Student loans are a practical way to make up the out-of-pocket cost of college, but how do you know which type of loan is available to you? And with so many options, which loan makes the most sense for your situation? Thankfully, our financial aid team is well-versed in the ins and outs of higher ed financing. They’re standing by to help demystify the process and provide advice. In the meantime, here are five things you should know about student loans before you take one out.
Five Things to Know About Student Loans
1. Federal Loans > Private Loans
Federal loans are funded by the federal government to help students pay for college. Private loans are obtained through a lender, such as a bank or credit union. Federal loans provide several benefits, such fixed-interest rates and income-driven repayment plans, that private loans don’t typically offer.
2. Subsidized Vs. Unsubsidized Federal Loans
Direct Subsidized Loans are available to undergraduates with financial need, and the federal government will pay the interest on these loans as long as you’re enrolled at least half time. If you don’t meet the financial need criteria for a subsidized loan, you can still get a Federal Direct Unsubsidized Loan and you’ll be responsible for paying the interest.
3. Repayment Options Differ By Loan Type
Federal loans are full deferment loans, meaning you don’t have to start making payments on them until six months after graduation (or if your enrollment is less than half time). Private loans may be subject to other repayment options, such as no deferment, meaning you start paying on the loan right away, or interest-only payments that occur while you’re in school.
4. Borrow Only What You Need
You want your eventual student loan payments to be around 10 percent of your eventual income (after taxes). Loans may seem like easy money when you’re in school, but remember, you’re on the hook for whatever you borrow, plus interest. Our financial aid advisors can help strategize the right amount to borrow.
5. All Loans Carry Interest
No matter what type of loan you qualify for, you’re going to end up paying interest in addition to the principal loan amount. Current federal loan rates are somewhere between 4-7 percent, while the interest on private loans can be upwards of 7 percent.
Net Price Calculator
Don’t let the advertised cost of college fool you: A vast majority of our students qualify for aid that can drastically reduce the cost of attendance. Our net price calculator tool can help you estimate the real cost of college and explore aid options that are right for you.