Q: I will be returning to college in the spring semester of this year, after being in the workforce for a few years. Since being in college years ago, I have had some problems with credit debt, and do not have very good credit currently. Can I get financial aid with bad credit, or will my credit drastically impact what I receive in financial aid for college?
A: Your poor credit situation will not have an impact on what you will receive in federal financial aid for college. The first thing you will want to do is apply for FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) at fafsa.gov, as soon as possible. FAFSA is your gateway to federal financial aid for college, including federal student loans and grants. Nearly all forms of federal financial aid for college are based on an individuals financial need, and not on their credit. Having poor or bad credit will not disqualify you from being eligible for most federal student loans and federal grants for college.
Private scholarships and grants are another college financing method that will not be impacted by your poor credit. Scholarships and grants are the best way to finance your college education, because they provide you with money that will not have to be repaid. It is strongly recommended that you apply for all of the scholarships and grants that you qualify for. Beyond scholarship and federal financial aid options, your credit will likely play a role in financing your college education. Private student loans are based upon a borrowers credit, so if you have a poor credit history, it is unlikely that you will qualify for a private student loan without the help of a creditworthy cosigner. However, if you do have someone with an excellent credit profile, who is willing to cosign on a private student loan for you, you should not have a problem securing extra funding for your college expenses, should you need it.