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Financial Literacy Month – Student Loans 101

East Peoria, Ill. (HOI) – Financial Literacy Month is more than just learning to save your dollars and cents. It’s also about preparing to finance the present, when the cash isn’t there.

With high school graduation just a month away, it’s time to get your ducks in a row for college… or in this case, finances.

It all starts with the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, known as FAFSA. With this application you apply for grants, scholarships and student loans all in one spot. Sounds easy right? Sometimes. When it’s not, there’s help.

“We have self-service computers up front, we actually have dual monitors here so a student can sit down and work through the FAFSA with a staff member sitting and helping them,” said Beth McClain, Dean of Enrollment Management at Illinois Central College.

McClain at ICC explains that prospective students are never alone in the financial journey.

“We advise to our students only take out what you actually need, especially if you’re going on to be transferring to a 4-year. There are very few ways in which a student could get through a 4-year without debt,” said McClain.

How can you minimize your borrowing?

Starting cost of tuition per credit hour:

Illinois Central College – $150 +
Heartland Community – $150 +
Bradley University – $2,085 +
Illinois Wesleyan – $1,425 +
Eureka College – $1,665 +
Illinois State – $986 +
Western Illinois – $296 +

“You know, maybe they’re not able to work while they go to school. Their situations are different, they may need to borrow to live,” said McClain.

If you are borrowing, just know it’s common. More than half of undergrad students at local universities have some kind of financial aid.

Percentage of undergrad students with federal aid:

Illinois Central College – 10%
Heartland Community – 18%
Bradley University – 72%
Illinois Wesleyan – 66%
Eureka College – 80%
Illinois State – 60%
Western Illinois – 72%

Federal loans aren’t just for the traditional classroom setting either, they can be used at trade schools and for certificates, too.

Jenise Rebholz

Evening Anchor, Heart of Illinois ABC
@JeniseRebholzTV

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