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Attending College (Blog or Resources)

Educate Yourself Before Taking Out Student Loans

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Taking out student loans to attend college has become extremely common in the United States. However, just because they are common does not mean you shouldn’t pay attention to what you’re getting into. It’s important to know your responsibilities when taking out a loan of any type, especially student loans. Take these steps before making an investment in your education by taking out a student loan. 

 

Educate Yourself

Before you take out a student loan, educate yourself on the details of it. Make note of the interest rates, eligibility terms, repayment terms, etc. before signing off on the loan. Our friends at eCampusTours have several articles and resources about student loans that can help you better understand your loan terms:

 

Repayment Plan

Keep in mind that when you take out a student loan, you will have to pay it back – even if you don’t graduate or aren’t happy with your education. If you want to get a grasp on what your repayment will look like following college, check out this worksheet: 

 

 

 

Ideally, you’ll secure a job in your field after graduating from college. Although you’ll want to pay off your loan quickly, keep in mind that your overall repayment shouldn’t exceed 15% of your monthly income. ELFI has some additional tips for prioritizing your student loan repayment. Here’s a worksheet that can help you determine how to repay your loans following college:

 

 

Taking out student loans is a commitment. Educating yourself on the responsibilities associated with student loans will help you make sound decisions about your education and will prevent you from feeling blindsided by your student loan debt and repayment terms later on.

 


 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

What is Early Decision for College?

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If you, or your son or daughter, are currently applying for colleges, you live in a world of deadlines. There are ACT registration dates, SAT prep dates, application deadlines, and scholarship due dates. When you live by the calendar, it can feel like torture waiting to hear back from schools, especially your top choice. Some colleges have early decision options that help push the application and admissions process along. What is early decision? Students can elect to apply early decision to (typically) one school as early as November, and can subsequently hear back from that school in just a few weeks. There’s more to the agreement though…

 

Let’s dig into the details to see if this application option is right for you. 

 

What is Early Decision? 

Early decision is available at many private colleges and universities, and some public schools also offer this option. Certain highly selective programs like Ivy League schools can limit students to only one early application. Through this option, prospective students submit applications in early- to mid-November and hear back as early as late-November. This notification rolls in months before you might hear back from other colleges. In a typical application timeline, students submit applications in early winter for decisions by mid- to late spring. 

 

There are two different early application windows. Early Decision I is typically in November while Early Decision II is in December or even January. If you don’t get into your Early Decision I school, you can still apply to another school’s Early Decision II deadline. 

 

Early decision can also give you an edge when it comes to acceptance rate. In 2018, colleges with early decision had an average regular acceptance rate of 50.7%, while the early decision acceptance rate was 62.3%. Colleges appear to weigh early decision applications differently since these potential students demonstrate a strong interest in their programs.

 

What Are the Drawbacks of Early Decision? 

If you apply to a binding arrangement like early decision, you lose the opportunity to compare financial aid packages from multiple colleges. This might also impact a college’s incentive to offer you merit-based financial aid. If you already expressed excitement and interest, why would the school need to convince you to attend by offering scholarship discounts? You might even have to accept the offer before hearing from third-party scholarship organizations, affecting your ability to accurately determine if you’ll be able to afford that dream school. 

 

You can only typically reject an early decision offer if the school’s financial aid package isn’t realistic for your financial situation or if your financial situation has changed. However, if the school truly is your first choice, you can still apply for scholarships or private student loans to help bridge the gap. 

 

Finally, if you’re going to hit early decision deadlines, you need to be very organized. Submitting applications four to six months early means you also need to have application materials ready early. It’s recommended that you leave time to take the ACT and/or SAT at least twice, in case you need to boost your score. Without planning ahead, you might find yourself up against early decision deadlines. 

 

If early decision seems like an intimidating commitment, many schools also offer early action. This option allows students to apply and receive an admission decision earlier than typical decisions. But the main difference is that the option isn’t binding. 

 

What’s The Right Choice? 

Now that we’ve answered the question, “What is early decision?” the next question is whether this option is right for you. It can be tempting to want to hear back from your dream school before the holiday break hits. However, you have to consider if you’re prepared to submit your best application at such an early date. You also have to do your research regarding financial aid. 

 

There are many choices to make when applying for college. Be sure you’re aware of what your choices mean for your college career and the loans that will help you get through those four years. 

 


 

Notice About Third Party Websites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

Choosing Which College to Attend (Post-Acceptance)

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So, you’ve submitted college applications to several institutions and you’ve been accepted to a few – now it’s time to compare your offer letters and choose the college that’s the best fit for you.

 

The campus visit is an essential part of deciding which college you are going to attend, and while we suggest that you visit your prospective schools before you submit your applications, it’s not always easy to do so. You may be busy with your senior year and extracurriculars, or some of the campuses may be a long distance from you.

But once your acceptance letters start to arrive, it’s time to make the big decision about which college you will attend. Now would be the time to visit (or revisit) the campuses you’ve been accepted to to help you make that final decision. Here are some tips for how to approach these final campus visits so that you’ll be ready to choose a college or university that you’ll be the most happy with.

 

Map Out Pros and Cons

This may seem simple, but the best way to choose the right college is to weigh the pros and cons of each institution. This will help you look past the face-value of the school and the information they provide you with, and instead focus on the characteristics you care about most. Here are some typical pros and cons that we think will help you decide:

  • Academic programs
  • Athletic facilities
  • Campus atmosphere
  • Campus grounds
  • Classrooms
  • Clubs
  • Coaches
  • Cost of attending (i.e. how much you’ll take out in student loans)
  • Dining hall food
  • Dorm rooms
  • Professors
  • Safety
  • Student body
  • Surrounding area

 

Try Spending the Night

While you might not have had time to experience overnight visits during your first round of campus tours, with your list now narrowed, it may be time to try it out. Staying overnight at your prospective colleges will give you a much better feel for what the experience of attending will feel like. Ask yourself questions during your overnight visit, such as:

  • Do I feel safe here?
  • Am I comfortable in the dorms?
  • Are the students welcoming?
  • Are the students focused on academics?

 

If school is in session during your visit, be sure to talk with current students and ask them questions you have – this will also help you make that final decision.

 

Don’t Be Afraid to Look Past Pros and Cons

While pros and cons are a great way to narrow down your list of options, you’ll probably want to go with your gut when it comes to making the final decision. In other words, focus on which college just feels right. It doesn’t have to be the most prestigious college. Picking the most prestigious school may seem like a smart move, but it may strap you with student loans. Being comfortable at your college and being confident in your decision will be more beneficial than attending one based on the opinions of your parents or other people – and you’ll be more likely to stay and complete your degree.

 

Keep in mind that these tips are for choosing a college post-acceptance and approaching your post-acceptance visits, which is much different than visiting colleges pre-acceptance and choosing colleges to apply to. During the initial visits, you’re focused on deciding whether to apply. When you visit post-acceptance, you’re deciding where you will actually attend, which means you need to pay closer attention to which school will best accommodate you academic, social, and extracurricular needs. For more information about campus visits, read Making the Most of the Campus Visit from eCampus Tours.

 

If you’ve been accepted to your dream college, but your financial aid and scholarships don’t quite cover the full cost of tuition and expenses, private student loans from ELFI may be right for you. Learn more about our flexible terms on private student loans. Applying is simple, and you’ll never pay an application fee, origination fee or prepayment penalty.*


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

 

4 Ways to Prep For Your Post-College Life – Right Now

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College life can be a bubble. In many cases, you’re shielded from the real-world realities of full-time jobs, rent and student loan payments. But before you know it, graduation will pass and you’ll be thrown into the responsibilities of adulthood.

 

“You need to plan for the future, and the future is here,” says Barbara Thomas, executive vice president of Education Loan Finance (ELFI). “It’s not just when you graduate.”

 

But you also don’t have to sacrifice a memorable college experience to set yourself up for future success. Here’s how to estimate — and plan for — the cost of your post-grad life.

 

1. Make a list of future monthly expenses

Having a sense of how much life costs is helpful for choosing a major, researching jobs and negotiating your first salary. It’s okay to estimate for now. For example:

  • Rent: Nationally, a one-bedroom apartment typically costs about $1,000/month, but that could be higher or lower depending on where you live. Research typical rents for your area (or the place you want to move after college) to get a better sense of what to expect.
  • Student loan payments: You’d owe about $333/month on a $30,000 student loan balance, which is about what the average undergraduate owes at graduation. (This assumes a 10-year repayment schedule and a 6% interest rate). Use a student loan calculator* to see an estimate of how much your future monthly payment would be based on your loan amount, interest rate and repayment terms.
  • Food: If you live off-campus and buy your own groceries, your current food expenses are a good indicator of how much you’ll spend on food in the future. For this example, let’s say that’s $500/month.
  • Transportation: If you have a car, include your monthly payment, insurance costs and gas. If not, budget for public transportation and Uber/Lyft. Let’s say this costs $300/month.
  • Other bills: This includes utilities, internet and your cell phone bill. If you split costs with roommates and are still on the family phone plan, let’s say this sets you back $150/month.
  • Miscellaneous: Include other categories that apply to your life, like clothes, travel, and personal care items and services. Let’s say this all costs $250/month.

 

2. Add it all up, then account for taxes and savings

In this example, your total monthly expenses come to $2,533. But you’re not done yet — there’s a lot this number doesn’t include. For one thing, the government takes money out of each paycheck for taxes, Social Security and Medicare. You also need health insurance, the cost of which may get taken directly from your paycheck if your job offers it.

 

Those costs vary based on factors including the amount you earn, where you live and your job’s benefit package (use a paycheck calculator to estimate yours), but they could easily run you $1,000/month. This puts you at $3,533/month in this example, or about $42,000/year.

 

You’re still not quite done. You need to be saving for the future and for inevitable emergencies like car trouble or accidentally smashing your phone on the sidewalk. Experts recommend saving 20% of your paycheck, which is about $600/month in our example. (That may not be realistic at first, but it’s an excellent goal.) So, you really need to earn $4,133/month, or about $50,000/year.

 

3. Make adjustments to save money

You might be panicking a little right now, but these numbers are attainable. The average annual starting salary for the class of 2018 was about $51,000, according to a survey by the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

 

Plus, there are ways to cut your monthly expenses to make some wiggle room in your budget. For instance, student loan refinancing* can potentially shave hundreds of dollars off your student loan payment by lowering your interest rate. To qualify, you’ll need good credit, which takes time to build. While you can’t refinance until you at least have a post-college job offer, you can start establishing credit now.

 

4. Get a credit card (but don’t carry a balance)

Student loan refinancing isn’t the only thing that demands good credit. Almost everything you’ll need or want to do after graduation — rent your own apartment, buy a car, travel on the cheap with credit card points — requires a strong financial track record. The easiest way to establish good credit is to get a credit card, use it and fully pay it off every month.

 

As a student, you’re limited in your credit card choices because you don’t have much of a credit history. Your options are:

  • Get a secured or student credit card. These cards require a deposit (secured cards) or that you have an income (student cards), but they’re designed to help you get started. Over time, you can add other cards with more perks, like cash-back and travel rewards.
  • Ask a parent to add you as an authorized user on their card. This gives you a copy of the card to use, but keeps the payment responsibility on them. Before going this route, double check that the card company will report the card activity to the credit bureaus (the companies that create credit reports) on your behalf. Otherwise, it won’t help your credit.

 

Having a credit card will only help you if you spend within your means and consistently pay off the balance on time. Otherwise, you’ll rack up interest charges and be stuck with debt you can’t afford.

 

By doing these four things, you’ll emerge from your college bubble ready to take on the “real” world.

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

 

NOTICE: Third-Party Web Sites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

Preparing for FAFSA: Parent Edition

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If you plan on sending your child to college, you’ve probably given some thought to financial aid. When you think of financial aid, the FAFSA may come to mind first. 

 

Already know what FAFSA is? Skip ahead to the next paragraph. 

 

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, must be submitted for your child to apply for federal and state financial aid for college, such as federal grants, work-study programs, and student loans. This application must be submitted each year that your child will require financial assistance. College admissions officers recommend that you complete the FAFSA application even if your child may not need financial aid. Some private scholarships at certain colleges even require the submission of the FAFSA application. Each school that you have listed on the FAFSA will receive your financial information after you’ve completed the form. 

 

When it comes to preparing your child for college, it’s important to understand the FAFSA process and the steps you should take when submitting it. Here are the things you should keep in mind when submitting the FAFSA with your child.

 

Submit the FAFSA Early

While this isn’t common knowledge, financial aid is awarded on a first-come, first-served basis in some states, specifically when it comes to Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grants (FSEOG grants) and federal work-study programs. Because of this, it’s important to find out your prospective or current college’s priority deadline and submit your FAFSA application before it. 

 

While filing after the priority deadline won’t impact your child’s eligibility to receive federal student loans, they may end up taking out more in student loans due to missing out on other federal aid and even money from the institution. You can start the FAFSA application here. Find out some other important reasons why completing the FAFSA early is critical.

 

Create Your Federal Student Aid (FSA) ID

The U.S Department of Education replaced the Federal Student Aid PIN with the FSA ID in 2015. Your FSA ID will be the username and password you will use to access certain federal student aid websites, including fafsa.gov, studentloans.gov, and even the myStudentAid mobile app

 

If your child is a dependent student and submits the FAFSA online, both you and your child will need to create an FSA ID. An FSA ID is required to sign the online FAFSA application, and you and your child cannot share an FSA ID since it serves as a signature and must be unique to each person. You can create your FSA ID here.

 

Use the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet

Before your child files the FAFSA online, it’s smart to check out the FAFSA on the Web Worksheet. This worksheet consists of the questions you’ll see on the FAFSA so you can know the information your child will need when filling it out. 

 

Keep in mind that the FAFSA on the web worksheet is not part of the FAFSA application and will not be submitted – it’s simply a helpful guide for knowing what to expect on the FAFSA so you can organize your information. The questions are listed in the same order as they appear on the website and the app.

 

Gather Your Documents

When filling out the FAFSA, your child will be asked for basic personal information as well as information about your family’s financial situation. Depending on your situation, you and your child may need the following documents while filling out the application: 

 

  • Your child’s driver’s license and Social Security card
  • Income tax returns from the prior-prior year
  • W-2 forms and other records of money earned
  • Current bank statements
  • Records and documentation of other untaxed income received such as welfare benefits, Social Security income, veteran’s benefits, AFDC, or military or clergy allowances
  • Records of stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and other investments
  • Current mortgage information
  • Business or farm records (if applicable)

 

Most of the above-mentioned steps can be completed before October 1st, which is the earliest your child can submit the FAFSA for the following academic year. By being prepared, you can help ensure that your child’s FAFSA will be filed on time so he can get as much aid as possible for your family’s financial situation. For more information on the FAFSA, check out our blog, “What is FAFSA? And Why You Should Care,” and watch our quick video, “FAFSA 101: What You Need to Know About Paying for College.”

 

While financial aid and grants are certainly helpful methods of paying for college, sometimes they don’t cover the complete cost of school, meaning that additional expenses will need to be covered out-of-pocket or through student loans. When considering applying for federal or private student loans, it’s important to look at the details to determine which type of student loan will be best for you and your child’s future. 

 

If you need assistance in working through your options, contact ELFI. We have years of experience devoted to helping students realize their college dreams, so don’t wait – give us a call today.*

 


 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

Campus Tours: 6 Stunning Colleges and Universities in the Midwest

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There’s something truly extraordinary about America’s Heartland. From amber waves of grain and gently-sloping hills to The Great Lakes and vibrant cities like Chicago and Kansas City, the warm and welcoming atmosphere is felt almost immediately. Along with our friends at eCampus Tours, we’re highlighting six stunning college campuses you can experience from the comfort of your own home – although we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to make a trip in person.

 

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA

Located on the bank of the Iowa River, The University of Iowa has almost 33,000 students from all over the globe. It’s also been listed #34 on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Public Universities” list and one of the top 200 universities in the world by U.S. News & World Report. The city itself is one of the largest in the state and has been named as one of the best places to live by Livability.com.

 

This college campus tour begins at the Pentacrest and the Old Capitol building – once the site of the state’s legislature. Stops include the Riverfront Student Union, Kinnick Stadium, home to the Hawkeyes, and Rienow and Slater residence halls. Tour here.

 

University of Iowa

Creighton University

Omaha, NE

One of 27 Jesuit colleges and universities in the US, Creighton enrolls almost 9,000 students and has built a reputation for offering exceptional academics coupled with a low student-to-faculty ratio, highly competitive athletics and value. They’ve also been named one of the top National Universities by U.S. News & World Report’s 2020 list of “Best Colleges.”

 

This college campus tour begins at the Morrison Soccer Stadium and continues to the apartment-style Opus Square housing complex and the relaxing Jesuit Gardens, where students can be seen tossing Frisbees® and enjoying the Midwest sun. Your virtual tour isn’t complete without a stop at Creighton Hall. Tour here.

 

 

University of Michigan – Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI

Well-known for its championship athletics and high academic standards, the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor can claim a lot of accolades, including recently being named the #1 U.S. Public University by QS World University Rankings and #4 Top Public School in the U.S. by U.S. News & World Report.

 

Highlights on the eCampus Tour include a peek inside Michigan Stadium, home to 11 claimed national football titles and Pierpont Commons — the location of the North Campus student union. Tour here.

 

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

North Dakota State University

Fargo, ND

This research university educates over 14,000 students and is one of the largest in the State of North Dakota. NDSU offers a comprehensive selection of courses of study – from Agribusiness and Applied Economics to Pharmaceutical Sciences to Communication.

 

The tour stops by the Wallman Wellness Center, a popular spot for group fitness and aquatics, as well as the Engineering Center, the largest academic program on campus. Reed/Johnson Hall provides students with a glimpse of dorm life while the Memorial Union can provide a taste of dining options and rec activities. Tour here.

 

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS

Just 55 students enrolled in the university back in 1866, but now, it’s grown to almost 28,000. As the state’s flagship university, KU places a big emphasis on research and service across five campuses. Thirteen academic schools offer over 400 degree and certificate programs, ranging from aerospace engineering to Slavic languages & literatures.

 

The eCampus Tour includes stops at the main union on campus, Kansas Union, and provides an impressive look at the $17 million Student Recreation Fitness Center. Tour here.

 

University of Kansas

Carleton College

Northfield, MN

Located just 40 miles outside of Minneapolis and St. Paul, Carleton College is a small, private liberal arts college that challenges students on ‘how to learn for a lifetime.’ Though the campus spans over 1,000 acres, including an 880-acre arboretum, they take pride in how close-knit their community has become.

 

The virtual tour begins at the Japanese Gardens, which stays true to Japanese gardening principles and continues to Goodhue Bridge, which covers one of two lakes on the expansive campus. Finally, e-visitors can stop by the rec facility and dining center before checking out the Laurence McKinley Gould Library. Tour here.

 

Carleton College

 

 

Whether you’re a rising high school senior still scoping out where to spend your college years, or like us, and appreciate everything a vibrant college campus brings to a community, we think you’ll find the over 1,300 tours on eCampus Tours well worth the visit. Ready to take the plunge? Click here to learn about our great rates and flexible terms for private student loans*.

 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.


Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

Tour These 6 Stunning College Campuses in the Eastern US From Your Couch

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If you’re like us, you have a deep appreciation for college campuses – literally any college campus. When you stop to think about it, they’re so much more than just institutions of higher learning. Often, they’re the most aesthetically-pleasing, historical, and lively landmarks within a city. We’ve partnered with the team at eCampus Tours to highlight 5 stunning college campuses you can discover right from your couch. Let’s a take a look at our favorites from the Eastern US.

 

Princeton University 

This Ivy-league standout needs no introduction. Established in 1746 and known for its high academic standards and even higher achieving students, you can experience everywhere from Firestone Library and McCosh Courtyard to Rockefeller College Common Room and Carl Icahn Laboratory without worrying about finding a parking spot. Tour here.

 

 

University of Florida

Start at the Century Tower and traverse your way to the 90 thousand-plus seating found in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. The Plaza of the Americas is a well-known campus spot where you can see students lining up for Krishna Lunch, slacklining or lounging around in hammocks in-between classes. Tour here.

 

 

Temple University

This college campus tour begins in the The Liacouras Center Sports & Entertainment Complex, home to championship Owls athletics, and where everything from concerts to wrestling matches are hosted. Take a stroll through the brick-lined Founder’s Garden and experience the bustling Shops on Liacouras Walk. Tour here. 

 

 

College of Charleston

This liberal arts and sciences university sits in the heart of historic Charleston, and though many of the Greek Revival and Federal-style buildings look like remnants from the past, it provides students with cutting-edge technology and modern curriculum. The tour begins at Sottile House and College Greenway, showcasing the school’s vine-clad fences and meticulously-maintained lawns. Other highlights include the Cistern and impressive Addlestone Library Rotunda. Tour here.

 

 

University of Kentucky

Established in 1865 in the heart of the Bluegrass State, the University of Kentucky is a campus steeped in tradition as much as academics. From the main quad (known as the Quadrangle) and Memorial Hall, which honors casualties of WWI to Maxwell Place, home to the university President, the comprehensive e-tour provides an accurate snapshot of this university’s unbridled spirit. If you can’t make a trip to Rupp Arena, home to Wildcat athletics, an eCampus Tour is the next best thing. Tour here. 

 

 

Colgate University

This prestigious private liberal arts college in Hamilton, New York was founded in 1819. With a student population that’s about the same size as the city’s population (just under 3,000 students), this university is known for its sense of community. Nearly half of upperclassmen are involved in Greek Life, and games are often played outside of the Academic Quad. A more modern addition to the campus, the Little Hall Art and History building is home to art made by students in their classes. Colgate’s Seven Oaks Golf Course is ranked among the top five college courses in the country by Golf Digest. Tour here.

 

Whether you’re a rising high school senior still scoping out where to spend your college years, or like us, and appreciate everything a vibrant college campus brings to a community, we think you’ll find the over 1,300 tours on eCampus Tours well worth the visit. 

 

Note: Links to other websites are provided as a convenience only. A link does not imply SouthEast Bank’s sponsorship or approval of any other site. SouthEast Bank does not control the content of these sites.

Who Is Considered a Full-Time College Student and Why Does it Matter?

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Are you at that important time in your life when you are seriously considering going to college? If so, you probably have a shortlist of colleges that you would like to attend. However, just as important as where you will go to college is the consideration of how you will go to college. Will you be a full-time student or a part-time student? It seems pretty obvious that a full-time student will go to school more often during the academic year than a part-time student. However, what you probably don’t realize is that what distinguishes the two tends to vary by college or university. It’s essential that you know the enrollment requirements of any college that you are thinking of attending.

What Is the Definition of a Full-Time College Student?

 

The most obvious difference between a full and part-time student relates to how many credit hours are taken during a semester. To be regarded as a full-time student generally means working toward a minimum of twelve credits (approximately four classes). Part-time is usually considered to lie somewhere in the area of two to eleven credits (one to three classes).

 

However, what counts as full time at a school that uses a semester system will likely vary from what counts as full-time at a school that uses a quarter system. To make things easier to understand, students are usually classified as full-time as long as they take more than half of a traditional course load.

 

To learn if you will be considered a full-time student, check with the college of your choice. The registrar’s office will most likely have the college’s definition posted online. If not, a quick phone call or email is the best way to go.

Note: if you are a student with some learning differences, then a full-time course load for you might vary from that of other students. Be sure to check with your college on your particular situation.

Does my Enrollment Status Impact my Tax Deductions?

 

Whether or not you are classified as a full-time student can affect different aspects of your education – including any impact it might have on your taxes. For example, you may qualify for certain tax credits and deductions as a full-time student that you would not be eligible for as a part-time student. As we saw above, sometimes this status question is school specific. Luckily, the IRS simplifies things by stating that it will regard you as a full-time student if: you are ‘attending an education program for at least five months per calendar year’. Keep in mind, the five months do not need to be consecutive or full. If you are counting on certain deductions, then you should check with your tax advisor before taking any action (such as dropping a class) that might affect your enrollment status.

 

These tax implications also apply if your parents or guardians claim you as a dependent. To do so, you (the student) must be under the age of 24 and be a full-time student.

 

Will My College Enrollment Status Affect My Student Loans?

 

Most importantly, financial aid packages and student loans are influenced by whether your status is a full-time or part-time student. Often times, academic scholarships require a certain grade point average and the maintenance of a certain enrollment status – think full-time vs part-time enrollment. Check with your financial aid office when considering the shift from full-time to part-time to better understand the cost impact to not only your college provided aid but federal aid as well.

 

If you are a full-time student with private student loans and have selected deferment payment plan while in school, you do not have to begin paying back many student loans until you drop below full-time status (and often times 6 months after that due to a grace period). This is designed to allow students to make it through their college career and find employment prior to paying off their student debt. If you change your status you may trigger the commencement of your student loan payments sooner. Don’t let yourself be blindsided by reducing your course load only to discover that you have to start making student loan payments you had previously thought were delayed until after graduation. If in doubt call your lender to get clarifications on your individual scenario.

 

Does course load impact student athletes?


If you’re a student-athlete, you are already balancing your class load and practice and travel schedules. That could be a strain and it might have you thinking about scaling back your class load. Keep in mind, you may not be eligible to compete if you fall below specified enrollment requirements. This full-time status is very similar to grade requirements, codes of conduct and other requirements set forth by your college and the conference it belongs to. Be sure to speak with your coach prior to making changes to your schedule or class load if this is of a concern.

 

What Are the Benefits of Being a Full-Time Student?

 

One obvious benefit of going to college full-time is that you’ll get through college faster than a part-time student. As mentioned earlier, there are also many scholarships with the eligibility requirement that you must be a full-time student. Don’t underestimate the positive impact these scholarships and grants can have on your total cost of attending college. And, if you want to live on campus, some schools require you to be a full-time student.

 

Can I Be Both a Full-Time and Part-Time Student?

 

It’s completely acceptable to mix the two types of statuses varying between semesters. If the stress of full-time school gets to be too much, you might benefit from taking a part-time semester or even a part-time year. Situations change, and the important thing to remember is that you can adjust your schedule to whatever fits your needs. Just remember to talk to your financial aid office at your college so that you understand how your decision affects your status at the college and your college finances.

 

After you have that well-earned degree in your hand, it will be time to begin tackling your student loan debt. If you are burdened by high monthly payments from your existing student loans, there is a way out – it’s called student loan refinancing. Talk to ELFI to find out how we may be able help you lower your monthly student loan payments or help you pay down your balance faster*.

 

*Subject to credit approval. Terms and conditions apply.

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites

Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.

Tips for Choosing a College

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Choosing a college to attend is not an easy task, and there are many factors to consider when making your pick. Should you go to your parents’ alma mater? What about the one with the best student life or athletic teams? Prestige certainly is a factor for many students. When all is said and done you want to pick one that sets you up for success in your career and provides and opportunity to thrive – whether it be by practicing your passions or helps you grow as an individual. Whatever the reason, these tips will make choosing a college much easier.

 

Start by making a thorough list of schools.

By making a list of schools that you are interested in attending, you’re giving yourself a starting point for deciding which are worth taking next steps with. Decide which ones you would like to see in person and which stand out as your ideal schools. If you’re having trouble at this stage, try picking a few that are far different from each other – whether they’re small, large, in the city, in the country, private, public, etc. Deciding the type of school you want to attend is a good first step.

 

Do you research on each school before you visit.

Doing research before you visit will allow you to develop expectations for the school. These expectations can then be compared to what you experience when you visit, giving you a more thorough impression of the school. You can look through brochures and the school website, but also be sure to check around online for various ratings and reviews from past students. As always, double check your sources.

 

Take notes when you visit.

Visiting colleges is fun, so sometimes its easy to forget whether a school meets the criteria you set forth when you’re taking a tour. Bringing a notepad for this very reason can be very effective at allowing you to review the schools after visiting – especially if you plan to visit multiple schools. This way you won’t mix up any information. Then, you can refer to these notes when deciding where you want to apply.

 

Find other members from the campus to help you decide.

When you start narrowing your list of schools down further, start contacting other sources that can help you get more information about the school. While it may seem like a bother, talking to the admissions officer, professors and current students is the best way to get a true feel for what to expect from a school. Students are the most likely to give you unbiased answers.

 

Take your own tour in addition to the admissions tour.

The admissions tour is beneficial, but viewing the campus on your own will give you the chance to see the whole campus in a scope more similar to what students experience. View the parking facilities, actual classrooms, and areas that would pertain to your major (if you know your major prospective major).

 

Don’t forget to ask questions.

You may want to prepare a list of questions to ask beforehand just to make sure that you don’t forget anything. Ask questions regarding academic, financial, housing/food, social, community, athletic, and safety aspects.

 

For more information about visiting college campuses, read The Campus Visit and Making the Most Of the Campus Visit. Remember, if you can’t visit a campus in person, you can always take a virtual tour of the school.

 


 

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites: Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – the bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments. 

FAFSA 101: What You Need to Know About Paying for College (Video)

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If you plan to enroll in higher education, you’re probably giving some thought to financial aid. Completing the FAFSA will help you earn the federal financial assistance you need and deserve. If you’re already in college, you likely filled out the FAFSA without giving much thought about what it meant, and what it means for you each year that you apply for federal student aid. This video breaks down the process of applying for federal student aid and explains why it’s necessary to do so – so you can feel a bit better about filling it out each year!

FAFSA 101 Video

 

For more information on the FAFSA, check out our blog, “What is FAFSA? And Why You Should Care“. Subscribe to our YouTube channel or follow us on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn for more videos about student loans, refinancing, and achieving financial freedom.

 

 

NOTICE: Third Party Web Sites
Education Loan Finance by SouthEast Bank is not responsible for and has no control over the subject matter, content, information, or graphics of the websites that have links here. The portal and news features are being provided by an outside source – The bank is not responsible for the content. Please contact us with any concerns or comments.