A higher education is expensive today and many families are experiencing financial problems with the downturn in the economy. This means that more students need to borrow more money than they have had to before.
So what's out there, when it comes to loans, for a student who is on his or her way to college?
First, there are Federal student loans. To apply for any Federal student loan, and for many private loans from colleges and universities as well, a student, or the student's parents, will have to fill out a FAFSA or a Free Application for Federal Student Aid. This is a lengthy process and the student, if he's independent, or the student's parents, will have to have up-to-date tax information before filling out the form.
Once the FAFSA is filled out a student will find out if he or she is eligible for Federal Student loans. Federal student loans are the most desirable loans available. The interest rates on Federal Student loans are usually low and the student has a long period in which to pay back the borrowed money.
The best of Federal loans are subsidized federal loans – Subsidized Stafford Loans and Federal Perkins loans.
Subsidized Stafford Loans:
Are available to students who demonstrate financial need.
Are interest free until ten months after the student graduates, leaves school, or becomes less than a half-time student.
Federal Perkins Loans:
Are even better than Subsidized Stafford Loans and go to students who have the greatest financial need.
Have an interest rate of 5%.
Do not need to be paid back for ten years after graduation.
Can be partially cancelled if the student decides to teach in a low income area or is a teacher of subjects that have a low number of teachers – like math or science.
The Federal government also offers unsubsidized loans – Unsubsidized Stafford Loans and PLUS Loans.
Unsubsidized Stafford Loans:
Are not based on financial need.
Are available to any U.S. citizen who is free of drug felony charges.
Are loans for parents of college students.
Parents must have good credit and proof of income.
There are private loans as well. They are available from banks and other lending institutions.
When applying for private student loans , look for low interest rates and low fees or no fees.
When thinking about loans – whether funded by the Federal government or private lending institutions – the place to start is at your college's financial aid office.