The field of counseling has a lot to offer individuals through an array of career options and outstanding salary potentials. Professionals in this field work for hospitals, private practices, mental health centers, correctional facilities, and schools all over the World. In general, what many of these counseling professionals have in common is the possession of a Master’s in Counseling Degree. Although this degree can be expensive to pursue, there is a great variety of federal, state, and private loans that can provide individuals with reduced or cost-free Master’s in Counseling Degree programs.
Government Loans for Counseling Programs
Government loans are funded by the federal government, and they can provide an individual with a great means of funding his/her counseling degree program. In addition, these types of loans are often less expensive than private loans. Government loans include Direct Subsidized Loans, Direct Unsubsidized Loans, Direct PLUS Loans, and Federal Perkins Loans. Most often, there is a fixed interest rate for these loans. An individual has the potential to acquire these loan opportunities through his/her FASFA.
The FASFA Process
FASFA is a free application that an individual can complete to apply for federal financial aid. It is managed by the U.S. Department of Education. An individual’s FASFA application is often used by both states and colleges to assess his/her eligibility for state and financial aid opportunities. Provided below is a list of the steps that an individual will follow throughout the FASFA process.
1. An individual must obtain a Federal Student Aid PIN and gather the essential documents that are needed to apply.
2. An individual will log in to the online FASFA and submit his/her personal information.
3. An individual will list his/her colleges and/or career schools and determine his/her dependency status.
4. An individual will submit his/her parents’ information and his/her financial information.
5. An individual will sign and submit his/her FASFA. It is important that an individual submit his/her application before the deadline that is set by the Department of Education.
6. An individual will be contacted by his/her college and/or career school regarding any federal and/or state financial aid opportunities that he/she has been offered.
Private student loans can provide an individual with a convenient means of funding his/her counseling degree program. These loans are offered through banks, credit unions, state agencies, and schools. Although private loans may be easily accessible, they often possess higher interest rates than federal loans. In addition, the lenders of these loans usually don’t offer loan forgiveness programs.
Federal Loan Forgiveness Programs
In some circumstances, a federal loan forgiveness program may be offered to an individual who cannot complete payments on a federal loan. These circumstances include a total disability discharge, a death discharge, a discharge in bankruptcy, and a closed school discharge. The end result of a federal loan forgiveness program is that an individual’s federal loan/s will be forgiven, cancelled, or discharged. For an individual who wishes to pursue a counseling degree, he/she should not rely on a federal forgiveness program to provide him/her with a free education. Rather, he/she should be assured that his/her federal loan debt will be taken care of in extreme circumstances and/or times of desperate need.
Discounted Stafford Loans
Stafford loans are federally funded and include a broad range of repayment options. Often, a Stafford loan is considered to be the best financing option for an individual who wishes to pursue a counseling degree. Discounted Stafford loans possess a 3.4% interest rate, and any interest that accumulates on these loans is paid by the federal government. In addition, only an individual with financial need is offered Stafford loan opportunities.
Local Loan Forgiveness and Cancellation Programs
Depending on the state in which an individual resides, local loan forgiveness and cancellation programs may be offered for loans that were incurred through counseling degree programs. Often, these programs are offered in extreme circumstances, which include death, bankruptcy, and permanent disability. The American Association of Medical Colleges can provide an individual with a comprehensive list of each state’s loan forgiveness and cancellation programs.