If you have a student that is about to graduate, congratulations! You’ve helped your high school senior successfully navigate almost 12 years of school. Once they graduate, they will begin a new chapter in their lives as young adults and either continue with school or enter the workforce. Either way, you can help them make sure they are well prepared financially.

How Can We Help?
Over the years, we’ve heard from parents, grandparents & others on how the credit union has been able to help transition their graduate into college or the work force through our products and services. Click through the tabs below to learn more about what your credit union has to offer, and other valuable resources that may help you along the way.

 

GCEFCU Scholarship


 
Gulf Coast Educators Federal Credit Union will present scholarships annually in the amount of $500.00 per semester for 4 years – a total of $4,000.00 – to four qualified students selected from applicants within our field of membership who meet the following eligibility requirements:
 

1. Applicant must be a high school senior.

2. Student must be a member in good standing with GCEFCU and parent/legal guardian must be a member in good standing with GCEFCU

3. Two scholarships may be awarded to students who express the intent to pursue a course of study that will allow him or her to enter the teaching field. Two scholarships may be awarded to applicants outside the field of education. However, the Committee reserves the right to award scholarships solely based on the areas of consideration listed (#7).

4. Recipient of the scholarship funds must maintain a minimum G.P.A. of 2.5 and earn at least twelve hours minimum each semester. A transcript must be received after each semester to show the recipient is within the requirements as set forth by the Board. Failure to comply will result in permanent forfeiture.

5. The scholarship will be used for the purpose of study at an accredited college or university.

6. Scholarship funds will be paid each semester to the school of the recipient’s choice when evidence of enrollment and G.P.A. (copy of transcript or grades) maintained is presented to GCEFCU.

7. Areas of consideration for selection will include need, academic achievement, character, leadership and personal recommendations.

8. If selected as a finalist, the applicant may be required to participate in a personal interview.

9. Selections will be determined by a committee appointed from the Board of Directors of GCEFCU.

10. If the committee’s first choice does not accept the scholarship, a second candidate will be selected.

11. A candidate must have a minimum combined SAT score of 1000 and/or a minimum ACT score of 21.

12. Please send applications to:
GCEFCU, Scholarship Committee,
5953 Fairmont Pkwy
Pasadena, Texas 77505.

 

Applications must be received or postmarked by Thursday, February 28, 2019.

Applying For Scholarships


 
Helping your child apply for scholarships begins with becoming an informed parent. There are numerous resources available to students looking to continue their academic pursuits into college, and these may be difficult to navigate as a busy high school student. Your child will need your help to find the best opportunities available to them.

 

Start with the FASFA

The FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) is the pivotal step toward securing scholarships for college tuition. This determines whether you qualify for scholarships or grants from the government, and even offers low interest loans. The key is to fill the document out as early as possible. To do this, you’ll need a unique identifier known as the FSA ID. The identity key is unique to each FAFSA applicant, and it helps keep all you do concerning your FAFSA application safe and secure.

Once a student receives an FSA ID, he or she will need to create a save key so that the ID can be kept online without interference from hackers or other privacy violations. Use your child’s information such as social security number, address and name to complete the process.

Keep in mind that additional documentation may be required to complete the FAFSA. This may include transcripts, proof of financial status, GPA documentation and more. Stay within the guidelines on these additional documents and pay close attention to any special FAFSA deadlines for best results.

 

Finding Scholarships

Once you’ve finished your child’s FAFSA application, it’s time to turn your attention to the scholarship application process. This process can be intense, but it doesn’t have to be. Parents often stress they don’t know where to begin when looking for scholarships for their children’s college education, but there are a number of sure resources.

  • It’s always wise to begin with your employer. Often the entities we work for provide scholarships.
  • As a member of Gulf Coast Educators FCU, your child may qualify for our GCEFCU Scholarship.
  • Scholarship search engines, such as Scholarships.com.
  • If you’ve attended college or high school, check with your alumni organization to inquire whether they offer scholarships.
  • Your child’s school counselor can provide them with many scholarship options available. Advisors and counselors and teachers are an excellent resource for insight into the college scholarship application process. Start with the school’s counseling office to get pointed in the right direction.

It may take some time to sift through these, but it’s worth it. Often, the criteria for applying can range from very narrow and specific, to very broad and open. Be sure to take note of any special requirements or specifics during your search. Also, deadlines are important. Keep track of deadlines by keeping a calendar organized specifically to track due dates and timelines for each of your child’s scholarship applications.

 

What Scholarship Committees Look For

Chief decision-making in any scholarship application process lies with the scholarship committee. These committees can range in size and makeup across the wide variety of scholarship applications available, but there are a few general things that most committees look for in the ideal candidate.

  • Attention to detail – This means following application instructions with special care and diligence.
  • Demonstrations of moral integrity – What makes you worthy?
  • Internships or volunteer organizations that your child has taken part in.
  • Organization – Be careful to ensure that your child’s personal statement displays complete thoughts and sound sentence structure. It is wise to have your student’s English teacher proof read their essays before they submit them.

 

Paying For College


 
College is expensive – Everyone can agree on that. As true as it may be, your child’s education is an investment. It has been proven time and time again that the higher your education, the more money you will likely earn in the future. If you intend to help your child pay for their education, it is never too early to start planning, as this investment is a big one.

You have many options when it comes to paying for your child’s education, but that doesn’t mean that they are all the best option. If you still have some time before your child heads off to college, look into opening a College Saver Certificate, where you can make unlimited deposits (at least $50) into an account that earns higher dividends. If your child is starting college soon, check out our list below to determine how you can get the most out of your investment, and the least money coming out of your pocket.
 

1. Submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA)

The office of Federal Student Aid provides grants, loans, and work-study funds for college students. Filling out the form is completely free and can be done online. Once you complete the form, you will be notified with what your child has qualified for, which you are free to accept or decline. Federal student aid includes:

  • Grants – These are funds that do not have to be repaid. That’s right, free money!
  • Loans – These are loans that must be repaid, with interest. The are two types of loan programs, the Direct Loan Program and the Federal Perkins Loan Program. You can find out more about them here.
  • Work-Study – This is a work program through which you earn money to help pay for school, kind of like having a part time job.

Once you complete your FAFSA, only accept the grant money first (It’s free!). Before accepting any loans, it is important to see if your child can qualify for any scholarships, and then determine if getting a loan is right for you.
 

2. Find Scholarships

There are thousands of scholarships out there, your child will just need to do the work to find them. Your student can meet with their high school or college counselor (or both) to find scholarship applications that they qualify for. You can also search online with the U.S. Department of Labor’s free scholarship search tool.
 

3. Student Loans

If you still do not have enough to cover your child’s education expenses after applying for grants and scholarships, you can start shopping around for the best loan. Consider the federal loans that you were offered after completing the FAFSA, but also look into private student loans as well. Below are the differences:

  • Federal Direct Loan Program – These are available to eligible college students. You may only qualify for this type of loan by completing the FAFSA. Depending on what your child qualifies for, he/she may not be required to pay interest or make payments until after they graduate. If you are planning to be the primary borrower on your student’s loan, you may qualify for a Direct PLUS Loan for Parents. However, that loan does charge interest during all periods.
  • Federal Perkins Loan Program – To qualify for this loan, you also must complete the FAFSA. This type of loan has a lower interest and is offered by the school. The amount you can borrow depends on your financial need and what the school can offer.
  • Private Student Loans – These types of loans are not funded by the government, therefor you do not have to fill out a FAFSA in order to qualify. The big difference with Private Student Loans is that you will more than likely have to make payments while your child is in school, interest rates may be fixed or variable, and they are not subsidized, so interest is charged during all periods.

 

4. Home Equity Loan

Another option that may be more appealing than taking out student loans, is to use the equity you have built up in your home. With a home equity loan, you can finance up to 80% of your home’s value, less any outstanding loans (such as your mortgage). You can purchase a Home Equity Loan with a rate as low as 4.49% APR*, so when comparing that to Student Loan rates, a Home Equity Loan may be the better and cheaper option. If you have any questions, you can reach out to our Home Equity Loan Officer.
 

Conclusion

What is the best option for you? File a FAFSA, find scholarships, and then think about Student Loans or a Home Equity Loan.

Grants – FREE
Scholarships – FREE
Federal Student Loans (Paid by Students) – 3.4% – 6.8%
Federal Student Loans (Paid by Parents) – 6.31% – 8.5%
Private Student Loans – Varies
GCEFCU Home Equity Loan – 4.49% – 14.49% APR*

 

*APR=Annual Percentage Rate. Actual rate may vary based on credit worthiness and terms of your loan. A home equity loan of $50,000 for 5 years at 4.49% APR will have a monthly payment of $931.92. Taxes and Insurance are not included, your actual payment may be higher.

Preparing Your Senior


 
Before you send your child off to college, you want to ensure that they have the tools they need to be successful – especially when it comes to financial matters. New college students are often bombarded with credit card offers, and many don’t even know that is what they are signing up for. Make sure that your senior is financially savvy enough to not fall for those offers, and knows that even if they are hundreds of miles away, their credit union is always accessible.
 

GCEFCU Credit Card Program

credit card programThe credit union’s credit card program has been popular among parents of college students. Parents send their student to college with a low limit card and the ability to view and make payments to the card all through online banking.

Read More

 

Online Banking

online bankingParents can set up scheduled transfers in online banking to set up recurring transfers to their student’s GCEFCU account. Doing this can help with living expenses while away at college. In addition, parents can access their child’s account to monitor their spending and provide budget assistance.

Read More

 

Long Distance Services

long distance servicesEven if your student is studying on the other side of the country, they can still access the funds in their GCEFCU account. The credit union offers free withdrawals at over 55,000 Allpoint ATMs across the country, and access to other Shared Branching locations as well.

Read More

 
 

Building Their Credit

building their creditOur Credit Saver program is useful for more than just saving credit – It can also be used by young adults as a safe way to build their credit score.

Read More