College is a serious investment, and not many people have the money to pay for their higher education up front. As a result, student loans are often a necessity for people who want to pursue higher education. There are a number of student loan options available, both through the government and through private and public institutions such as banks and credit unions. These different types of loans all have the same purpose - to help students pay for college - but they vary in other respects. Some of the ways in which they vary may include interest rates, the time at which the loan recipient needs to start paying the loan off, forbearance and deferment terms, and more. By asking the right questions when shopping for student loans, you can find out which loans will work best for you.
If I have money left over from student loans after my tuition is paid, should I return it or use it for living expenses?
Like many aspects of student loans, this is a question of what will benefit your present versus what will benefit your future. Try to consider whether you truly need the loan money for living expenses now, or if you could procure funds in some other manner.
Should I ask my parents to apply for Parent Loans?
Parent loans, known through the federal student loan system as Parent PLUS Loans, are loans that are taken out by parents of a student in order to help the student pay for his or her college experience. When you ask your parents to apply for Parent Loans, you are essentially asking them to put their credit balance on the line in order to help fund your college experience. If you feel that this is a good idea, and that you will be able to off these loans in a timely manner, then Parent Loans may be a good idea. If you question your ability to pay off loans on schedule, then it would be best to avoid asking your parents to take out Parent Loans.
How should I compare student loans?
When shopping around for student loans, consider the following factors: how much you'll really need to attend school, what the interest rates are on various loans, and when those loans will have to be repaid. You may also want to examine some other aspects of the loans you are thinking of taking out, such as the rules regarding loan forgiveness.
Should I get a student loan if I have bad credit?
It will be more difficult to get some student loans if you have bad credit, but it won't be impossible. Stafford loans, for example, are disbursed based entirely on need, and are unaffected by the credit score of the recipient. If you do have bad credit, however, it may not be a good idea to take on more debt. Consider whether taking out a student loan is necessary, and whether or not doing so will benefit your future financial standing.
Should I apply for federal student loans?
Federal government student loans are often more favorable to students than loans that are procured through a bank or credit union. You can apply for federal student loans through the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) either online or by using the paper application available through your college or university's financial aid office. If you need student loans to go to college, then study the loans available through the federal government to see which ones you would qualify for, and which ones would benefit you.
Should I get a student loan from a bank?
In some cases, Federal Student Aid may not dispense enough money to cover a student's tuition and expenses. In these cases, some students get loans through banks or credit unions. Banks and credit unions often have less favorable interest rates, and less lenient rules regarding deferment and forbearance. If you choose to get a loan from a bank or credit union, make sure that you carefully examine the terms of the loan.
Are student loans worth the investment?
This is a deeply personal question. Student loans can add up quickly, and in some cases are a debt that can never be paid off. A college degree is not a guarantee of gainful employment. If you cannot afford college without loans, and if you really want to go to college, then it may be a good decision to take loans out. If you feel ambivalent about college, then taking out student loans may not be the best decision for you.
Should I make a plan now to pay back my student loans?
Paying back your student loans can be a long-term commitment, and may take careful planning on your part. In some cases, students are able to project what field they will enter upon graduation, calculate their probable salary, and make a plan to pay back their student loans accordingly. Other are less able to predict what the future holds, so making a payment plan would be less helpful. If you are able to project a fairly accurate payment plan, it may help you keep your student loan payments, and your financial future, on track.
Do I need student loans?
This is a serious question that you should ask yourself. Loans are not free money. They must be paid back after college. If you do not need student loans (for example, if you could earn enough money for college by working as well as attending classes), then student loans may not be the best option for you. If you cannot make enough money to support your college experience while simultaneously attending classes, then student loans may be necessary. Explore your financing options, including scholarships, grants, employment, and loans before you decide which option or options will work best for you.
Should I visit my financial aid adviser?
If you already have a firm understanding of how student loans work, which ones you qualify for, and which ones you plan to apply for, then you may not need to visit one of the financial aid advisers available through your school. If you are unsure what loans you should apply for, the financial aid offices at your college or university will likely have financial aid advisers available. These are experts in the procurement, management, and repayment of financial aid, and can help you to decide which student loans to apply for and accept, and how any remaining funds should be spent.