2. Ask the college for more money

2. Ask the college for more money

Meanwhile, there are about 8 million Americans currently in default on their federal student loans, according to the Department of Education. They can refinance with a private lender — but only if they qualify, usually by showing high income and good credit. Clinton’s plan would likely allow them to refinance with the federal government.

It could make loan payments more manageable, but the effect is small, wrote Susan Dynarski, a professor of economics, public policy and education at the University of Michigan.

Cutting the interest rate by about 2% on a $20,000 loan for example, only reduces the monthly payment by $20 if the borrower is paying it off in 10 years, according to her paper.

The U.S. does offer income-based repayment plans for those who apply, but it’s not available to everyone. Payments are set at 10% of disposable income from the previous year, which could hurt those borrowers who don’t have steady pay. It also requires the borrower to opt-in by reapplying annually, or every time their income changes, in order to adjust the loan payment.

Some other countries, like England and Australia, have made the income-based program automatic. Payments are taken directly out of your paycheck (like taxes), and automatically adjust if your income changes.

Your child got into the college of their dreams. But the acceptance letter didn’t mention any kind of scholarship. Now what?

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The good news is that most students receive some financial help paying for college, bringing the cost down from the school’s «sticker price.»

At the average private college, for example, the sticker price for tuition, room and board was $45,370 last year. But the average student actually paid $26,080, according to The College Board. At public colleges, the sticker price was $20,090, but the average in-state student paid $14,210.

Even without a scholarship, there are plenty of other forms of aid that can help you tackle the cost. The financial aid system can be confusing, so don’t feel bad if you’re a little unclear about how it all works. There are scholarships and grants (which you don’t have to pay back), and loans (which you do). Some of what you receive is based on income and some can be based on academic merit.

1. Grants

Colleges, states, and the federal government give out grants, which don’t need to be repaid. Most are awarded based on your financial need, and see page determined by the income you reported on the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

If you’ve received a grant, it should be listed on the financial aid award letter sent by the school. This might have arrived with your acceptance letter, but sometimes it’s sent later.

Last year, undergrads at public colleges received an average of $5,000 in grant aid and those at private colleges received about $16,700, according to The College Board. The biggest grant awards usually come from the the college itself.

Colleges will take into consideration how much they think your family can afford to pay for college and try to fill in the gap with a grant. Some pledge to fill in more of the gap than others.

Federal Pell Grants, on the other hand, are capped at $5,920 a year and most go to families who earn less than $30,000 annually. Eligibility for state grants vary.

Yes, you can haggle over financial aid. Experts suggest having the student write a formal appeal letter and then follow up with a phone call.

It’s worth reemphasizing why you’re a good fit for the school, and whether or not you received more aid from a comparable college.

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