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Receiving a college education may be the single most important accomplishment that one may achieve in their entire life time.

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Though many American high schools students choose to pursue traditional routes of secondary education, some students use alternative school loans to pay for attending non-traditional university systems. Alternative schools, which offer a variety of benefits to self-motivated students, are not immune to rising financial pressures however.

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Commonly noted differences in alternative schools versus traditional universities and colleges include:

• Lack of standardized grading scale
• Emphasis on individual study and exploration
• Low teacher to student ratio
• Exponentially more defined courses of study for students
• Individually catered courses of study for students
• Non-traditional educational topics, vocations, and skills
• Unique atmosphere and learning environment

The cost of college currently increases at double the rate of inflation according to The College Board. Many alternative school students turn to alternative student loans to cope with rising tuition rates. These students need to understand the different types of aid available to them for funding college to avoid taking out private loans that may prove detrimental to their financial success after they have their degree. Depending on the accreditation of a given alternative school, some schools prove ineligible to distribute federal student loan money. Checking with a prospective alternative school’s financial aid department is important, however, approaching the problem with informed and concise questions regarding alternative school loans proves even more essential.

Students choose to attend college for a myriad of reasons; however, almost all are alike in their struggle to afford the rising cost of postsecondary education. Alternative school students are no different in this regard. Characteristically of alternative schools, alumni groups or financial aid departments offer a great number of financial aid opportunities from within the alternative school system. Starting here is a great place for prospective and current alternative school students. Any financial aid advisor will also refer students to federally backed loans. Loans backed by the US Department of Education allow flexibility for student borrowers, including forbearance and graduated repayment. Federally supported loans also offer lower interest rates than traditional lenders and can insure fixed rates for the life of the loan. To the more naïve students, the difference between federal and alternative student loans and their respective interest rates may not appear as a pressing concern. This could not prove more false.

For example: According to the Department of Education in 2008, a typical government loan with a principle amount of $5000 at an interest rate of 6.8% for a standard term of ten years will require a repayment of $1,904.83 in interest at the end of the loan term. Assume this same student derived alternative school loan money from a private lender with a typical interest rate of 8.5%. The total amount of interest repaid, under the same terms sans the interest rate differential, compounds to $2,439.34. The difference between the simple search for a better loan eventually tabulates into $534.51. For a student spending eight semesters at an alternative school using this same $5,000 principle loan amount each semester, the savings at graduation on interest rates between private and federally backed loans is $4,276.08. Clearly, speaking with a financial aid representative from a potential alternative school is vital in ascertaining the possibility of receiving federal financial aid.

Given the nature of college being an internally driven learning environment, alternative universities and schools are popular among college students. Some distinguished alternative colleges include Bard College in New York, Evergreen State College in Washington, Goddard College in Vermont, Hampshire College in Massachusetts, and the New College of Florida. Find help and more information to consider accurately future higher education plans today.

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