Know What You Owe

The first thing you need to know about financial aid is that it is not bottomless! There are limits to the amount of loans and grants you can get over your lifetime. You have to budget your financial aid – especially your loans – in order to make it last over your entire education. If you don't, you can run out of money before you are done with school.

Get to know your loans

First, you'll need to find out how much you already owe by going to the National Student Loan Data System. This website stores all the information on your student loans.

Does your debt match your progress?

Now that you know how much you owe look at the chart to see if you are on track. To see a detailed chart of loan limits, visit How Much Can I Borrow.

What happens if you run out?

If you don't plan out your financial aid, you may end up running out of money before you can get your degree or certificate. Then you are left with few options... you can pay out of pocket, but who can afford to do that? Maybe you've heard that private loans are an alternative – they are an expensive alternative that you may regret.

Nothing is worse than working for years towards a degree and then not being able to finish your last few terms because you have run out of funds.

Did you know...

Lifetime Federal Pell Grant limits: New federal law limits the amount of Federal Pell Grant funds a student may receive during their lifetime. Log on to the National Student Loan Data System to see your Federal Pell usage.