Federal student loans are an investment in your future,” said Vice President for Financial Aid and Scholarships Maggie Boulanger. “They take money out of your wallet, investing it in your future. And, so, when you do have to use those funds, we hope that you’ve taken the time to understand how that money is being invested, and you’ve got the tools to protect that investment.

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Plan for your financial situation

If you intend to attend community college and complete your requirements, it is important to understand the financial support you’ll need. For that, we recommended visiting websites like¬†https://www.sofi.com/student-loans-payoff-calculator/.

Students must meet their financial aid eligibility within the same institution (if different institutions share the same campus) they intend to attend for a combined student aid award. For example, if you live in Baltimore City, you must apply for Maryland community college as a Maryland resident, and if you live in Annapolis, you must apply as a Maryland resident and plan to attend Anne Arundel Community College.

If you are applying to two or more community colleges, you are not eligible to receive more financial aid in any single institution than you would receive in all four institutions. For example, if you plan to attend City College of Baltimore, you must apply at City College of Baltimore and simultaneously apply for Baltimore City Community College, and City College of Baltimore is not eligible for state aid.

There is also a rule preventing students from receiving more aid than their cost of attendance. This is called the “two-year rule,” and it’s possible to be eligible for aid for the same period you are in school, but your tuition will be higher than if you attended a different college.

How to get federal financial aid

You can use the financial aid website www.finaid.ed.gov, which will open an application for free at the time you apply for aid.

In order to get federal financial aid, you must first be a resident of the United States. After the fall semester, your financial aid award for community college is adjusted and your remaining award can vary by up to 300 percent of your grant and loans. In addition, if you qualify for federal student loan assistance, you can have up to $20,000 of your award temporarily withheld before it is disbursed.