Stretch Your Dollar: How to pay for college

FILE - In this Feb. 1, 2017, file photo, Brooklyn College students walk between classes on campus in New York. The New York state Legislature approved a budget on April 9, 2017, that includes funding for Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo's plan to offer free tuition for middle class students at state universities. (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

(WTNH)– With the fall semester of college starting soon, it’s time to finalize how to pay for college.

This is the first week back on campus for a lot of college students. They’re not only taking on a big workload, for many of them, they’re also taking on big debt.

College is expensive. According to the College Board’s annual report, last year was pricey. Looking at tuition, fees and room and board for full time undergrads, the average cost of a two year community college program was nearly $7,600.

Undergrads at public college in state paid about $14,000. And the price for private non- profit colleges was about $26,000.

If you need to borrow money, there are three options: Federal loans students borrow, federal loans parents borrow and loans from a private lender.

Use federal loans for students first. Those come with low interest rates. And flexible repayment options. Plus, students are automatically eligible, regardless of income or credit history.

If the federal student loan isn’t enough, the federal plus loan for parents may help. The interest rate is fixed and the same for each borrower. This year it’s seven percent. But parents must pass a credit check.

If you are looking at private loans, terms and rates can vary widely. Also know it may take longer to get the money. In that case, call the college financial aid office to let them know your plans on how to pay.

Many college students find themselves borrowing more than they need to help them have some extra spending cash. Well, It might help them realize how much this will actually cost, if they start paying for part of the loans now. Even if it’s just the interest. As they face the balance, it might serve as a reality check and keep them from over borrowing.

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