ECMC offers tips and free college planning resources to help students prepare for college
Earlier FAFSA timeline has families applying now
October 20, 2016 — Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) offers a variety of free resources to help parents and students navigate the potentially daunting process of planning and paying for college. For more than 20 years, ECMC has worked to lower student loan default rates, promote financial literacy and provide resources to help borrowers successfully repay their student loans.
"College is one of the largest expenditures people make during their lifetime," said Paula Craw, director of outreach and financial literacy for ECMC. "Given the cost as well as the commitment, students and parents need to understand all of their options so that they can make choices that fit their academic as well as their financial needs."
Changes to the timeline for filing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which determines whether a student is eligible for federal financial aid, enable students to file now versus waiting until January 1.
ECMC is offering the following tips and free resources to help families as they begin the process:
- Develop a Plan
- Look for free tools that can help you determine how to reach your academic goals. We offer an Opportunities book that can be downloaded and features everything from a worksheet about how to choose a college, to an easy-to-follow breakdown of the financial aid process.
- Compare Costs
- College can be one of the largest expenditures of your life and it is important to understand the costs before you enroll. Take time to estimate your college costs with online websites like College Abacus and Pell Abacus—available in English and Spanish—that allow you to compare costs of multiple colleges in one place.
- Talk to the Professionals
- School counselors are a great place to gather information. Many schools also offer college planning seminars. ECMC offers seminars in California, Virginia, Connecticut and Oregon. And we staff several college access centers around the country that help students of all ages get help planning for college.
- Start Early
- Now that the FAFSA filing has been moved up a few months, it makes sense to get started as soon as possible so that you are not scrambling at the last minute.
- Start researching scholarships in your junior year of high school. That way you won't feel as overwhelmed when college applications are due at the same time.
- Know Your Resources
- Attend a College Night near you for helpful tips on admissions and financial aid, plus a chance to win a $500 scholarship.
- Make informed financial decisions and take control of your finances with our free Financial Awareness Basics|FAB publications and weekly webinars.
- Bookmark Federal Student Aid on your internet browser for a searchable database of questions and answers.
These tips are also discussed in the video below.