Student financial aid guide: Loans, forgiveness, and more

The application for federal student loan forgiveness opened on Oct. 14, but some students may feel confused about the complicated world of student loans.

Federal or private loans can add additional stress to students trying to pay for their education. UCCS offers tips for avoiding predatory companies that prey on vulnerable students and directs students to multiple avenues of financial aid, including federal loans through the FAFSA, federal loan forgiveness and UCCS scholarships.

Students can use some key indicators to understand the difference between private and federal loans. Kelly Harrington, a UCCS financial counselor, says private lenders are stricter on payment deadlines and methods, while federal loans are the opposite.

“Federal loans are offered by the Department of Education. They are loans that have a lot more repayment options and ways for students to alter how much they’re going to pay,” Harrington said.

Harrington suggests that students interested in applying for their first loans should consider the types and look into federal loans before any other kind.

To avoid predatory loans, Harrington said that students should discuss the fine details of their potential loan with a financial expert. “Even if they’re not cosigning it, just be like, ‘Hey, I don’t want to throw myself into something I’m going to regret, can you look it over?’”

Loans can help temporarily reduce a student’s tuition, but the FAFSA can help decrease student fees and tuition more permanently. The 2023-2024 application is currently open and available until March 1, 2023. All U.S. citizens and a few not-citizen exceptions can apply for financial aid through the FAFSA.

Dependent students must know their name, birthday, social security number and school code. UCCS’ school code is 004509. Their guardians will need to supply their tax information from 2021. According to Harrington, guardians can easily use a retrieval tool in the FSA application to get this data. Independent students must supply this information themselves if they are eligible to complete the FAFSA.

Students should know what kind of loan they have to ensure they are eligible for forgiveness. Those with federal loans disbursed before June 30, 2022, may be eligible for forgiveness of up to $10,000 or $20,000 through the Biden-Harris Administration’s Debt Relief Plan. According to, students looking to get loan forgiveness before the payment pause ends on Dec. 31 should apply by mid-November.

According to the New York Times, applicants must have a maximum income of $125,000 as an individual taxpaying student or have a family household income of $250,000 or less. This information will come from personal 2020 or 2021 tax information Students need to have an account with and know their social security number to put on the application. Anyone interested can visit this link for more information on student debt relief.

Students can also reduce fees and tuition by filling out UCCS’ Scholarship Application. Students can then apply for scholarships suggested by the portal. Student scholarship portals open on Dec. 1 and stay open until May 1.

Photo caption: The financial aid office is located inside of Main Hall on Central Campus. Photo by Meghan Germain.