible Sallie Mae-serviced student loan.
Sallie Mae advises that families build a customized plan to pay for a college degree, and its Education Investment Planner is a free, innovative resource available to help. By plugging in information from financial aid award letters, families can use the Planner to quickly build their own plan and compare different colleges. Students can explore federal or private education loans, estimate monthly loan payments and project the starting salary needed after graduation to keep payments manageable. The Education Investment Planner is easy to use and available to anyone online at SallieMae.com/Invest.
Join the conversation on how to save, plan and pay for college at Facebook.com/SallieMae.
Sallie Mae (NASDAQ: SLM) is the nation’s No. 1 financial services company specializing in education. Whether college is a long way off or just around the corner, Sallie Mae turns education dreams into reality for its 25 million customers. With products and services that include college savings programs, scholarship search tools, education loans, tuition insurance, and online banking, Sallie Mae offers solutions that help families save, plan, and pay for college. Sallie Mae also provides financial services to hundreds of college campuses as well as to federal and state governments. Learn more at SallieMae.com. Commonly known as Sallie Mae, SLM Corporation and its subsidiaries are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.