Get Smart on Student Loans

Federal loans

Education loans from the government, with low interest rates and student-friendly terms.

Federal Stafford Loan

  • Low fixed rate
  • Not based on credit or need, although need determines which type you get
  • 2 types: subsidized (government pays interest while you’re in school) and unsubsidized (interest accrues while you’re in school)

Federal Perkins Loan

  • Low interest rate
  • Based on exceptional need
  • Administered through the school; not all schools participate

Federal Plus Loan

  • Low interest rate
  • Based on credit score
  • Your parents are the ones who apply (unless you’re a grad student)

Private loans

Loans from banks or credit unions, usually with higher limits but often higher rates.

  • Interest rates vary, so shop around.
  • Usually requires a credit check and/or a co-signer.
  • Make sure you know the terms and when you would have to start making payments.
  • Don’t even think about these until you’ve done your FAFSA, figured out what types of government loans you can get, and applied for free money (grants and scholarships).

For a lot more good information, check out the Federal Student Aid website.

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