Is Your Financial Aid a Victim of the Recession?

The economy will affect your financial aid--find out how.

By Lauren Bayne Anderson

April 21, 2009

Is Your Financial Aid a Victim of the Recession?

The stock market’s in a slump. The economy isn’t rebounding. Jobs are hard to come by— and so are student loans.

But you’re not sure how — or if— any of it affects you. Chances are it will. And while you may not be feeling the effects of it yet, that’s simply because it hasn’t trickled down yet.

When it comes to financial aid, some know the scope of the industry better than others. Mark Kantrowitz is one of those people. The author of our own, FastWeb College Gold, A Step-by-Step Guide to Paying for College, and a slew of other financial aid resources including, Kantrowitz sheds light on what today’s economy means for you.

Who is affected most by the credit crunch? Kantrowitz says: Students at community and technical colleges, especially institutions that are for-profit, are having the toughest time because they are more likely to receive private loans. Also, lenders under profit pressure are less willing to write loans for shorter, one- and two-year programs – especially at schools with historically high default rates. — Time

I’m leaving for college next year, is it worth it to start saving just now? Kantrowitz says: Save whatever you can. Something is better than nothing. If you wind up having to borrow the cash, you’ll pay for it in interest. Either you could save a certain amount of money before college, or pay back twice as much after college. — First 30 Days

Is it worth it to going back to school in lieu of the tough job market? Kantrowitz says: Prospective students should keep in mind that student loans may be more difficult to come by these days. “Lenders have tightened criteria,” he said. “If you have a bad or marginal credit score, you are going to have a harder time obtaining a student loan.” — Red Orbit

How will the financial crisis affect my ability to pay my student loans? Kantrowitz says: Interest rates on many loans are likely to jump by 2 percent within the next month. “Interest rates on these loans will increase as the lenders pass on their increased cost of funds,” he said. — New York Times

How do I select the best student loan for me? Kantrowitz says: Choosing a loan comes down to who offers the cheapest interest rates and fees. The Perkins loan is the most beneficial federal loan, followed by the Stafford loan. Families of undergraduate students can take advantage of a current phased-in interest rate reduction that Congress passed. But only for a while! “As in everything Congress does, it has five years and then it reverts to the status quo because of federal budgetary constraints." — Chronogram

For more advice from Kantrowitz, check out and FastWeb’s Financial Aid Channel!

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