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College Prep

June 10, 2015
Ashdown, Ark. –

Many students have graduated high school and are now making plans to attend college this fall.  There are many things to consider when deciding on a college to attend, but one of the main questions is how to pay the college expenses! Parents and students can cover college expenses with a variety of sources such as grants, scholarships, savings, income, and loans. It is very important to think through these major financial decisions to make the best choice for you and your family.

Here’s a look at potential payment options for families with college-bound students:

Grants and Scholarships: Grants and scholarships are the preferred source of funding.  Check with your college financial aid department information and application due dates. The deadline to apply for the Arkansas Academic Challenge Scholarship each year is June 1. Mark this on your calendar for the 2016 graduating seniors! Grants and scholarships typically cover only about 26 percent of the average student’s expenses.

Savings and income: About 45 percent of college costs are covered by parents’ and students’ savings and income. A summer job or a part-time job during the school year can help to pay some of the costs of school. Many colleges have programs where students can apply to work on campus.

Loans: About 30 percent of students have some type of student loan. Loans can be federal or private. A completed Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA, is required to qualify for all federal and some private loans. The deadline to complete the FASFA is June 30.

  • Limit Loan Amounts: Borrow only the minimum amount you need to cover college expenses.  Don’t automatically accept the full amount that you are eligible to receive.  Don’t use loans to finance a lifestyle.
  • Federal Loans: Explore federal loan options before looking at private loans. Federal student loans cost less than private loans and have more protections for repayment. Apply first for the Perkins loan, which has a fixed 5 percent interest rate. Next consider federal direct loans. 
  • Private Loans: Use private loans as a last resort.  Shop around to compare interest rates and repayment plans. Loan forgiveness and repayment programs typically don’t apply to private loans.  Sources of private loans can include state agencies, banks and schools. Be sure to use a reputable lender. Be cautious of deceptive student loan practices.

Credit Cards: Don’t use a credit card to pay for college. Used carefully, a credit card can be a good way to establish a good credit history. For example, use the card to purchase textbooks; make regular payments; pay off the debt in a timely manner.  Overall, do not rely on a credit card to pay for college expenses because the monthly interest rates are much higher than a loan.

For more information, consider visiting these websites:

If you would like more information about finances, please call the Little River County Extension office at (870) 898-7224 or email  Always feel free to stop by our office at 1411 N Constitution Ave in Ashdown to receive more information. The Cooperative Extension Service is part of the University of Arkansas Research and Extension. The Cooperative Extension is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution.
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By Celeste Scarborough
County Extension Agent - FCS
The Cooperative Extension Service
U of A System Division of Agriculture

Media Contact: Celeste Scarborough
County Extension Agent - FCS
U of A Division of Agriculture
Cooperative Extension Service
1411 N Constitution Ave Ashdown AR 71822
(870) 898-7224

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  • The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay.

    The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin, religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.