J Thomas Black
Board Certified, Consumer Bankruptcy Law- Texas Board of Legal Specialization

I have many bankruptcy clients that struggle with student loans. It's very difficult to discharge or cancel student loans in bankruptcy. Many of my clients with student loans have had to borrow a lot of money to go to college or graduate school. But you want to borrow as little money as you have to. And you want to explore all financial aid options before you consider loans. It is surprising how much aid can be available.

And there are a lot of tricks to it. For example, did you know that many colleges award financial aid on a first-come, first-served basis? That is why it is important to file the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, soon, if you have a college-bound student. It is almost as important as the college application process itself. Beginning with January 1, the FAFSA is available to graduating seniors applying for college.

The FAFSA determines your "expected family contribution" or EFC, the amount of money that the family is expected to contribute, as opposed to how much the school or other sources will contribute, to the cost of your child's education. And even if you don't qualify for needs-based financial aid, the FAFSA is required to qualify for most federal student loans. My advice: if you haven't already submitted your FAFSA, and any other required applications for admission to your selected colleges, as well as the college financial aid applications, do so now! Before the money is gone. Ready to start filling out your FAFSA? For books on the subject, see my "Recommended Books" link on the home page.

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