Miami Dade College Student Loans

College University CafeteriaWith seven campuses, three centers, and multiple outreach centers, Miami Dade College is supported by the state of Florida and the largest institution of higher education in the United States, serving close to 165,000 students. Miami Dade offers associate’s and bachelor’s degree options as well as certificate programs and adult continuing education opportunities. With a diverse cultural community, the average student age is 26 and close to 60% of attendees are enrolled part-time. With evening, morning, weekend, and even online or distance options, Miami Dade is a viable option for a wide range of students.

While technically a large school, Miami Dade maintains small class sizes with low teacher-to-student ratios to ensure quality interactions between students as well as students and professors. Each campus offers a multitude of student activities, clubs, and organizations for students to get involved in. Positive social interaction can be just as important as academic enrichment. Miami Dade College is a diverse and thriving cultural and academic forum.

Total Cost of Attendance

When determining how much money to budget for college, there are many factors to consider, including the cost of living near your chosen school. Miami Dade College is a commuter school, meaning that students live off campus and commute to campus. This means that students may pay rent, unless living at home, and incur transportation costs as well. Rent in Miami-Dade County averages around $1,869 a month for a one-bedroom apartment according to Splitting the cost with a roommate or two can help lower your overall costs. Choosing to live outside of the Miami city limits may lower your rent costs.

Consider alternative forms of transportation to cut costs also. For example, carpooling will not only save you gas money but may also qualify you to use expressways without paying tolls if you register your vehicle with the South Florida Commuter Services. Not only is public transit a greener option for commuting, it can also save you money. Full-time students of Miami Dade College can receive discounts of 50% for Miami-Dade Transit and Tri-Rail passes to ride the bus, Express Bus, Metro-rail, or Tri-rail. Also do not forget to include incidentals and personal expenses when budgeting.

Tuition and Fees

Tuition rates per term for the 2014-2015 academic school year at Miami Dade College for full-time students (taking at least 12 credits) are as follows:

These fees include tuition as well as fees for student services, financial aid, transportation, capital improvement, parking and access, and technology. Certain classes or fields of study may have slightly higher or lower tuition and fees. If you are a Florida resident attending Miami Dade college full-time for four years, you should plan on paying at least $11,157.12 in tuition and fees, plus a $30 application for admission fee. This total does not include room and board, personal expenses, or books and supplies.

Affording College

Miami Dade is an affordable option for higher education; however, most of the time, savings  and budgeting still aren’t enough to cover the costs. In fact the National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2012 as many as 85% of full-time undergraduate students at four-year degree-granting institutions received some form of financial aid. Financial aid may come in the form of grants or scholarships, which are considered gift money that doesn’t have to be paid back. You can also take out student loans, or borrow money, in order to pay for college.

Financial aid is generally disbursed directly to your school into your school account and used to pay for tuition and school fees, usually up to twice a year. After those are paid, any remaining money will be refunded to you to cover any other education-related expenses, such as room and board, transportation, a computer, books, and even child care.

Scholarship Opportunities

College Student in LibraryScholarships can come from a variety of sources. Many are based on merit, including artistic, athletic, or academic ability while others may be based on race, ethnicity, or gender. Non-profits and many other private organizations also offer scholarships. Some require membership and others want you to provide certain information or write an essay. Be sure to thoroughly research the vast majority of scholarship opportunities. Miami Dade College itself expects to award $7.5 million in scholarships this year alone. Scholarships will vary in award amount and type.

Miami Dade College also offers Bright Futures Medallion Scholars program, which covers full tuition costs for recipients. Contact your campus financial aid coordinator for more information on these and other scholarship opportunities directly through Miami Dade. Grants are also forms of free money for college and can come from state and federal agencies as well as schools. In order to apply for these, you must fill out your Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA.

Applying for Federal Financial Aid

Federal financial aid is a great option for students who meet basic eligibility requirements and need help paying for college. To qualify you must:

  • Be a U.S. citizen or eligible non-citizen
  • Have a valid Social Security number
  • Males must be registered with the U.S. Selective Service (registration occurs between ages 18 and 25)
  • Have a high school diploma, GED, home school equivalent, or pass an approved ability-to-benefit (ABT) test
  • Be enrolled or accepted for enrollment in a qualifying degree or certificate program
  • Maintain satisfactory academic progress (SAP) while attending school
  • Not have any federal loans in default
  • Agree to use funds for educational purposes only

If you are eligible for federal financial aid, you must submit your FAFSA in order to determine what type and how much funding you might qualify for. You can submit your FAFSA online by creating a FSA ID with your name, date of birth, and Social Security number. The FSA ID grants you access to your federal financial aid information and allows you to digitally sign the Master Promissory Note (MPN), which explains your responsibilities and rights as a borrower. You should keep both of these in a safe place.

Once you have created your ID, you will need some additional information to complete your FAFSA. You must also determine if you are a dependent or independent student. Dependent students are under age 24, unmarried, and have no dependents of their own. In order to fill out your FAFSA, you will need your most recent tax forms, employment information (if applicable), other relevant financial information, and school information. Dependent students will also need their parents’ information. Be aware of any and all deadlines for submitting your completed FAFSA and receiving aid. Additionally, you will need to resubmit a FAFSA every year.

The FAFSA calculates your expected family contribution (EFC), and most federal financial aid is need-based. The difference between your EFC and total cost of attendance (COA) are used to determine your level of financial need. Federal financial aid can come in the form of federal grants or low-cost federal student loans. Once the type and amount of your federal financial aid package is determined, both you and Miami Dade College will receive notification. You then decide whether or not to accept or decline the funds, and you can choose to only borrow part of what you are offered if you like. Only borrow what you need at the time. Miami Dade and the state of Florida also use the FAFSA for their financial aid and grant packages as well. Ask your financial aid representative for more information.

Federal Grants

Miami Dade College accepts three main types of federal grants: the federal Pell Grant, Federal Supplemental Educational Opportunity Grant (FSEOG), and the Teacher Education Assistance for College and Higher Education (TEACH) Grant. A federal Pell Grant is generally the most common federal student grant and based on a demonstration of financial need. Undergraduate students who don’t already have a degree, and in some cases, post-bachelor teacher certification program students, may qualify for up to $6,195 for the 2019-2020 academic year in the form of a federal Pell Grant. The amount you actually receive may be less, dependent on your cost of attendance, level of financial need, status as a part or full-time student, and your intention to finish a full academic year. The U.S. Department of Education disburses the full amount you qualify for each year directly to your school into your account on your behalf. Other financial aid you receive will not affect the amount of your Pell Grant award.

Unlike the Pell Grant, FSEOG funding is limited, as only a set amount is disbursed to each participating school each year. This means that Miami Dade College receives a certain amount from the federal government annually to disburse among financially eligible students. Students may receive between $100 and $4,000 a year in FSEOG awards. Because funding is limited, even if you qualify for FSEOG funding, you may not receive the full amount or any at all. Be sure to apply early to ensure the best chance at a FSEOG award.

The TEACH Grant is for potential teachers enrolled in eligible programs who sign an “Agreement to Serve” for at least four years as a full-time student in a low-income and high-need field within eight years of graduating. If you meet the criteria you can receive up to $4,000 in TEACH Grant funding.

Work-Study Programs

Another option for funding at Miami Dade College is the Federal Work-Study Program. If you qualify for this program, by demonstrating financial need,  you can work part-time either on campus or off campus for a public or non-profit organization in a capacity that serves the community. Miami Dade College participates in a community service program wherein Federal Work-Study participants tutor elementary students in the Miami-Dade Public School System, for example. The Work-Study Program strives to place you in a job that relates to your course of study and is flexible with your class schedule. Since you are working for your funding, you do not have to pay these funds back.

The Florida Work Experience Program (FWEP) is another work-study program for Florida residents meeting financial aid criteria. This program offers part-time positions both on and off campus in an effort to enhance students’ career goals. Institutional Work-Study offers part-time clerical and administrative positions on campus within different departments in a first-come, first-served capacity as well.

Student Loan Options

simplifying college expensesAfter you have exhausted all the forms of free money and work-study funding that might be available, you may look into borrowing money to pay for college in the form of student loans. The most favorable option for students is federal financial aid. These loan options offer low and fixed-rate interest and flexible repayment plans.The U.S. Department of Education is the lender for federal student loans disbursed through the William D. Ford Direct Loan Program. Direct Loans can be to undergraduate or graduate students as well as the parents of dependent undergraduate students. Subsidized Direct Loans are available to undergraduate students with financial need, and the federal government pays the interest. With an unsubsidized Direct Loan you don’t need to demonstrate financial need, although you are responsible for paying the interest. Maximum loan amounts depend on several factors, including your year in school, financial need, cost of attendance, and dependent status. Subsidized and unsubsidized loans may be combined for maximum amounts between $5,500 and $12,500 for undergraduate students. For current interest rates, check the Federal Student Aid website. Parents of dependent students can take out a Direct PLUS Loan, which will require a credit check. These loans can cover up to the entire cost of attendance minus any other financial aid you are receiving. Federal student loans offer flexible repayment options, and payments are deferred until after you leave school and finish your grace period (typically six months). Federal student loans can often be deferred, consolidated, cancelled, or even forgiven in some cases. Keep in contact with your loan servicer and financial aid office for the most current information.Students may also choose to borrow funds from private financial institutions and organizations. These are called private student loans or alternative loans, and they are generally higher cost and less flexible than federal student loans. These are typically considered a last resort. Banks and other financial institutions are the lenders and interest rates start higher and even go up over the life of the loan.