Federal vs. Private Loans: Which Is for You?

College is supposed to prepare you for the “real” world, so challenges are expected. Unfortunately, one of the biggest trials facing many college students is finding money to pay for school. Federal and private loans help them make ends meet.

Unless your college fund is flush, you may need help paying for school. Fortunately, there are several types of student aid available, including scholarships, grants, and loans. Most college students draw from one or more of these resources when covering college costs. Which one is best for you?

Paying For Your Education

College spending extends beyond the price of tuition alone. The cost of housing, books, meals, and other necessities pushes up the price of earning a degree. And regular expenses don’t go away during school either.  If you are like most college students, you’ll need outside help to keep up with these extraordinary costs.

Financial aid comes in three forms. Scholarships are earmarked for high achievers who excel in athletics, academics, and civic capacities. If you are a star athlete or an exceptional student, you may be able to land a scholarship. Students who demonstrate need to pay for school are offered grantsl. If your financial outlook prevents you from paying for college, a public or private agency may extend a grant, enabling you to attend. Grants and scholarships do not require repayment.

Student offer a popular third financial aid option, issued by the U.S. government and private banks.

Public and Private Loans

Student loans are offered by private lenders and through U.S. Department of Education programs. These must be repaid after you leave school. Government-backed options have the best interest rates and repayment terms for students, so the Federal Direct Loan Program is the top source for low-interest college loans.

Before you enroll in school, it is important to submit a Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). The FAFSA asks questions about your family finances and the cost of attending the college you’ve chosen. Your answers help financial aid officials determine which types of student aid are best for you. If your FAFSA shows financial need, you may be eligible for federal grants.

The last option for students are Federal loans. These loans have the lowest possible interest rates and flexible repayment terms. Both graduate and undergraduate students are eligible for unsubsidized loans. Interest rates may not be as low as subsidized alternatives, but unsubsidized federal loans are still more affordable than similar private loans.

In addition to low interest rates, subsidized student loans offer flexible repayment terms. You have the option to defer payment under certain conditions. During deferment, the borrowed amount does not accrue interest, helping graduates get on their feet before interest payments are due.

When scholarships and grants aren’t enough to cover the cost of college, students turn to loans. Your best bet is a Federal Direct Loan, but private options are also available.

 

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