Flickr user Roderick Eimes

Summer is a great time to relax, catch up on your reading list, play a few video games, or take on a part time job. Before college starts up again though in the fall, you may want to consider using this time to expand your search for financial aid. Here are a few things you should be tackling this season.

Review your Federal Aid Options

The FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid, is due on June 30 every year, just over a week into summer, so you should definitely have it done by this date! However, shortly after you turn in your documents, you should get a reply back regarding your offers. This is called a SAR or Student Aid Report. It will list everything the federal government is offering you.

Take this time to review your options. Weigh the pros and cons of the direct subsidized and unsubsidized loans and decide which is best for you, your family’s finances, and your financial future. Also remember to mark your calendar for June 30 of next year! You have to complete the FAFSA every year that you wish to apply for federal financial aid.

Look for Private Financial Aid

If the federal aid offers weren’t enough or you completely forgot to fill out the FAFSA, you may want to consider starting the search for private financial aid. The best place to start is with your local bank or credit union. However, it’s essential that you do your research and not settle for the first offer that is made to you. This includes the type of loans available to you but also things like the interest rates, repayment options, and more.

It is best to review your options when it comes to private loans. Compare the offers you get and only choose those that make sense for your finances and future. You should also talk to your parents or guardian about applying for private loans as you most likely will need a cosigner to apply.

Apply for Scholarships

Don’t forget about scholarships when it comes to the search for financial aid for college! They can be an excellent resource for the coming years as many actually renew annually. Start the search by visiting scholarship databases online. There may be options for your major, intended career path, academic achievements, and more.

Make sure to leave no stone un-turned when it comes to your search, but don’t exhaust yourself either. Take a little bit of time each week to look for scholarships and apply. Your local, state, or region may also offer scholarships, so ensure you’re contacting the necessary people as well.

You should absolutely be using summer time to relax. It’s also the perfect time to make a few bucks with your summer job. However, searching for financial aid now can save you from headaches, high interest rates, and financial problems down the road. Taking care of it as soon as possible will also free up the rest of your summer!

Use College Raptor’s new Student Loan Feature to discover personalized loan options. Compare lenders and interest rates to find the student loan fit for you!