Now that the presidential election is over, there is work to be done in Washington. If Democrats and Republicans fail to pull together and reach an agreement, there is going to be a great deal of strain placed on Americans, especially those in college who are dependent on financial aid. There are still many in the Republican Party that feel that we need to cut financial aid in order to balance the budget and cut the deficit. If this happens, the world of higher education may soon be out of reach for many.
Dropping Off the Cliff
If we go over this year’s predicted fiscal cliff, many automatic cuts will have to be put in place, including those to federal financial aid to college students. If this happens, we will see student loan interest rates soar, adding to the already crippling debt load faced by many college graduates. At worst, we may also see the total elimination of federal subsidized student loans, a lifeline of many.
What You Can Do
The best thing you can do is to apply for financial aid as early as possible. This ensures that many more funds will be available to you than to those who file later, even if less aid is available overall. You should also start preparing for any potential raises in taxes. Whether it is you or your parents working to pay for college, tax increases mean less money for school. Plan ahead by trying to maximize your college dollars and by cutting back in every possible area of spending.
While it is unlikely that our country will take the plunge off the fiscal cliff, it is important for you as a college student to be prepared for the worst. Forewarned is forearmed, and the more prepared you are, the less likely that your education will suffer due to the inaction or poor decisions of Congress.