Making the decision to pursue a college education when you are a single parent can be a difficult one. Balancing your parenting role with that of running a house, paying bills and studying can be a daunting prospect but the acquisition of a college degree can make the struggle worthwhile. Obtaining a degree will open the door to new opportunities to improve your income and standard of living for your family, yet it comes with the price of taking on debt which can cause additional worry.
Single parents in New Hampshire considering a college degree are entitled to apply for the same Federal funding as students leaving school. The government encourages single parents to improve their position through college, and having a low income should not be a deterrent, as grants, scholarships and subsidized loans are available.
All students must first make an application through the FAFSA which gives Federal loans. Those who are on low incomes may then qualify for a Federal Pell grant which is non-repayable. Federal student loans are not subject to credit checks and come in two forms: subsidized and non-subsidized. Typically single parents with low incomes may meet the requirements of the subsidized Stafford loan where all interest payments on the loan are met by the government until you graduate. This means that if you qualify you will not need to worry about making payments towards the loan whilst in school.
However Federal student loans alone do not cover the full costs of college, and there will be a shortfall. The next port of call is to contact the financial aid officer of the New Hampshire college or university you are applying to and see if any additional funding may be available, as the financial aid officers will know of any extra grants or awards you may qualify for.
In addition the State of New Hampshire itself should be contacted as it has a good reputation in providing advice and assistance to those applying for college. There are four agencies in New Hampshire which work together. These are the NHHEAF, New Hampshire Higher Education Assistance Foundation; Granite State Managers; Network Education Foundation; and NHEELC, New Hampshire Higher Education Loan Company. The NHHEAF can help with assistance in finding single parent scholarship programs and give excellent advice on other funding opportunities available.
Private student loans should always be a last resort as they are more expensive than federal loans, and are reliant on a good credit history unless a co-signer is used. It is also possible in some instances to obtain employers assistance towards college tuition costs. It is worth considering entering a public service profession such as teaching or nursing upon graduation, as federal forgiveness programs may be available if you meet the criterion.