One final thought concerning the use of private student loans: get a strong understanding of the interest rates as well as the loan’s other terms and conditions. Most lenders offer you a choice between a variable or fixed APR (annual percentage rate), so be sure to read up on the differences between the two interest rate options. Keep in mind that the rates advertised may not necessarily be the rates you qualify for based on your creditworthiness — or that of a qualifying cosigner.

As a general rule, students should only consider obtaining a private education loan if they have maxed out the Federal Stafford Loan. They should also file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), which may qualify them for grants, work-study and other forms of student aid. Undergraduate students should also compare costs with the Federal PLUS Loan, as the PLUS loan is usually much less expensive and has better repayment terms.

If you’re on a tight budget, it may be difficult to steer any additional cash toward education debt. But you should try to pay it off as early as possible; otherwise it might stick around for a decade or more, which could prevent you from saving enough for retirement. Here are five steps to paying off any lingering loans of your own—and to helping your children settle theirs down the road.
U-fi® is a registered trademark of Nelnet, Inc., for products and services provided by Nelnet Consumer Finance, Inc. You should exhaust lower-cost federal borrowing options before turning to non-federal loans. You are, of course, not limited to seeking loans or other products from U-fi.com, and are free to obtain information and loans from all other providers of student loans and related products.

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