Are Private Student Loans Right for Me?

By: Evelyn Saunders

With higher education costs soaring, more and more students are turning to financial aid for help. Federal student aid offers grants, loans and other types of assistance. Federal aid is by far the biggest supplier of money to students for college. Federal loans include not only grants, but also campus-based loans, Stafford Loans, and PLUS loans for parents and graduate students. The problem is, a lot of students don't qualify for Federal help and are turning to other sources for help with their college funding.

Nonfederal scholarships and funding may be provided by your state. Check with your school to see if you may qualify for one of the state programs. If you do receive Federal or State Aid, then you may still need more money. College is expensive and includes tuition, books, room and board, as well as travel expenses, bills and food. More students than ever are turning to Private Student Loans for financial assistance with all of the costs that college brings.

Private Student Loans are essentially like regular loans. You must qualify for the loans and may be required to have a cosigner. The difference is that Private Student Loans usually have more flexible repayment schedules to accommodate students. For example, you may not be required to begin repayment of the loan until after you graduate or withdraw from school. Rates can be quite good based on your credit history and income. Be aware that there are a lot of subprime loans out there, which can have very high interest rates and may not be the best option for you.

When you take out a Private Student Loan, you are taking on a serious responsibility. You must strictly adhere to the terms and conditions explained in your contract. Failure to make an on-time payment will be reflected in your credit history for years. Late payments or failed payments on loans are big influences on your credit score. On the other hand, being responsible with your payments and always making them on-time can help you establish a good credit history. Paying on your Private Student Loan can help you show future lenders that you are financially responsible and mature.

If you are shopping for Private Student Loans, you may want to avoid companies or advisors that push one product or one certain lender. Especially beware if the product being pushed is at a high interest rate. Shop around to be sure that what you get is actually the best thing for you. This commitment will last for years, so take your time shopping around. Check out sites that feature many lenders and offer multiple products so that you know they are not biased or influenced by any one company. Do your research and Private Student Loans could help you bridge the financial gap on your journey through college.

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