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Articles / Applying to College / Is Daughter Obligated to Take Federal Loan?

May 12, 2010

Is Daughter Obligated to Take Federal Loan?

Question: My daughter is finishing sophomore year at the local junior college. She has been accepted at a 4-year school, and has a good financial aid offer.

She now is afraid of the loan she'd take on for the last two years of college. She is talking about not continuing her education, and thinks she can get a job (I have my doubts).


I'd like her to continue the admissions process until she absolutely must tell them no, to see if she gets a job.

The college says the next step is to sign off on the award letter and accept the Federal Unsubsidized loan, and that she has only a few weeks to do so.

If she accepts a loan now, what happens if she decides against school next year?

I consulted with my financial aid guru, Ann C. Playe, former associate director of admission and financial aid at Smith College. Ann reported:

She can decide to forgo the loan. In fact, if she is NOT in school, she can't have it. Those loans pay directly to the school so if she is not enrolled, it would be canceled. Also, she can decide she just doesn't want it if she does decide to attend the school and ends up figuring out another way to cover the costs.

So that sounds like best-case-scenario for your daughter. She may also want to take a shot a private scholarships by completing the free questionnaire at FastWeb (www.fastweb.com). Once she's submitted the form, she will get a list of scholarships for which she is eligible. Some will be small--i.e., under $1,000 (and thus perhaps not worth the hassle of applying) and some will be big (and thus more competitive) but it will only take a few minutes of her time to register on FastWeb and to fill out and send the questionnaire, so I think it's worth a shot.

Written by

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone

Sally Rubenstone knows the competitive and often convoluted college admission process inside out: From the first time the topic of college comes up at the dinner table until the last duffel bag is unloaded on a dorm room floor. She is the co-author of Panicked Parents' Guide to College Admissions; The Transfer Student's Guide to Changing Colleges and The International Student's Guide to Going to College in America. Sally has appeared on NBC's Today program and has been quoted in countless publications, including The New York Times, The Washington Post, USA Weekend, USA Today, U.S. News & World Report, Newsweek, People and Seventeen. Sally has viewed the admissions world from many angles: As a Smith College admission counselor for 15 years, an independent college counselor serving students from a wide range of backgrounds and the author of College Confidential's "Ask the Dean" column. She also taught language arts, social studies, study skills and test preparation in 10 schools, including American international schools in London, Paris, Geneva, Athens and Tel Aviv. As senior advisor to College Confidential since 2002, Sally has helped hundreds of students and parents navigate the college admissions maze. In 2008, she co-founded College Karma, a private college consulting firm, with her College Confidential colleague Dave Berry, and she continues to serve as a College Confidential advisor. Sally and her husband, Chris Petrides, became first-time parents in 1997 at the ripe-old age of 45. So Sally was nearly an official senior citizen when her son Jack began the college selection process, and when she was finally able to practice what she had preached for more than three decades.

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