4 Mistakes You Are Making With Financial Aid

1.         Not completing FAFSA by your college’s deadline

Most colleges have limited funds for financial aid so when you apply late, you run the risk of not getting first dibs on scholarships, FSEOG grants or work study. Find out your college’s deadline and make sure you’re applying by the due date. This year, you’re in luck - you can start applying for FAFSA starting in October 1st.  

2.         Taking only the minimum number of credits to be full time

Are you only taking 12 credits per semester? If you need 120 credits to graduate, you’re adding at least one extra year to your graduation date. So, you’re paying an extra year of tuition, taking one more year of loans and you’ll start earning money one year later! Add more credits per semester to graduate sooner. And, don’t forget to brush up on your study skills to manage the heavier course load.

3.         Not knowing your school’s satisfactory academic progress requirements

 To qualify for federal financial aid each year, you must meet Satisfactory Academic Progress (SAP) eligibility requirements that include minimum GPA and pace benchmarks.  When you fail or withdraw from a class, it reduces your pace and it may not meet the minimum requirement. Check your school’s SAP policy online or in the financial aid office  to ensure that your GPA and pace meet the criteria each semester. 

4.         Not making friends with your financial aid counselor

Your financial aid office can be a great resource for scholarships that you may not know about, but qualify for. Ask about scholarships that fit your extracurricular or academic profile. Colleges also often have emergency scholarships for students to fill a small gap or to pay for books. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.


Margo Wright, CEO and Founder of Yenko Inc.

Margo is the founder of Yenko, a software company that sells software to help students avoid losing financial aid. Yenko’s personalized, early alert analytics identify and support students at risk. The company was born out of her frustration that over Forty-five percent (45%) of U.S. adults do not possess a post-secondary degree. She previously served as Senior Manager for College Readiness and College Success at the Harlem Children’s Zone and as Executive Director of Bodanna, a nonprofit social enterprise.



3 Ways to get out of Student Loan Default

Posted by Nick Dvorscak

If you didn’t make payments on your federal student loans and are now in default, don’t get discouraged. It may seem like an overwhelming situation, but you have multiple options for getting out of default. Remember, it’s in your best interest to act quickly to resolve the default, because the consequences of default can be severe.

If you have a defaulted federal student loan owned by the U.S. Department of Education (ED), immediately contact ED’s Default Resolution Group. They will help you figure out the best way to resolve the default based on your individual circumstance.

Default Resolution Group
1-877-825-9923 TTY for the deaf or hard of hearing


Options for Getting Out of Default

You have three options for getting out of default: loan rehabilitation, loan consolidation, or repayment in full.

1. Loan Rehabilitation

To rehabilitate most defaulted federal student loans, you must sign an agreement to make a series of nine monthly payments over a period of 10 consecutive months. The monthly payment amount you’ll be offered will be based on your income, so it should be affordable. In fact, your monthly payment under a loan rehabilitation agreement could be as low as $5! Each payment must be made within 20 days of the due date.

Get more information about loan rehabilitation.

Note: You can rehabilitate a defaulted loan only once.

2. Loan Consolidation

Loan consolidation allows you to pay off your defaulted federal student loans by consolidating (combining) your loans into a new Direct Consolidation Loan.

To consolidate a defaulted federal student loan into a new Direct Consolidation Loan, you must either

  • agree to repay the new Direct Consolidation Loan under an income-driven repayment plan or
  • make three consecutive, voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on the defaulted loan before you consolidate it.

Learn about which repayment plans will be available to you, and get additional information about loan consolidation.

3. Repayment in full

Repayment in full is exactly as it sounds; you can repay the full amount that you owe at any time.

We understand that repayment in full is not a viable option for most people. If that’s the case, you should focus on deciding between loan rehabilitation and loan consolidation.

Comparing the Benefits You Regain After Rehabilitation and Consolidation
Now that you have a better understanding of what rehabilitation and consolidation are, you can determine which option is best for you. Once your loan has successfully been removed from default, you will regain eligibility for certain benefits, depending on whether you chose rehabilitation or consolidation.

  Loan Rehabilitation Loan Consolidation
Regained eligibility for deferment, forbearance, and loan forgiveness Yes Yes
Regained eligibility for additional federal student aid Yes Yes
Choice of repayment plans Yes Yes (but there may be limitations—see below**)
Removal of the record of default from your credit history Yes (but see below*) No

*If you rehabilitate a defaulted loan, the record of the default will be removed from your credit history. However, your credit history will still show late payments that were reported by your loan holder before the loan went into default. If you consolidate a defaulted loan, the record of the default (as well as late payments reported before the loan went into default) will remain in your credit history.

**Unless you make three voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments on a defaulted loan before you consolidate it, your choice of repayment plans for the new Direct Consolidation Loan will be limited to one of the income-driven repayment plans. If you make three voluntary, on-time, full monthly payments before consolidating, you can choose from any of the repayment plans available to Direct Consolidation Loan borrowers.

Continue reading

8 things you should know about federal work study

Posted by Chandra Owen, Justin Chase Brown and Karla Weber on July 27, 2017

If you’re looking for another way to help pay for college, Federal Work-Study may be a great option for you. Work-study is a way for students to earn money to pay for school through part-time on- (and sometimes off-) campus jobs. The program gives students an opportunity to gain valuable work experience while pursuing a college degree. However, not every school participates in the Federal Work-Study Program. Schools that do participate have a limited amount of funds they can award to eligible students. This is why it is so important for students to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form as early as possible, as some schools award work-study funds on a first-come, first-served basis.

Here are eight things you should know about the Federal Work-Study Program:


1. Being awarded Federal Work-Study does not guarantee you a job.

Accepting the Federal Work-Study funds you’re offered is just the first step. In order to receive those funds, you need to earn them, which means you need to start by finding a work-study job.

Some schools may match students to jobs, but most schools require the student to find, apply for, and interview for positions on their own, just like any other job. Either way, students who are interested in work-study or who have already been awarded work-study should contact the financial aid office at their school to find out whether positions are available, how to apply and how the process works at their school.

2. Not all work-study jobs are on campus.

The availability of work-study positions includes community service options with non-profit employers, which means some work-study jobs are available for off-campus work. (An example: reading to or tutoring children at local elementary schools.) If you are curious about securing a community service work-study position, contact the financial aid office or the career center on campus.

3. Work-study funds are not applied directly to your tuition.

Unlike other types of financial aid, work-study earnings are not applied directly to your tuition and fees. Students who are awarded work-study receive the funds in a paycheck as they earn them, based on hours worked, just like a normal job. These earnings are meant to help with the day-to-day expenses that students have and are not meant to cover large costs like tuition and housing.

4. Work-study jobs may be limited.

You may still be able to work on campus without work-study if your school does not have enough work-study funds or positions to cover all on-campus student employees. Many campuses offer jobs for students with or without work-study. Check with the student employment office on your campus to find out what is available.

5. Federal Work-Study is not guaranteed from year to year.

There are several factors that can determine whether or not you receive work-study from year to year. These include your family income or financial need, whether you used the work-study funds that were offered to you in a prior year, and/or how much work-study funding your school receives that year.

Contact your school for specific awarding criteria if you are interested in work-study. Typically, students who file the FAFSA form early and answer that they are interested in Federal Work-Study will have a better chance of being awarded funds from the program.

6. Pay may vary.

Work-study jobs vary in qualifications and responsibilities, so the pay will depend on the job that you are hired to do. Pay may also depend on your school’s policies and/or the minimum wage requirements in the state.

7. Hours worked may vary.

How many hours you work each week will depend on the type of job you get and your employer’s expectations. Most employment positions for students, however, will work around your class schedule and only require between 10 and 20 hours per week, but again—that can vary!

8. Work-study earnings are removed from your FAFSA calculation.

One of the benefits of earning income through a Federal Work-Study position is that those earnings do not count against you when you complete the FAFSA form. There’s a question on the FAFSA form that asks how much was earned through work-study during a particular tax year; make sure to answer that question accurately so the amount can be factored out. If you do not know how much you earned, you can contact the financial aid office at your school for help.



Transitioning to college can be as scary as it is exciting. Living away from home, prioritizing responsibilities and parting with lifelong norms can all be pretty stressful. According to a survey of more than 93,000 students at 108 colleges by the American College Health Association, more than half experienced overwhelming anxiety, while 85.6 percent of students felt overwhelmed by all they had to do.


Feeling overwhelmed is nothing to be ashamed of, and you're definitely not alone. There are tons of resources and professionals available to support you. Take full advantage.


Locate your campus wellness center and keep that phone number on deck in case of emergencies. This is a great resource for physical health, coaching and overall wellness support.


Dehydration can negatively impact your mood and your health. Be sure to mind your water intake.


We're all addicted to our mobile devices but the constant scrolling and stimuli can have a negative effect. Heavy cell phone use has been linked to depression and sleep deprivation. Take a moment to unplug from time to time.


Many colleges offer free counseling services or group sessions. Don't hesitate to tap these resources.


Get plenty of rest! Caffeine can be your best friend and your worst enemy during those late night cram sessions, but try not to make a habit of artificial stimulants as they can throw off your sleep pattern.


Whether you choose to go to your campus fitness center, jog outside or hit a few yoga poses from the comfort of your room, get in plenty of physical activity. Aside from warding off the dreaded freshman fifteen, the mental effects of exercise are real. The endorphins, adrenaline and dopamine released when engaged in physical activity all work together to help you feel good.


Don't underestimate the power of nature to combat stress. When you're feeling overwhelmed, get outside, walk around campus and take in some fresh air.


Nothing provides a guaranteed pick-me-up like helping others. Get involved in community service. Organizations such as Big Brothers Big Sisters and The Boys and Girls Club are always looking for mentors.


Whether it's prayer, meditation or praise and worship, your spiritual practice is a powerful tool in maintaining a healthy balance. If you're missing your home church, the HaloLoop app allows you to livestream and participate virtually in your hometown service.


Relationship issues, that class you might not pass, financial woes...don't keep it bottled in. Take a few minutes and write in a journal to prevent the buildup of stress and anxiety.


Schedule downtime to kick it with friends, clown around or just Netflix and chill. Always make time to recharge.


Take a look at what you've already accomplished. You're doing it. You are adulting successfully! Just keep giving it 100 percent.

Read more!

PYT Partners with GS2 to Launch a No Co-Signer Student Loan

San Diego, CA / May 11, 2017 —  Goal Structured Solutions, Inc. (“GS2”) announces that students are now empowered to alleviate the unnecessary debt burden on their families with the next iteration of its Ascent Program for Funding Education (“Ascent”). Ascent Independent is a new student loan that considers more than a credit score and current income to give students greater opportunities to pay for school on their own, without a cosigner. To help make paying for school more affordable for students, GS2 also improved pricing and introduced fixed rates for both Ascent Independent and the existing Ascent Tuition student loans.Today’s announcement reflects GS2’s ongoing commitment to provide students with more opportunities to fund their education with a loan in their own name. Over 1,800 schools are currently eligible for Ascent Independent and Ascent Tuition. Ascent addresses a real need for students and enhances access to higher education, while preserving the notion that students and their families should not be over-burdened with debt.


“We continue to provide innovative solutions in education finance that change the way people pay for college. Our Ascent Program for Funding Education, with its new Independent product, is our boldest innovation yet.  While the rest of the market is making loans to parents, our objective is to put the money in the hands of the people who need it the most, students!” added Ken Ruggiero, Chairman and CEO of GS2. “We’ve developed our products with students in mind.  We believe that higher education is a worthy investment and an opportunity for students to gain financial literacy and security.”

Read more!

Go PYT makes college affordable

One Howard University student avoids dropping out of college by using the PYT Funds innovate community gifting platform that also combines bank financing.