For example, Harvard University is charging tuition and fees for students studying from home, and it factors personal expenses into the overall cost of attendance. At UCLA, part of the University of California system that announced it would be majority remote learning for the fall, the cost of attendance includes a higher amount for room and meals if you’re living in an off-campus apartment versus living at home with family. You may not be able to borrow as much If you need to borrow to pay for college, there are annual and overall limits for federal loans for undergraduates. Parent or graduate PLUS loans and private loans limit borrowing to the total cost of attendance minus other financial aid. You can use student loans to help pay for tuition and fees, as well as living expenses, which are factored into the official cost of attendance. Your school determines the cost of attendance, and it is confirmed by your lender. Call to double-check what the new total cost of attendance is if your college goes remote since its website might not have the most up-to-date information. Be ready to adapt to changing circumstances If you need more money for college due to a change in your family’s financial situation, you can appeal your financial aid award with your school’s financial aid office. You should also update the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, you submitted to apply for aid. If you have short-term financial needs during the semester, your college may have emergency aid available in the form of loans and small cash grants, scholarships to complete a semester, dining hall vouchers and food pantries. Alternative options for undergraduates To lower your costs altogether, you could defer enrollment at your preferred four-year school and spare yourself some debt by knocking out prerequisite courses at a community college — in person or online.
But you’ll have to make sure credits will transfer to your school of choice.
You can also defer enrollment and take a gap semester or year. If you’re a current student with loans, taking a gap year could trigger repayment to begin. And a gap year mired in travel restrictions, high unemployment and health risks might not be the best option. You may feel strongly that remote learning is not for you, so you could opt to transfer to a school that’s opening in-person. But consider this: If COVID-19 cases are high enough in your area, schools may shift to remote learning anyway, as they did this past spring.
Anna Helhoski, Cecilia Clark, and Ryan Lane are writers at NerdWallet. The article When Colleges Say Stay Home: Options for Undergrad, Grad, Veteran and International Students originally appeared on NerdWallet.
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