If other forms of financial aid or personal funds cannot cover your educational expenses, you can use a variety of student loan options to fill the void. Student loans, available through both the U.S. Department of Education and debtors, allow borrowers to pay off the loan balance and interest on their education over several years. Some student loan options offer more flexibility in repaying student loans than others, and loan terms, student loan interest rates, and eligibility conditions vary as well.
What is a student loan?
If you don’t have the money to pay for college, a student loan allows you to borrow money and pay it back later with interest.
College loans are different from grants or scholarships. If you get a grant or scholarship, you are not borrowing that money. It is money that was given to you as a gift and does not need to be paid back.
How do student loans work?
People get a federal student loan by filling out a free federal student aid application. Students and parents share their financial information on a form that is sent to the student’s chosen school. Each school’s financial aid office tallies up the numbers to find out how much support the student is eligible for, and then sends a “listing letter” with all the details of their financial aid offer.
Note: This aid can come in the form of student loans or scholarships and grants. That’s why we recommend writing the FAFSA. Make sure you only get free spending. This is a no-go zone, gentlemen.
Students apply for private loans directly to lenders. But for federal loans and debentures, the student must sign a promissory note (sounds scary, doesn’t it? It contains all the terms of the loan as a legal document that the student agrees to, in addition to the interest to repay the loan.2 It’s like giving up your freedom. I’m kidding, but it’s not.
Types of student loans.
Federal loan option.
Federal loan options include direct subsidized loans and direct unsubsidized loans.
Direct grant loans are available to college students whose families can demonstrate financial need. This loan is the only federal student loan that does not accrue interest while the student is enrolled in school for at least half an hour (or a grace period after graduation – usually six months).
Direct unfunded loans are not paid for financial needs and are available to most undergraduate and graduate students. Interest begins to accrue at the time the loan is disbursed.
Personal student loans are one option.
Private loans have different terms and conditions depending on the lender. Unlike federal student loans, private student loans usually require the applicant to pass a credit and income test to see if the loan can be repaid.
Because most students do not yet have sufficient credit history or stable income to qualify, private loans are often underwritten by someone, such as a parent or guardian, who meets the criteria and can be equally responsible for repayment. Loans are listed on Credit Bureau reports from both parties, including students and co-signers.
Choose the right student loan
When deciding what to do with your student loans, keep in mind the pros and cons of federal loans and debt loans. Federal student aid agencies say they recommend sticking with federal loans because of elastic repayment terms. Generally, low interest rates and possible subsidies for less sustainable personal loans can be more expensive, have limited repayment options, and be more difficult to obtain. However, you should keep in mind that federal loans are not always an option, so you should qualify.
When you know what kind of student loan you want, you should consider other financial resources and pay attention to the loan amount so you don’t get more than you need. It is also important to note that the term of the loan and the interest rate also affect your future ability to pay. This will help you estimate the amount you pay each month, see the total amount of interest accrued over the loan period, and review a student loan calculator that allows you to experiment with different repayment plans.
When do I have to repay my loan?
Federal Direct Loans for employees must begin repayment six months after graduation, expulsion, or enrollment. Federal Direct PLUS loans were previously due for repayment within 60 days of full disbursement, but since 2008, borrowers have had the option to defer repayment up to six months after a student graduates or enrolls part-time.
Repayment of debt obligations is subject to conditions set by the borrower. You may have the option to defer repayment, but you may find that the borrower is still in school and requires repayment. Interest continues to accrue during grace periods on campus.
If you don’t have the money to pay for college, student loans are a good choice to help you pay for college. However, when it comes time to start repaying your loan, it’s important to understand how the loan works so you don’t have to be surprised.