I am writing in response to your “Debt Distress” article recently published. It is my hope to provide additional information to help students keep loan debt at a minimum.
First, I invite all Murray State students to apply for Murray State scholarships every year. Students’ eligibility changes annually so students may have additional scholarship opportunities with each new application they complete.
The Murray State scholarship application for the 2015-16 academic year is available now and can be accessed from the student’s Financial Aid tab of their MyGate. Most Murray State scholarships have an application deadline of Jan. 15.
Second, I encourage all students to seek additional scholarship opportunities from external organizations. Students can find a list of potential external scholarships on the Financial Aid tab of their MyGate.
Additionally, students may find using a free scholarship search engine helpful. The Scholarship Office has a list of potential search engines on its website at www.murraystate.edu.
Third, it is recommended for students to submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) each January as that could get them considered for the maximum federal and state aid possible.
Students can use the prior year’s tax information in order to file the FAFSA in January. Then, once the newest taxes are filed, students should update their FAFSA.
If students find they have to take out student loans to pay for their education, it is important to know the differences in the student loans.
Students should research the student loan interest rates to identify the best loan to accept if they do not need all the loans that have been offered to them. A Federal Direct Subsidized Loan and a Perkins Loan are interest-free while a student is enrolled at least half-time; whereas, a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan begins accruing interest when the loan is paid to the school for the student.
Students can also pay early on student loans without putting the loan into repayment status. For instance, if a student is given money from family members for their birthday or holidays, they can pay toward their loan. The same is true if a student has a full-time job during the summer months.
They can always make payments earlier than required, which can reduce the principal amount of the loan and subsequently the interest accrued on it.
Both the Financial Aid Office and Scholarship Office are happy to answer questions from students regarding their financial aid or scholarship packages to best maximize their aid and reduce their overall debt.
The Financial Aid Office is located on the fifth floor of Sparks Hall and the Scholarship Office is located on the first floor of the Curris Center. While both offices have a walk-in policy, it is best for students to schedule appointments with the appropriate office if they have questions regarding their awards.
Financial Aid can be reached at 809-2546, ext. 3 and the Scholarship Office can be reached at 809-3225.
Letter from Christian Cruce, Director of Scholarships