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What to Consider When Applying for Financial Aid

START AT ZERO

One of the best things you can do prior to starting health professions school is to pay down any debt you have on credit cards and/or other consumer debts. If you can pay off those debts completely, that's event better. If you can't pay off all your credit cards, it's best to try to pay down as mush as you can on higher interest debt first. Federal Financial Aid cannot be used to pay off credit card debt or other consumer debt. 

KNOW WHAT YOU OWE: EDUCATIONAL LOANS FROM PREVIOUS INSTITUTIONS

The National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) allows you to access your federal loan information 24/7. Students are encouraged to utilize this valuable online tool. Log onto www.NSLDS.ed.gov to review your federal loan information. Do you have private educational loans? Refer to your Master Promissory Note(s) or contact your private loan lender(s) regarding your grace period, deferment options and repayment terms. Update your contact information with your lenders and servicers. 

CREDIT REPORTS

Credit is an important part of financing your health profession education.

The Federal Direct Grad PLUS and private lenders look at your prior credit record and will not approve those with unsatisfactory ratings. We recommend you check on your credit status. You can request a copy of your credit report online by phone from one of the three national credit bureaus below:

Experian: 1-800-397-3742

TransUnion: 1-800-916-8800

Equifax: 1-800-685-1111

You can also access your free credit report(s) by visiting Annual Credit Report.com. You are entitles to a free copy of your credit report if you have been denied credit within the past 60 days. In addition under the Fair and Accurate Credit Transaction Act of 2003 (FACT Act), all students are entitled to a free credit report annually from each of the three credit bureaus. 

APPLY FOR OUTSIDE SCHOLARSHIPS

There are a number of federal and private agencies and organizations which provide scholarship assistance to health professions students. The eligibility criteria and deadlines vary according to the guidelines established by the organization. These scholarships can be merit based and/or need based. RFU Office of Student Financial Services complies a large list of scholarship opportunities on the External Scholarship Database. Avoid scholarship scams where they charge a fee to apply. Scholarships searched should be free. Students are encouraged to check with local organizations, clubs, professional organizations, civic groups, etc.

THINK OF NON-LOAN PAYMENT OPTIONS FIRST

Explore existing personal resources to pay for your education first. Do you have savings or have a parent(s) or other family members who may want to contribute? Have a discussion with your family and/or spouse or partner about the cost of attendance and how much they're willing to help you finance it. 

THINK BEYOND TUITION

Before you focus on the types of financial aid you'll need, how much to borrow, or if you even need financial aid at all, you have to figure out the cost of your education. In addition to tuition, you will also have to consider your living expenses during school. The full cost of attendance includes tuition and fees, books and supplies, and personal living expenses such as housing, food, and transportation. Knowing your costs will determine whether or not you'll have enough money to pay for your education, or if you'll need to seek assistance thought the financial aid program offered at RFU.

PLAN AND STICK TO A MONTHLY SPENDING PLAN

Planning and sticking to a monthly budget will help you avoid unnecessary debt, help you save money and make it easier to afford the lifestyle you want after graduation. Plan both your in-school and out-of-school monthly budgets and see where you might need to cut back on expenses. It's important to estimate your budget or spending plan before you apply for any loans so you know how much you can contribute first from your personal resources.