Debt crisis: What does it mean for your student financial aid?

You've been dreaming of this day, but paying to get there might become a lot more difficult.

Add undergraduate and graduate students to the list of people who are getting headaches over the debt crisis. An agreement, or lack thereof, will most likely have an impact on student financial aid one way or another. It’s just not clear yet how great that impact will be.

According to Justin Draeger, the president of the National Association of Student Financial Aid Administrators, if President Obama isn’t even sure whether Social Security checks will be issued, it doesn’t look very good for the future of student financial aid.

“I think there is a huge question mark out there,” says Draeger. “If the ceiling is not raised and the government doesn’t have enough revenue, than we will get into a situation where there are a lot of uncertainties about what the government will or won’t pay for.”

Even if a deal is reached by the August 2nd deadline, student financial aid will most likely still take a hit. NASFAA provides a side-by-side comparison of two competing proposals to reduce the deficit by Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker John Boehner. Both would eliminate interest subsidies for graduate and professional students for programs beginning on or after July 1, 2012.

Getting worried? Draeger says the best thing you can do is stay informed. “The advice we always give is to stay in contact with your school’s financial aid office. They will have the most up-to-date information,” he says.

In the past week, concerned students have taken to the Internet in an effort to protect financial aid.  The organization Save Pell encouraged people to get the word out through social networking campaigns that Pell grants are at risk of being reduced.

If you’re concerned about the future of your financial aid, you can take it one step further, Draeger says. “Pick up the phone and contact your congressional delegation and urge them not to enact spending cuts on the backs of students and to reach an agreement to ensure that they have access to the student financial aid.”


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