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Financial Advisor

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A financial advisor is a professional who advises clients on financial matters in order to fulfill their goals. The clients may be governments, companies and individuals. The financial advisor main purpose is to understand the client's financial situation and advise him in planning and arranging finances to manage savings, tax, education, retirement, mortgage, investments and wills.

There are many financial decisions that are made and consulting a financial advisor is advisable so they can give financial balancing and stability. They use finances which may include-:

- investments in stocks, bonds, mutual funds and trusts, futures, options
- asset investments
- insurance products
- mortgages and loans

The client requires advice on how to balance income, assets and risk. Today people are finding it difficult to grow their capital and income to meet current and future needs. Financial planning can become complex and one will need a financial advisor who will take all current and future financial goals and purpose of the client and prepare a financial plan taking into consideration risk and the client's lifestyle. He will allocate assets and other resources to achieve those goals and purpose. There are many mortgage, insurance, education and pension products in the market today and the financial advisor must advise the client accordingly using the goals to guide the course of action.

The financial advisor will assist the client to create a portfolio of investments which include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, options, futures and annuities. He will help the client invest in short-term and long-term investments depending on the client's goals and his risk tolerance. Clients who have short-term goals may invest in bonds while those with long-term goals may invest in real estate, stocks, mutual funds, futures and annuities among others. He will plan for real estate investments, mortgages and loans. He will assess client's risk and liability and advice on the insurance products available and ensure that he is covered.

The financial advisor will allocate the income to the financial needs of his client which may include buying a house, a car, paying college education for client's children, paying tax and insurance. He needs to have knowledge in investing, budgeting and forecasting, risk management, taxation and asset allocation. He should advise the client on how to minimize tax and ensure that it is paid. They assist their clients plan and buy life assurance and other insurance policies depending on their set goals. The financial advisor will help in financial planning of the investments and income so they meet the retirement goals of his client. He determines what percentage of the available income should be allocated to retirement.

There are three licenses for financial advisors which include-:

- investment Advisor Representative
- Stock Broker
- Insurance Advisor

The financial advisor can hold any combination of the above licenses depending on their financial practice. These are regulated and he must pass a particular exam. They are paid a commission or a fixed or hourly fee for the hours worked.

Student Loans

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College students need money to pay for tuition, books, room and board, transport, school supplies and students may need to buy a computer. The cost of tuition has gone up and students and parents are finding it hard to pay directly from their savings. After exhausting financial aid which includes grants, scholarships, work-study programs the parents and students turn to federal student loans and alternative loans.
 
There are federal student loans and private student loans for students which parents and students should know about before applying. College education has become expensive and the U.S. Department of Education grants federal loans through Federal Direct Student Loan Program.

Federal student loans are attractive because they are charged fixed interest rates and depending on the students financial needs the interest may be subsidized by the government. These loans offer discount interest which means that the repayments are lower than the alternative student loans. Federal student loans are flexible offering deferred repayments so the student starts repaying the loan when he starts earning income. However the student must not owe money on federal student grants and must not have default federal student loans. Subsidized federal student loans do not accrue interest when the student is in college. Unsubsidized federal student loans accrue interest when the student is in college.

To apply for a federal loan the student should fill the FAFSA form and meet the requirements. The student should apply for federal loans before applying for alternative student loans from banks and other financial institution.

When the federal financial aid grants and scholarships are not enough to pay for the entire tuition the student and parents turn to alternative student loans to pay. The private student loans may have variable interest rates which are determined by the lender which depend on the credit rating of the person applying whether it is the parent or the student. There may be fees which are also determined by the lender. The student/parent should fill a self-certification form. A loan application form is completed and the information verified. The credit rating of the applicant is considered and the loan terms accepted before the loan is granted.

The student should apply for financial aid in form of grants and scholarships and work-study. When this option is exhausted he should apply for federal student loans and finally private student loans.

All college student loans have to be repaid regardless whether the student completed the college education or found a job after completion.

When repaying the loan the students should select the repayment option that suits their financial plans. There are different repayment options which are 10 years and over. The student must consider his financial position. There are options where you can pay while in school and pay within a shorter time when out of school or defer payment until you finish school. There are many options and the student calculator will be used to compare the options and choose the best for your financial situation.

Financial Aid

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College education is very necessary. Cost of tuition has become expensive with the current economic climate. The cost of tuition has been rising annually. Parents and students are turning to financial aid which is intended to assist the students who cannot pay the costs in full. The difference between the cost and what the family is able to pay is applied for as financial aid. The US Department of Education is the largest source of financial aid which is divided into grants, work-study and loans.

Students in universities, career schools and community colleges can apply. Financial aid is based on financial need and other requirements. To be eligible, the students must meet the following requirements :

- Must be a US citizen
- If a non-citizen they must be eligible
- Must own a valid Social Security card
- Student's academic progress must be satisfactory 

The grants do not have to be paid back. There are various federal grants that are available. The students must meet the requirements for each type of grant. They must fill the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form. They must also :

- Certify that they will use the financial aid for education
- Certify they don't owe money for federal aid grants and have not defaulted on any federal loan
- Must have qualified to join college or university

When applying the students will need their income tax returns, parents' income tax returns (if dependent), Social Security number, driving license number (if any), current bank statements and income earned records.

Scholarships are granted by mostly philanthropists. Governments, universities, corporations and Foundations give scholarships to certain students. The different types of scholarships include merit scholarships, individual scholarships and athletic scholarships. Merit scholarships are awarded to the brilliant and talented students. This ensures that talent is not wasted so the genius students get a chance regardless of their socioeconomic class. Individual scholarships are awarded to students who enter individual-based programs offered in healthcare, Army, Navy, Air Force and other specific fields.  Athletic scholarships are offered by universities to be able to attract athletics in all sports mainly basketball and football and also other sports. Universities set aside money for scholarships to attract talented athletes. Recruitment mailings are sent out by the coaches and selection is done. The students are expected to excel both academically as well as in sports.

Financial aid may be in form of student loans which are repaid with interest. There are various sources of student loans some of which are subsidized by the government so that the students pay low-interest rates and interest accrues when the students start repaying the loans.

Work-study aid is a program in which the students are offered part-time employment to help meet financial needs and pay for books, personal expenses and supplies. You will receive a financial aid letter from college stating the types of financial aid and the amounts awarded. If you do not qualify you should apply every year because circumstances change.

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