American Education Services Encourages Smart Decisions When Funding Higher Education

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American Education Services (AES) is encouraging students and their families to do their homework when making financial decisions to afford their dream of higher education, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.

The first step is to exhaust every possibility for gift aid – aid that does not need to be repaid

As summer comes to an end and the fall semester quickly approaches, many families may be feeling pressured to make hasty, costly financial aid decisions. American Education Services (AES) is encouraging students and their families to do their homework when making financial decisions to afford their dream of higher education, potentially saving them thousands of dollars.

Despite fast-approaching classes, students should follow a game plan in obtaining financial aid. “The first step is to exhaust every possibility for gift aid – aid that does not need to be repaid,” explained Dick Willey, AES President and C.E.O. “Hundreds and hundreds of scholarship programs go unclaimed each year, simply because students didn’t look deep enough. Talk to your church, or check to see if your parents’ employers offer a scholarship. Check out local business and community organizations. There are also free online searches, such as the scholarship search at EducationPlanner.org, which make it simple to research billions of dollars in scholarship funds with just a few clicks.” Students and parents should never have to pay to access scholarship search databases. There are also state grant programs, with awards typically based on financial need.

Work-study programs allow students to work in exchange for money for their education. The Student Aid Report (SAR), received from the U.S. Department of Education, is one indicator used by the college to determine a student’s eligibility for the Federal Work-Study program. Most work-study programs are federal government programs, but individual states or campuses may also offer their own programs to their students. Borrowers must contact their school’s financial aid office to find out if a campus-specific work-study program is offered.

Once these aid possibilities are exhausted, AES recommends that students turn to federal student loan programs, which offer low interest rates and beneficial repayment terms. Perkins Loans and Stafford Loans are available to students, while Parent PLUS Loans are available to parents who wish to help their child afford tuition.

“When making a decision to borrow, there are several factors to consider,” explained Willey. “You’ll want to research the lender, as well as the front-end and back-end benefits of the loan.”

When researching a lender, borrowers should look for someone with a solid history in the student aid industry, offering reputable customer service, borrower benefits, and varied repayment options. Front-end benefits should include a low origination fee, a low or nonexistent guaranty fee, and an online application or electronic fund transmission for faster loan processing. Back-end benefits should include a reduced interest rate for consecutive, on-time payments and for direct debit of your payments. Borrowers might also consider online payment options and customer service. Students and parents should not hesitate to consult with and ask for advice about student loan options from the financial aid administrator at the school they plan to attend.

AES offers several low-cost Stafford Loans, including KeystoneBEST and aesBEST – both are available with no up-front costs and repayment benefits such as a one-percent graduation credit for completing their education, an additional credit of 0.5 percent of the original principal loan balance after 24 on-time consecutive monthly payments, a two-percent interest rate reduction after 36 consecutive, on-time payments, and a .25 percent interest rate reduction for automatic direct debit of payment.

The final step in financial aid, providing that the borrower still needs funding, is private student loans. Private loans are typically more expensive than Stafford Loans, but they are usually a more affordable option than credit cards, which should not be used to pay for college.

“Parents and students alike should not turn to credit cards,” advised Willey. “There are too many affordable student aid options to even consider the risk of anything else.”

For more information on available student aid programs, visit http://www.aesSuccess.org .    

American Education Services
American Education Services (AES) is among the nation’s leading providers of student financial aid services. Each year, AES serves millions of students and thousands of schools through its loan guaranty, servicing, and financial aid processing systems. As a nonprofit enterprise with $94 billion in assets under management (1/31/07), AES channels its earnings into a wide array of public service programs and initiatives that help ease the financial burden of higher education.

Focused on guaranteeing the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers, AES is a pioneer of pro-student products and services, such as its Zero Guaranty Fee Policy and low-cost student loans. From early awareness, to managing the financial aid process and sound student debt management, AES is a trusted source of information and advice for students, parents, school counselors and financial aid offices across the country. AES is also the home of the award-winning college-planning website EducationPlanner.org, as well the debt management resource YouCanDealWithIt.com. For more information, please visit us at http://www.aesSuccess.org.

CONTACT:     
Keith New
717-720-2509

Nicole Elbertson
717-720-2509

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