Next, you’ll receive your Student Aid Report, which outlines your expected family contribution. The form will automatically be forwarded to the schools listed on your application. The financial aid offices of those institutions will send you a financial aid award letter outlining the aid package they will offer. It’s your job to compare those offers and choose the school that best fits your future goals and family budget.
Keep in mind that you should work with a lender that doesn’t charge loan origination fees, which might cancel out interest savings. It’s also a good idea to weigh the risks of refinancing federal student loans, because doing so would change them to private loans and permanently forfeit federal protections such as income-driven repayment and forgiveness options.
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You might be eligible for tax credits if you’re currently paying tuition, including while you’re in grad school. While there aren’t any tax credits related to simply paying student loans, it’s worth checking out if you’re currently in college or thinking about going back to school soon. See our post on student loan tax credits for more information.
For undergraduate and graduate student loans, you can borrow up to 100% of your school-certified cost of attendance (including tuition, housing, books and more) minus other financial aid. Aggregate loan limits apply. The minimum amount is $1,000 for each loan. We certify and disburse loan amounts through your school so you do not borrow more than you need.
Receiving federal student loans like the Direct Subsidized and Direct Unsubsidized Loans starts with completing the FAFSA, or Free Application for Federal Student Aid. You can perform the entire process online at the FAFSA website. Some loans are awarded based on your family’s financial need, so you’ll want to gather the following pieces of personal and financial information when applying:
Private student loan volume grew much more rapidly than federal student loan volume through mid-2008, in part because aggregate loan limits on the Stafford loan remained unchanged from 1992 to 2008. (The introduction of the Grad PLUS loan on July 1, 2006 and the increases in the annual but not aggregate limits had only a modest impact on the growth of private student loan volume. The subprime mortgage credit crisis of 2007-2010, however, limited lender access to the capital needed to make new loans, reining in growth of the private student loan marketplace.) The annual increase in private student loan volume was about 25% to 35% per year, compared with 8% per year for federal loan volume.

Fixed interest rates will stay the same for the life of the loan but usually start our higher. Variable interest rates, on the other hand, fluctuate over time according to the market rate, but typically start our lower. There is no right answer to which is the best private student loan rate type; it really depends if you think interest rates will generally increase or decrease in the future.


Capitalized interest on student loans happens when your loan servicer adds unpaid interest to your total loan balance. This makes your balance increase and then accrue even more interest. To put it simply, you pay interest on your interest and it can cause you to owe more than the amount you originally borrowed. This happens when you defer or forbear your student loans.
Some private student loan lenders may ask you to submit documents to verify some of this information. Once approved, all lenders require you to sign a promissory note that details every aspect of the loan you’re taking out. Once you’ve accepted the loan and signed all your documents, the lender will typically send the funds directly to your school. If you requested additional funds for school certified expenses, check with the financial aid office at your school to find out how they handle those funds.
Publisher Disclosure: PrivateStudentLoans.com is an independent advertising-supported platform for consumers to search, compare and apply for private student loans. PrivateStudentLoans.com is not affiliated with any colleges or universities. Lender search results do not constitute an official college preferred lender list. PrivateStudentLoans.com receives compensation from lenders that appear on this site. This compensation may impact the placement of where lenders appear on this site, for example, the order in which the lender appear when included in a list. Not all lenders participate in the Edvisors site. Lenders that participate may not offer products to every school.
Loan tip#9: Since the Department of Education sets virtually no student loan borrowing standards to vet would-be borrowers, and outstanding student debt is now reported to be 1.3 trillion dollars, many bad-actors in the business of education have been for years falling over themselves attempting to gain access to this seemingly endless taxpayer funded pot of gold. Isn’t it past time that the DoED became more seriously proactive in protecting the hoards of naive student borrowers on the front-end before they fall victim to many post secondary schools that spend more on marketing than insuring that retention and graduation rates along with educational standards do not perpetuate the moral hazard of not having to perform to be enriched. The quid pro quo for schools that derive 80-90% of their revenue from these loans should not be measured arbitrarily in ever changing arcane regulations but in the firm expectation that graduation rates of 3% or even 30% (over a six year allowable tabulation period) are clearly unacceptable. Without this firm line in the sand drawn, there is no impetus for these businesses to effect positive change. Good, bad or indifferent, they know they will get a payday. Until strictly quantifiable measures are undertaken, the department’s purported advocacy for for the underserved student will continue to be gamed by some ingenuous students and many avarice colleges alike.

College Ave only does student loans, so they are pretty good at it. College Ave loans are simple and straightforward. The online-focused lender offers terms from 5 to 15 years. It offers a cosigner release option. One thing to keep in mind: College Ave doesn’t offer a uniform forbearance option. Those are reviewed and approved on a case-by-case basis. That offers more flexibility, but some doubt as to whether you may be approved at all if you run into financial difficulties.
For example, you may see variable rates advertised as low as 2.5% APR and fixed rates starting around 3.9% APR. But this is a sunny day scenario. You and/or your cosigner would need to have the right qualifying credit score or credit factors to achieve the lowest rate, and the lender may impose requirements such as signing up for auto-debit from a checking or savings account to lock in these low rates. When comparing lenders, look for the asterisks and footnotes along with the fine print to understand what it takes to achieve or put you in the running for the advertised rates.

For example, you may see variable rates advertised as low as 2.5% APR and fixed rates starting around 3.9% APR. But this is a sunny day scenario. You and/or your cosigner would need to have the right qualifying credit score or credit factors to achieve the lowest rate, and the lender may impose requirements such as signing up for auto-debit from a checking or savings account to lock in these low rates. When comparing lenders, look for the asterisks and footnotes along with the fine print to understand what it takes to achieve or put you in the running for the advertised rates.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.

If you or your recent grad has this type of loan—which makes up 15 percent of total U.S. education debt—this may seem like an odd move. After all, the interest rates on variable private loans (given by banks and credit unions) are currently lower than the fixed rates on federally backed and private loans. But historically this situation is unusual, and if the economy improves, interest hikes are probable in the near future. “Rates could climb 5 to 6 percent over the next four years, making your monthly burden unmanageable,” says Kantrowitz. That’s why it’s wise to unload these balances as soon as possible. If you can, pay twice the required amount until you have eliminated this debt and make only the minimum monthly contribution toward your fixed-rate federal loans, since those rates cannot increase.
Student loan repayment assistance is a perk that more companies are providing given that most students carry debt into their careers. Although only 4% of companies offer this benefit now, it is the hottest benefit of the past year with 76% of people saying that student loan repayment benefits would be a deciding or contributing factor to accepting a job, according to the 2015 American Student Assistance survey. Employers usually pay $100 to $300 a month with many employers matching contributions up to $2,000 per year.
Private loans are typically made through private banks, credit unions, state agencies, or financial institutions. They may have rates and terms that are different from federal loans. If you’re considering applying for a private loan, be sure that you’ve taken advantage of all federal aid opportunities first. There are two types of private education loans:
Direct PLUS Loans are loans made to graduate or professional students and parents of dependent undergraduate students to help pay for education expenses not covered by other financial aid. Eligibility is not based on financial need, but a credit check is required. Borrowers who have an adverse credit history must meet additional requirements to qualify.
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