Here’s another reason why your student should move through college with purpose: There’s a time limit as to how long she can be eligible for grants and loans.
“There is a lifetime limit on how long you can get federal financial aid,” said Goldrick-Rab.
For instance, undergraduate students can only receive federal Pell grants for up to 12 semesters — roughly six years.
Limits also apply to federal student loans. For students pursuing a bachelor’s degree, the maximum period is six years, while those in an associate degree program have three years.
If a student starts his education and then takes a break, the period in which he’s away doesn’t count against the time limit, said Mark Kantrowitz, publisher and vice president of research at SavingforCollege.com.
Even if your student enters a school with a strong transfer program, remember to bear in mind the cost of moving to a four-year school.
“Are they in-state four-year schools with lower tuition costs, or are they private schools offering transfer scholarships?” asked Wyner.
Finally, students must also make “satisfactory academic progress” in order to continue receiving financial aid.
That standard differs from one school to the next. Generally, students must maintain a certain grade point average — typically a 2.0 — and complete a specified number of credits by the end of each year.