Follow the Instructions!
Read all of the instructions carefully when you're applying for financial aid. Don't skim, no matter how tempting -- financial aid instructions may make the back of a box of corn flakes seem exciting by comparison, but those instructions could make the difference between spending the semester working toward a degree or bagging groceries. So, pay attention, and follow the instructions to the letter. If you don't understand something, ask your guidance counselor or financial aid advisor -- it's better to save your application and come back to it later instead of submitting it incorrectly and possibly losing the aid. When you've finished with an application for financial aid, double-check everything before you hit the "submit" button. And, most importantly, make sure you understand what you're signing up for. You'll have to pay back your student loans someday, whether or not you get that dream job.
- Free Application for Federal Student Aid. "Application Deadlines." March 28, 2010. (May 19, 2010) http://www.fafsa.ed.gov/before003a.htm
- United States Department of Education. "Looking for Student Aid: Federal, State and Other Sources of Information." April 14, 2003. (May 18, 2010) http://studentaid.ed.gov/students/publications/lsa/index.html
Student loan refinance and student loan consolidation are completely different beasts. If have student loan debt, you need to know the difference.