You’re more likely to default on student loans if you don’t finish Returning to college is especially important if you have student debt, as most students do. Without a degree, federal data shows, you’re statistically more likely to be late on payments and default. This outcome can lead to a damaged credit score, collection costs and wage garnishment. Federal data shows that among a cohort of students who started college in 2003-2004 and defaulted on student debt, nearly half didn’t complete their education, while 10% finished a bachelor’s degree. The situation is the worst for Black student borrowers: The Brookings Institution found that Black first-time college students default at a rate three times higher than their White counterparts. How to pay for college if your family’s finances have changed If you’re reconsidering your decision to delay or forgo college, first figure out the best way to pay. Start by submitting the FAFSA as soon as possible to qualify for federal, state and school financial aid, including Pell Grants, scholarships, work-study and federal student loans. If your family’s financial situation has changed due to the pandemic, request a professional judgment from your prospective or current school’s financial aid office. You’ll need to request a specific amount and submit documentation of why you need more aid, like confirmation of a parent’s unemployment or medical bills.
If there’s still a gap to fill, consider private loans.
Alternately, you could think about entering community college for a year or two, then transferring. Find out if the community college you’re considering has credit transfer agreements (known as an articulation agreement) with any four-year colleges you’re interested in attending.
Anna Helhoski is a staff writer at NerdWallet, a personal finance website.
The article College, Interrupted: The Case for Going (Back) to School originally appeared on NerdWallet on April 15, 2021.
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