Low Interest Student Loans for College - Know Where to Get Them?

by : Adam Hefner

Lower percentage, lower payback.

Today, many high school graduates have difficulty finding jobs that pay well enough to support a family or provide comfortable living. For this reason, a large percentage of graduates continue on to college. In addition, a large number of adults with established families return to school seeking better jobs or a second career. The results of inflation and higher living costs have also resulted in a significant rise in college tuition and associated charges, such as textbook and laboratory fees. Many people are unable to afford paying these fees outright, and search for alternatives to funding their college degrees. Some are able to obtain scholarships and grants, while others must focus on borrowing money to pay tuition. For persons who are required to borrow money, low interest student loans for college are the most cost-effective route.

Several types of loans are available for affording the cost of a college education. Private bank loans or personal loans may require established credit and a significant amount of collateral, which the high school graduate is unlikely to possess. If a potential student's parents are willing to assist with tuition costs, those with good credit may apply for a PLUS loan. Only the cost of tuition less any available scholarships or other financial aid may be borrowed, and the parent is required to repay the loan within ten years.

Another type of loan is the Perkins Loan, which is available to students with extreme financial hardship. This loan is repaid directly to the school. Only $4,000 each year can be borrowed against the cost of an undergraduate education, and the maximum amount that can be borrowed is $20,000. These loans are offered on a first-come, first-serve basis to those with demonstrated financial need. Most students who qualify for this loan also meet criteria for Federal Pell Grants, another beneficial form of financial aid that does not require repayment.

The Stafford Loan is another type of low interest loan financed by the government. Students with no established credit may be eligible to borrow money for college expenses at a low interest rate provided they meet income criteria and have never before defaulted on a student loan. Both unsubsidized and subsidized loans are available. If the loan is subsidized, the government pays the interest during the student's college years.

These and other low interest student loans for college usually require the borrower to complete a Free Application for Federal Student Aid, or FAFSA form. Although these are some of the most commonly used loans, they are by no means an exhaustive list. Students desiring to obtain a degree in health-related fields should consider the Health Education Assistance Loan (HEAL). Those who are seeking careers in engineering might consider the available resources of the American Society of Mechanical Engineers (ASME); these loans often offer interest rates two or three percent less than other federal loans. In summary, students who decide to pursue a college education will benefit greatly from examining loan alternatives before allowing themselves to be trapped by higher interest rate loans that are more difficult to repay.